Monday, August 15, 2022

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School board votes 6-1 to spend $30,000 to upgrade library at Central Office

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Alamance-Burlington school board members also voted 6-1 Monday night to use $30,000 in county capital reserve funding to complete the first phase of technology upgrades in the “professional library” at Central Office.

Interim ABSS superintendent Dr. James Merrill told school board members this week that, though the upgrade will enable the board to hold its work sessions in the library (instead of the auditorium upstairs at Central Office), he said other groups also regularly use the library for professional development.

The professional library currently lacks the equipment and wiring to record meetings, ABSS chief technology officer Dennis Frye said Monday night. “We put in a temporary solution, as you know, and the audio needs vast improvement.”

Merrill said this week that a second stage of technology upgrades also will be needed later in order to live-stream meetings.

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“I had previously indicated the upfit might be about $50,000,” Merrill told school board members Monday night. “It looks like it could be done for about $30,000.”

Currently, meetings held in the auditorium upstairs are simultaneously live-streamed on the website, in real time.

School board member Tony Rose, who cast the sole vote against the upgrade, said he prefers to hold board meetings in the auditorium, which he pointed out is already equipped for live-streaming.

School board member Tony Rose

In a separate interview with The Alamance News, Rose recalled Monday night the reasons why the board had moved its work sessions to the auditorium, back around the spring of 2019.

The reasons for that change, Rose recalled, included a desire for greater transparency, as well as the ability for people to watch – who are unable to attend work sessions held on Tuesday afternoons, the middle of a work day for many – and to avoid duplication of efforts by having staff make the same presentation twice (i.e., at the work session and then at the “night meeting” two weeks later).

“I don’t like the fact that you can’t live-stream [meetings in the library],” vice chairman Patsy Simpson said. “However, it is good, since it’s a work session to be able to spread out, to have the dialogue with staff as we discuss various items.”

ABSS has money in reserve to cover phase one, Merrill explained. If I get overwhelming feedback off line,” he added, “it will be back on the agenda to revisit.”

School board members subsequently voted 6-1 to approve using $30,000 to complete “phase one” of the upgrade at central office.

ABSS officials had not responded to a request for additional information from The Alamance News – specifically, what the first phase will consist of, who will perform the work, and the time frame for completion – by press time Wednesday night.

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