Vermont Interactive Technologies ceased operations last month at all 17 of its sites that had been used for job training, distance learning, bankruptcy proceedings, public hearings and more. Now, a plan for the state's public access TV stations to provide some of the service may be too late.
Rob Chapman is executive director of ORCA Media in Montpelier and a member of the working group assigned to help coordinate VIT’s dissolution. He says lawmakers didn’t leave enough time or money for the working group to get the job done right.
“They looked to cut some costs … and really didn’t appropriate any money to help with the transition to something else," Chapman said.
Vermont State Colleges — VIT's primary user — has developed and transitioned to its own distance learning platform, which will also be available for some job training offered through the Vermont Department of Labor. The working group's majority report recommends a Department of Public Service plan to develop an alternative, and somewhat more limited, successor network to meet other users' needs.
But Chapman said that plan is not sufficient for managing public hearings of the same caliber VIT had developed. Chapman and Rep. Kathleen Keenan (D-St. Albans) issued a minority report last week, calling on the state to halt the dismantling of VIT studios until more options are considered.
Chapman said the state’s public access television stations, for example, may be interested in taking over VIT’s role. He said he assessed their interest during the course of the working group's proceedings, and it was positive, but there wasn't time to fully explore the potential.
Even if there’s political will for the idea of continuing the working group's charge, it may come too late. A project coordinator from the state's Department of Buildings and General Services said this week that about 50 percent of the VIT studios' equipment already is disassembled and stored, and the rest will be done by late February.