OSKALOOSA — The Oskaloosa Community School District website, according to users, high school students, parents and board members, is clunky and hard to use.
The school board approved a contract with Campus Suite for website redesign and hosting during its meeting on Oct. 8.
School district Technology Director Shari Hankins-Barnhart said a tech committee made up of people who update and work with the website including principals, a few teachers and some central office staff worked on the project.
Hankins-Barnhart said the group started by looking at the websites of other schools and making a list of vendors to contact.
“We have made a rubric based on what our main things to look for were. One of the biggest things we are looking at is mobile compatibility,” she said. “Right now, our current website’s not very mobile-friendly on a phone and we don’t have the analytics on our current website to truly back us up, but we think that most of our parents are probably using a mobile device to access our website. So that’s important that we make that device-friendly so they can get to the information they need.”
One of the main objectives was to have a site that is user-friendly as far as putting content on, Hankins-Barnhart said.
“Because if it’s hard for us to put content on, we’re not going to do it as well; and keep things up to date. Because we realize things are not up to date on it now,” she said. “And then the other thing we were looking up too, regarding that, is we just wanted a clean slate. We’re not going to migrate anything over from our current website. We’re going to start from scratch and build it.”
There is also an option, Hankins-Barnhart said, to have an app for the site.
“The benefit of having a separate app is push notifications. If you have an app on your phone, you can allow or not allow push notifications to come through to your phone,” she said. “The other thing is just ease of access, I think, for parents especially.”
The site iteself would update the app, Hankins-Barnhart said, and administrators would decide what content the app should have on it.
Initial costs for using Campus Suites – including an app – is around $9,350 per year. Without an app, the cost is around $7,318. The ongoing cost for the second and third years are $6,758 with the app; without the app is $4,718.
Hankins-Barnhart said the Campus Suites-hosted website would have analytics included.
“So we’ll be able to see what pages people are going to the most, what they’re looking for on the site, those kinds of things,” she said. “That will help us too.”
Superintendent Paula Wright said she was fine with waiting to add an app.
“I think switching over to a new website is a lot of work, so that just eases the pressure a little bit,” she said, “and as we get that going, especially if the analytics start pointing to us to we have a lot of mobile users, it makes sense to add that.”
Other board business:
• Greg Life continues to be the district’s legal counsel. Ahlers and Cooney will serve as legal counsel for contracts
• The board approved requests for modified supplemental amounts for special education and LEP allowable costs.
• The purchase of a maintenance vehicle was approved. A 2019 Dodge Ram Tradesman with a utility box will be purchased to replace an older vehicle.