School district website gets new look, bells and whistles

Sean C. Morgan

School District 55’s new website went live last week, featuring more information and the ability for individual schools to update their individual pages and calendars.

“We had received substantial feedback from community members, parents and staff that we needed to update the website,” said Kevin Strong, business manager. “Our old site was dated. It was difficult to find information.”

“It was difficult to add things to it,” said Nancy Brocard, district technology specialist.

“You had to find every little bit of spare space on the page to put things on it,” said Loanne Huschka, curriculum secretary.

The redesign was a team effort by district staff, including Huschka, Brocard, Strong, Technology Specialist Sharon Conner and Sweet Home High School business teacher Michael Morrell. Kristi Ivers of the Linn-Benton-Lincoln Education Service District designed the site.

Each member of the district team worked on different details needed for the site, gathering information and photos.

“I really appreciate Nancy, Loanne, Michael and Sharon,” Strong said. “It was above and beyond their normal jobs. It’s a very good Web site. It’s a very usable website.”

“I think it gives the schools a lot more capability to highlight their own photos, events and news,” Huschka said.

The new site includes a portal for parents to keep tabs on their students, Strong said.

While parents have had access before, the interface is improved, and it includes a variety of staff and parent resources, he said.

Parents can access contact information and forms for individual departments, Huschka said, and the site uses Google Calendars to keep track of events.

Each school’s page is color-coded, and all are laid out similarly, with a feature box that can scroll through important information and photos.

The site does not include Flash, so Apple devices will work with it, Strong said.

The team members kept in mind that the school district and its website are part of the community and the ongoing efforts to improve the community and local economy.

They hope that the site will help invite people to Sweet Home, Brocard said.

“A lot of good things are happening in our district,” Strong said. “We hope to use the website to share those with the community and people who might be moving here.”

“We’re very proud of it,” Brocard said. “We think it turned out well.”

“I was glad to be involved in it,” Huschka said. “It was really interesting.”

Responsibility for updating the site will be spread out, Brocard said. “Someone at each building will be responsible for maintaining the school page.”

Most districts contract with the ESD to maintain their websites, Brocard said, but she will handle the difficult tasks and maintain the districtwide pages.

The high school is planning on allowing students to provide content, Strong said.

“We have a group of students (Morrell) is teaching html code, and he would like them to help the staff members create a page of their own,” Brocard said.