LB's New School Board Members Barton & Ellis Announce Agenda Items -- For Action At Next Board Meeting -- Seeking Options For Televising School Board Meetings & Directing Posting Of Agenda Details/LBUSD Documents On District Website
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(July 19, 2006) -- Before a near-capacity crowd at the LB Unified School District's July 17 governing board meeting, LBUSD's two newest Board members, Dr. David Barton and Michael Ellis, announced within minutes of being sworn into office that they will place items on the next School Board agenda (Aug. 22) seeking (1) at least three options from staff on televising and webcasting School Board meetings; and (2) posting School Board meeting materials and other LBUSD documents on the internet.
Dr. Barton (who replaced incumbent Jim Choura and now represents northeast-central ELB and Lakewood) presented an agenda item that states in pertinent part:
In order for the School District to operate in a more open fashion, and to increase accountability for its leaders, the public must have greater access to the thinking, deliberations and debates of the elected School Board. The best medium to do this is to televise our School Board meetings.
On reading the preceding words aloud, Dr. Barton received extended audience applause.
If supported by three of the five School Board members on Aug. 22, the item (prepared by Barton and recommended by Barton and Ellis) would direct the Superintendent:
[T]o direct appropriate staff to give the School Board members at least three options on broadcasting School Board meetings on television and the internet, including possible costs and ideas to offset any such costs. The report shall be given to the School Board members by no later than September 6, 2006. The staff shall explore such options as (1) a local cable channel be approached as carrying School Board meetings as a public service; (2) one of the District television stations carry the School Board meetings and repeat them; (3) a possible High School class be created or modified to include the production and televising School Board meetings.
LBUSD operates its own cable TV channel using taxpayer-paid TV equipment, video/audio gear and budgeted staff; it currently runs a mix of taped material, computer generated video and (at additional cost) taped telecasts of high school sports games using paid announcers and slow-motion replay technology [items not needed for School Board telecasts.]
The L.A. Unified School District and San Diego City Schools (1st and 2d in size statewide) have telecast their governing board meetings for years...as has the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate, CA Assembly, CA Senate, L.A. and OC Boards of Supervisors, the governing boards of the South Coast Air Quality Management District, CA Public Utilities Commission, CA Energy Commission, LB Community College Board of Trustees...and the City Councils of Signal Hill, Lakewood and Long Beach [among many others].
Reached for comment, ELB resident Jeannine McManigal-Ball, an ELB resident who twice sought the LBUSD School Board seat recently won by Boardmember Barton, told LBReport.com she considers the agenda item on televising LB School Board meetings "outstanding and way overdue" and added, "I'm hoping this is an indication of opening up the process and this government agency's operations to the public."
Boardmember Michael Ellis, who succeeds former School Boardmember (now-Councilwoman) Suja Lowenthal in representing the south-central LB area, unveiled an agenda item titled "Public Access to Public Documents." If supported by three School Board members on Aug. 22, it would direct the Superintendent (using the CA Public Record Act "as a guideline, and protecting the confidentiality of individual students and employees") to:
[P]repare (1) a plan to prominently place on the district website all agenda, agenda enclosures and supporting materials, and minutes of school board meetings starting with the January 2006 school board meetings; (2) a list of all budget documents that the District submits to County, State or Federal agencies that likewise could be placed onto the district website; and, (3) a list of the titles of all legal and litigation documents in currently active cases in California courts or state agencies that do not have student names in the titles. The staff shall submit the list to the school board members by no later than September 7, 2006."
Boardmember Ellis also announced that regarding upcoming August 21-22 School Board workshop sessions [extended agendized briefings for Boardmembers by LBUSD staff and management, open to the public, but without action items], he is "not particularly interested in is having someone lecture me about what a Boardmember is expected to do by administration of the Long Beach Unified School District. [applause]" Boardmember Ellis continued:
I have enough leadership experience that I don't need a lecture on any such topic, and I will not be participating in them if that is what they are going to be all about. I value workshops and I'm looking forward to participating in workshops that are going to be productive in terms of raising student achievement [and high school graduation rates, creating and funding after school programs, getting parents more involved in their child's education]. So if they do not hold that kind of value for me, I will not be participating but instead I'll be working directly with the constituents in my district to improve Long Beach schools.
LBUSD's three other Boardmembers and LBUSD staff didn't express views on the Barton and Ellis items during the Board meeting.
Boardmembers Barton and Ellis were part of a trio of candidates backed in the recent election cycle by the Teachers Ass'n of LB; Boardmember Mary Stanton was the sole incumbent to remain after the April and June 2006 elections.
Assemblywoman Betty Karnette (D., LB) administers the oath of office to School Board member Michael Ellis....
...and to School Board member Dr. David Barton.
Re-elected School Board member Stanton was sworn into office by 9th district Councilman Val Lerch.
The newly constituted Board elected School Board Member Jon Meyer as Board president [meaning president Meyer will chair the meetings] on a 3-2 vote. (Yes: Stanton, Williams, Meyer; No: Barton, Ellis).
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