Newest Pasco board member wants meetings live-streamed

Others on the board say they want to explore the idea.
Megan Harding takes her oath of office Nov. 20, 2018, to serve on the Pasco County School Board. [Jeffrey S. Solochek | Times]
Megan Harding takes her oath of office Nov. 20, 2018, to serve on the Pasco County School Board. [Jeffrey S. Solochek | Times]
Published Dec. 4, 2018

Before taking the oath of office two weeks ago, newly elected Pasco County School Board member Megan Harding made clear her desire to increase the transparency of the board's actions.

Harding  made good on that effort Tuesday, asking superintendent Kurt Browning to add a discussion about live-streaming or televising board meetings to a future agenda.

Currently, the district keeps a digital recording of board sessions, and does not video them. That makes the meetings hard to access for busy Pasco residents, Harding suggested.

She noted the board meets once monthly at 9:30 a.m., a time that's inconvenient for the thousands of district employees, as well as the many working parents in the county. Yet critical issues don't wait.

On Tuesday's agenda was discussion about possibly closing two elementary schools, and several teachers and aides used personal time off just to attend.

Others on the board expressed their support, but didn't want to commit to one particular format of streaming.

Board member Cynthia Armstrong said she had attended a seminar on the topic recently, and pointed out that several options exist ranging from posting a recording on YouTube to putting together a staff to produce a live stream.

She asked if the administration could research the possibilities and recommend a course of action.

Chairwoman Alison Crumbley said she long had been interested in the idea, but worried about the associated costs. She, too, wanted more information about how the district might stream the meetings without incurring too many expenses, such as equipment and personnel.

Members said they wanted to revisit the idea in April, after they finish considering the west side school reorganization plan the administration has proposed.

The idea gained support on social media from residents, some of whom wondered why the board would have to wait. Sarasota School Board member Bridget Ziegler praised Harding on Twitter, and said that it might take time to achieve such a goal.

It took her three years to get Sarasota meetings online, she said.

Stay tuned.