Antioch School Board to pursue live streaming, videotaping meetings

By Allen Payton

Following efforts by this newspaper, and at the urging of a new majority of members, the Antioch School Board agreed, on May 10th, to bring their meetings into the 21st century and offer greater transparency to the residents, parents and students in the district. They agreed to move forward with efforts to begin live streaming their meetings on the internet and videotaping them for possible later showing on a new local cable, education TV channel.

In the past, a majority of school board dismissed the idea, using the excuse that it was too costly. The issue was included as a question during the forum for school board candidates sponsored by the Herald during last fall’s election. Trustee Crystal Sawyer-White supported the idea then, and at the meeting.

The latest effort, requested by Board Vice President Debra Vinson, included an option of moving the board meetings to the Antioch City Council Chambers, where TV equipment for the live broadcast and streaming of their meetings, already exists – and has for over 20 years.

However, Joseph Gengler, the school district’s IT Manager is recommending an alternative approach that keeps the board in their own chambers and still allows the public to watch the meetings either live or taped.

During his presentation to the board, he explained the options of “the high cost of entry for equipment” for live television inside the board room, versus streaming, which has a “low cost of entry and only requires an internet connection.”

Audio of board meetings “is already posted on YouTube,” he explained. “We can use the same medium at no cost to us to add video to this. New TV’s have the YouTube app on them.” His recommendation, “instead of TV, we just livestream our events” including others at the schools.

“We can use existing district resources,” Gengler continued. “We can get more advanced and have the high school students come in and they can use the equipment to live stream their events.”

The system “integrates with Board Docs,” the district’s newly implemented online board meeting agendas, he added.

While there would be no additional internet fees for the district, there will however be some cost for equipment, such as purchasing and installing one or more cameras in the board room. It will cost about $600 for the box to stream to convert the signal and about $1,500 for a camera, Gengler explained.

In comparison, “it would cost $12,000 to $15,000 for the box to do live broadcasting,” he stated.

Vinson said “I like the idea of live streaming. Any way we decide to go it would be a positive.”

Board President Walter Ruehlig said “I would be supportive of pursuing” the effort.

Trustee Diane Gibson-Gray, who in the past worked for Comcast, asked where the archives would be stored, either on YouTube or “on our own server. Do any cities do both?”

“I would just record on the camera and keep it as an archive,” Gengler responded.

Gibson-Gray then explained that the “local cable access channel, they already collect a 1% tax” and said she “wanted to see if they have funds to pay for this.”

Gengler will continue to work on the effort and bring back a detailed proposal for future board adoption.

One Comment to “Antioch School Board to pursue live streaming, videotaping meetings”

  1. RJb says:

    Great job Allen and to those who participated in making this happen. Transparency in government is good.

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