School district awaits website

GLENDALE — Glendale Unified School District school board members took a quick look on Tuesday night at the school district’s new website, which is still in development but may be ready for public viewing by the start of the 2008-09 school year.

“We think it will be much more user-friendly,” Supt. Michael Escalante said.

Linda Junge, school district director of public information and administrative services, showed the board some of the features of the new website and filled them in on the status of its development.

The school district has been working with Schoolwires Inc. to develop the site. Since March, the school district has been moving data from its current site to the new site, Junge said.

“All of the key content has been migrated at this point,” she said.

The site is currently online but is not being publicized because it has not been finished.

District staff will be able to perform most of the upkeep and maintenance for the site in-house, Junge said.

The new site will have a cleaner-looking home page with fewer links, to minimize confusion, Junge said.

Important information will be concentrated where Internet users’ eyes normally fall, such as across the top of the screen and vertically down the left-hand side.

With the new site, the school district has created multiple pathways to the same pieces of information and has minimized the amount of scrolling up and down that users have to do to read pages, Junge said.

“There are multiple links or roads to any one bit of information,” she said.

For instance, users will be able to find the Web pages for a particular school in the district in various ways, such as by clicking on a school’s general location within a map of Glendale, or by choosing a school from a vertical list.

The site will also have a more nuanced calendar feature that will allow parents or other school stakeholders who log on to the website to filter the calendar pages to see just information pertaining to particular schools or school activities.

Parents who log on and select the calendar options will then be e-mailed when one of their selected activities has a time change, Junge said.

The school district will also now have the ability to post job openings on its website, and interested individuals will be able to submit their applications through the website.

Down the road, the new technology should give the school district the capability to put streaming video, such as school board meetings, on the website.

The school board meetings are currently televised on Charter Cable channel 15 but are not viewable through the website.

The school board members warmly received the new website , and said it appeared to be a big step in the right direction.

“It looks very refreshing. It looks easy to use,” board member Greg Krikorian said.

Krikorian encouraged the school district to look into options that would allow users to view the Web page in different languages — perhaps the top three languages spoken in the school district, Krikorian said.

Krikorian also welcomed the idea of incorporating video streaming into the website, so that school stakeholders could view board meetings or other school events through the website and not just on television.

“Not everyone has Charter Cable,” he said.

Board member Nayiri Nahabedian said she would support putting longer, more detailed versions of the school board meeting agendas on the site if that was possible.

Escalante responded that it probably would be possible down the road.

Board vice president Mary Boger commented that the new site was aesthetically appealing.

Boger also said it would help the district be more environmentally friendly, with features such as online job applications.

“It doesn’t look cold and impersonal,” she said. “It doesn’t look techy.”

Nahabedian asked what the total cost of the new website would be.

Junge responded that she didn’t have a copy of the contract with Schoolwires with her at the meeting, but that she would be able to supply that information to the board.

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