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Sunday, January 21, 2018

School website hoped to help foster communication

By Jason Stuart

Ranger-Review Staff Writer

Glendive Public Schools has launched a new website for the district and for Dawson County High School as the district continues its efforts to improve communications and outreach with the local community.

The new website for the district went live a little over a week ago, with the new DCHS website coming online late last week. Besides being designed to be more aesthetically attractive than the old websites, district officials are looking to fill them up with information so that parents, students and community members have a one-stop shop for news and information about what’s going on in the district’s schools.

“We kind of want to make it a central hub for information and we want it to look nice,” said Superintendent Stephen Schreibeis. “That’s what we’re really looking to do is make it convenient for parents, students and community members so they can access the things they need to access. The goal is to get to if you want to find information, this is where you go.”

DCHS Principal Wade Murphy added that he really likes both the way the new website looks and how much easier it is to navigate than the old site.

“I’m just really pleased with the way it turned out,” Murphy said. “It looks good and it’s user friendly, and in this day and age you’ve got to have a website where people can go and get information.”

Besides the standard fare of sports and activity schedules, event calendars, lunch menus, student handbooks and so forth, the new websites also contain a few added features the district’s websites have not had before to further boost their public outreach capacity.

One of those new features is a public newsletter the district has started releasing to community members who sign up to receive it. Schreibeis noted he has sent two newsletters out so far. The newsletter feature is a new way for the district to get critical information out to the public, something Schreibeis and other district officials have said was very much needed in the wake of the district’s failure to pass a bond issue for the construction of a new school in 2016. 

Murphy said he thinks that having the ability for the schools and the district to directly engage with the public through the site on critical issues can only have a positive impact on their relationship with the wider community.

“We just need to take advantage of that. It’s a nice looking site and it’s easy to maneuver around in, so I think the more visitors and traffic we can drive to it, it allows us to get our message to a wider audience,” Murphy said. “The convenience of getting that message out there in a format that looks good and allows people to have answers to their questions I think is important.”

To sign up for the district newsletter, click on the “District” tab on the district website menu, then click on “Email List Sign-up” from the drop-down menu.

Another important new addition to the website is an online application portal, something the district has never had before. Schreibeis said that given the digital age we live in, it’s more important now than ever for employers to offer an online application portal. He said “that’s the way the market is going,” noting that job seekers are increasingly reliant on employer websites for not only applying for work but for deciding if they want to apply to a job in the first place.

“With recruiting people, they shop for jobs on their computer,” Schreibeis said. “I don’t know how big of a detriment it was, but I do know it was an inconvenience for people to have to come down and get an application. If you don’t have that (online) capability, then they pass you on.”

Now that the district has an online application portal, Schreibeis said he believes it will help the district when it comes to recruiting new teachers and staff.

“I do think it’s going to be a valuable tool going forward, especially in this day and age,” he said.

Murphy added that in the digital age, an employers’ website is where a potential employee forms their first impression of the institution, which can go a long way towards deciding whether or not they will actually apply.

“Job fairs are important, but the first thing that potential applicants do is go to the website. It’s kind of like that old-fashioned first impression,” Murphy said. “It’s the first impression for potential applicants.”

While the new district and high school websites offer more information and features than they did before, the district is far from done with improving them. Besides designing new websites for the elementary schools so that their look and content line up with the new district and high school sites, the district is seeking to further enhance their outreach capability, which will before long also be available to the community through a smartphone application.

“Eventually, we’ll have an app for parents that they’ll be able to have on their phone,” Schreibeis said.

In the meantime, the district will continue working to further improve the sites, with the main goal being to put all possible information that anyone could want to know about the district or its schools just a mouse click away.

“I think it’s going to be really positive. We just want to make sure our communication and how we’re pushing things out matches up with society and how they want to get their information,” Schreibeis said. “We just want to continue to make it better every single day and get more stuff on (the websites), but it’s a process and we’ll continue to work on them. We’re going to get better all the time.”

 

Reach Jason Stuart at rrreporter@rangerreview.com.

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