On New Year’s, Poplar Bluff Schools launched a brand new district website with information and interactive features most popular to over half a million yearly visitors, based on Google analytics.
The completely revamped site, still located at www.poplarbluffschools.net, features for the first time a responsive design, compliant under the Americans with Disabilities Act, with a language translation function. An accompanying mobile application with an emergency alert option is anticipated to be downloadable for free in app stores by March, once Apple and Google approve activation.
Now available through a button on the homepage is a staff directory and transportation software via Infofinder, which maps existing bus routes, listing times and locations for parents. Other useful tools include lunch and breakfast menus complete with nutritional details through Nutrislice and real-time job listings from TalentEd.
Each school has its own individual website accessible from the landing page, which will highlight building-wide news and calendar items, plus other quick links for students, parents and employees. Along with streamlining the navigation, another major driving factor behind the website upgrade—the first major overhaul since 2010/11—was enhanced transparency, school officials agree. Instead of having to browse through lengthy board packets, the district budget, audit and report card—among other useful resources about partnering organizations, committees and departments—are now one click away in the drop-bar.
A collaborative effort between R-I communications and the instructional technology department, the website rollout and a concerted branding effort has been in planning stages since the summer. Multiple bids were solicited from vendors most utilized by school systems nationwide and specifically in Missouri, along with Poplar Bluff’s previous host, which helped meet the district’s web needs for years. But ultimately SchoolMessenger provided the best value, saving the district several thousand dollars annually by allowing the notification system already in place to be bundled into a single telecommunications platform.
SchoolMessenger, which is owned by West Corporation, acquired SharpSchool in 2015, and added K-12 education websites to its portfolio.