Although facing budget cuts in the near future, Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools is still making transparency a priority.
The district contracted with Granicus, a software and hardware provider based in California, to begin streaming district Board of Education meetings this month.
With an initial investment of $7,045, the service will cost the district $13,200 per year.
Stephanie Knott, the district’s spokeswoman, said the district contracted with Granicus to increase accessibility of school board meetings in the perspective of important budget cuts.
Knott said the system will also save staff time posting meeting minutes.
She said the district has not yet used other tools the service offers like those that show how many people are viewing the videos.
A Dec. 15 proposal from Granicus states the service will save the district about 19 hours of work per meeting and $10,600 per year after the first year of use.
Scott Latimore, the district’s web architect, said the service is cost effective because it plays a vital role in keeping the public informed.
“We’ve all sort of come to expect this kind of delivery of content from the Web, so I do feel like it increases transparency,” he said.
Latimore said one of the benefits of using the system is having access to a full archive of meetings.
The new system integrates videos and agendas so audience members can view them simultaneously.
A viewer can click on an agenda item of interest, and the video will jump to that point in the meeting.
“Before, you had to go to the website and listen to the entire thing until you could get the particular agenda item you wanted to see,” said Jamezetta Bedford, school board chairwoman.
Before using Granicus, locals who did not attend school board meetings only had two ways of viewing them — live on Chapel Hill TV 18 or a rerun on the Peoples Channel.
Knott said these options posed a problem because more than 50 percent of the district’s staff members don’t live in Chapel Hill or Carrboro.
Knott said the new system allows her to index videos rather than taking detailed notes, which she said consumed time and money.
There is a function that exports the notes she takes during the meeting into a Microsoft Word document that can be made available for use, she said.
Knott said the district considered other live streaming programs but chose Granicus because it’s designed specifically for governments.
The Chapel Hill Town Council also uses the company to stream footage of its meetings.
“I appreciate it because sometimes you need to go back and clarify what is said, so for board members themselves it’s a good tool,” School Board Vice Chairwoman Mia Burroughs said.
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