Trustee Maahs presses for board meeting recordings

If approved by school board, parents will have online access to view recordings of public meetings

School board meetings could soon be recorded and viewable online, if a motion on next Tuesday’s agenda is approved by the board.

Trustee Heather Maahs will ask her cohorts to vote ” that the board instruct staff to implement the recording of board meetings at minimal cost, and post the recording on the school district’s website by the Friday immediately following the board meeting.”

The issue has been discussed at length by the Chilliwack school trustees, and earlier this year they directed district staff to present a report on recording options.

That report was presented by Director of Instruction Kirk Savage on April 28, following a previous motion also put forward by Maahs. The report included various options for trustees to mull over.

They included the ability for different camera angles, and rates for technicians to operate the equipment in some cases.

Installing microphones could mean small adjustments to the board to accommodate the equipment, including new flooring to layover cables, for safety.

One option that would not require a technician came in just under $18,000. The most expensive option was for a technician-operated setup, at $26,766. A technician cost was estimated at double time for four hours per meeting, at the range of $250 to $300 per meeting.

However, the presentation was immediately after a preview of next year’s budget, in which the district had to find $2.7 million. Instead of taking action at that time, the board thanked Savage for the information and moved on.

But the issue came again at the May 19 meeting, when Maahs waived her allotted time for a trustee’s report to state that she would be bringing the motion forward on June 9.

She has been pushing the board to record meetings for the last several months, in an effort to ensure the board is “transparent to the public,” while allowing more people to attend the meetings in a virtual setting.

“Taxpayers and parents need to be able to see what the people they’ve elected are doing for their children’s education,” she said in an email to The Progress. “It is also a means for parents who otherwise may not be able to attend in the evenings a way of staying informed and engaged. I’ll bet a lot more parents would start watching the meetings if they were able to do so at their own time and convenience.”

And that in turn could lead to more feedback from the community, especially on pressing issues like bus fees, she said.

“I’d rather have angry people calling me than hear nothing at all,” she said. “That’s how we represent.”






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