Woodland Elementary District 50 in Gurnee mulls live streaming of school board meetings

  • Dann Giesey

    Dann Giesey

Updated 12/8/2014 12:49 PM

Woodland Elementary District 50 in Gurnee might start a live online video stream of school board meetings without commercials.

District 50 board members recently agreed they'd prefer an in-house online video posting operation over private companies used by other school systems that offer free, Web-based services in exchange for advertising that appears during meetings or other events.


Board members also said raw video of meetings that could be archived and replayed would be preferable to an edited version. The video choices would be found on a section of District 50's website.

"We want people to watch it. ... We want people to see what's going on," board member Vince Juarez said.

Officials said it would cost nearly $8,600 to set up Woodland's online video system. District 50 technology director Dann Giesey said while more expensive than posting video through outside companies, there would be greater archive capacity and other benefits by keeping the work in house for a one-time cost.

Some suburban school districts show live and recorded board meetings over San Francisco-based Ustream Inc. and iHigh, operated by Volar Video Inc. of Lexington, Kentucky.

But there is a catch to the Ustream and iHigh free services: commercials that can't be skipped appear before and during board meetings.

District 50 board member Terry Hall said she's seen a Viagra ad on Ustream for one school district's meeting.

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Grayslake Elementary District 46 is among the users of Ustream for live and archived school board meetings. On Monday, ads for Kellogg's cereal and tourism in the Fort Myers-Sanibel region of Florida were shown before the video of last month's District 46 board session played, followed by a BMW graphic on the lower section of the screen when the elected officials began their business.

District 46 technology director Joe Nowak said the Ustream ads could be eliminated if the school system switched from the free version to premium service with a fee. He said Ustream's limited video archiving means board videos are directly posted to District 46's website.

"There are concerns with the advertising," Nowak said. "People find it annoying, mostly. The ads, during the live broadcast, can be an interference during meetings, as you can't pause or go back during the live broadcast, and it forces you to watch the ad. Of course, they always pop up during the worst times. You can rewind and replay the video in its recorded form to get around the ads, but you have to wait for the event to finish before the recording is available."

Nowak said a viewer can also pay a fee to Ustream to block the commercials.

At Woodland, Giesey said the district would have a Safari Montage system to allow access and manage video resources from within the school district network or from home.

District 50 board members brought up the idea of pursuing video recording of meetings when they went through a self-evalaution process in July. Swoboda said a timeline will be established for setting up the streaming video project.

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