School district website will get a makeover
“It's been a long time coming,” Superintendent Kevin Smith said at the Board of Education’s June 21 meeting, where he provided a sneak preview of the new website design.
The district’s current website has been “the bane of my existence and the existence of many others,” said Smith, who worked with webmasters, administrative assistant Lucille DeNovio and others to put together a new website that will be “ready to launch later this summer.”
Ease of use has been “one of the consistent complaints” regarding the district’s current website, said Smith, so one major goal is to make the new site “much more user-friendly.”
“As parents and users come to our website, we want to make it easy,” he said.
“Whatever activity the user wants to do — whether it’s register a child, pay student fees, view Board of Education minutes and agendas — that’ll be able to happen in one click.”
The new website will be “dynamic,” said Smith, “so regardless the size of the screen, it’ll adjust accordingly.”
“We also tried to clean up some of the other features,” he said.
For example, several links at the top of the screen will remain static as users scroll through the site’s interior pages.
One of those links will lead to an active directory with staff members’ contact information — something that, Smith said, has been missing “for a long time.”
“My hope is when it’s fully loaded, you’ll have not only a name, a phone extension and an email, but also an image [of the staff member],” said Smith.
Another static link will allow users to change the language displayed on screen.
A slideshow with images of Wilton school life will greet homepage visitors, and underneath, they’ll find blue circles with links to the websites of Wilton’s four public schools.
Under the school website links will be a “News & Events” section that will feature school news updates and calendars.
“A major concern we’ve had for years is the aggregation of the calendar,” said Smith, “so what we’re expecting to do on this homepage is pull feeds from all of the school calendars, the Continuing Education calendar, district calendar and athletics calendar, so that at a glance, you can get the list of activities for any given day.”
There will be an option to view a full calendar, “as well as filter if you want to sort out to a particular building,” said Smith.
School district successes will be featured at the bottom of the homepage, as well as links to the district’s social media accounts.
“A lot of work has gone into this over many months,” said Smith. “We’ve used the redevelopment of the website to also clarify communication procedures.”
Staff members who use the no-longer-supported Edline learning community management system to communicate with families, said Smith, will be migrated to a new tool embedded within the education technology platform PowerSchool.
The district will use parent and community engagement platform SchoolMessenger for PTA, as well as district- and building-level communications, said Smith, “and then teachers will have the option of using Google Classroom to communicate with parents and students or the features that's embedded within PowerTeacher.”
“As part of that, we’ve also reframed expectations for webmasters and school secretaries,” said Smith.
That way, he said, “the website will become a much more robust and frequently updated tool that will actually represent all of the great work that’s happening in the schools.”
Smith said a letter will be sent out to parents and staff as details of the new website are finalized.