9-28-15 Lewiston School Board Meeting from VIA-VISION Video on Vimeo.

LEWISTON — There are a few new things at School Committee meetings: cameras and a podium.

Committee members agreed to have their meetings televised on Great Falls TV. While officials work on the most cost-efficient way to do that, there are videographers at meetings.

Now, within 48 hours after the meeting there’s a link on the Lewiston School Department Web page to allow anyone to watch the meeting.

The change came after Lewiston parent Heidi Sawyer and a few others asked for more transparency and better communication. Sawyer is the creator of two Facebook pages, “Lewiston Rocks the Vote” and “Auburn Rocks the Vote,” which are generating online discussion of local issues.

There have been two meetings since the cameras arrived. It seems like members are donning more ties and jackets. Attendance of committee members is better, in part because ZamZam Mohamud stepped up to replace Cynthia Mendros until a new member was voted into office.

And, there’s a podium in the meeting room for the public to speak, a welcoming move.

Sawyer said she’s encouraged by the steps to improve communication with the public. “It will go a long way in building support for our schools,” Sawyer said.

— Bonnie Washuk

Public likes school survey

LEWISTON — Before the School Committee voted Oct. 5 to give Superintendent Bill Webster the authority to call a late start to classes when road conditions are dangerous, Webster said a majority of people responding to an online survey favored the action.

Webster released 14 pages of comments in the survey.

Some people asked for no late starts. “I think the proposed change is a horrible idea. From a home with two working parents, one works out of town and will not be able to modify the work schedule.”

Another said they used to work for Brunswick schools where they had late starts, and “late starts are incredibly chaotic. Very little work gets done, the day is confused by additional announcements, bells and interruptions.”

But others said, “It’s about time.” They don’t want their child on a bus in bad weather, the new policy is “ABSOLUTELY NEEDED,” and without late starts “too many days have been called off when a delay would be perfectly fine.”

Quite a few said they liked the survey and were happy to offer input. One wrote, “thank you for asking.”

— Bonnie Washuk

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