From the Echoes-Sentinel

WARREN TWP. – The Watchung Hills Regional High School Board of Education is considering broadcasting its meetings on local public access channels and has agreed to pursue the idea in Warren Township.

At a meeting last month, Board Vice President Robert Morrison said members of the Warren community are interested in having the Watchung Hills Regional board meetings broadcast on local television. The board then asked administrators to study the feasibility of this for all four sending districts.

“It’s complicated; some of the towns don’t have channels,” said Business Administrator Timothy Stys at the Wednesday, Oct. 7 board meeting. “We do know that Warren does and that seems doable; the easiest of the group. But you have to go through the local cable provider and (Verizon) Fios. It gets trickier outside of Warren with Long Hill being particularly tricky. It’s a little complicated with Long bill because of some of their equipment.

“Watchung is another problem because they don’t have a channel and Green Brook doesn’t have one either. Clearly Warren we can do easily but then the other three are kind of where the time and effort will come out. It’s really just tricky with a regional high school in general.”

While the board can continue to post their meeting videos and offer information on the district’s website, Morrison said they should still pursue broadcasting in Warren.

“Obviously there is nothing we can do about the two towns that don’t have public access cable,” said Morrison. “I think we are doing what we can now by putting info up on the website. We should certainly look into what would make it viable to put this on in other towns.

“It’s easy enough to start this in one town outfitted with the technology. I wouldn’t want the fact that because two townships don’t have the channels, it denies one population from the ability to take advantage.”

Facebook An Option?

Board Member Barry Hungsinger suggested streaming meetings live on Facebook considering the board has the technology to do that on its own. Morrison said while that may work for some residents, it may not for others.

“The other thing to keep in mind is this isn’t a zero sum game,” said Morrison. “We have different populations that receive information differently. As it relates to Warren, a sizable portion of our more mature residents get information from that particular channel.

“With the board goal of improving communications in mind, we should certainly be looking for all avenues for our meetings.”

While Superintendent Elizabeth Jewett wants to pursue getting board meetings out to as many people as possible, she said district technology personnel have a lot on their hands.

“Whatever the board decides, our technology department has spent a tremendous amount of time looking into this already so I want to make sure whatever we do is worth it for them,” said Jewett. “We have our meetings posted onto our websites for anyone that wants to view our meetings. My only caution with this is it does consume the time of our tech department.”

Stys said technology department personnel have ensured him they could burn a DVD copy of the meeting and send it to Warren’s township office for public broadcast.

Board Member Peter Fallon said he is in favor of pursuing meeting broadcasts in Warren since it would not be a problem for the school district.

The board agreed to allow district administrators to pursue broadcasting the meetings on Warren’s public access channel.