Why Aren’t Audio Recordings of New Rochelle Board of Education Meetings Online?

Written By: Robert Cox


The Board of Education makes audio recordings of their meetings yet resists efforts for the public to listen to those recordings and makes no effort to broadcast those recordings on their web site. Why?

The district has already spent millions upon millions of dollars to give every man, woman, child, dog and cat in the district a computer. The district has already developed a web site, bought the servers and installed the broadband network. They already record the meetings. It takes all of 2 minutes to upload a 90 minute mp3 audio recording to the web. So why are these recordings not available on the web immediately following every meeting?

The Clerk records the meetings using a professional recording system from Marantz which is widely regarded as one of the leaders in the field for these sorts of recording systems. Despite the fact that digital record systems have been in use in court rooms, legislative bodies, city councils and, yes, school boards, for two decades, New Rochelle continues to rely on an antiquated analog recording system. That’s right. In 2009, when even 8 year olds have iPods, our $229 million BoE can’t seem to scrape up $695 to purchase a digital replacement for a badly outmoded recording system. They are using cassette tapes. I suppose we should be grateful they are not recording on 8-Track cartridges.

The solution can be made tomorrow via the magic of overnight shipping and a seven hundred dollar payments to Amazon.com:

Marantz PMD670 Stereo Digital Recorder with USB

The Marantz PMD670 is a professional, solid-state, stereo digital recorder that records uncompressed WAV or MP2, and MP3 files at variable compression rates. The recorded files can be immediately dragged-n-dropped onto a computer hard drive via USB. The device is even compatible with both compact flash and PC Cards, which are widely available at computer/electronics retailers. The slot is also designed to accept cost-effective IBM MicroDrives, miniature removable hard disks with capacities as high as 10 gigabytes for over 12 hours of continuous WAV file recording.

The Marantz PMD670 is a rugged and reliable portable recorder with a carrying strap, AC adaptor & battery holder that is specifically designed to be taken from one meeting location to another with ease (i.e. from school to school). The PMD670 includes a built-in microphone, built-in speaker, professional mic/line inputs and outputs, Automatic Level Control, and noise filters to filter out such things as the hum from an air conditioning system.

Inputs include XLR (w/+48V phantom power) and 1/4 inch mic/line inputs for use with quality PZM or condenser mics. A built-in mic is also provided. Outputs include coax digital and RCA analog. Other features include a 2-second Pre-Record Buffer (continuously records audio before record button is pressed), a built-in speaker, a time/date generator and a Silent Skip feature (defeatable) that pauses recording during silences.

By now you get the point. Technology has advanced to the point where the BoE could cheaply and efficiently record all of its meetings digitally and upload them immediately to the web. That they do not do so is purely a function of a lack of will. In other words, they don’t want you to know what they’re doing at these board meetings. Not only do they hold meetings in secret where all the big decisions are actually made but they don’t even want you to hear (or see) what happens in the public meetings.