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District 340 board plans upgrades for all websites

          Significant facelifts are coming for all four District 230 websites in the coming months.

          The School Board voted unanimously last Thursday to approve a contract with Blackboard Inc. to do the comprehensive redesign of the main district website, as well as those for Stagg High School in Palos Hills, Sandburg in Orland Park and Andrew in Tinley Park. They have not been updated in more than six years.

          According to the contract, there will be a one-time cost of $20,750, for custom programming, design and consulting fees. It also includes an annual fee of $20,980 for hosting, support. general enhancements and security. This represents an annual savings of $6,320, compared with the $27,300 charged by the company doing the work now.

Carla Erdey, director of communications for the district, is serving as project manager of the upgrade, heading a committee of 20 staff members from the three schools and the district office. She said Blackboard would begin working on the new websites this month with the rollout expected in January 2019.

“We bid out for RFPs (requests for proposals) and we narrowed it down to three that we interviewed,” she said. The top two companies, Blackboard and Edio, gave presentations.

The Blackboard proposal includes four custom websites. While they will have similar design and function, the websites will be specific to each school in terms of colors, graphics and specific content.

A new phone/email/text system to replace the SchoolMessenger system now being used is also planned.

“The websites will be mobile friendly,” said Erdey. “A website mobile app will be available too.”

“It will be great to be able to access the site on this,” said school board Secretary Susan Dalton, holding up her cellphone.

As the process moves forward, district officials said they would be seeking feedback from parents, students and community members to ensure that everyone’s needs are met.

While Edio’s submitted a lower bid, of $14,230, it didn’t offer as much as Blackboard,

“And the content management system seems very straightforward. What we found in the end, was this was a better product to communicate with our community for less money,” said Erdey. “I think this will be a great improvement for students, staff and community members.”

          In other business, following an executive session, the board approved the hiring of two administrators and a one-year extension of Superintendent James Gay’s contract through the 2022-23 school year.

“Dr. Gay fulfilled​ the goals set by the school board to provide a rigorous education and the social-emotional skills stu­­dents need to be successful in life,” said board President Rick Nogal in a statement. “He continues to be a strong advocate for our community by tackling the tough issues such as school funding reform and other legislative topics in Springfield. He is a respected educational leader both locally and across the state of Illinois. We look forward to continuing to work with him to provide the exceptional education our students deserve and our community expects, while remaining fiscally responsible to our taxpayers.”

          The extended contract continues the compensation formula that has been in the superintendent’s contract. This includes an annual salary increase equal to the Consumer Price Index plus 1 percent, with a minimum of 3.25 percent and maximum of 4.75 percent. For 2018-19, the increase will be 3.25 percent.

Gay joined District 230 in 2000 as an associate principal at Andrew High School. He went on to become the school’s principal and then deputy superintendent until 2007, when he assumed his current role.

Drew Eder was named guidance director at Andrew. He is currently a guidance counselor at Highland Park High School, where he co-chaired a committee focused on student wellness, began the Pathway Scholars program for first-generation college-bound students and helped streamline course selection and four-year planning processes. He previously was a college counselor at Loyola Academy in Wilmette, and an admissions counselor at Lewis University in Romeoville.

“We have had a very successful guidance program for many years, but as we adjust to a 21st Century guidance office, Drew brings the vision, energy, and personal skills that will be an asset to Andrew High School,” said Principal Bob Nolting.

          Kristyn Koss was also named director of special services at Sandburg High School, after spending the last 17 years at Stagg. A dean of students since 2011, she previously was a special education teacher and was instrumental in the successful implementation of the Say Something school safety initiative at Stagg.

Incoming Sandburg Principal Jen Tyrrell, who worked with Koss at Stagg, said, “Kristyn is a strong communicator and is someone that will place an emphasis on providing equitable opportunities for all students. She will support staff in setting high expectations for all students and place an unwavering emphasis on maintaining a positive culture and climate within the Special Services department.”

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