District 95 officials eye new, improved website

Staff vetting vendors, anticipate summer 2020 launch

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By Bob Skolnik

Contributing Reporter

A new and improved website will be coming later this year for Brookfield-LaGrange Park Elementary School District 95. District officials are now in the early stages of making plans to replace and improve their website, which hasn't been updated an about a decade.

"We can clearly make it better than it is," said District 95 Superintendent Mark Kuzniewski. "We want something that's a little more modern. Our website is about 10 years old, so, from a function standpoint, it doesn't look and feel like a lot of the other websites that people are reaching out to. We also believe that there is going to be some level of integration of social media. We do not have that capability right now. It just doesn't exist with our current website."

The district would like its new website, which probably won't appear until next summer, to be easier to use and able to link to social media accounts, which schools increasingly use to transmit information.

"We don't have the ability to do that today," Kuzniewski said. "I'm going to get a Twitter account and tweet something." 

The district hopes that a new website also will be more engaging. Currently, the average visit to the District 95 website lasts for only about 90 seconds.

"We're hopeful that it will be a little bit easier and quicker for us to disseminate our information," Kuzniewski said.

At the school board's December meeting, Kuzniewski told the elected officials that it is difficult and cumbersome to add information or items to the district's current website. 

District officials have begun evaluating four different vendors to create and maintain a new website. The district's contract with the company that manages its current website, SchoolPointe, expires at the end of June, and staff have reached out to three other companies that create and manage websites for schools: Edlio, CampusSuite, and Blackboard. Last week, Kuzniewski and some other district officials met with representatives of the vendors.

"I think it's a cursory review to get a little more detail how user-friendly on the back end those systems are," Kuzniewski said.

According to a preliminary analysis, the five-year cost with a company could range from about $12,000 to $22,500.

But capability and ease of use will be as important, or more important, than price as the district decides which company to hire to create a new and improved website.

"Four thousand dollars will not dictate what website we use," Kuzniewski said.

It seems unlikely that the district will renew with SchoolPointe because of the difficulty in adding information to the website. Kuzniewski told the school board last month that the administration would like to get a new vendor. 

Board meetings now at Brook Park

In other District 95 news, the school board has decided to hold all future school board meetings, starting in January, in the Brook Park School multipurpose room. Previously, meetings had alternated between Brook Park and S.E. Gross Middle School.

Before the renovation of S.E. Gross last year, school board meetings were in the former cafeteria, which wasn't so easy to find. At Brook Park School, an exterior door leads directly into the multipurpose room and the room is brighter and more modern.

"It's a little bit nicer environment, more conducive to meetings," Kuzniewski said.

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