College district will decide whether to televise board meetings

The College of San Mateo campus. CSM is one of three schools within the San Mateo County Community College District. Photo from the CSM website.

Daily Post Staff Writer

The San Mateo County Community College District’s board tonight (June 12) will debate whether to broadcast its own board meetings.

Many boards, city councils and commissions in the county have cameras at their meetings and either live stream or post them on an online viewing platform later. Currently, the college district records audio of the meetings and members of the public can request copies up to a month after.
The board at its March 27 meeting discussed the possibility of partnering with PenTV, a San Mateo-area public access station.

The partnership would involve PenTV broadcasting the board’s meetings and relocating its offices to the now defunct KCSM-TV studios at College of San Mateo. At the March meeting, Trustee Richard Holober said he’d like to have meetings broadcast. Trustee Karen Schwarz said she isn’t interested in the meetings being televised, though she said she is open to discussing it.

The other two board members at the meeting, Thomas Nuris and Maurice Goodman, didn’t say whether they thought meetings should be televised.

Outfitting the board room with the needed equipment would cost between $75,000 and $100,000, and the district would have to pay an additional $40,000 to $60,000 in staffing costs each year. If the district outsources the job of operating TV cameras at the meetings, the cost per year including archiving would be $25,000 to $40,000, according to a report by Vice Chancellor Mitch Bailey.

Bailey’s report includes a link to a report from the Association of Community College Trustees on whether board meetings should be broadcast. It says the pros of broadcasting include making the meetings more accessible.

The cons include people acting out in order to get on camera and a possible decrease in participation because some don’t want to be televised.

Two of the county’s five high school districts broadcast their board meetings. Cabrillo and Jefferson always broadcast their meetings, while South San Francisco Unified only does so when it meets in the city’s council chambers. Neither San Mateo nor Sequoia union high school districts broadcast their meetings.

Only three of 10 Bay Area community college districts broadcast. They are Peralta Community College District in Oakland, Ohlone Community College District in Fremont and San Francisco Community College District.

The board will also discuss changes to how its meeting minutes are kept when it meets at 6 p.m. today at College of San Mateo, 3401 CSM Drive.