Spring-Ford Area School District Director of Technology Stephen Reynolds gave a presentation on the brand new website at Monday night's board of education meeting. Along with that, the curriculum committee has a few goals with cyber school and board president Joseph Ciresi and superintentend David Goodin had an interesting idea on how to understand kids today. Here are five things you need to know about Spring-Ford's efforts in 2011-2012 to "get with the program."
1. A modern, easy and contemporary site - When the district set out to implement a new website, it was looking for "a result that would provide us with a more modern and updated look," according to Reynolds. "Something that would not only market our school district, but reflect the pride that we have in Spring-Ford."
The district wanted a website with consistent format and navigation to make it easy to find information and that was easy to update so that any employee in the district could update it so that it’s current and relevant. The color scheme and logos keep the Spring-Ford spirit with a more contemporary look.
2. Navigation and Information Editing - The new site also achieves consistent navigation through the "horizontal bar" at the top of the page, which remains the same for all schools. The "left navigation bar" is specific to each school's site and includes personalized calendars, staff directories and even an electronic school bag. The bag gives parents access to copies of electronic forms sent home with students.
The online information editor is a new feature to the website, as well, meaning that anyone with the proper credentials can log in to the site and change/update information from any location with Internet access - not just a computer within the district's grounds, and without having to know how to use web editors like FrontPage.
3. New Calendars - The website boasts a powerful, integrated calendar that will initially show events for a school or district. Users also have the option of choosing to add additional calendars to overlay on top of the calendar they are viewing. By selecting other schools from the list, users can see a combined calendar listing events in one view.
In addition to the district and school calendars, each student, parent and staff member will have a personal calendar. The personal calendar will include all events, including homework assignments, for the sites on our website for which they are a member.
4. Cyber School - Board member Julie Mullin indicated that there are currently 40 students within the district that are outsourcing to private, cyber schools. The curriculum committee is making strides toward pulling those students back into the district by offering a cyber school program of its own. The district has enrolled one student this year and hopes that by keeping children within the district, it can save money and keep kids integrated in the community.
5.Another Back to School Initiative - Ciresi made an open suggestion for the board to "go back to school" as students at any level to see the challenges of day-to-day life in the eyes of a student.
"Because we often hear that sometimes we’re out of touch, all of us in any decision that’s made, we came up with a concept and Dr. Goodin supports the idea," Ciresi said. "We want to send the board back to school for a day. Each one of us would get a schedule, ride the bus to school, go to a full day of class, do a full day’s worth of work, take the bus back home and talk about our experience.
"We can all sit here and laugh, but I think that really gives us the experience of what happens in a day in the life of a student. We sit at this table and make decisions on student life constantly. For those of us who have students in school, yes, we may be closer to it, but we’re not in the classroom seeing what goes on and what challenges are there for our administration, teachers and students."
The board kicked around some additional ideas of splitting into three separate tiers - some board members can go back to school as students, some as teachers and others as administrators. Goodin will handle the schematics and come back in September with a concrete idea.
Reynolds additionally wanted to thank Nancy Gambino, Randi Law, Donna Militano and especially Sue Gallagher in aiding in this summer's website project.
"I asked Sue Gallagher to join us at our meeting tonight because through her leadership and guidance through this project, she really made this successful," Reynolds said. "And we met our scheduled deadline."