Peoria Public Schools leverages Centricity2™ to strengthen community connections
Sometimes, the success of a website is calculated by the numbers. For Peoria Public Schools in Illinois, it is also measured by positive feedback from the community and teacher adoption of the technology.
In the past, Peoria Public Schools had to rely on the local media and paper handouts to share student, school and district successes. These outlets limited the amount of content that could be shared and the breadth of the audience. Today, the district is shining a light on its many achievements and providing the community with access to much more information through its Centricity2 content management system.
“The district website and the tools within it let us tell our story without depending on the media to publish it,” said Chris Coplan, director of public relations. “Centricity2 gives us another venue that reaches more people and the format is more interesting for them. People will point out to us additional news that we should be sharing. That is proof that parents are paying attention to our website. We’ve never seen this kind of response to other communications.”
Visitors to the site also can access board meeting minutes, the district policy book and strategic plan, the school calendar, cafeteria menu and much more.
School and teacher websites broaden communications flow
Individual schools and teachers also are populating their websites to build stronger connections with students and their families. Teachers post homework assignments, learning resources and classroom information to help students stay on top of their assignments and class notes, and to give parents the opportunity to discuss the work with their children. Students and parents also can access district-wide online resources, like Rosetta Stone and the gradebook, from any school site.
Although the district has not mandated that teachers create websites, the majority of staff have developed them. In addition to coursework, some teachers post classroom and grade level newsletters, pictures and photo galleries of special projects and blog or share podcasts with their students. Several of the teachers also have volunteered to be webmasters for their school sites because the tools are so easy to use.
“When teachers realize how easy it is to create a website, they enjoy incorporating the functionality into their teaching,” said Coplan. “More importantly, they are realizing the role that a teacher website can play in increasing communications with our families.”
The school websites are also important to helping families make the best school choice for their child. Parents can view the special programs available to their children including Roosevelt Magnet School (Middle School Fine Arts), Peoria High School (Preparatory School for the Arts), Richwoods High School (International Baccalaureate), Manual Academy (7th and 8th Grade Academies), Woodruff Career and Technical Center and schools with alternative schedules.
As the district rolled out its websites one school at a time, parents would call and ask when their school was going to have information added to their website.
“These calls told us that parents were paying attention and that the information is valuable to them. The feedback from parents has given us momentum to move forward more quickly and intentionally as we continue to enrich all the websites,” said Coplan.
Consistency of access and data helps parents and students
The availability and consistency of information on each school website also helps students transition easier as they move among the schools. This is especially important because the district population has a high mobility rate. “The predictability makes the transition a little easier,” explained Coplan. “Having a similar website and resources gives them one less thing they have to learn as they adjust to a new school within the District."
In fact, the implementation of Schoolwires® Centricity2 fostered a district-wide strategy of having uniform technology applications and communications throughout the district. “Schoolwires started a technology revolution here,” recalled Coplan. “As we rolled out the websites, we began implementing other technology initiatives modeled on the idea that our constituents should have to learn how to use different technologies just one time, and that the functionality would be the same no matter where they are in the district.”
The consistency, access and increased information enabled by Schoolwires Centricity2 have all contributed to strengthening the district’s connections with its constituents.
“We have gotten a lot of positive feedback on our Centricity2 websites, and the return has been much greater than anticipated,” said Coplan.
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