WEST WINDSOR-PLAINSBORO: School district to begin videotaping board meetings

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By Lea Kahn, Staff Writer
WEST WINDSOR — School district officials plan to begin videotaping West Windsor-Plainsboro Regional School Board meetings — possibly as early as September — and to extend the amount of time that the public may address the board.
The school board approved a new by-law — “Recording Board Meetings” — last month. The by-law states that the school board “may make a video recording of each open public board meeting” as an aid in preparing the minutes “and as a record available to the public for viewing.”
The school board already makes audio recordings of its meetings as an aid in preparing the minutes, but the audiotape is not available to the public. The videotape, however, will be made “available to the public for viewing,” the by-law said.
School board vice president Michele Kaish said the details would be worked out over the summer. There are technical questions that need to be answered before the board can begin taping the meetings, she said, adding that the goal is to begin in September.
Residents had been asking the school board to videotape the meetings since January, noting that recording the meetings would have helped with communications issues. It would also allow parents and residents to learn what took place at a meeting, if they could not attend because of work or other scheduling conflicts.
The by-law also permits members of the public to record the meetings — by either audiotape or videotape — as long as they comply with guidelines. Advance notice to the school board is not required, provided the person records the meeting while sitting in the audience.
If a member of the public wants to record the meeting from another area in the meeting room, the details would be worked out in advance of the meeting by the school board president or a designee. All recording equipment must be battery-operated and may not be connected to an electrical outlet.
Also last month, the school board approved a revision to the existing by-law — “Public Participation in Board Meetings” — to increase the length of time that someone may address the board, from two minutes to three minutes.
The revised by-law also sets aside 60 minutes for the first opportunity for the public to speak to the school board, and to 15 minutes during the second opportunity for the public to speak. Each speaker will be limited to three minutes to address the school board.
Ms. Kaish, the school board vice president, said many governing bodies and school boards allow three minutes for each speaker to address them. Township Council allows three minutes for a member of the public to speak to it, she said.
“There is no reason not to expand it,” Ms. Kaish said of the move to allow speakers to talk for three minutes instead of two minutes.