School board may move meeting day

July 09, 1997


Staff Writer

The Washington County Board of Education is looking for sponsors to televise its bimonthly meetings and a conflict over airtime could mean those meetings will be moved to another night.

Since March the televised meetings have been sponsored by Glessner Alarm and Communication Systems, but that company's participation in the pilot program will end on Aug. 15.

The meetings, held on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month, have been shown on Antietam Cable Channel 6, the Education/Government Channel.


The cable company doesn't charge for the airtime, but Glessner contracted with two technicians to run the school system-owned transmission equipment for $150 a meeting.

"My goal is to look for quarter-year, half-year and full-year sponsorships," Board President B. Marie Byers said after Tuesday's work session. At the minimum, board members said they would like businesses to come up with the $300 needed for one month's meetings.

"No public money is going to go to televising board meetings," said board member Edwin Hayes. "We're not going to do it at the expense of the classroom."

"Joe Camel will not be invited to the party," Byers said of potential sponsors. Alcohol, tobacco and other products not allowed in school publications could not be telecast sponsors.

Sponsors would be listed in the credits, but would not be allowed to put up banners or other visual ads.

Letters have been sent by the board to the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce, the Association of Builders and Contractors, the Business/Education Partnership Committee and other groups to recruit sponsors.

The board voted tentatively to switch meeting dates to the first and third Wednesdays of each month beginning in September. The reason: A conflict over airtime with Hagerstown Junior College.

Beginning this fall, HJC plans to use Channel 6 for long-distance learning telecasts on Tuesday evenings. Eckel said that over the years, the school system generally has had use of the channel during the daytime for interactive TV classes. HJC had "squatter's rights" to use the channel in the evenings.

A further complication is how much the City of Hagerstown may wish to use the channel. Antietam Cable's contract is with the city, which has the right to determine who can use it and when.

That led to a brief discussion as to whether the board should try to be assigned its own channel to expand its interactive services.

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