Lindenhurst residents and school board members are divided on whether the board should continue to videotape public meetings and post them online and, if so, whether public comments should be aired.
The board held a community forum last week after they received complaints from some residents following the start of videotaping at a July meeting. Residents have voiced concerns about repercussions for public comments and worry that viewers may get a distorted perspective if they see only portions of the video reposted on social media.
In response the district has continued to videotape meetings and post them on its website, but does not record public comments or questions.
“Right now it looks very choppy,” said board member Kevin Garbe. “You’re getting the answers but you have to guess what the questions are.”
The district had recorded only audio of the meetings but this ceased several years ago after the recording machine broke, board members said. The district has contracted with its existing IT company, Long Island Computer Networks, to videotape the meetings at a cost of $150 per session.
Board members said the issue of videotaping first came up for discussion at a public meeting more than a year ago where it was mentioned the recordings could benefit residents unable to attend meetings, prevent misinformation on social media, and help with the board’s goal of transparency.
The board held a discussion on the subject during an executive session and decided to go forward with videotaping. Since the board has an existing recording policy, a public vote was not needed, board members said.
“I don’t think anyone thought there would be such a reaction,” said board member Edward Murphy Jr. “It’s not like we voted on a new policy, we just moved forward and upgraded the technology.”
The videos are posted on the district’s website. Superintendent Daniel Giordano reported that of the five meetings posted so far, the most amount of views for a meeting has been 17, with the other meetings having between one and five views each.
“I’m not sure anyone’s getting anything out of this format,” said board member Linda Aniello.
Residents last week offered up a host of suggestions, including stopping recording on request or having the board members repeat the questions before giving an answer, but none were given the green light and the board said there would be a public board vote on the matter at another time.