District could learn a communications lesson

Posted: Friday, May 07, 2010

LAST WEEK THE KENAI PENINSULA BOROUGH school District Board of Education held their meeting in Seward, part of their once a year visit to the eastern Peninsula.

The board also makes an annual visit to Homer each year.

These meetings, held outside the central Peninsula, are a prime opportunity for residents of those outlying communities to attend a board meeting in person without having to make the drive to Soldotna.

Unfortunately, for the rest of the year those residents have no other option but to drive if they wish participate or even simply listen in on a school board meeting.

This past week, the Peninsula Clarion learned this first hand, when a request to listen in on the Monday meeting via a teleconference phone call or other means was met with the response from the district that it would not be possible to do so. Other Peninsula residents have also expressed concern in the past.

We find, in a time when the district is in dire need of improving its level of communication with the public, that opening their doors through any means possible to the entire Peninsula would be the best precedent they could set.

Indeed, one of the characteristics that makes the KPBSD unique among others around the state is the diverse nature of communities it serves including spread out "urban" centers, rural road system villages and communities only accessible by air or sea.

As it is, several other civil boards including the KPB Assembly, Kenai City Council, Seward City Council and Homer City Council, broadcast their meetings over the radio, local access television or use live Internet streaming.

We understand that the district is under financial duress, and perhaps is not in a position to afford a contract with a radio station.

We know for a fact through our own education coverage that the district is well equipped to stream courses live from multiple locations. And while we understand there may be costs associated with doing so for a board meeting, it seems perfectly reasonable to establish this system as soon as possible.

In short: Using technology to broadcast its meetings would be doing The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District and its public a service.

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