Daily Herald article - Web sites revamped

By Melissa Jenco and Sara Hooker
Daily Herald Staff Writers


Two Naperville-area school districts say they are making strides to improve communication by overhauling their Web sites.

Naperville Unit District 203 unveiled its new site Thursday after nearly a year of renovations. 
"The community is very highly technologically savvy, so that really became a wake-up call for us," said Melea Smith, director of communications.

The project, which cost the district nearly $40,000, was not merely a redesign, but a rebuild.

"There was a lot more involved in this than how it looked," said Deanne Fulner, assistant project manager.

To make the site easier to use, it has several navigation menus and features an interactive calendar, detailed maps and quick access to news, forms, individual school sites and more.

"I think it’s just a lot more user-friendly and has a nicer appeal to it than the old Web site," said Jim McCarthy, a District 203 parent who helped in the planning process.

The site allows district departments to update their own information so it can be posted more quickly.

It also has a new Internet address: www.naperville203.org. However, the old Web and e-mail addresses will remain active for about a year to ease the transition.

The district began planning for the new Web site last September by surveying school administrators, parents and community members and ultimately hired Americaneagle.com, Inc., to help with the project.

"We feel this is a new standard in school district Web sites," said Areos Ledesma, project manager from Americaneagle.com Inc.

Project Manager Tracy Oliver said he eventually hopes to revamp the Talk203 e-mail information system and individual school Web sites as well.

Meanwhile, a massive overhaul of Indian Prairie Unit District 204’s Web site, www.ipsd.org, in the past year has given parents the option of paying for their child’s lunch online, looking up bus routes, downloading important forms, obtaining calendars and much more.

"We’re trying to empower people to talk to us when they want to, not just when we’re open," said Jeanne Heydecker, district coordinator for Web services.

Renovations in the spring also created separate portals for parents, students and teachers that group information relevant to each one’s needs. Upgrades also have made accessing the site’s wealth of information much speedier.

 "Basically, what’s not on our Web siteω" Heydecker asked. "Everything we have on paper is pretty much on the Web site somewhere."