Reacting to a petition signed by more than 100 community members, the Brookfield-LaGrange Park School District 95 Board of Education has agreed to study whether or how to resume livestreaming its school board meetings.
The district stopped livestreaming its meeting on Zoom this fall saying that not many people watched the videos, which were time-consuming for staff to arrange and suffered from poor audio quality.
A school board committee will now look at what the district’s options are and decide whether there is a cost-effective way to broadcast meetings. The Brookfield Village Board will start livestreaming its meetings in January, with the person spearheading that initiative saying the village is paying less than $10,000 to purchase and install the cameras and equipment and will incur a recurring annual cost of about $4,500.
School board President Katie Mulcrone said that the board will look at options and get quotes to see what it would cost to find an effective way to broadcast meetings.
School board members seemed reluctant to spend the kind of money the village is spending to livestream their meetings, but board members Jackie Jordan and Elizabeth Loerup seemed the most interested in finding a way to live stream or broadcast the meetings.
“I would like to try something,” said Jordan who volunteered to lead the committee.
Loerup, who is a teacher, mentioned that the principal at her school uses Google Live to communicate.
“I’m definitely interested in problem-solving through this,” Loerup said.
But board member Jessica Filbey was wary of spending $15,000 or more to livestream meetings, saying very few watched the meetings earlier this year when they were broadcast on Zoom.
“It’s a large amount of money for a few amount of people,” Filbey said. “Is it worth the expenditure?”
Superintendent Mark Kuzniewski said that the 116 people who signed the petition calling for meetings to be livestreamed represent only about 1 percent of voters who live in the school district.
“In my opinion it’s a very small representation of voters,” Kuzniewski told the school board, adding the school district generally doesn’t make decisions based on petitions.
The leader of the petition drive, Jaime Baker, the mother of a kindergartner, said that while she is happy that the board will consider resuming livestreaming its meetings, she was discouraged by the cool response from the board.
“That would be great if they could come up with a solution, but it seemed that they’re not really willing to do it,” Baker said. “They cited one thing that the village was doing that cost $10,000. I know that we can find equipment that’s a lot more affordable than that. And they had also said that Zooming the meetings was very stressful, time consuming, but I’m able to just show up there with my computer, literally press start and that’s it. It’s not that big of a deal.”
Baker has recorded the last two District 95 school board meetings on her computer and says she has posted them to the District 95 Parents Facebook page and on YouTube. The Facebook group is private. A search of YouTube for the videos came up empty.
She said that her video of the November school board meeting had more than 100 views and that the video of the Dec. 9 meeting has already been viewed by 36 people.
“People are going and reviewing it, and looking at it so there is a need for it,” Baker said.
Baker has also asked that the district have microphones at the board table, saying it is difficult for visitors attending meetings in person to hear what board members are saying.
Eight members of the public attended the Dec. 9 meeting.