Finally sealing the deal to webcast its meetings in real time, the Laguna Beach Unified School District board agreed to add video responsibilities to an existing position.
The job responsibilities for the public communications and relations liaison, recently vacated by retiring Kevin Yates, was expanded by the board on Tuesday, July 28, to include video-taping meetings for online webcasts. The position already includes organizing district events, writing press releases, photographing events, attending board meetings and producing newsletters.
At the persistence of new board member Dee Perry and residents’ requests, the board directed administrators in February to begin researching live-streaming public meetings and video archives. In a 3-1 vote in May, the board gave the district the go-ahead to purchase equipment. Board member Bill Landsiedel cast the dissenting vote and member Carol Normandin was absent. Normandin was also absent from Tuesday’s meeting.
Supt. Sherine Smith said the district is using the Granicus system, used by the city for its public meetings since 2009.
The Granicus livestreaming system will cost $50,000 to install, which includes three cameras, a preview monitor, wired microphones and online streaming and archives, according to an earlier report by Michael Morrison, the district’s chief technology officer. Ongoing costs are estimated at $6,000 a year for the web-hosting and archiving system, according to his report. Granicus is used by 1,200 clients, including school districts in Hermosa Beach, Los Angeles and Pasadena, the website stated.
The hours for the district’s expanded job position will increase from 28.75 per week to up to 40 hours and from 11 to 12 months a year; the maximum salary is $21,778 annually, depending on the applicant’s qualifications, according to the district’s report.
Other nearby districts also record their meetings, and some are broadcast live over cable channels.
Audio recordings of LBUSD meetings are available online afterwards. Capistrano Unified School District also offers audio recordings available the next day, according to a spokesperson.
Saying they were siding with compassion, board members agreed to take no action regarding Normandin’s absences from board meetings since last April.
David Flores, a parent and retired director of alternative education for the Los Angeles County Office of Education, requested that the school board publicly address her extended absences, citing a government code section that describes a three-month absence as vacating an office. Instead, the board informally agreed to give Normandin more time.
“Not every single issue has to be a policy,” said Landsiedel. “Give us the discretion to have compassion.”
Normandin is absent due to a health crisis involving a family member, said president Ketta Brown. She has been kept apprised of decisions before the board, even though she hasn’t voted on the matters, Smith said, adding that Normandin is expected to return to board meetings when school starts in September.
Flores referenced a state code that says a public office becomes vacant if the officer ceases “to discharge the duties of his or her office for the period of three consecutive months, except when prevented by sickness, or when absent from the state with the permission required by law.”
“As our agenda docket description noted, it is not clear whether ‘prevented by sickness’ applies only to an officer holder’s own illness,” said Leisa Winston, the district’s director of human resources. “And more importantly, board member Normandin has not ceased to perform all of the duties of her office.”
ROP for Job
A new full-time career and college guidance counselor was also approved by board members and added to the district’s employment roster. The job was expanded from a less than half-time position, previously held by Dawn Hunnicutt.
Hunnicutt was working in two part-time positions for the district, as Regional Occupational Program counselor for students who wanted guidance on classes outside the high school’s curriculum and as a teacher’s aide in English classes. She was promoted to English teacher at the high school and will begin this fall.
ROP classes were previously shared with Capistrano Unified School District, which eliminated $1.65 million for the program at six high schools and its counselor, choosing to use the funds for other programs, according to a district spokesperson. LBUSD contributed $139,000 to the ROP program for an administrator, a guidance counselor and four ROP classes.
Expanding the positon to full-time was not related to cuts by CUSD but due to an increased focus on career technology education rather than ROP classes, said Darlene Messinger, Laguna’s assistant superintendent in charge of instructional services.
The state is offering millions of dollars in grants for technology education, according to a report by Winston. Career technology education “can no longer exist as a separate educational alternative,” her report stated. “It must be woven into the fabric of our educational delivery system.” The new position will pay between $42,440 and $51,560 annually.