Delavan-Darien School District officials say streaming video of school board meetings online could cost upward of $20,000—a price one official said was too high.
Several months ago, a school board member inquired about how much it would cost to stream video of board meetings online, Superintendent Jill Sorbie said. Officials recently determined equipment would cost between $15,000 and $20,000.
But those prices do not include the cost to make the videos compliant for those who are deaf or hard of hearing and English-language learners, which would require hours of work from an employee every month.
Public institutions providing videos of public meetings generally must offer equal opportunity to participate and effective communication with people who are deaf or hard of hearing, according to multiple federal laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act.
That means they may be required to provide closed captioning for live streams and uploaded videos.
In 2017, the Milton School District decided to end live streaming of school board meetings in part because of the cost to provide closed captioning. The district still uploads videos of board meetings to YouTube afterward, however.
The Janesville School District also uploads videos of its meetings to YouTube, which provides closed captioning.
Sorbie said spending more than $20,000 on streaming equipment and staff is “not necessarily in the best interest in the district.”
She said ensuring closed captioning is correct and videos are translated into Spanish could required 15 to 20 hours a month. She also said viewership on other districts’ and municipalities’ videos online was “very low.”
“My recommendation would be that we have two board meetings a month … there’s plenty of office hours for me if they’ve got questions or thoughts,” she said.
Sorbie admitted she does not have a vote in the matter and said the board has not asked for her recommendation.
Discussions about steaming video in Delavan-Darien come as schools and municipalities grapple with how to be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act online.
Last June, the Ashwaubenon School Board voted to discontinue posting videos of board meetings because of closed captioning costs.
According to the Green Bay Press-Gazette, the Green Bay City Council halted live streaming of council meetings because the Federal Communications Commission requires material posted online be captioned if it also airs on television. Green Bay broadcasts council meetings on a public access cable channel, according to the Press-Gazette.
The city applied for an exemption and anticipated being able to resume live streaming while the FCC considers the matter, the Press-Gazette reported.
The Delavan-Darien School Board has not voted on whether to stream video of meetings.