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Absent trustee attending board meeting via Skype hook-up
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Skype, in modern technology parlance, is nothing new to millions of high tech-savvy users. But this Microsoft “freemium” instant-messaging tool is only now introducing its utilization in Manteca Unified School District’s boardroom. This first-time event is expected to happen during the September meeting of the Board of Trustees.

And the first to benefit from this modern-day high-tech wonder is the longest-running member of the board, Evelyn Moore. With 20 straight years of service as district Area 5’s representative when she completes her current term at the end of this year, she is the uncontested doyenne of the board.

Moore will be on vacation and out of state when the board meets next month. She does not want to miss the meeting when the trustees will be expected to vote on an important agenda item. Enter the video-teleporting wonder called Skype. That suggestion was made during Tuesday night’s meeting. Trustee Deborah Romero was the one who came with the idea of utilizing a “conference call” so that Moore could take part in the meeting sans her physical presence.

Superintendent Jason Messer was all for that, and Skype was brought into the discussion.

“There’s a legal way to do that,” said the high tech-savvy superintendent, noting that this will be the first Skyped board meeting ever.

For that to take place, there will be some legal requirements that need to be met, he explained. The agenda will need to be posted in the city where Moore will be at that time 24 hours prior to the meeting. The Brown Act requires that meeting agenda for agencies like the school board has to be posted a day before that to let the public know what’s going on.

The entire board meeting will not be Skyped; only the two action items on the agenda will be covered allowing Moore to take part in the voting.

Skype is a noun that has evolved into a verb form like Xerox, the brand name for the copy machine. But with constant usage becoming part of everyday vocabulary, the printing machine soon evolved into a verb. Ditto Skype.

As the Skype website touts, “With Skype, you can share a story, celebrate a birthday, learn a language, hold a meeting, work with colleagues — just about anything you need to do together every day. You can use Skype on whatever works best for you - on your phone or computer or a TV with Skype on it. It is free to start using Skype — to speak, see and instant message other people on Skype, for example. You can even try out group video, with the latest version of Skype.”