School Board: Getting a clearer picture - Board approves audiovisual upgrades
Upcoming upgrades are designed to improve the audio and video quality of Brainerd School Board meetings. The Brainerd School Board Monday night approved audiovisual upgrades for the board room at the Washington Educational Services Building where...
Upcoming upgrades are designed to improve the audio and video quality of Brainerd School Board meetings.
The Brainerd School Board Monday night approved audiovisual upgrades for the board room at the Washington Educational Services Building where the board holds its meetings.
The board had first discussed the issue during a Finance Committee meeting in February and decided to table the issue at its February meeting. It was tabled to allow time for district staff to see if the new system could be put in a room at a school, where it could benefit students in addition to the school board.
Steve Lund, director of business services, reiterated Monday night the current video system in the board room is antiquated and the audiovisual quality is poor. The technology also hinders the meeting recordings from being aired on public television in a timely fashion, he said.
There are two options for upgrading the audio and video components in the board room, Lund said. The first option, at a cost of $6,000, would replace the current stationary camera with a camera that produces higher-quality video and audio. This option would be provided by Digital Horizons of Brainerd.
The second option, at a cost of $21,000, would implement a much more interactive system, Lund said. Multiple cameras would easily be able to switch and immediately focus on whoever is speaking at the moment, he said, be it a board member or an audience member. This option would be provided by Tom's TV of Brainerd.
The system would have a direct connection to the projector system in the room, Lund said. Instead of just being a picture of the projection screen, the video would feature a higher quality picture of the presentation while preserving the audio.
"It makes the meeting much more interactive than just simply recording it," Lund said.
The interactive system is controlled via a tablet, Lund said, and it's easy to use. Hopefully, staff would be able to train someone who's already attending the meeting on how to use the program, he said.
With either option, meeting recordings would be exported as digital files, which is different from the current situation, where recordings are recorded onto physical DVDs. With a file-based system, recordings would be held on a secured server. A file-based system would make it much easier to send the recordings to the public access channel, as well as post the meeting recordings on the school district's website, Lund said.
Difference of opinion
A motion to approve purchasing the $6,000 upgrade by board member Reed Campbell and seconded by board member Sue Kern failed on a 2-4 vote, with Campbell and Kern voting for the motion. Kern in February stated her preference for the less expensive upgrade, that it would be more valuable to spend the difference between the two options in a classroom.
Board member Chris Robinson said he would be inclined to invest more in the technology than the $6,000 basic replacement option.
"If we're going to do it, we should do it right so it's appealing to the viewers," Robinson said. "But I understand the support for saving a few pennies."
Board members Ruth Nelson and Bob Nystrom both said they agreed with Robinson's stance. The cost will be carried out over the life of the system, Nelson said, and the interactive system will be more engaging. The interactive system makes it easier for the public to follow along, Nystrom said.
"And we want to be more open to the public," Nystrom said.
After Campbell and Kern's initial motion failed, a motion to approve purchasing the interactive system upgrade at a cost of $21,000 was made by Robinson and seconded by Nelson. It was approved on a 4-2 vote, with Campbell and Kern voting against the motion.
Staff members looked at possibly putting the upgraded system in a room at Brainerd High School or another district site, Lund said. It sounded keen, he said, but was difficult to put together logistically.
"If we take this and move it someplace else in the district, that means we have to take this show on the road, too," Lund said.
Board meetings happen in the evening and during the midday, Lund said. There's a lot of scheduling flexibility with the current board room, which allows the board to easily schedule its meetings, he said. If the meeting location is moved to a more frequently used room, the board loses that scheduling flexibility.
The upgrades seem like an isolated use, Lund said, but he estimated the district "could easily get a decade" out of the upgraded system.
"It's going to have a pretty good shelf life," Lund said.
Students would be able to use the upgraded system in the board room if they needed to, Lund said. The board could also in the future look at modifying the use of the board room to make it more flexible, he said.
In other business, the board:
Accepted the resignations of the following employees: Tamora Dalin, speech language pathologist at Riverside Elementary School effective June 6; Rebecca Stabenow, special education teacher at Nisswa Elementary School effective June 6.
Accepted the retirement of Mary Linder, physical education teacher at Forestview Middle School effective April 1.
Approved the hiring of Shannon Moran, special education teacher, effective Aug. 29 as a resignation replacement.
Accepted donations for the month of April in the amount of $6,500. The board also accepted the donation of a tenor saxophone for the Brainerd High School Band.
Reviewed the sale of the BHS trades home for the price of $45,000. The sale was approved by the board's Finance Committee at a March 21 meeting.
SPENSER BICKETT may be reached at 218-855-5859 or firstname.lastname@example.org . Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/spenserbickett .