The Lindenhurst Board of Education has voted to stop videotaping public meetings.
The board had begun recording meetings in July with the hope that the tapes could benefit residents unable to attend meetings, while also preventing misinformation on social media and helping the board show an effort of transparency. The district contracted with its existing internet technology company, Long Island Computer Networks, to videotape the meetings at a cost of $150 per session.
But at the first meeting, residents voiced concerns about repercussions for public comments and worried that viewers would get a distorted perspective if they saw only portions of the video reposted on social media. In response, the district continued to record and post meetings online but had the videographer stop recording whenever there were public comments or questions.
District officials described the result as “choppy” and board members questioned whether viewers were getting anything out of the recordings. For the first five meetings posted, the district reported, the most views for a single meeting was 17, with the other meetings having between one and five views each.
The board decided to bring the matter to a public vote and on Wednesday they voted 5-4 against a proposal to record and play entire meetings, including public comments.
Board president Donna Hochman voted against the measure, saying later that because of the cost and low viewership, she felt it was not “fiscally responsible to continue with it.”
While there had been complaints that the videos were difficult to find online, she said the three months of recordings gave people “ample time” to find them. She said the board opted for an “all or nothing” vote on the recordings because even though residents had offered additional suggestions for recording around the public comments, the board had found editing costs would be “astronomical.”
Board member Valerie McKenna, who voted for the recordings, said “a lot of people in the community” had expressed an interest in videotaping the meetings. She said the low viewership was because the recordings had not been advertised enough on social media.
“I wanted to get as much information as possible out to the public,” she said of the recordings. “This way they could see what we do, and if there’s any confusion, we could go back to the videotape and look.”