School Board Contact Info, Videotaping Meetings, Bagpipes Program and More
Also, a bus driver is denied time to speak in these remaining notes from the Oct. 5 Baldwin-Whitehall School Board meeting.
School Board Debates Revealing Members’ Contact Info
“My phone number’s in the (phone) book,” board member Kevin J. Fischer said. “Many people have found it when they want to find it.”
Fischer said that publishing his email address—or any email address that the district creates for him—on the district website would encourage laziness when it comes to district residents seeking out school board members.
Fellow board member Nancy Lee Crowder said that she is OK with her phone number or her district email address being published, but not her home mailing address.
“If they want my (ordinary mailing) address, they can look it up in the phone book,” Crowder said, “but I don’t want it out on the website … for the whole Internet to see.”
“My phone number’s in the phone book,” board President George L. Pry said, “but I really don’t want it easily accessible (on the district website).”
CORRECTED: The board is expected to vote on separate items for publishing email addresses, home mailing addresses and phone numbers at its next meeting on Oct. 12.
Videotaped Board Meetings?
The board’s members also discussed on Wednesday night whether or not to video broadcast its meetings, pondering a live Internet stream of video and/or archived video.
The consensus among board members was that broadcasting meetings could lead to grandstanding and a stale board that would not accomplish much.
Board member John B. Schmotzer said that he has been in favor of broadcasting meetings in the past but that he has changed his mind after talking to other public officials whose meetings are taped and/or broadcasted.
“You really do not get an honest exchange of thoughts and comments because you’re always thinking, in the back of the mind, ‘You know what? That TV camera is on,’” John Schmotzer said.
“Grandstanding also occurs from the audience. People, they get up at this (the meeting room’s) microphone, and they grandstand constantly, for whatever reason. So, it’s a vehicle for them to granstand(, too).”
Fellow board member Martin Michael Schmotzer agreed with his brother, saying that the downfall of the U.S. Senate came with broadcasting its meetings.
“The day they brought C-SPAN in, the senators quit speaking to each other,” Martin Schmotzer said. “They speak to that little camera.”
Because there was no push in favor of the item, the board elected to table it until after new board members are elected in November.
Bagpipe Enrichment Class
The school board discussed adding an after-school bagpipes enrichment class at Baldwin High School.
Dr. John D. Wilkinson, B-W’s assistant superintendent of secondary education, explained that the instrument’s close tie to the school district’s mascot—the Highlander—is part of the program’s appeal.
The instrument could be used in performances by the Baldwin High marching band.
Wilkinson explained that this year has been an exploratory one for the program, mostly designed to gauge interest.
BHS Principal Kevin J. O’Toole said that, should the school board back the bagpipes program, it would cost the district an estimated $2,500 to $3,000 per school year. O’Toole said that approximately 12 students are interested in the program.
Pry said that district students who learn how to play the bagpipes could very well have a chance to major in that instrument at local Carnegie Mellon University, which is the only university in the country to offer such a major.
Bus Driver Denied Public-Comments Time
Richard Sauter, who identified himself as a Baldwin-Whitehall School District bus driver, was denied public-comments time toward the end of Wednesday’s meeting because he does not live in Baldwin-Whitehall.
Sauter said that he lives at 500 E. Bruceton Road, which is a Pleasant Hills Borough address and part of the West Jefferson Hills School District. He said that he has spoke at B-W School Board meetings before, though.
B-W Superintendent Dr. Lawrence C. Korchnak read a passage from the B-W School District’s policy on speaking at board meetings:
“District residents present at a Board meeting may address the Board in accordance with law and Board procedures and policy.”
The board’s consensus was that “district residents” was the language that it needed to prohibit Sauter from speaking.
Sam DiNardo Jr. was the lone board member not present at the meeting.
How do you feel about any of the above topics? Tell us in the comments section below.