Proviso Township High School District 209 officials are preparing to redesign the websites used by the district, Proviso East, Proviso West and Proviso Math and Science Academy at an estimated cost ranging between $70,000 and $120,000.
“Our website is very old and in many ways not functional for the work we want to do,” said District 209 Superintendent Jesse Rodriguez during the school board’s meeting in October.
According to Tracy Avant-Bey, the district’s director of information technology, the websites for the three high schools launched in 2007 while the district’s website launched in 2011.
“Typically with technology you go through a refresh cycle of four to five years,” she said. “That’s what we’re looking to do with the websites now.”
District officials said that they want to modernize the visual layout of the sites, make them more mobile-friendly, and upgrade them so that staff members are able to update content on the site for their respective departments and schools within a central management system.
Officials divided the capabilities they expect to get from the redesign into two categories — tier one and tier two, with the former representing capabilities that the district requires of the new sites and the latter representing capabilities that the district desires and that are more contingent on pricing.
The new sites, officials said, would allow parents and students the ability to submit applications for PMSA, register for school, pay student fees and upload documents like physicals and consent forms, among other tier one functions that the current sites aren’t able to support.
The new sites would also be required to feature links connecting to the district’s social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
Part of the website redesign process will include the redesign of the logos used by the district, Proviso West and PMSA so that they look better on cell phone screens and other digital media, as well as printed items like signs, apparel and letterhead.
“In our discussion with the web development team, we discovered we have several different logos for West, several different Panthers,” Avant-Bey said. “For PMSA, in some cases a cobra is being used instead of a python.”
Some tier two capabilities that the district highly desires include personal websites for all classroom teachers in the district, with each school’s website linking to those pages, and the ability of each website to translate into Spanish without using Google Translate or other translation software.
The district currently pays a small fee for Google’s translation services, which aren’t very accurate, said Avant-Bey. She added that the district would ask vendors to price out a more accurate translation service.
In a request for proposals document, the district listed several education-related websites that they’re considering examples to model. They include the website of Morton School District 201, Leyden School District 212, Northern Illinois University and DePaul University.
District officials said that the costs for the website redesign are included in the 2017-18 budget. Officials have sent out requests for proposals and the top two or three candidates will be invited to present on Oct. 30 before the website development committee. The school board is expected to award a contract to the successful vendor at a regular meeting on Nov. 7.
Avant-Bey said that the district is seeking outside vendors with skills in graphic design and other areas “so that they can build the front-end to make it visually acceptable and organized while web developers and programmers can work on the back-end so we can have the functionality we’re looking for.”
She said that the new sites will be launched in phases, with a series of test phases preceding the actual launch. District officials expect the new sites to be fully functional by May 2018.