Sunday, January 25, 2009

School Web Sites -- promises and planning

After my rant in Thursday's email about the Schenley web site that has no information because the district had locked out the school's web masters, I sent an email Friday afternoon to Mark Conner, director of Family and Community Engagement for the PPS district. Mark's office is the one responsible for the Parent Engagement Tuesdays and the Excellence for All Steering committee of which I am one of Schenley's 4 reps.

About 30 minutes after I sent the email, at 4:30 on a Friday afternoon, I received a phone call from the PPS. Typical parent of a teenager, when I saw the number on caller id, I had a moment of panic (my son was skiing with the Schenley ski club). As my good Aussie friend always says, "No Worries!" It was Mark Conner who thought a direct phone call would be more efficient than sending emails back and forth. We talked for at least 15 minutes; he listened to my frustrations with the district's horrible communication with parents and told me of the new system that is now ready for use. And of course got me to vounteer to help with the implementation! More meetings?!?!? I don't know if things will be better but at least I truly felt that someone was listening and would try to help.

I am hoping that at the very least we can have a calendar on-line that has ALL school activities. It would be nice to know ahead of time without having to dig through layers on the board web site that there is no volleyball open gym on Wednesday because there is a girls' basketball game. Mr. Conner also said that they will have something to replace the old Dashboard system that will be easier for the teachers to use. Those of us who were at Frick really appreciated the information that was available on dashboard.

Just wanted to share my positive response.
amy moore
We'll celebrate after the fix is live. And, with Dashboard, there was a fix that is now broken again. Dashboard worked in many settings, but not any more. So, this is two steps backwards.

The best thing that could be done with the calendar effort is Google Calendars. The district can use them. They are mission critical, open, free and robust. Each school can have its own calendar. The each parent can subscribe to the calendar from each school. Likewise, central administration should have its own calendar. Then that can be subscribed to as well, if those are interested.

Give edit capabilities to the calendar to dozen of people, from principals, to secretaries, to board members, to teachers, athletic directors and even coaches. Same too with the super-volunteer parents. If they miss-use the calendar, or if they don't use the calendar well, nuke them from user status.

I wish that those on Grant Street and the city's clerk office would use a Google Calendar. I've got a public events calendar. If others want to subscribe to it, feel free. It is at the left hand side of this blog. And, if you'd like to be a contributor / running mate, just comment or send me an email. Then your events can go right into that calendar. But, the best thing might be to open your own calendar and then i can click and copy the events in an easy way into my public calendar.

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