Friday, May 24, 2024

School Committee meetings could be streamed live online as soon as Tuesday, according to the city’s Media Arts Studio. (Photo: Marc Levy)

Streaming of School Committee proceedings — allowing people to watch online if they can’t get to the committee’s roughly biweekly, evening meetings — has arrived, some three months later than expected, according to Lisa Waters, Web and online services manager for the Cambridge Public School District.

The arrival of streaming was announced Monday.

The streaming can be accessed here during the 6 p.m. meetings. The next meeting is Tuesday, when the members will discuss forming a task force looking at extending the school year, starting with the middle-school grades, among other topics.

The streaming and instant archiving of meetings online was part of a group of technological advances expected to be rolled out over the summer and in place when the committee gathered again after the summer break, said Ginny Berkowitz, program manager at the district’s Media Arts Studio, in July. City Council meetings have been live-streamed for years, but the committee is using different software.

But week by week after regular meetings began again Sept. 4, the streaming wasn’t available.

“We are beta testing and should be able to roll it out pretty soon,” Berkowitz said in early November, but a further request for information on the cause of the delays or more specific rollout date went unanswered.

“With technology, it often takes a while to get all the parts working together and working properly. We seem to have been able to get things into good working order late this spring, so we’re really excited about that,” Berkowitz said in July.

As the likely capper to $112 million in renovations to Cambridge Rindge & Latin School, where the committee has offices as well as meeting space, what Berkowitz called a “pretty robust robotic system” was being put in place this year by the Media Arts Studio, meaning a sole studio employee can control the view from cameras built into the committee room.

But archiving with the new software isn’t working yet — it will likely be tested as soon as the next committee meeting — and Waters indicated Monday that the system can’t put PowerPoint presentations being given in the committee room onscreen, as was planned this summer.

“We’re not sure when it’s going to be put in place,” Waters said of the remaining technology. She referred questions on the delay in rollout to Berkowitz and Laurie Young, a channel programmer at the studio.

Even the in-room flatscreen monitors have disappointed some officials, who say the screens are too small to show details on some presentations. Councillor Ken Reeves has complained frequently about the city’s lapses in audio and visual presentation technology and has a policy order on deck for today’s meeting asking the city manager’s office “to confer with private creative and experienced state-of-the-art visual and audio companies to replace the equipment currently used by the city” and report back on the results.

Young’s telephone did not answer or go to voice mail. Berkowitz confirmed streaming live meetings was being tested Tuesday.

The committee meets at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, 459 Broadway.