SDUHSD approves recording board meetings

The San Dieguito Union School District (SDUHSD) will now provide video of its meetings, as the board voted 3-2 on May 10 in favor of purchasing recording equipment. SDUHSD Board President Beth Hergesheimer and trustee Joyce Dalessandro voted against it.

“This will certainly benefit the taxpayers. This is good for any board member and for the public to really understand all of the money spent in the district,” said SDUHSD Trustee John Salazar, who advocated for the district to record board meetings. “If we have this high-functioning, wonderful district that we all believe we have, I think this is just a very needed necessity.”

The board approved a $4,000 expenditure for one wide-angle, non-moving camera to be mounted in the ceiling of the board room of the district office in Encinitas. The expenditure also included one staff member to start and stop recording and switch video displays throughout the meeting for an overtime rate of $260 to $392 an hour per regular meeting and $114-$174 per special meeting.

During public comment, parents Lea Wolf and Rita McDonald questioned the amount paid to simply “press a button.”

“The expense of the staff is not something I’m thrilled with but if it’s something that would make this more transparent for people to see, I’m OK with that,” said SDUHSD Trustee Amy Herman who supported the motion along with SDUHSD Vice President Mo Muir.

Several parents spoke out in support of recording the meetings— parent Wendy Gumb said that it will provide the public with a window into what happens at the board every month and allow parents to clearly understand the decisions that are made.

Hergesheimer voted against the expense as the district already provides audio recordings upon request and written minutes.

“I have not had people coming to me saying I wish I had video to watch or listen to it later. For me, it’s money going where I don’t see it’s needed when we have a record,” Hergesheimer said.

Parent Steven McDowell said executive assistant Joann Schultz does a great job with the minutes but the video recording would allow people to get more of the entire dialogue of what’s going on in meetings, listen to opinions and “understand where people are coming from.”

“Just having audio and video will enhance the ability for the community to understand what’s going on,” McDowell said.

According to SDUHSD Superintendent Eric Dill, the camera will be installed in the coming months. It is not yet known if the meetings will be live-streamed.