Cherry Creek to begin posting audio recordings of school board meetings

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A packed Aug. 9, 2021 Cherry Creek School District meeting. The school district has begun posting audio records of meetings, although parents have has the school district to livestream the meetings. PHOTO BY CARINA JULIG/Sentinel Colorado

AURORA | Following calls for more options for virtual participation, the Cherry Creek school board has begun posting audio recordings of its meetings online.

Board President Kelly Bates announced the change at Monday’s school board meeting, which she said was in response to requests during public comment. Audio recordings of meetings will be posted on the district’s website the day after each meeting, she said.

The district has now posted recordings of its September, October and November meetings from the current school year on its website.

The district moved its board meetings online at the beginning of the pandemic through the 2020-2021 school year, but at the start of the 2021-2022 school year moved back to in-person only with the exception of one meeting that was moved online due to a potential threat.

During the pandemic board members met without an audience in the district’s administration building. Once in person meetings resumed they returned to the practice of holding meetings at a different district school year month.

During public comment this school year, speakers have repeatedly asked the school board to consider having a livestream option to increase transparency and make the meetings more accessible for people who would have a hard time showing up in person.

Cherry Creek is one of few school boards in the metro area that does not livestream its meetings or post recordings of them after the fact. Aurora Public Schools livestreams its meetings through YouTube and posts recordings for the following 90 days. Denver Public Schools, JeffCo and Douglas County have virtual options as well.

District spokesperson Lauren Snell said that the district has not decided how long meetings will be available for yet, and wants to see how many people listen to them. Holding meetings at schools instead of a district office makes livestreaming a challenge, she said.

“Currently, the district is going to monitor the interest of the audio recordings,” Snell said in an email. “Since our board meetings are held at different schools in the district each month it provides an invaluable opportunity for board members and district staff to engage in-person with school communities across the district and hear firsthand from students, parents, and community members however it makes it difficult to be able to live stream the meetings.”

At Monday’s meeting, several people who spoke at public comment continued to advocate for a livestream. Maureen Welch, the parent of a special needs student in the district, thanked the board for deciding to post audio recordings but said that it was only a half measure.

“We are the last school district in digital transparency,” she said. “Every other school district livestreams videos of their meetings and has them on demand.”

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