Serving over 19,000 students in 30 schools, the Beaufort County School District is located in one of South Carolina’s fastest-growing counties.
This site is very well organized and presents content of interest in an intuitive, easy-to-access manner. The home page has a satisfying selection of general information, including a four-color slide show highlighting featured topics, a “welcome” announcement, a list of upcoming events (along with direct, clickable access to the district’s complete interactive calendar) and a roster of recent news releases. The district logo (at the top left center throughout the main district site) does not provide a clickable link back to the home page. However, there is a consistent “Home” link provided nearby.
Many of the district’s school sites share the same overall design framework, although there appear to be several different layouts. Some offer a handy breadcrumb navigation trail that maps a path back to the main district home page. There is no district logo linked back to the home page—that is now likely a common expectation among site visitors.
The top, left and bottom navigation bars are consistent across the site. In the top bar, there are links (with photos icons) to “Students,” “Parents,” “Community” and “Employees.” Also, at the top right side, there is a consistent navigational section with links to the district’s blog (with postings from the superintendent), podcast, frequently asked questions (FAQs), employment opportunities and RSS feeds. Featured in the left-hand nav listing are expandable and collapsible links to content such as “About Us,” “Board of Education,” “Departments,” “Directories” and “Our Schools.”
A prominent Search box appears at the top right throughout the main district site. The returned results are relevant and helpful. However, no advanced search functions are available that could offer, for example, ways to further filter search results to make them more specific. While a detailed site map is offered, the link for it is buried in the bottom nav list; it would be more helpful to locate access to it adjacent to the Search box as an alternate form of browsing particular content.
A thorough “About Us” section includes information on the district mission, vision, means of contact and much more. Generally speaking, just about every question a visitor of any kind (parent, student, community member or the press) might pose will have an answer on this district site. Each individual school site offers similar contact and school information.
A complete A-to-Z district faculty and administration directory offers a clickable, alphabetical listing. Additionally, an organizational chart is included.
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The “Parents” section on the main district site offers a wealth of shared information, including details on registration and enrollment, educational resources, the lunch program, the special education program, and safety and security, among other topics. The “Students” section offers a related content selection.
The district’s school sites offer similarly helpful content for parents and students that is actionable and timely.
Use of Online Technology
This site offers a particularly wide choice of features that take advantage of the interactive nature of the Web. Of particular note:
? A blog, podcast and RSS news feeds are offered. At least one of the district’s schools is on Twitter.
? Many of the site’s pages feature a “share this link” option; upon clicking it, a permanent URL for the given page appears that can be quickly copied and pasted into an e-mail, posted on a blog, etc.
? The well-populated district calendar is customizable to include the visitor’s choice of views, as well as event filters (including parent events, student events and employee events). A handy, printable Adobe PDF version is also provided.
? There is a bus stop locator and a map to locate the various district schools.
? For employees, access to an intranet portal and e-mail are provided, as is a “Substitute Finder” and a meeting space planner.
This district site’s content is particularly timely, well-maintained, and appears to be kept up-to-date. The district news offered throughout the main site is timely and relevant.
The “News Room” section includes construction announcements, links to coverage of the district in other online resources and more. Oddly, however, at the time of this review, a direct way to access the press releases didn’t appear in this section.
Laura R. Bona is a contributing writer for District Administration. To nominate your district for a site review, contact Judy Hartnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.