The Candor Central School District is in the process of redesigning and updating its website. School board members and the public will get a preview of what the future website might look like at the next Education Council meeting on December 16. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. in the high school media library. Members of the public are welcome to attend in person (masks required) or can watch it live on Candor’s YouTube channel. A link to the live broadcast will be posted on the Candor School District website (www.candorcsd.org) on December 16 for anyone wishing to attend virtually.
“We had known for a long time that we needed an update to our website,” said Matt Gelder, director of instructional technology for the district. “Our current site just can’t communicate all the cool things we’re doing. “
Whether you’re a parent, student, or community member, there’s a good chance you’ve visited the Candor Schools website at some point. Maybe it was to check the lunch menu, check on a snowy day, or find the date of the next basketball game. Some information is easy to find: Snow day alerts display as a banner at the top of the site. Getting the lunch menu takes a few clicks, but finding sports schedules… it’s complicated.
The new and improved website will not only make it easier to find information online, but it will encompass a broader communications strategy, Gelder said. The redesign and redesign of the website began over the summer. The school community invited parents, teachers, chamber of commerce members and others to sit on a committee. The first task was to visit the websites of a number of schools and evaluate them. Then they took a critical look at the Candor District website, noting where improvements could be made.
At the same time, the district asked students, teachers, parents and community members what they need and want from a website. To facilitate this, he posted a “Communications Survey” on the district website. “We have received 480 responses so far,” Gelder said. Of these, 274 were from students, 187 from parents and 25 from community members. Gelder said they still accept comments. You can find the survey on the district website in the blue box titled District Survey. At the end of September, the committee met to compare the scores and examine some options for populating a new site.
“We have decided to go with Apptegy,” said Gelder, noting that a number of districts in the region are using the organization to design and power their websites. “Anyone can build a website to your specifications, but Candor wants to make sure communication is at the center of our new site. ”
With that in mind, the committee wanted a website that would integrate seamlessly with mass media communications. Apptegy provides that, Gelder said. It includes a service called Thrillshare which allows teachers, coaches and administrators to send messages from anywhere and update information quickly. It also allows people to choose how they receive this information, as it can be posted to Facebook and Twitter, sent as a text message, and posted to the district website at the same time.
“For example,” said Gelder, “school superintendent Brent Suddaby could post a snow day cancellation on the website and that would automatically go to social media and text alerts.” Currently one person is posting on the website, another is posting on text alerts, and another is posting on social media. Gelder pointed out that the new website will also feature a Candor Schools app that people can download to their cellphones and receive alerts through that app.
“Everyone consumes information differently,” said Gelder, “so we want to allow people to get information in the way they are most comfortable with. The advantage of this new system is that it will be done on the school side with a single post.
Gelder isn’t the only one working on the new website. Ben Taylor, who serves as a technology integration specialist in addition to teaching Spanish, and Kate Atkins, who manages the current website, were also involved in the process. On December 1st, they took a tour of the new website with Apptegy. This is just the gist of what the site will look like, Gelder said. They will present a mockup of the site at the Education Council meeting in December, with plans to roll out the new website in the spring.