Wicomico school board will stream meetings to Internet

Parents and citizens interested in hearing what Wicomico County Board of Education members are discussing and deciding can now watch meetings live.

They are being broadcast at http://bit.ly/2bGHmZJ and the Website can be accessed from the Board of Education home page, at www.wcboe.org.

The first meeting was broadcast on Sept. 13.

Community members are still welcome to attend meetings in the auditorium at 101 Long Ave, but now they also have the option of seeing the sessions on their computers or mobile phones.

Webcasting is compatible with platforms including Apple and Android.

The board contracted with Swagit Productions, LLC, a company “known for its ability to provide automated, or hands free, streaming and content management capabilities that preclude the need for onsite A/V staffing resources,” according to Tracy Sahler, who handles public relations for the board.

This year’s budget includes $30,000 for Swagit, but the first-year cost is about $40,000, because it includes a one-time cost for installing equipment needed to record and broadcast.

“That accounted for about $30,000 of the first-year cost, and will not be a cost going forward. There is a $10,000 cost per year for the direction, production, recording, streaming, storing, archiving and indexing to the board’s agenda online on BoardDocs of 25 meetings per year,” Sahler explained.

“That will include all regular board meetings as well as two budget hearings each year, special meetings, and some work sessions. Going forward, $10,000 will be the annual cost,” she said.

At no additional cost, the board will be able to work with PAC 14 to download and air meetings after they have taken place, as a service to PAC 14 viewers, she said.

“We’re also pleased that this service makes it possible to livestream and archive meetings without costs for staffing, as the service is hands-off here on site and the work is done remotely by Swagit,” Sahler said.

Don Fitzgerald, president of the Board of Education, said board members are “very excited to be broadcasting board meetings as a public service and a tool for transparency.”

“We’re always glad to have people join us in the board auditorium for our meetings, but this is going to make our meetings even more accessible to the community. They’ll be able to watch meetings online as they happen, or look back on a meeting that has already taken place,” he said.

All meetings will be archived. The on-demand feature will let viewers choose which agenda items or conversations they wish to watch and then go directly to that segment, Sahler said.

Because of budgetary considerations, board members might decide not to broadcast some work sessions, depending on relevance of topics. Regular or special meetings will be broadcast, but Sahler said the contract “only calls for a certain number of meetings each year.”

“The school system will work with PAC 14 on the logistics of broadcasting the meetings on its channel, for yet another way for the community to watch,” Sahler said.

Upcoming board of education meetings will be Oct. 11 at 1:30 p.m., Nov. 15 at 7 p.m., Dec. 13 at 1:30 p.m., Jan. 10 at 7 p.m., Feb. 14 at 1:30 p.m., March 14 at 7 p.m., April 11 at 1:30 p.m., May 9 at 7 p.m. and June 13 at 1:30 p.m.

 

Reach Susan Canfora at scanfora@newszap.com.

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