CLEVELAND, Ga. – The White County Board of Education’s 3-2 vote against making a video recording of its meetings and placing it on the school system website, was a setback for open government. It will not have the intended consequences and could easily be reversed in 2019, depending on the outcome of next week’s election.
A recording would have allowed those who, for a variety of reasons, cannot attend the meetings to see how the board operates and how their elected officials are performing, something most elected officials claim to want.
It is worth noting that thanks to Georgia’s Open Meetings and Open Records Act, the school board lacks the authority to prevent a video recording of the meetings from being made and placed on the Internet. It can only prevent placement on the school system website.
To their credit, Chairwoman Missy Jarrard and board member Charlie Bryson cast votes in favor of open government, but they were outvoted by Jon Estes, Charlie Thomas and Barry Vandiver.
Vandiver’s term will end in December thus eliminating one “no” vote. He will be replaced by Jeannette Gearing or Linda Erbele.
FetchYourNews reached out to all the school board candidates to see where they stand on the issue. Erbele did not return our calls.
Gearing was quick to say she would vote in favor of open government if the issue resurfaces again next year.
“I think it’s a great idea. I try to attend as many meetings as I can, but I have children who participate in a lot of activities so I can’t always be there. I’m sure there are a lot of people just like me who can’t be at all the meetings but would like to keep up with what is going on. So, if I am elected, I will vote to record the meetings and place the video on the school website,” Gearing said.
Bryson said, “Absolutely, I would vote for it again, without a doubt. There is no better way to show transparency than by recording the meetings and placing the video on the website for everyone to see.”
Calls and emails to Bryson’s opponents John Solmon and Carly Adam went unanswered.
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