June 15, 2019

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New era of openness for school division

Mike Babinsky: live stream 'a great idea'

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Mike Babinsky: live stream 'a great idea'

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 17/11/2014 (1670 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Netflix will not sleep easily tonight -- Winnipeg School Division trustees could soon be live streaming.

The giant school division infamous for operating behind closed doors proclaimed a new era of openness Monday night by unanimously telling its administration to report on the costs of live streaming board and committee meetings, and archiving audio and video recordings of their sessions online.

Trustee Mike Babinsky also urged -- without a hint of tongue-in-cheek -- that people will be able to download board business to their mobile devices so they could listen as they jogged or went for a walk.

"This is a great idea," enthused Babinsky.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 17/11/2014 (1670 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Netflix will not sleep easily tonight — Winnipeg School Division trustees could soon be live streaming.

The giant school division infamous for operating behind closed doors proclaimed a new era of openness Monday night by unanimously telling its administration to report on the costs of live streaming board and committee meetings, and archiving audio and video recordings of their sessions online.

Trustee Mike Babinsky also urged — without a hint of tongue-in-cheek — that people will be able to download board business to their mobile devices so they could listen as they jogged or went for a walk.

"This is a great idea," enthused Babinsky.

Board chairman Mark Wasyliw pitched the idea, telling trustees that city council live streams its meetings, as does the Brandon school board. "If Brandon is up to the challenge, we certainly are," he said.

"At this stage, we're finding out the feasibility and the cost," said Wasyliw, who said staff will report back by Jan. 12 so the board can include the new system in the budget that must be passed by March 15.

Trustees also unanimously approved having staff and the policy/program committee explore ways over the next two or three months in which the board can be more open and transparent and improve public access to information.

Wasyliw said he's come to the unwelcome conclusion that, "The public is simply cut off from school boards in general" and has no idea what school boards do.

"In other provinces, school boards lost the support of the public and governments took away their taxing power," he said.

Wasyliw said the board has to prove to the public that it is important and relevant: "We need to open up our doors. We need to prove ourselves to the public... to combat that cynicism," he said.

Trustee Cathy Collins said some business will still need to be done privately and questioned whether every committee will be of interest to the public.

Wasyliw said in an interview that even before new policies are set, trustees plan to do much more of their imminent budget preparations in public.

"I think we're going to be opening up those sessions," he said.

Meanwhile, trustee Lisa Naylor asked the board to go behind closed doors Monday night for a matter involving "trustee conduct."

Wasyliw would not discuss whether it was about an internal email Naylor sent the rest of the board earlier this month, which was obtained by the Free Press.

In her email, Naylor urged the board to find a balance between the desire for openness and the need for privacy. Naylor told trustees that newspaper articles may not be factual and are not necessarily balanced or objective.

Wasyliw noted Monday night that broadcasting meetings in their entirety would ensure accuracy and deter the misquoting of trustees.

nick.martin@freepress.mb.ca

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