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Should New Brunswick's School Board Meetings be Televised?

Most Large Districts in The Area Televise All Meetings on Public Access
Board of Education Meeting
Board meetings are usually sparsely attended, but televising them could improve public access to information. Charlie Kratovil

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—The issue to televise New Brunswick School Board meetings was brought up during the Board of Education forum Thursday night and candidates told the public their opinion.

Every month the School Board holds a meeting open to the public but the attendance is very low, causing concerns as to whether the residents of New Brunswick are fully informed of the issues going on in their city.

Moderator Vince Rificci read questions asked by audience members and the final questions of the night was, "Do you think the board of education meetings should be televised?"

Incumbent Patricia Sadowski answered first, saying "yes and no."

Sadowski said she was not comfortable with the idea of being televised but is willing to try if there is interest in it.

Incumbent Benito Ortiz did not agree with the idea saying it will only encourage those who seek to "grandstand, prolong, and disrupt."

"The process works fine the way it is," Ortiz said.

The third member of their team Dr. John Krenos, said the board should further explore the issue,  raising the issue of the "bilingual nature" of their audience.

"There should be a way to have more timely translations... or at the very least a meeting summary in Spanish when the board enters its closed session."

Challengers Sean Monahan and Martin Arocho agreed that School Board meetings should be televised as it gives those who cannot attend the meetings a chance to be informed.

Challenger Stephanie Rivera believes the board should leave it up to the public to determine whether the meetings should be televised.

Neighboring Piscataway Township has a public access television channel called PCTV that is published on the internet as well as Channel 15 on Cablevision and Channel 40 on Verizon FiOS.

PCTV shows live stream of town events such as mayor speeches, new housing projects, and meetings. They also have other programs including news happening all around New Jersey and Rutgers University to keep residents well informed of what's going on.

Edison's public access television station, Edison TV, is also on their site and on Channel 15 providing residents with recorded coverage of Council Meetings, Planning Board Meetings and Zoning Board meetings. It also covers other meetings and events that are pertinent for residents. The station has won national awards for excellence in its governmental access.

Franklin Township has a television broadcast schedule for its meetings as well as video archives for its previous meetings. Their public access channel can be seen on Channel 29 for Comcast and Channel 33 for Verizon.

The City of New Brunswick has a public television station but has been reluctant to use it to broadcast public meetings.  In 2010, the city started recording the City Council meetings and posting them on the video website Vimeo.com.

Board of Education meetings are not videotaped under current board policy.

Polls are open today from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m.  Please visit NewBrunswickToday.com for up-to-date election results this evening.