An overview of Solon Education TV and its value to students and the community was given last week to city council’s finance committee by Solon school representatives.
The committee requested the annual report because the city’s cable television franchise tax distributions agreement between the city and the school district expired and legislation was approved for a new agreement with modifications.
Tamara Strom, communications director for the Solon schools, and Joe Ferencie, SETV coordinator and a technology and engineering teacher at the high school, told the committee that SETV is a key component of the overall communications link between the schools and residents. The goal is to provide comprehensive coverage of district public meetings, events and activities, Ms. Strom explained.
One hundred programs are broadcast a year, resulting in upwards of 180 hours of airtime. “Every spectator sport we can videotape, we do,” Ms. Strom said.
Programming runs in blocks throughout the day. On weekends, additional programming blocks are added.
Solon residents are able to watch SETV programming on Time Warner Cable channel 22, AT&T U-verse channel 99 and online streaming. Programming examples include all 18 regular school board meetings, plus any special meetings, town hall meetings or other communitywide events on topics such as school funding or legislative changes impacting the Solon schools.
Other educational or school-based programs include parent orientation and information programs, school assemblies and commencement, among others. Programming also covers fall, winter and spring sports, Ms. Strom said, as well as music programs.
Production sites include an auditorium TV studio at the high school, a TV truck, which is a mobile TV studio, and the board of education, which supports cameras.
Mr. Ferencie explained that the schools contract with Classic Teleproductions, an Emmy-award-winning production company specializing in “live-to-tape” sports and entertainment events. SETV trains and uses student help to produce programs through Comet Productions, which is a student production club that averages about 20 to 30 active members.
The experience the students gain is valuable, Mr. Ferencie noted, as students “learn by doing.” Many have gone on to professional careers, such as working with ESPN.
SETV is fully funded by the cable franchise fee agreement, Ms. Strom said. The city receives cable franchise tax payments from AT&T and Time Warner. An agreement put in place in 2003 states that the city keeps 10 percent of fees, with the remaining 90 percent split evenly between the city and the schools. The city vouchers a payment each quarter to the school district for its share.
“The budget objective is to efficiently provide the highest quality educational programming to as many Solon citizens as possible,” Ms. Strom said.
“This makes us feel good about how the money is being spent,” Councilman William D. Mooney said.