St. Charles School Board discussing whether to tape committee meetings rather than live streaming them

St. Charles School Board members are discussing whether to switch to audio taping their committee meetings rather than live streaming them because of a lack of viewership.

The issue was discussed during Saturday’s School Board retreat, which was livestreamed on the district’s YouTube channel. Scott Harvey, the district’s new chief communications officer, told board members that data over the past two months shows that few people are watching the committee meetings in real time. The School Board’s regular and special meetings would continue to be live streamed,

The videos from all of the School Board’s meetings are posted on the district’s YouTube channel. Harvey said more people watch the committee meetings after the meeting is over than during the meeting.

The video from the School Board’s Learning and Teaching Committee meeting on June 20 currently has 98 views. Harvey said that given the staff time it takes to live stream the School Board committee meetings, the School Board might want to consider audio taping them instead.

“We are among select districts live streaming our committee meetings,” Harvey said.

Board member Jillian Barker, who was first elected to the board in 2019, said the idea to live stream the meetings came about because of the public’s concern about a lack of transparency on the part of the district.

“The idea is that we maintain a level of transparency that everyone’s satisfied with,” Harvey said in response. “This is not about minimizing the transparency.”

Board member Matthew Kuschert agreed.

“That’s at the forefront of our minds, making sure they’re getting the information they need and we absolutely want them to,” he said.

To make it easier for the public to find out about a topic that is being discussed at a committee meeting, Harvey said the audio tape could be time stamped.

“On the video side, you don’t even have that capability,” he said.

Board member Becky McCabe liked that idea.

“I know that trying to find the topic on the livestream after its recorded is such a waste of time,” she said.

Board members are expected to discuss the issue again in August. Prior to that meeting, district staff members will do more research on audio taping the meetings.

In addition, staff will look at data from last year on how many people watched the livestreamed committee meetings. Board member Kate Bell requested the additional data.

“If we bring this to a board decision, I would like to see more than two months worth of data,” she said. “These were not highly controversial topics that were being discussed. As it gets closer to summer, people are less engaged.”