SIKESTON -- A new Web site geared to Sikeston R-6 students and parents aims to create a more user-friendly experience as well as provide them with the information they want to see.
"We've not only redone the district site, but we've revamped all the building sites. They've been totally updated and have a common theme throughout and look much more professional," said Sikeston R-6 Software Coordinator Gary Williams about the new site.
Superintendent Steve Borgsmiller said work started last spring to create a new Web site. As part of the effort, they solicited help from the district's Technology Department to research different Web site companies and ultimately selected a school Web site company based in Carbondale, Ill.
On Tuesday, Williams provided the Board of Education with an overview of the new Web site during its regular meeting at Central Office.
"This is a much better way to communicate with parents than before," Williams said. "We separated material meant for the staff and material meant for students and parents. We wanted just the information parents and students need to see."
One of the Web site's stronger characteristics is the interactive calendar function, Williams said.
"We now have calendars (online) for every single building in the district and also districtwide," Williams said. "The neat thing about this calendar is that it's searchable."
For example, if a parent wants to see when their son's football game is, they can visit their child's building site, type "football" in the search engine and the information appears, Williams said. They can also print it as a schedule, he said.
Another feature of the calendar is that as users scroll down the list of events, they can get more information about that event if they click on its hyperlink, Williams said.
One unique characteristic is the "School Locations" link, Williams said.
"Now you can get an aerial view of how to get to that school," Williams said, adding users can get directions from their location to the school.
There's also a search tool and site map to make navigating easier, Williams said. E-mail addresses for buildings and teachers are now available online, too.
All the previous functions, such as employment opportunities, parent portal and administrative contacts are still available, but many of these are more enhanced, Williams said.
"All of the handbooks are still based on the Web site, but they're easier to get on this site and can be printed from this location," Williams said.
The new Web site is fully active and the address is www.sikestonr6.org. However, if users visit the old site's address, it will direct them to the new one, Williams said.
In other business, the board approved filing dates for the April 7, 2009, election. Filing will begin at 8 a.m. Dec. 16 and end at 5 p.m. Jan. 20 at the office of board secretary Rice P. Burns, 733 N. Main St., in Sikeston. Board members whose three-year terms will expire are Ann Jones and Julie Dolan.
During its meeting, the board approved its ninth membership fee with the Committee for Education Equality in the amount not to exceed $2,000. The fee is based on the district's September student attendance count and is 50 cents per pupil.
"As the board of education will recall, this is the lawsuit more than 200 districts, including Sikeston, have been involved with for over five years," Borgsmiller said. "... We're coming down the homestretch."
So far the district has put $22,593.64 toward this initiative, Borgsmiller noted.
"That sounds like a lot, but if this proves successful, we'll see the benefits many times over for our students for many years to come," Borgsmiller said.
Borgsmiller said a hearing by the Supreme Court is planned for early spring.
The board authorized the sale of surplus property which included several items ranging from printers, scanners, tables, cabinets and other assets.
Terry Schaefer, director of technology, and Mike Brown, director of buildings and grounds, briefed the board with their respective departments' annual reports.
Assistant superintendents Cindy Brown and Andy Comstock provided a grant update for school board members.
Requests by employees Melissa A. Schiwitz and Hanley Cherry to be released from their contracts were approved by the board. The resignation of Jerrel Cloud was also accepted and will take effect at the end of this school year.
Parent-teacher conference reports were also given to the board. Overall, the average percentage attendance for elementary grades ranged from 80 percent to 91 percent, Comstock said. Fifth and sixth grades had an average of 83 percent attendance and seventh and eighth grades had 90 percent attendance. The high school attendance rate was 79 percent while the alternative center was 69 percent, he said.
Districtwide enrollment is 3,523.
"Student enrollment is very static and actually the student count is higher than it was the first Tuesday in September," Borgsmiller said.
The superintendent noted Nov. 16-22 is American Education Week, and holiday turkeys will be delivered to staff members on the Nov. 20.