Natomas Unified trustee on campaign to videotape meetings

Published: Saturday, Jun. 15, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 4B
Last Modified: Tuesday, Jun. 18, 2013 - 9:04 am

Trustee Ryan Herche is on a crusade to have Natomas Unified school board meetings videotaped.

He promised to promote the video recording of meetings when he campaigned for his school board seat last year.

But Wednesday night, the other members of the school board disagreed, saying it is too expensive and would take too much staff time, Herche said.

"It's frustrating that the board doesn't see the importance of transparency and they aren't ready to take this next step to build the public trust," Herche told The Bee on Thursday.

School board President Susan Heredia disagreed with Herche's assessment.

"Our meetings are transparent and open to the public," she said in a prepared statement. "We are not in agreement with diverting resources – both money and staff time – from the classroom to implementing a video system in the boardroom at this time."

She said the board hasn't closed the door on the idea and is exploring "alternative methods for the public to engage," including allowing members of the public to use their own devices to tape meetings.

Superintendent Chris Evans said the school board directed him Wednesday night to work with district staff to review the board's policy on recording meetings.

Locally, not many school districts offer recordings of their meetings online. Sacramento City Unified uses Access Sacramento to televise its meetings. Washington Unified in West Sacramento also shows its meetings on cable. Other districts videotape or record meetings, but don't put them online or on television.

Evans said the minutes of each meeting – approved unanimously by all board members – are available to the public. They also can listen to audio recordings held for 30 days after each meeting.

Herche said most of the residents he encountered while campaigning said they wanted school board meetings to be videotaped and available online.

Most people don't have time to go to a lengthy meeting on a weeknight, he said. Minutes also are vulnerable to human error and sometimes aren't available for weeks or months, according to the board member.

Evans disagreed with Herche's cost estimate of $1,000 for video equipment, saying early estimates are between $20,000 and $50,000.

Herche said he will continue to press board members to pass a resolution requiring video recordings of board meetings. He plans to use social media and canvass neighborhoods to promote his plan.

"The point of the video is accountability," Herche said.

Call The Bee's Diana Lambert, (916) 321-1090. Follow her on Twitter @dianalambert. Read her Report Card blog at http://blogs.sacbee.com/report-card/.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

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