Lights, Camera, Action! Holmdel Board of Education Votes 5-1 to Videotape Meetings


HOLMDEL, N.J. -  At the May 2017 Holmdel Board of Education Meeting, the HBOE planned to begin a pilot project of videotaping meetings for the meeting on June 28th, 2017. 

Instead, during the Wednesday June, 28th meeting, Board Member Mike Sockol said the Board first needed to formally approve either the audio or the video of the meetings. The audio portion was started as a pilot project a few years ago and he said it needed to be finalized.

Sockol said, “I think we should instruct the Superintendent to make adjustments to our existing policy to move the audio pilot to an actual (plan).”

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Board member Peter Reddy asked staff  how many people listened to them. The indication was that it is between 35-70 listeners. Discussion was also held in regard to archival requirements.

“My recommendation is that we continue the audio and make it permanent,” said HBOE President Joseph Hammer. Consensus was to make the audio recording process permanent. You can hear the discussion begin at 56:30 at the link to the audio file by clicking here:

Videotaping had both supporters and detractors. While many municipalities and school boards are adopting new technology including live streaming on public access television, Holmdel has been reluctant. “I don’t see the value of it at this point” said Board Member Peter Reddy. “What is the betterment of it except for seeing your smiling face…I just don’t see the benefit of it”.

“You may have to wear a tie” quipped Board President Hammer.

“I’m in the same league as Peter, said Board Member Mike Sockol. “First of all, if we do go video, I don’t think you need both. Your going to either go video or audio. I don’t see the extra value add of it being video versus audio, audio uses less file space, it’s much easier for us to maintain and store. There aren’t any issues about, you know, you don’t run into problems with people feeling that they’ve been, that they look bad…or - I don’t know. There is a whole bunch of stuff when you start going visual but if we do it we can't do both - you either have audio or videos”.

Sockol went on to discuss installing a video conference system for the meetings for board members who cant make the meetings.

Board Member Ammirati said, “As a pilot we can revisit at some point, the pros and the cons of it. We can decide monetarily if it’s worthwhile and good for community relations. I thought it would be worthwhile to give it a shot.”

Hammer described the detail. “Two costs to it. One is a camera, we would probably just set it up in the back… and the cost of archiving”.

Board Member Flynn had experience with videotaped meetings. “I’ve been part of boards that have had videotaping. I know sometimes the video tape has audio that is not as great. The audio we have is very does provide a good record… it might be worthy of a pilot to see how we look and how we sound”.

Hammer concluded the dialogue. “That’s a good reason to have audio and video in case you are not able to get both...unless the board objects to doing a short pilot for videotaping perhaps we go forward.”

Consensus on doing a pilot on videotaping meetings at the next meeting of the Holmdel Board of Education for the citizens of Holmdel was 5-1, with Mike Sockol opposed. Board members Martinez and Kline were absent.

The next meeting is now scheduled to be videotaped to provide convenience to all taxpayers and give them the opportunity to see  their tax dollars at work in the Holmdel Public School System.

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