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Editorial: District should keep TV schedule

The Willmar School Board is considering changing its 2009 meeting schedule, including possibly reducing the number of meetings televised to the public.

Citizens in the Willmar School District should be concerned and start asking some questions now.

The School Board now meets formally on the second and fourth Monday of each month, except for December, March, June and July. The proposed meeting schedule starting in 2009 would have the board meeting formally on the second Monday of each month, followed by a work session meeting on the fourth Monday of most months.

The work session would be for School Board discussions and staff or public presentations to the board. The work sessions would be open to the public, but "probably not" televised at all, said Superintendent Jerry Kjergaard. Board Chairman Mike Carlson said the work session might be televised, but only on a tape-delayed basis.

This reminds us of one of the superintendent candidates last summer who recommended holding School Board work sessions at 6 in the morning. The primary reason was that few in the public would attend. Do not televise a School Board work session and even fewer people would know what the district is up to.

Historically, each School Board meeting has been broadcast on a tape-delay basis on cable channel 18 or 19. The district just invested this fall in the installation of new equipment allowing for live broadcast of the School Board meetings. In fact, Monday night will be only the second Willmar School Board meeting to be broadcast live.

Why would the school district invest in equipment installation in order to broadcast School Board meetings live and then reduce by nearly 50 percent the number of meetings scheduled for live broadcast?

Why would any School Board member and/or Kjergaard be afraid to discuss district business in public during a live broadcast?

Not televising School Board work sessions would decrease public openness on the part of the Willmar School District and it is a bad idea.

The School Board should reject this proposal.