11/02/07 — School district debuts revamped public Web site

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School district debuts revamped public Web site

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on November 2, 2007 1:50 PM


News-Argus Staff Writer

Wayne County Public Schools is getting a new, spruced-up home.

On the Internet, that is.

The updated schools Web site debuted Thursday, officials announced.

"This has been a lot of work," said Gene Jackson, Web manager for www.waynecountyschools.org, which also includes 33 new school sites.

The old version, he said, "has served us well," but it was time for a change.

"Our redesigned Web sites offer powerful new features and functionality that provide the virtual tools necessary for education in the 21st century," Jackson said. "Beginning in January 2008, teachers will be able to develop their own classroom Web sites. Parents will stay informed with new tools such as automated announcement feeds and e-mail alerts.

"'Blogs' and 'podcasts' will also emerge as new teaching tools to enhance learning."

One of the reasons for the revamp is accessibility, he said. Federal law now requires a Web site be accessible to the handicapped. It will also feature the capability of translating into 12 different languages, including Spanish and Chinese.

Security and control are also issues that had to be tweaked, he noted, so "that all our school sites are safe and (we) don't have to worry about hackers getting into it."

Since the project began in the spring, it has grown to be too much for one person, Jackson said. Other departments, as well as teachers and individual schools, were enlisted to develop their own links on the site.

The home page features a rotating slide show of photos submitted from schools, showcasing their students and events. There are also links to individual schools, along with calendars, lunch menus and other pertinent information.

Jackson said that while it will be a public site, it also features areas that will only be accessible to teachers and principals.

Parents and students particularly will enjoy the offering, he added.

"There's a school locator, so if you're coming from out of town, you can get turn-by-turn directions," he said. "(Teachers) will also be able to post their homework online and leave it there so that six months from now if someone moves here, they'll be able to access it."

While there are some areas of the Web site still under construction, the updated version will allow for better communication with the public as well as those representing schools across the county, said Olivia Pierce, executive director of technology and community relations.