Fuller said that they should adhere to their values and the district approved on May 18 that all future school board meetings would be streamed and recorded, with Spanish translation as well. He said that the board and the parents agreed that communication is very important. The approval was unanimous he said, adding that they could no longer go back on their word just because there is a cost involved in the plan. They are expecting the cost to be about $1,500 for the purchase of a new computer, cabling and video capture cards, which would be bought in July. They are thinking that they would also need to recruit a student to assist the MUSD chief technology officer, Max Eissler, who currently operates the electronic system used during board meetings.
The plan will have the minutes and agenda translated into Spanish, together with the provision of interpreter services during meetings of Spanish-speaking parents. Jessica Conkle, the educational services coordinator said that the interpretation cost would be around $2,700 annually. The amount will cover their three-hour meetings done twice a month, or a total of 21 meetings.
The MUSD actually started audio taping their board meetings last September. However, the need for Spanish translation was realized in April of this year when the parents of students at Las Juntas Elementary School objected to the comment of Denise Elsken, a board member. She said that air conditioning might not be immediately needed at the school. Las Juntas Elementary has a large number of students of Hispanic descent. Although the air conditioning was approved, the controversy over it showed that Spanish interpreters should be present during the meetings.
Rather than providing an option to have a translator requested during meetings, the board decided to have all meetings and agenda translated. Bobbie Horack, another board member said that since one of their values is transparency, it is necessary that parents understand what the board is doing and the reasons behind it.
About 86 percent of the 329 students who are learning English speak Spanish while the rest speak about 19 other foreign languages. The board president also said that they would see if there would be requests for translation into other languages.
They will start to live stream the board meetings on YouTube on August 10 in English and Spanish. The videos will be kept online, although they have not decided on how long to keep the videos. Initially, they would keep them for six months to see the response and also to see if changes are necessary.
Image Copyright: Martinez Unified School District logo, taken from MUSD Facebook Page.