School board eyes live TV broadcasts 

Parents in the Jefferson School District would be the only parents in San Mateo County with the ability to watch their board members on television if the board gives the go-ahead.

Currently working with a representative of the California School Board Association to review proper meeting procedures and conduct, the board is "leaning" toward broadcasting their meetings live from Daly City’s Council Chambers, Superintendent Barbara Wilson said.

In anticipation of the move, Daly City has made appropriate accommodations for the district, asking its Parks and Recreation Commission, which has its usual meetings every fourth Wednesday, to conduct its meetings on the fourth Tuesday of each month beginning this month.

But while most on the board seem favorable of appearing on Daly City’s Cable Channel 27, some fear that because of mannerisms and idiosyncrasies, they will look "pretty dumb" on television. Fears also include posturing and lengthened meetings since everyone needs to comment for the cameras, Board Vice President Hans Hansen said.

"What’s good about it, is [that] everything is out there for the world to see. The real problem is what you then see, is not reality," Hansen said. "We look pretty dumb on TV. You’ve seen politicians on TV; it’s not a pretty sight."

The cameras would lead to board members not acting the way they would if they were off camera, and the board’s decisions are "too important to leave to that kind of unreality," he said.

If televised, the meetings could have a political impact: Board President Anthony Dennis and Board Member Annette Hipona are up for re-election in the fall. When discussed in August, broadcasting live on Wednesdays came with a cost of $36 per night, but final costs to the district haven’t been hammered out, said Daly City Manager Pat Martel.

The district would need to pay an incremental fee to replace any equipment and they’ll have to pay a technician to operate the cameras and other equipment, Martel said. The district would also need to pay a fee for the custodial service to open and close the Council Chambers for them if meetings run past 5 p.m., the closing time for City Hall, she said.

Parent advocates have pushed for the televised meetings so parents otherwise busy might be able to tune in and make the board more accountable for its actions. Jefferson Parent-Teach Association President Diane Go said that the televised meetings would give more parents an opportunity to monitor the board’s actions and decisions even when they can’t attend a meeting.

The board is waiting until meetings with the state school board representative are finished — next scheduled for April — before they make a final decision on televising their meetings, Wilson said.

dsmith@examiner.com

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