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WVW schools’ new Web-site usability touted

With School Center running sites, official upbeat users more adept to provide info.

KINGSTON – Surf over to the Wyoming Valley West School District Web site and you’ll find a host of links that go nowhere, and only a handful of updated information. It’s been that way for a long time, and some school board members questioned the lack of usability at recent public meetings.

Well, all that will change this fall, Technology Director Ken Briggs told the board technology committee Friday morning. For about $5,000 a year the district plans to host the site through a Web site management company called School Center. Briggs said the move will allow each school to craft and maintain its own site, and each teacher to have his or her own page on the site if they want it.

The site has lacked much beyond bare bones updating because the technology department has too much work to do, Briggs said. That’s due to a massive switch to new finance and student accounting software called Skyward, and to the installation of computers, smart boards and projectors in classrooms sparked by state grants. To properly maintain the district site in-house would require hiring a new full-time webmaster and investing in more hardware.

Briggs said School Center offers more options for a lot less money. The company also offers an e-mail service that would be far superior to the one the district currently uses, but it will take much longer to make that switch.

Superintendent Michael Garzella added there is no multi-year commitment, and that if it doesn’t work out, the district can easily try something else.

Briggs also said the switch to Skyward has been going fairly smoothly, but that the district has been unable to get archived data it needs for the last three years. That data are at West Side Career and Technical Center, which had been providing finance software service to Wyoming Valley West and other local districts. Committee member Thomas Pieczynski suggested solicitor Michael Hudacek send a letter to West Side requesting the data.

And Briggs suggested the district purchase new surveillance cameras with night vision ability for the high school stadium, now that artificial turf has been installed. He said there is a need for security to prevent vandalism, and estimated there should be two to six cameras, and ballparked the cost at about $1,000 a piece. Committee Chairman Brian Dubaskas told Briggs to get a quote on the purchase and installation of cameras in time to present it at next month’s school board meeting.

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