SBHS teachers’ union supports recorded meetings


San Benito High School District’s board meetings became transparent on a new level this month, when the San Benito High School Teachers’ Association posted a recording of the most recent one online last week.
“We’re anxious to have complete transparency,” said Katherine Foster, the president of the teachers’ union. “We would like to hear the discussion that goes on.”
Foster added that discussions and actions occur late at night at the board meetings. Some people say union leadership should be sitting through the whole meeting, but she is not able, or willing, to do that, she said. The union also has concerns that trustees are micromanaging a lot of daily operations that should be site decisions, she said. She said teachers are also concerned that board members, with the exception of Trustee Juan Robledo, don’t contact teachers, she said.
“We just want to know what’s going on and we feel like we really need to see and hear them,” Foster said.
Rob Campbell, the high school’s multimedia teacher, posted a video recording of the nearly four-and-a-half hour March 1 board meeting online last week, on Saturday. The recording was posted on the website, Internet Archive, a nonprofit library containing millions of free books, movies, software, music, and other media, according to the group’s website.
The union will be compensating Campbell for his time, she said. Foster did not know the exact amount of that compensation when she spoke with the Free Lance on Monday. Campbell could not be reached immediately for comment.
“I see it as a way to be transparent with our community, a way to engage our community, so I’m really excited about it,” Superintendent John Perales told the Free Lance on Monday. “I think it’s really honorable that the union would step forward and say, ‘You know what, we’ll pick up the costs and also the work.’ ”
The district had considered contracting with a group to do similar recordings earlier in the fall, but the board found the $5,000 to $6,000 costs too expensive to justify, Perales explained.
“That was to hire somebody from Gilroy to come over and do a really nice job with better equipment than we have,” Foster said.
The union would like to have recordings with better sound quality, she said. During a meeting between the superintendent and a union representative to discuss working-condition issues, the representative said the union would be willing to pay for half the cost of producing a high-quality video that could be live streamed and archived, she said. The union’s current recording model does not allow for live streaming, Foster explained.
Perales said when the district’s state-of-the-art website is online in a few days, access to the recordings will be available there.
To watch video of the March 1 board meeting, go to:

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