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Mitchell School District votes not to contract livestreaming services, will revisit in June

School board elects not to pay for guaranteed free public access through the Mitchell Republic

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Kevin Kenkel, Brittni Flood, Deb Olson, Shawn Ruml and Matt Christiansen, member of the Mitchell Board of Education, confer at their Dec. 13 meeting at Longfellow Elementary School. (Erik Kaufman / Mitchell Republic)
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The Mitchell Board of Education voted Monday not to take up livestreaming its own meetings or to pay the Mitchell Republic to stream them, instead electing to allow the newspaper and any other entity at the meeting to stream it if they so choose.

The decision came by 4-1 vote, with Shawn Ruml casting the dissenting vote.

The board entertained a motion from Ruml, who suggested adopting the option to pay the Republic to stream the meetings for free.

“I think transparency, even though not required (by law), is something we have to do,” Ruml said. “I would like to see it free for everyone. The cost is a little higher to have it free for everyone, but in my mind I think that’s what we need to do.”

That motion died for a lack of a second.

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The board has been discussing options for livestreaming their meetings since October. Concerns by some board members and members of the public about having meetings livestreamed at no charge to viewers led to a proposal that would have seen the district pay the Mitchell Republic, which has been providing livestreams of board of education meetings for several months, to move the livestream to in front of its paywall. That would allow everyone — whether or not they have a subscription to the newspaper or its website — access to view the stream.

The district pondered three options. The first option, which was recommended by Joe Graves, superintendent of the district, had the district remain with the current arrangement for streaming, allowing the Republic or any other district patron to stream the meetings. The second proposal would have seen the district pay the Republic to remove the streams from behind its paywall.

The third option was to have school information technology staffers livestream the meetings themselves at no charge to district patrons.

Graves' recommendation would cost the district nothing and would allow convenient streaming from the different district locations at which the board holds its meetings, which the third option would not.

“It allows for the board meeting ‘tour’ of facilities and supports a local business. There is no requirement for live streaming or archiving. Finally, should the newspaper discontinue this service, we can simply revisit the issue at the board level, when and if that occurs,” Graves noted.

Brittni Flood, another member of the board, proposed a motion that would adopt Graves’ recommendation. Board member Kevin Kenkel then proposed an amendment to Flood’s motion that will have the board revisit the issue at the board’s June meeting.

The second proposal of funding the Republic to make their livestream would have cost the district approximately $5,600 over the course of a year of 16 meetings, or approximately $350 per meeting.

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“That cost is for an entire year of live streaming based on the proposal for 16 meetings,” said Luke Hagen, editor of the Mitchell Republic. “(The cost) is more of a sponsorship to open it up (free for) everyone.”

The board will revisit the issue in June.

Personnel

The board made the following personnel moves:

  • The new certified hires of Kindra Clark, 7th head girls basketball coach, $2,101; McKenzie Martens, 10th girls basketball coach, $3,246; Pat Moller, 10th boys basketball coach, $4,380; Riley Berggren, 8th head boys basketball coach, $2,290; Esther Witte, assistant girls basketball coach, $4,559; Heidi Cap, 8th head girls basketball coach, $2,101 and Emily Brunsing, secondary ENL 0.5 FTE, $31,870, effective Jan. 3, 2022. All hires are effective for the 2021-22 school year unless noted.

  • The new classified hires of Wes Morgan, assistant boys basketball coach, $5,111; Adam Kaus, 8th assistant boys basketball coach, $1,836; Chris Weier, 7th head boys basketball coach, $2,920; Dave Brooks, 9th girls basketball coach and Crystal Larson, paraeducator at Mitchell HIgh School, $11.75 per hour at 7 hours daily, effective Nov. 29. All hires are effective for the 2021-22 school year unless noted.

  • The resignation of Alfred Herren, maintenance, effective Jan. 3, 2022 and Angela Thompson, paraeducator at Mitchell Middle School, effective Dec. 9.

  • The retirement of Bill Oven, maintenance, effective Jan. 3, 2022.

  • The new Mitchell Technical College hires of Meghen Callies, campus store and events coordinator, $28,120 (148 days), effective Nov. 29; Lisa Larson, instructional support specialist, $28,122 (129 days), effective Nov. 29; Jamie McGowan, admissions representative, $22,680 (126 days), effective Jan. 2, 2022 and Kasey Thomas, rad tech clinical adjunct spring semester, $2,800, effective Jan. 10, 2022.

  • The Mitchell Technical College transfers of Melinda Bamsey, enrollment services coordinator, $40,876 and Sara Morgan, accounts payable coordinator, $40,000.

  • The Mitchell Technical College contract changes for Hillary Vining, enrollment director, $54,630 (250 days); Nichole Simmermon, admissions representative, $37,575 (202 days) and Amya Swett, admissions representative, $45,700 (250 days).

Other business

Also at the meeting, the board:

  • Approved a revision to Board Policy 201 in order to recognize student representatives on second reading

  • Approved the 2021-22 school calendar.

  • Heard board member reports.

  • Heard the superintendent report.

  • Heard public commentary.

The next meeting of the Mitchell Board of Education is scheduled for 5 p.m. on Jan. 10 at L.B. Williams Elementary School.

Related Topics: EDUCATION
Erik Kaufman joined the Mitchell Republic in July of 2019 as an education and features reporter. He grew up in Freeman, S.D., graduating from Freeman High School. He graduated from the University of South Dakota in 1999 with a major in English and a minor in computer science. He can be reached at ekaufman@mitchellrepublic.com.
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