School board meetings to be broadcast

By Amanda Schwarze
Staff Writer

After months of investigation, the Orono Board of Education has decided to purchase technology that will allow the district to tape and broadcast its meetings.

While having video of the meetings available may be the most visible aspect of the new system, district officials also plan to use it for staff development and additional learning opportunities for students. The estimated cost of the new system is $34,000 and the board unanimously agreed to move forward with the purchase and installation of the technology during a June 26 special meeting.

Board Member Mike Johnson said that district officials have been investigating the technology for at least six months. While there were more expensive options that came with more equipment, Johnson said that the district was looking for a good, solid system that came at an affordable cost. Superintendent Dr. Karen Orcutt said that she believed the new system would allow for more opportunities for the board, staff and students.

Johnson said that the plan is to work with the Lake Minnetonka Communications Commission (LMCC) to have the recordings of the meetings broadcast on cable access. In addition, the LMCC will also have the recordings available online. Johnson said that people watching the meetings online will also be able to go straight to the point in the recordings where specific agenda items are discussed by using a feature that the LMCC will add to the videos at no cost to the district.

Recoding meetings so the public may view them has been a desire of many district officials and residents for some time. Yet, Johnson said that the new technology will likely be most used for staff development purposes. He said that other districts use similar systems to tape training sessions for staff. Orcutt added that the system could lead to more learning opportunities for students.

Board Member Bob Tunheim asked if the system would allow for video conferencing. Johnson said that the some additional equipment would need to be purchased for video conferencing, but that the system would be able to handle that kind of use.

Orcutt said that the plan is to start recording meetings as soon as the equipment is installed. She said that she is hopeful that will happen by the first fall meeting.