Frederick County Public Schools Unveils New Websites

For Immediate Release
July 1, 2016
Contact: Steve Edwards, Coordinator of Policy and Communications
540-662-3888 ext. 88235

Frederick County Public Schools has unveiled a new division website and individual school websites that are designed to provide students, parents, staff and members of the community with important information in a format that’s easy to navigate.

Coordinator of Policy and Communications Steve Edwards says, “Communication is critical to the success of any organization. It’s vital for our school division and individual schools to communicate openly with parents and others in the community in order to build the partnerships necessary to help ensure student success. The new websites feature a cleaner design, are more intuitive and offer new means of delivering timely, relevant information to our community. Although the new sites were launched today, they will remain a work in progress as we strive to continually improve the user experience and access to information.”

The new websites address a major recommendation made in the Frederick County Public Schools Communication Audit that was completed by the National School Public Relations Association in March 2015. The audit identified the division’s previous websites as a major weakness and the number one area cited by focus group participants as needing improvement. The audit noted the site was not particularly user friendly or intuitive and had no search engine or ability to push information directly to users. In addition, the websites did not utilize responsive Web design which provides an optimal viewing and interactive experience for users regardless of the type of device they use to access a website.

Schools Superintendent David Sovine says, “The new websites represent an important step forward for our school division and will continue to be enhanced over time. The school division’s Web presence is critical as our students and parents increasingly rely on a variety of online resources and information. Having websites that can be easily viewed on computers, tablets and smartphones is critical and we’re pleased to now have sites that utilize responsive design and provide an improved user experience.”

The new school sites include Quick Links to the information that’s most frequently accessed by parents and students, including the new student information system Parent/Student 360. Parent/Student 360 will replace Edline in the 2016-17 school year and will provide instant access to grades, assignments and other information that’s important to students and parents. Other Quick Links will lead to information on school meals, the online payment portal My School Bucks, bus routes, school newsletters, enrollment information, school supply lists and a staff directory with direct links to staff email addresses.

The websites also feature a highly visible News and Resources area where schools will be able to post timely information and share some of the many good things happening within the school community. A comprehensive school calendar is also part of each school’s website.

Edwards says, “As we spoke with individuals, particularly students, about what they wanted from a school website, we continually heard about the importance of a comprehensive school calendar. Our new websites include school calendars that will highlight all school events and activities. The calendars also enable individuals to download school events into their personal calendars.”

Prior to the start of the 2016-17 school year, the division plans to launch several RSS feeds that will enable users to subscribe to school announcements and news updates in order to easily stay up-to- date on school events. There is also a page on the school division’s website where important forms and other documents are provided in Spanish.

An additional feature of the new sites is an intranet portal that can only be accessed by school division employees. Once employees sign-in to the intranet site, they will be able to access information regarding payroll, leave, benefits and other items that only apply to staff.

Sovine says, “A great deal of thought and work has gone into the development of our new Web presence. As is the case with anything new, there will be some adjustments and enhancements that will occur over time, but I’m pleased with the new look of our websites and increased functionality. This project is just one example of our how our school division collects information, identifies areas of strength and opportunities for improvement and then works to better meet the needs of students, their families and our community.”