York schools launch new website

jbecknell@enquirerherald.comNovember 19, 2013 

— The York school district this week launched a redesigned website intended to make it easier for parents and others to find information and simpler for staff members to manage.

Ray Stemmer, director of technology services, said the district worked with Cyberschool, a company that designs school district websites, to create a new online presence.

“We want parents to go to our website for information about what’s happening in our schools and at our district,” Stemmer said. “And the best way we can drive parents to our website is to make sure the information that’s provided there is useful and up to date.”

The location of the site, at www.york.k12.sc.us, is unchanged. But Stemmer said the site has a fresh look and new colors, although some of the navigation features of the old system were retained.

“Most people are pretty happy with the look,” he said. “It’s cleaner, it has a different look.”

He said the total cost of the new site was $10,970, but the school district paid $3,417 of that amount.

Stemmer said that’s because the York district has received e-rate funding, which is collected on telephone bills and distributed by the federal government to school districts and libraries for limited uses, including Web services.

Stemmer said one advantage of the new website is that it will be easier for school-level and district employees to maintain, with the goal that updates can be more frequent.

“The ease of use as far as posting new stories, and even simple things like changing the pictures that rotate across the top of the Web page is a much simpler process,” he said.

The site also offers some new features, including alerts that parents can sign up to receive. Parents also can sign up to be notified of changes in school calendar events, he said.

The site also has a news alert feature, which could be useful in cases of school closing due to inclement weather or other imminent news, that causes the alert to pop up before the website loads.

Stemmer said the old website was launched about six years ago and took advantage of free software to hold down the cost. The down side of the free software, he said, is that there is no technical support. In addition, he said, the free software wasn’t user friendly.

“We needed something that was easier for us to manage, and also was more user friendly for those folks who were going on the website, making sure they can find the information they are looking for,” he said.

The district website includes links to the sites for each school, which also have been redesigned.

Stemmer said the new site has been in development since this summer. He hopes parents and other users will see more news stories, calendar items and other content that is useful to them.

“People do expect there to be more information, and more up-to-date information, in order for us to be able to function in today’s world in the information age,” he said.

Jennifer Becknell •  803-329-4077

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