This is a good first step.
Saying they want to be more transparent, Houston Independent School District trustees agreed Thursday to broadcast their once-monthly general meetings on the district’s cable access station, which runs 24 hours a day.
Trustees, though, are refusing for now to broadcast their less formal public meetings, where much of the debate and discussion — and even some votes — take place.
“If we televise everything we do as board members, then we would crowd out other programming,” Trustee Harvin Moore said. “Where would we stop? We have workshops. We have committee meetings. You have to draw a line at some point.”
Trustees also decided against airing the portion of their general meetings when citizens can address the board about any topic. Some trustees said they worried about parents violating children’s privacy.
HISD, which televised its meetings decades ago, now plans to take a more restrictive approach than some other local governments. The Houston City Council, for example, airs its general meetings, plus public comment periods and some committee meetings.
The Cypress-Fairbanks school board has been televising its meetings for more than a decade. Like HISD, trustees there have one meeting to discuss agenda items in detail, followed by a meeting where they cast votes.
Cy-Fair also has been posting videos of board meetings on the school district’s Web site for six years, and it now streams them live online, too.
HISD spokesman Norm Uhl said the district is researching ways to broadcast the meetings online.
I think the technology of that is pretty well understood at this point, so I hope what that means is they’re looking for a way to do it given current staffing and funding levels. Live-streaming and posting videos is the obvious answer to the concern about hogging the public access channel. The rest is just details. I applaud HISD for taking this step, but let’s not stop there. More like Cy-Fair and Houston City Council, please.