Webutuck’s website may get an upgrade this year, pending BOE approval
WEBUTUCK — The North East (Webutuck) Central School District may receive a new website by September if the Board of Education (BOE) approves the proposal at an upcoming meeting.
Technology Consultant Craig Trachtenberg presented an outline of the proposed new website at the board’s meeting on Monday, Jan. 23. The plan was endorsed by the district’s Technology Committee.
Trachtenberg began the presentation by stating that Gazella LeJeune, the district’s volunteer webmaster, will no longer be working on the site. While the board thanked LeJeune for her service, Trachtenberg explained that the district now has the opportunity to update the site for both functionality and an improved public image.
The Technology Committee began the process of selecting a new website provider by conducting a survey of students and faculty. According to the results, users want the site to be pleasing to the eye, user-friendly, interactive and full of updated calendars.
Trachtenberg then proposed that Webutuck should use the website service that is utilized by both the Pawling Central School District and the Rhinebeck Central School District, among others. He showed the board the websites for these districts to provide examples of the service’s features.
“It will all be in our control once we set it up,” Trachtenberg said. “We can change how it looks and drag and drop menus.”
Trachtenberg shared his excitement regarding the option for parents to log onto the site with one username and password to see the connections for all of their children.
For example, a parent who has three children in the district could sign in and view calendars for each child that lists the dates for their tests, sporting events, cancellations and so on.
He also pointed out the interactive classroom feature, which will give students access to school-related documents at home.
“Tests and quizzes can be sent home, and teachers can track homework assignments,” Trachtenberg said.
Teachers will have the option to host their own pages on the site, giving them a place to lead monitored discussions and provide links to noteworthy material.
“It’s very user-friendly. It’s a wonderful product compared to what we’ve looked at. The opportunities are limitless,” Trachtenberg said.
Pete McCaffery, the chair of the District Leadership Team, said the district’s current website is outdated. He emphasized that this new site will create a good first impression for the school.
“If we keep the calendars updated, the community will participate more,” McCaffery said.
Trachtenberg said the service would cost the district $5,213.17 per year.
“That’s considerably less than what we’ve seen with other products,” he said. “The price is right. We need the service.”
As an added benefit, the district will be able to save thousands of dollars during the first two years due to an e-rating initiative and the fact that the website company is taking control of the AlertNow system. This move will allow Webutuck to continue using AlertNow without any additional cost, since it will be included in the website’s annual fee.
Board of Education President Dale Culver decided that the board should not vote on approving the website proposal since a substantial cost is involved. He preferred to put the vote on a public agenda for an upcoming meeting so members of the community would have the opportunity to comment.
While no official decision was made, the board seemed in agreement that the district would benefit from this new website.
The next Board of Education meeting will be held Monday, Feb. 6, at 7:30 p.m. in the Webutuck High School library.
The Webutuck website can be found online at www.webutuckschools.org.
During the public comment section, Jeanne Rebillard suggested that the board should reach out to Marist College’s polling center for input on the district’s upcoming community survey. The board agreed.
Webutuck Elementary School Principal Kathleen McEnroe and Eugene Brooks Intermediate School Principal Jay Curtis provided updates on their Building Excellence Teams.
Curtis said the team is trying to form a community in grades four through eight by highlighting the work of students on classroom doors. He called it “refrigerator work.”
Curtis said the team is also interested in helping students “understand what questions are asking.”
Robert Meade presented the board with an overview of the services offered by the Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES). The school board was interested in making students aware of BOCES’ vocational opportunities, as well as using BOCES to share resources with other districts.
Music teacher Lee Stowe was granted tenure.
“We certainly appreciate the work he’s been doing,” Culver said.
Superintendent James Gratto announced that the district had received an anonymous $5,000 donation to go toward updating the school’s sign on the corner of Route 22 and Haight Road.