Beginning last month, BevCam began streaming the monthly School Committee meetings live on their website, and also archiving them so citizens can view at their leisure. The live feed and archive can be accessed here. Last night's meeting was just posted to the archive today, and as the first meeting of the new session, covers many topics of interest to the school community.
BevCam is also streaming and archiving City Council meetings, and other government events such as the recent inaugural ceremonies. You can follow BevCam on Twitter (@bev_cam) to keep up with their coverage and posting schedule.
This is a welcome step in making it easier for the public to follow the happenings within the district, and city government, and helps compensate somewhat for the lack of coverage by the region's print media.
For now, the coverage only includes the monthly meetings at City Hall, but we have encouraged BevCam to consider streaming some of the Commitee of the Whole meetings, where more of the details of issues are discussed, and which are more difficult for the public to attend. This could be particularly valuable during budget season.
Ironically, at last night's meeting, one committee member, David Manzi, took time to criticize BevCam for reducing its airing schedule of the meetings on its television channels, and none of the members appeared to be aware of this additional, and more convenient, viewing option that now exists on the web.
City Council members themselves have also embraced online media this session, with two of the new members, @BrettWard6, and @JaSizz, providing regular Twitter posts about city issues and meeting updates, and Council President Paul Guanci establishing an official Facebook page where he has been posting notices and agendas of upcoming meetings and other items of interest to the public.
The district and School Committee have been more reluctant to embrace social media as a method of communications, although the city maintains a Twitter feed at @beverly_ma and occasionally posts school notices. We hope that the district will follow their lead.
This site aims to inform and mobilize Beverly parents to take an active role in all issues related to the funding and operation of the city's schools. It was launched in the spring of 2008, when the city saw its first-ever override attempt fail, followed by the closure of a nearly-new elementary school. Subsequent years have seen further cuts that have led to larger class sizes across the district. While the opening of an impressive new high school and plans to replace the city's aging middle school give us reason to be optimistic, the school community must be ever vigilant in demanding appropriate school funding by city and state governments, and better community communications from the district and School Committee.