In May, the San Dieguito Union High School District (SDUHSD) will consider a $4,000 expenditure to record and broadcast its monthly board meetings.
At the April 19 SDUHSD board meeting, Joel Van Hooser, director of information technology, presented three possible options for recording the board proceedings, varying in cost from $4,000 to $59,000. Van Hooser’s report followed up on a request from SDUHSD Trustee John Salazar to record meetings and broadcast them on the district website.
“This board spends $135 million every year so I think the taxpayers have the right to be able to see exactly what is happening and what comments board members are making,” Salazar said. “I’m an advocate for that. I’m proud for the citizens and taxpayers to hear what I have to say.”
Of the three options, Van Hooser said the simplest is the $4,000 system that would include one wide-angle, ceiling-mounted, non-moving camera. It would require one staff member to start and stop recording.
The manual option would cost $41,000 for three mounted ceiling cameras that would be manned by one technically skilled staff member to pan, tilt and zoom. The automated system would be the most expensive, with three cameras that automatically move to a person speaking into a microphone.
Van Hooser said school boards that record and broadcast their meetings, such as the San Diego County Board of Education or Poway Unified School District, typically use the manual option.
SDUHSD Trustee Amy Herman said she would have a tough time arguing that they need the most expensive option or the manual option with the additional staff time but that she would be fine exploring the $4,000 option. SDUHSD Vice President Mo Muir agreed that they should at least have a simple recording of meetings while SDUHSD Clerk Joyce Dalessandro said she would rather see their money go toward items like surveillance cameras at all school campuses.
SDUHSD President Beth Hergesheimer said that they do audio record the meetings and recordings and transcriptions are provided as needed. Like Dalessandro, she said she would like to see the dollars be better spent. “This wouldn’t be my priority because we have recordings and documentations of the meetings that are available to the public.”
Salazar continued to advocate for the camera and asked that the expenditure be placed on the agenda for a vote in May.
“We’re spending $4,800 this month to send eight students to a track meet. I think we can find $4,000 to post a camera up there and put it online for the taxpayers,” Salazar said. “I know that’s something a lot of people don’t like to say but that’s who we work for. They have a right to see this board in action.”