Be still, my heart.
It's a big day for folks who follow the Philadelphia School Reform Commission but can't get to its meetings, which happen two Wednesdays a month, almost always in the middle of the day. The Philadelphia School District just announced that it will be televising the next SRC meeting, scheduled for Wednesday, on PSTV, the district's public-access cable channel. (That's Comcast channel 52, FIOS channel 20, if you live in the city.) The meeting will also be livestreamed at www.philasd.org.
That next meeting - scheduled for Wednesday at 3 p.m. - is a big one. Officials will present recommendations for school closings and consolidations as part of the district's Facilies Master Plan process, which is years in the making. That portion of the meeting will begin at 5 p.m.
"By broadcasting the meeting live, the district hopes to provide an alternative channel for students, parents, and the community to stay informed on important matters such as the FMP," a spokeswoman said in a district release.
Of course, the technology has long been in place to do this - and other districts have done it for years - but it feels like a big step. I've been live Tweeting meetings (@newskag) this year, and it's clear that people are interested in the SRC goings-on, but many can't get to meetings. Plus, the prior administration felt rather forbidding, and the new folks have pledged to operate in a more open and accessible way. This is a step in the right direction.
Some district-watchers rejoiced on Twitter when they heard the news. ""This is big!" one person wrote. "A step toward transparency? I need to sit down," another joked.
SRC meetings were televised on PSTV in the past, but taped, not live - and they were sometimes edited. Spokesman Fernando Gallard said all future SRC meetings will be aired live on PSTV. As for Internet streaming, that's only guaranteed for next Wednesday's meeting. Gallard said future meetings will be livestreamed if the district acquires that technology.