The Columbus Public Schools District is preparing to launch a new website in an effort to provide a more efficient, interactive platform for parents, teachers and students to communicate.
Apptegy, a company that provides branding solutions for school districts around the country, was contracted by the district this summer to create a user-friendly page that harnesses technology to benefit its users, CPS Superintendent Troy Loeffelholz said.
Currently, the district's communications coordinator, Michelle Cruise, is collaborating with Apptegy to have the website – retaining the same URL www.columbuspublicschools.org – up and running within an approximately two-week time frame.
Site users will notice the district still has its own page, however, links will navigate them to the district’s different K-12 properties that will feature individual teacher pages where instructors have autonomy over the content produced.
“Under the old design, one person dictated content,” Loeffelholz said of monitoring the website. “With the new one, teachers and staff will have access to their own page. So if they are on a field trip and wanted to post a photo or a video they would be able to attach it to that page or to the school’s Facebook or Twitter page.”
Loeffeholz explained the new website will enable users to record voice-overs, send text messages, network and keep interactive content continually flowing. The days of content popping up and staying for weeks and months at a time are ending, he said.
Although staff members do have the liberty of posting what they choose, each building has a moderator – generally the principal – who will vet content before pushing it through where it needs to go.
“We want to trust our staff to generate news,” he said. “We want it to be an active web page where the stories and live news feeds are in real time and up to date and not something that you are going to see stuck on there (on the site) for three months."
In addition to highlighting the interesting things happening in the classroom with student success, the website's functionality will improve in regard to keeping parents in the loop about any district calendar changes, snow days, potential lockdowns or any other pertinent information they need to know in a timely manner, he said.
Cruise echoed the superintendent's sentiment, noting that she believes the website's ability to keep parents updated is a huge plus.
“It gives us more opportunities to better communicate with parents and show them what is actually going on in our schools,” Cruise said. “Show them the positives and what their kids are doing in the classroom; we can tell our story and that is big.
“It’s not like back when we used to send out a newsletter, that’s just not the way parents are reached anymore. They want to know what you are doing and have it be easy and accessible in an efficient manner.”
Not only will it be more efficient for parents, but also for district personnel generating content. With the push of a button, Loeffelholz said he will be able to send widespread notifications “with the push of a button.”
Continuing to market the CPS District remains paramount, he said, and doing something as seemingly simple as launching a new website can truly pay dividends in terms of showcasing student achievement.
“It seems like every time something is written about a school district, school or church organization, its something negative,” he said. “And we really want to show that there are 100 positive things happening for every single negative one.”
Sam Pimper is the news editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.