Sun Prairie Area School District

Sun Prairie, WI | 14 schools | 8,400 students

Sun Prarie Area School District displayed in a laptop and iphone

“If you’re looking for a website that gets you the look you want, is accessible for everybody and takes less time to manage, Finalsite is definitely the best choice.”

-  ALESHA PANNIER | MULTIMEDIA AND WEBSITE STRATEGIST at SUN PRAIRIE AREA SCHOOL DISTRICT

Known as one of the best places to live in America by Money Magazine, Sun Prairie Wisconsin is a suburb of Madison. The combination of affordable housing, low unemployment rates and a desirable city nearby has made Sun Prairie a place families want to be. In turn, Sun Prairie Area School District is growing...fast. 

The rapid growth of families with school-aged children has put all eyes on the school district, which means its website presence is more important than ever. Using Finalsite for its Content Management System (CMS) has helped the district build its brand, strengthen communications and improve its visibility. 

Screenshot of Sun Prairie Staff Appreciation

 

Website Innovation and Efficiency

As a growing school district, Sun Prairie’s website has been an essential component of its overall communications plan to keep families informed. With a focus on transparency, that also means there is a great deal of content to manage. Sun Prairie relies on its Finalsite tools to make sure that content is on brand, easy to find and easy to manage. 

When Alesha Pannier joined the district as its Multimedia and Website Strategist, Sun Prairie was already a Finalsite client. Having past experience with alternative school CMS platforms, Alesha was blown away with the intuitive nature of Finalsite Composer and the robust capabilities of the modules. 

“I came in with fresh eyes to a new thing. It was so easy to learn. I had worked with other CMS systems in the past and this was super easy for me to pick up,” Alesha said. 

Working with Finalsite’s Posts module has been Alesha’s favorite, citing its dynamic versatility and create once, publish everywhere (COPE) capabilities. With a small communications team, Alesha’s time is precious, so she uses Posts to create efficiencies when content needs to be distributed across multiple website pages. Alesha has converted a great deal of content into Posts for this reason alone. 

“I’ve found that if I just use Posts, I can spread the content out everywhere on our website (using tags). If I create it once in this spot I can use it multiple places without creating it multiple times. For this reason, I’ve been trying to figure out what I can switch over to Posts to make my job easier,” Alesha said. 

An innovative example of this is how the district organizes employee directory information. Not only does it allow for a visually appealing way to organize staff biographies, photos and contact information, it allows this content to be cross-published to department pages and school sites without being re-created. 

Screenshot of Sun Prairie Directory

 

“If I want to look at the comms team, I just click the communications category and there it is. It takes so much less time to find the person you’re looking for,” Alesha said. “If someone leaves the district, I only have to remove that person once in Posts, and it will automatically remove them from everywhere else their name appears on the website. It makes the management of this content so much easier."

Community Engagement Using Finalsite Forms 

Community engagement and feedback is an important priority for Sun Prairie. They developed a “We Are Listening” section of the website to reinforce this important message to the public. 

Powered by Finalsite Forms, the webpage embeds survey questions directly into the page, instead of directing people to a third-party link like Google Forms. 

Screenshot of Sun Prairie Form


“It’s a place for people who don’t know where else to go, or don’t know what department to call. They can easily come to our website and they can submit the form. It’s been great, we’ve had it up for about a year now,” Alesha said. 

Sun Prairie also uses Finalsite Forms in several other website locations, including on it’s COVID-19 information page where parents are encouraged to ask questions. 

Screenshot of Sun Prairie form


“By having the form embedded on the page, it encourages people to continue to stay on the website and browse what other information we have available while they submit their form. We know this is true from Google Analytics. It keeps people maneuvering around our website and brings overall engagement up, which is what we want,” Alesha said. “It’s bringing awareness to our COVID site. It makes people search around and see if there is any more information they didn’t already know.” 

Intuitive Platform Makes Training Staff a Breeze

Sun Prairie is home to 14 schools, with another high school opening in fall 2022. Alesha has one to two website editors from each campus that are responsible for uploading content. Managing and training more than 20 people on how and what to post online can seem like a daunting task, but the intuitive feel of Finalsite’s Composer makes this a breeze. 

“It’s so easy to train people on Composer. I do a 20-minute session with each person that is going to be a website editor and I barely hear from them after,” Alesha said. 

She uses the power of Posts to allow website editors the freedom to post their content without a lot of confusion over where it should go and how it should look. 

“The Posts module is so great because you don’t have to give a contributor admin rights to your whole site. There’s so many times a person doesn’t need access to the whole website, but I will give them access to a board they can post on. And by doing that, they are posting on our website by themselves and all they are seeing is this one board. It simplifies it for them,” she said. “It’s really easy for people who are not tech savvy. This is great for them. They know whatever they publish is going to look good.”

Conclusion

For Sun Prairie School District, partnering with Finalsite makes digital communications easier. Using Composer and it’s innovative and flexible modulus, they are able to have a digital hub of information that is easy to manage and stands out from the crowd. 

“If you’re looking for a website that gets you the look you want, is accessible for everybody and takes less time to manage, Finalsite is definitely the best choice,” Alesha concluded.

About Sun Prairie Area School District

Sun Prairie Area School District is growing fast, due in part to the Madison, Wisconsin suburb being known as one of the best places to live, according to Money Magazine.

Referred to as "The Sun Prairie Experience," the district's programming includes Mandarin Chinese and other foreign language offerings, an Advanced Placement Computer Science program, AVID programming, as well as literacy and math curricular opportunities. 
 

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