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The provisions of the bill would apply to approximately 105 independent school districts with a student enrollment of 10,000 or greater. Charter schools would not be subject to these provisions because their members are not elected. Applicable school districts would be required to provide archived broadcasts of board of trustee meetings using an Internet website.
The TEA indicated that school districts would incur administrative costs to either purchase equipment or pay for services to record video and audio of open meetings. At a minimum, the location of the open meeting would require a video camera and a computer with video and audio cards. There would be labor costs to operate the camera. Costs could range anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars depending on the number of meetings, the amount and quality of equipment,and whether the equipment was purchased, leased, or part of a services contract that covered the cost of labor to archive the video and audio of open meetings to be made available over the Internet. There could be a fiscal impact to applicable cities and counties that would vary depending on current processes in a local entity.
The City of Conroe reported there would be costs for new equipment and SWAGIT annual fees totaling an estimated $15,739 in Fiscal Year (FY) 2016; and ongoing annual fees of $7,800 in FY 2017-2020. Dallas County reported the county's meetings are already available online and the bill would have no fiscal impact on the county. Montgomery County reported there would be costs for hardware,a workstation,and monthly fees for streaming totaling an estimated $45,832 for FY 2016; and ongoing monthly fees of $18,645-$24,816 in FY 2017-2020. The Dallas Area Rapid Transit reported $50,000 start-up costs and $100,000 costs annually to comply with provisions of the bill. The Forth Worth Transportation Authority reported annual costs of $29,174 to $32,774 from FY 2016- FY 2020 including streaming and hosting capabilities, and increased bandwidth. Corpus Christi Regional Transportation Authority reported first year costs of $48,788 in FY 2016 and costs of $11,988 in FY 2017- FY 2020 to comply with provisions of the bill; including server, camera equipment and operating costs.
No changes have been made to this bill in Senate committee. The second chamber sponsor is Sen. Creighton.
First chamber recommendation below:
HB 283 would provide much needed local government transparency through the posting, streaming, and archiving of school board meetings. HB 283 would allow those who wish to watch school board meetings but can't physically be there, the opportunity to follow their local meetings. The costs to implement this bill should not be very high in the long-term but there may be high costs up front if the technology must be purchased. We support this legislation.
In order to avoid a potential unfunded mandate, this legislation could be made stronger by requiring this for school districts and county commissioners courts that already have the ability to live stream any facet of their operations but not required for counties and schools that do not already have the capabilities.