In anticipation of video recording its meetings, the Pasco County School Board already has changed its public comment procedures to place discussion of non-agenda items at the end of its sessions — so it can turn off the camera and not air those views that sometimes violate privacy rules.
Next, it plans to consider a policy making clear exactly what residents should expect from the recordings.
During previous deliberations, board attorney Dennis Alfonso told members it would make sense to clarify that any video recordings made would be public records and must be shared and maintained to follow Florida’s Sunshine laws.
At the same time, he reminded the board that the videos would not substitute for official board minutes that reflect motions made or votes taken. They would supplement those formal records, he said, and allow interested people to see what they might not have been able to attend in person — nothing more.
The policy proposal coming to the board on Tuesday reflects those views. Board members have said they did not want to begin posting videos until they have set rules in place.
Board member Megan Harding has pushed hardest for the district to video the meetings and share them online. She initially deemed the issue a matter of transparency, but when her colleagues observed that the board has always operated full public view, she shifted the focus to one of accessibility for busy residents who want to better track the board’s activities.
Since her November election, Harding has frequently posted her own video updates on social media, and her husband has sat in the audience airing the meetings on Facebook Live. None of the board members objected to her ideas, but they made clear their desire to keep the costs minimal, so they can focus district resources on items that impact students and employees.
As a result, they rejected some possibilities such as buying added cameras and hiring a production firm to organize live webcasts of their meetings. Instead, they decided to buy one piece of equipment that is to help improve video quality, and rely upon readily available platforms such as YouTube to stream the sessions on demand afterward — similar to other school districts.
To adopt policy, the board will conduct two public hearings before taking a vote. Final action on this update to the district’s Minutes policy is slated for June 18.