June 26, 2013 - Officials continue to push a public access television consolidation plan, but others are pushing back.
Independence Township Supervisor Pat Kittle, who presented the plan to the township board as well as Clarkston Board of Education, said moving the Independence TV public access program to Clarkston High School would be a win-win for both.
"It would be an equipment windfall for students," said Kittle, adding that having the equipment at the high school would serve to better train students.
Rob Namowicz, member of the Independence TV citizens advisory committee, said the plan is a bad idea – similar partnerships between communities and schools have not gone well.
"All members of the current cable committee have cautioned against the rush to merge," said Namowicz at the June 24 school board meeting. "As a committee we do not support moving the PEG studio to the schools."
Committee member Jay A. Clark said Independence TV was once the worst public access in the country. Although he feels programming has improved, he fears being "horrified" again if moving the equipment to the school causes a backslide in progress.
Clark said he also fears getting kids into the studio may be a problem.
Stacy Maegher, committee member, said rather than closing the studio, the CHS students should just have classes at the Maybee Road location.
Independence TV Program Manager Joseph Barnhardt, who presented an update to the township board along with Township Budget Analyst Rick Yaeger, said closing the Maybee Road studio would save the township money, allow students more access to equipment, and provides more of a workforce to Independence TV.
"I need bodies," said Barnhart, adding if he had 20-30 students he could produce more programming on the channel.
Independence Township Trustee David Lohmeier proposed a one year trial period. He said the Township should hold a performance review in about a year, and if significant progress is not made, "We move on," he said.
Township Clerk Barb Pallota said having better equipment at the school provides a valuable vocational curriculum at the high school, and may help keep students from moving away after they graduate.
Clarkston Community Schools and Independence Township receive money from taxpayers through Public, Education, and Government, PEG, fees collected from cable television subscribers.
The consolidation plan would transfer $300,000 dollars in equipment from the township's studio on Maybee Rod to the Clarkston High School studio, along with $200,000 a year in capital lease payments.
The move would save the township $55,000 on rent, utilities and other costs associated with the Maybee Road location. According to the plan, the township would retain ownership of the equipment.
"People aren't using Independence TV's Maybee Road facility despite recent renovation and equipment upgrades," said Kittle last February. "Clarkston High School has the opposite problem, with kids lined up to learn. But the high school's equipment is antiquated, not suited to its purpose. Combining the two would be ideal."
Kittle said a committee will be formed to further explore the issue.