Colonial School District
Located in suburban Philadelphia, Colonial School District has always stood out as a destination district for families. Ranked the 15th best school district in Pennsylvania by Niche.com, parent expectations of the high-performing schools are ever increasing.
For years, Colonial has relied on Finalsite to power its website and digital communications tools to meet the needs of its parents, staff and community at large.
A Partnership Developed Through Acquisition
Kim Newell is part of the communications team at Colonial, serving as its Assistant Public Relations Coordinator for 20 years.
“We were part of the Silverpoint acquisition in 2013,” Newell said. “What we liked about Finalsite was the fact that it wasn’t just a template design. Every site we looked at was outstanding. We felt confident migrating to Finalsite because I knew we wouldn’t lose the quality we had with our Silverpoint website.”
When Newell completed the migration from Silverpoint to Finalsite, she was impressed with the features that made her job easier, primarily citing the Create Once Publish Everywhere (C.O.P.E.) functionality automatically built into the Composer CMS.
“Among my favorite features are the shared elements,” she said. “If there's something on our website that’s in more than one place it’s a shared element. It makes it so the website interior pages are always current, and it's so easy to do.”
Integrated Newsletters Powered by Finalsite
Colonial School District takes advantage of Finalsite’s built-in newsletter tool which allows them to format and send beautiful, branded newsletters for every school in the district right from the Finalsite platform.
Using the C.O.P.E functionality with Message’s dynamic content feature, Newell and Jessica Lester, the district’s Community Relations Coordinator, automatically populate newsletters with content that’s already posted on their website.
“All of our school newsletters are completely automated. It’s all dynamic content,” Newell said.
“It’s a huge tIme-saving element. When I created newsletters in a previous district, I found myself cutting and pasting what was already on the website and putting it into Smore,” said Lester. “None of that has to be done with Finalsite’s tools. You just post it once on your website and it’s good to go in your newsletter, too.”
Not only are Colonial School District’s newsletters easy to put together, they also perform extremely well with 50 percent open rates across all of its elementary schools!
Better Security and Function with Finalsite Forms
Colonial School District is using less third-party tools for forms and surveys and relies on Finalsite Forms for everything from attendance to community engagement.
At the end of the 2020-21 school year, they used Forms to collect senior photos and memories to be shared with the community during graduation season. It was a simple, easy way for parents and students to share special memories, built right into the website.
“It was an outcome of the pandemic when we couldn’t celebrate in person last year, those things were good for building community spirit,” Lester said.
Finalsite Forms offers a simple way to gather information with a greater level of security than third-party survey tools, which was an important factor for Colonial School District.
“Parents feel more comfortable sharing information with us through Finalsite Forms than Google or SurveyMonkey because it's part of the website and not a third-party. It’s more secure and they appreciate that,” Lester said. “Some companies block the use of Google, too. In my previous district, that was often a problem when we sent out a Google form. When we need to gather time-sensitive information, Finalsite Forms means there will be one less obstacle that people need to overcome.”
"What we liked about Finalsite was the fact that it wasn’t just a template design. Every site we looked at was outstanding."
ASSISTANT PUBLIC RELATIONS COORDINATOR
Customer Service and Support
With 99.9% website uptime, outages are few and far between on the Finalsite platform. When Colonial experienced an issue, it was quickly averted with Finalsite’s support coming to the rescue.
“In the middle of the night, our website went out right before school started. It was bad timing at 1 a.m. and I just happened to notice. I called Finalsite support and there was somebody there to help me, and by the time anybody woke up the next morning, the website was back up and running and nobody was the wiser,” Newell said. “I can’t speak enough about how awesome support has been.”
Newell has also had a great experience with support, adding, “tech support is one of the things I love and I tell everyone who asks. You call them and they are helpful and friendly. They’re absolutely great.”
Colonial School District became part of the Finalsite family through acquisition in 2013 and has been powering its communications strategy with Finalsite ever since. With favorite features like integrated newsletters and built-in forms, Finalsite has the functionality and support the district needs to produce high-quality communications that the community has come to expect.
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