Set to launch in two weeks, the Newton school district’s new website was presented to board members Monday. The site isn’t completely finished but some new features include “The Bridge,” automatic alerts and a mobile friendly version.
Sporting red and black, the new site offers a designated private messaging box that goes straight to the school district’s superintendent Bob Callaghan. “The Bridge” was designed to allow parents and individuals to send their concerns with a quick and easy system and without a public setting.
Jon Liebl of Liebl Marketing Group and Justin Lobaito, of Bearded Ginger Designs, were selected to begin work on the new site last summer, and the school board got a sneek peek of the fresh design.
Liebl said the direct messenger is meant to bridge the gap between the school board and various issues that might come about at specific schools. He said the feature will hopefully keep negativity at bay.
“It’s not like Facebook where the interactions and commenting can get out of control,” Liebl said. “Callaghan will follow up and there will be an open-line of communication. It will let people know we are listening.”
An additional update was making the website mobile friendly, which is not the case for the current site. With this update, people searching the web on their iPhones or iPads will have the same experience as being on a laptop.
“That makes the functionality more positive everything should be just one click away,” Lobaito said.
Also to enhance communication with parents and students, the homepage will feature an alert box that pops up if there is an announcement about a school closing or a concern. The message doesn’t disappear without clicking on the box.
The existing site was designed to minimize the number of clicks a viewer needed to make to reach their destination, but Callaghan said they’d decided to move away from that model in order to make their online presence more accessible. By analyzing data from the current site the district is making changes that should make it easier to use, he said.
Part of the redesign also includes two “hype” videos, designed to build interest in the school district, Callaghan said. The videos were showcased during Monday night’s meeting, featuring the district’s schools, personnel and the student experience at Newton, closing with the tagline “Red Pride lives here.”
“We developed a pretty strong site with a huge array of info. That was one of the main objectives,” Liebl said.
Callaghan said there will be a marketing campaign prior to the launch to let people know about the new website and the videos.
“A 30 second video will be just a preview and will be a way to get people to click to our website,” Callaghan said. “Then the full video will be available to view.”
Work on the redesigned site began last summer, but administrators have been finalizing the last few details on the new site, including making sure the new website will be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
To meet the ADA guidelines the new website will have features that make it easier for those with disabilities to use the site. Eliminating flashing or strobing graphics, adding alt tags to every image and providing a link to a text transcript will streamline the website and make it easy to use.
In other business the NCSD board approved to consider adopting an issuance of general obligation bonds in the amount of $7.69 million and levying a tax for the payment of the bonds.
The bond would be the third approved by the board for the new Berg Middle School. Voters approved a $26.9 million bond commitment last September. Since then, a three-part process has been underway. The first of three bond authorizations was approved by the school board last fall for $9.59 million.
Contact Kayla Singletary
at 641-792-3121 ext. 6533