SYCAMORE – Students are working toward putting Spartan TV on the air now that an agreement is in place for Sycamore School District 427 to broadcast on the city’s public access cable channel.
The Sycamore City Council voted unanimously this week to approve an agreement with District 427 authorizing the use of Comcast Channel 14 for the student-produced news coverage.
Sycamore High School Principal Tim Carlson said the school’s goal is to have Spartan TV broadcast on the channel by the upcoming fall semester.
Meanwhile, students are developing a business plan, working with city officials and reaching out to community organizations that would potentially be part of Spartan TV’s coverage, Carlson said.
High school students currently produce and stream live videos of school athletic contests, concerts and other events on SpartanTV.org.
Carlson said about 40 students are involved in various roles for Spartan TV, both in front of and behind the camera, and the school is working to develop curriculum that could spark more interest by offering class credit.
“Right now, we’re concerned about making sure it’s sustainable, and making sure it’s not person-dependent,” he said. “So, people will come and go in terms of leadership, and the program will continue.”
Carlson said students in the business academy, who attend a weekly dual-credit class before school, are coming up with a business plan for Spartan TV’s future operations.
“Instead of putting together a hypothetical plan, they’re putting together a real plan,” he said. “They can look back and see what worked well and what didn’t.”
District 427 plans to use a studio and equipment donated by a Sycamore High School graduate and to cover the costs of connecting to the Comcast network through private donations.
During a January meeting, council members voiced support for the proposed project and suggested a collaboration allowing city staff to put important messages out through the channel as well.
Tuesday’s agreement will allow the school district to access and operate the public access PEG channel, which is available for noncommercial public education and government programming.
The district will be in charge of operating the channel within the guidelines and regulations of the city’s contract with Comcast that’s been in place since July 2012.
The district also agreed to operate a digital bulletin board when active programming is not being aired, which will include city events, public information notices, and meeting dates and times along with other school and community information.
City Manager Brian Gregory said staff and students would report annually to the council about Spartan TV’s operations and provide updates on the program.
Mayor Ken Mundy said he is looking forward to seeing more content from Spartan TV.
“If you’ve got the link you can watch these young folks do these installments; it’s very well done,” Mundy said. “It’s a great way to communicate, and it will only get better with this agreement.”