Riverhead school board meetings returning to Ch. 22

After nearly a year’s absence from Cablevision, Riverhead school board meetings will once again be aired on Channel 22, school officials announced Tuesday night.

Laurie Downs, a former president of the Riverhead Parent-Teacher Organization, began filming the meetings with her own equipment in 2000. And she did so ever sine, until she injured her neck last year and was unable to document the sessions, she said.

School officials and Ms. Downs met recently, she said, to bring the meetings back on the air. Ms. Downs agreed to film the meetings again using school equipment. The videos will then be burned onto DVDs and given to the Riverhead Town to air on public Channel 22.

“It’s a community service thing,” Ms. Downs said. “A lot of these parents want to make it to the meetings but they can’t make it out there.”

Ms. Downs also said that while her injury prevented her from filming the latest meetings, videos of the prior meetings before her accident were never aired. Ms. Downs said she and administrators from the district are trying to get the latest meetings on air while also finding out why previous board meetings stopped going on the channel.

The district, she said, shares her concerns.

“They feel the public, the community needs to know what’s going on,” Ms. Downs said.

Superintendent Nancy Carney, who announced the meetings would go back on the air at Tuesday night’s school board meeting, could not be reached for comment.

Jaime Ritter, the town employee who programs for Channel 22, said she hasn’t spoken with the district or Ms. Downs about airing the board meetings, but that she puts the meetings “right up” as soon as she gets a DVD.

Supervisor Sean Walter said the district is “welcome” to give the DVDs to the town to be aired.

“[If] they bring them to us, we’ll put them on,” he said.

When asked about filming the meetings, Mr. Ogeka said the plans are still in the “beginning phases” and said he would have to “research” more about the franchise agreement between the town and Cablevision before speaking in detail about the district-town arrangement.

According to the agreement, the “Town and the schools, and school districts located within the Town” have exclusive control over programming the channel. While Town Board meetings are specifically cited in the agreement, school board meetings aren’t mentioned.

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