This article was originally published by Jennifer Peacock from Micromedia Publications.
The school district website has been updated for the smart phone age. The Manchester Township School District has changed over its website to a new company, making the site mobile friendly while also saving the district money.
"We began searching for a new provider in fall 2015 because our existing contract with Schoolwires/Blackboard was expiring June 30, 2016. We were looking to redesign the site with what is called a responsive design, which means the site adapts to different screen sizes and devices so it works well on mobile, tablets, laptops, and desktops. Schoolwires gave us a quote for the redesign and we felt it was quite high, so we began to look at what else was out there," district public information officer Lee Bruzaitis told The Manchester Times.
The new contract [with Finalsite] came in lower than the existing one, plus offered upgrades. The savings is about $1,300 to $800, depending on the year.
"After extensive research, we chose Finalsite because they offered a modern dynamic design and a robust user-friendly content management service at a price that was actually slightly lower than our existing contract."
"The contract was approved at the April 20, 2016 BOE meeting. The cost is $7,500 for the first year and $8,000 for years two to five. We were paying $8,800 annually to Schoolwires and that was going to increase with the new contract," said Bruzaitis.
5 Tips for a Successful Public School District Website Redesign
Bruzaitis said the move is also in response to concerns she received from the public.
"The thing I probably heard most about the [old] website was that it was very difficult to use on a phone. These days, research shows that people spend more than half their time on the Internet on their phones rather than on the desktop. It's really important to reach parents on the go, when they're at work and running around, they can access our site easily," Bruzaitis said.
The new site has resource pages for parents, students, community members, and teachers and includes all the district's social media posts as well as the school calendar, summer reading lists, PTA information, Manchester Township Educational Foundation and Booster Club links.
Each school—Whiting, Ridgeway, and Manchester Township elementary schools, the middle school, high school, and Regional Day School—still have their own pages. While teachers aren't required to maintain active web pages, they are able to have pages through the school website, Parent Portal, or Facebook groups.
Bruzaitis added that soon, parents will be able to sign up for alerts through the new site, including e-mail and texts alerts for school closings and other emergencies as well as school news, calendar updates, and an e-newsletter the school plans to produce.
She added that once the website is fully up and running—probably by September—that a parents focus group will be formed to gather more information on what should be added or changed to the new site.