L⁠i⁠ves⁠t⁠ream⁠i⁠ng b⁠i⁠ll for school board mee⁠t⁠⁠i⁠ngs moves closer ⁠t⁠o passage

April 30, 2024

Bryce Fiedler

CALN Founding Member & CALN Board of Directors Secretary

Professional Woman Looking at her Colleague

After falling short in 2022, a proposal to require local South Carolina school boards to livestream their meetings is in a likely position to pass this year. The bill (S.134) instructs all school boards, including those of charter and special schools, to make “reasonable and necessary efforts” to broadcast the entirety of their regular and special-called meetings online, with exceptions for executive session.

To achieve this, it directs the State Board of Education to write a model livestream policy, then asks each local board to adopt their own policy based on that template. All measures under the bill would have to be enacted by July 1, 2025. 

The bill recently passed out of the House Education and Public Works Committee and awaits consideration by the full body. For months, however, House lawmakers’ interest in the bill was uncertain. It cleared the Senate unanimously in 2023 but did not start moving again until this April. If passed by the House, it goes back to the Senate for a concurrence vote, then over to S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster for his signature (assuming the Senate agrees to the House’s minor changes). 

Watchful observers might ask: Do we need a law for this? After all, livestreaming has become the norm for most districts. In 2022, we learned that about two-thirds of S.C. school boards livestreamed their meetings; today, nearly all of them do, except for a half dozen or so as noted in a Post and Courier op-ed, which points to them facing internet challenges. 

In this context, the proposal is sort of a win-win for all parties. It would be business as usual for most school boards that already livestream, with perhaps a few policy tweaks for compliance. Meanwhile, parents would enjoy a consistent standard of transparency, regardless of where they reside in South Carolina.  

With less than two weeks left in the regular session, there is potential for lots of last-minute movement on education and other bills as legislators work to get them over the finish line.