Dist. 211 votes down videotaped meetings
A motion that would have allowed the Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211 Board of Education to move forward on videotaping their meetings failed Thursday.
Over the past few months the board has discussed the prospect of recording their meetings to broadcast them live or post them on the district's website.
At a meeting on Oct. 13, the board was told the estimated initial cost of broadcasting meetings ranged from $50,000 to $90,000. The amount concerned some board members and angered residents who wanted more transparency, but requested a less expensive process that could involve District 211 students.
"Video recording the school board meetings will help make this school board more transparent. Outsourcing this job and denying students the opportunity of a real-world learning experience would be a mistake," said Schaumburg resident John Parker, a member of Northwest Suburban Taxpayers United on Thursday.
The board requested at the end of the Oct. 13 meeting for Superintendent Nancy Robb to research the issue more, particularly by seeking out resources that the village of Palatine or Harper College might be able to provide the board, if only for a trial period.
Harper College said they had no resources available to help the board, but Palatine officials offered their council chambers, which contain video equipment, on Thursday evenings, or the use of a mobile camera for a two- to three-month trial period, at no cost to the district.
The discussion on Thursday strayed away from those options though, with board members focused back on the issue of whether or not they wanted videotaping at all.
Board members Bill Robertson, Anna Klimkowicz and Mucia Burke expressed their support of the videotaping, as long as it balanced quality and affordability.
"This is just yet another avenue, another vehicle, by which we can make information available to the public," Robertson said. "It's not to say that 'We're hiding information, so now we're not because, look, we're making videos available.' I think it's just saying for your convenience this is another opportunity for you to receive information."
Klimkowicz said she thought it was a good idea to provide residents unable to attend meetings with more than just minutes to read online.
"I just think it's so important to keep that communication open," she said. "The words are great … but you don't see the passionate discussion."
But board member Richard Gerber said he felt that the board was already as transparent as Transparency International, an organization that monitors and fights corporate and political corruption, would expect them to be.
He added that "if there was some value" of videotaping meetings to the public, local media organizations would have already done so and posted the footage on their websites.
More concerns came from board secretary Edward Yung, who asked whether the meetings would also be recorded in Spanish to accommodate the large percentage of Hispanic families in the district, and from board president Robert LeFevre, who felt the issue had become too complex.
"Of all this complexity, very little, if any of it, has anything to do with the business that we're in, which is education," he said. "And quite frankly I'm uncomfortable exposing the district further to something that is not in the business that we're in. It's just opening up more issues for us to deal with and I don't feel very good about it."
Robertson made a motion for district superintendent Nancy Robb to purchase a two-camera system not to exceed $10,000 that would be used to record board meetings for the purpose of placing the recordings on the website.
He voted yes, along with Klimkowicz and Burke, to the motion, but their efforts were overridden by no votes from LeFevre, board vice president George Brandt, Gerber and Yung.