Stow-Munroe Falls discusses continued live streaming of meetings

Krista S. Kano
Akron Beacon Journal

Several Stow-Munroe Falls School District residents demanded an explanation as to why the Feb. 8 work session was not live-streamed, as has been done throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and why they were not alerted to the change. 

Superintendent Tom Bratten addressed the matter at the Feb. 22 board meeting, explaining that prior to the pandemic, work sessions, which are separate from the regular board meetings, were not recorded or streamed. 

"When we went back to in-person, I reverted to not tape the work sessions, so that was my fault," he said. "If there was an expectation from the board, I take responsibility for that. Bottom line for me is that the meeting is that of the board of education. If you want everything live-streamed, we'll do that, but that needs to be a decision of the board. I reverted back to how things were done prior to the pandemic and Zoom meetings." 

Board president Jessica Wright has stated that the next work session on March 8 would be live streamed.

According to Wright, previous boards had decided not to stream work sessions in hopes of having more open discussions, but she said, "I personally believe in transparency. I believe our community has a right to know why we are making those decisions." 

Member Nancy Brown agreed, saying "I think the most dangerous thing to say is that we're doing it because we've always done it that way. The pandemic gave us the necessity to livestream and it was popular for the community. The community is who we work for." Board vice president Jason Whitacre said he also believed that all meetings should be live streamed and preserved. 

Board member Gerry Bettio said she had no objection to live-streaming meetings, but said that it encourages people to email statements rather than attend meetings. 

"I would like to see people who write letters and have a concern, now that we have active in-person meetings, that they come and address the board," she said. 

The board will look into developing a policy for streaming and archiving recorded meetings and setting submission deadlines and standards for emailed comments to be read at board meetings. 

Reporter Krista S. Kano can be reached at 330-541-9416, or on Twitter @KristaKanoABJ.