Rocky View School trustees vote against broadcasting meetings
Rocky View Schools (RVS) trustees voted against broadcasting audio recordings of their meetings, Sept. 6.
The decision came after a lengthy debate that began at the Aug. 30 meeting but was tabled after Trustee Helen Clease’s absence left them at a standstill.
“We weren’t getting anywhere,” Board Chair Pettigrew said.
Trustees Munro, Don Thomas and Sylvia Eggerer voted in favour of the motion, made by Thomas, to broadcast audio recordings of the meetings for a three-month trial period.
The motion was defeated when Board Chair Bruce Pettigrew and trustees Bev LaPeare, Norma Lang and Clease voted against it.
Trustee Colleen Munro amended the motion to include only broadcast audio recordings.
“I see this as a way for the board to augment the good work we already do,” Munro said.
“I think this is just one more way we can amplify our message as a board.”
Superintendent of Schools Greg Bass provided two options to the board at the Aug. 30 meeting for broadcasting.
The options included paying $40,000 to hardwire the boardroom and install wireless microphones and a central audio hub, or recording the meetings for a cost of $5,000 annually.
He also recommended a three-month trial period.
Thomas urged trustees to consider residents living too far away to attend meetings, saying broadcasting meetings would increase engagement with residents. Despite his pleas, the motion was rejected.
Adding to the discussion from the previous meeting regarding demand for the recordings, use of resources, and transparency, Lang showed concern over whether content would be edited or raw, noting that she didn’t think residents would listen to a four-hour meeting.
“I worry about professionalism in terms of pushing out raw, unedited data,” she said.
Munro said there were already print versions available to the public that include meeting summaries, adding she wanted recordings to remain in their entirety despite their length. She said there was potential for recordings to be cut and itemized into a table of contents to make them more user-friendly.
LaPeare suggested having the board hold onto the recordings, making them available upon request, but Bass said it would be pointless as residents could record the recordings with their telephones.
“It’s all or none,” he advised. “Any beliefs you could safeguard it wouldn’t be a worthwhile endeavor.”
LaPeare said broadcasting leaves unanswered questions for residents, as it is a one-way avenue for communication.
“I like the idea of engaging our community,” she said. “But I also like the idea of our community being able to dialogue with us. We should be the ones out there, we should be the ones having that dialogue. It’s our responsibility.”
Eggerer said the reason behind the initial discussion of broadcasting meetings was to provide residents with information that the minutes did not provide, including discussion surrounding decisions.
“In an attempt to have that satisfied, it has gone in different directions,” she said.
Clease said there was no reason for broadcasting when the media attends meetings, holding the board accountable to the public.
She wanted trustees to speak with their communities, as she said she had done, to determine demand.
“We don’t even know if our community has an appetite for it,” she said.
Lang and Pettigrew agreed with Clease. Lang added that even if just one member of the public came forward asking for broadcasted meetings she would feel differently.
Pettigrew said he brought the idea up at school council meetings and had found no demand for it.
“If there is a demand for it, a need for it, a wish for it, we can start it again,” he said.
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