Serving more than 12,500 pre-kindergarten through grade 12 students, the Flagler County (Fla.) School District is located on Florida’s east coast, in one of the top five fastest growing counties in the United States.
An uncluttered design that calls the eye to content of interest makes this site welcoming. The home page offers useful and actionable content related to district news, as well as links of particular interest (including a district calendar and district policies, and school board members and policy).Tthere is a featured information area at top center (at the time of this review, it was a story on the district’s recent “straight A report card”). It would be very helpful, however, if the sections on the home page were clearly labeled for what they are, such as “District News,” “Feature Story,” “Links of Interest,” and so on.
Each of the district’s school sites uses a similar overall design framework, and the content selections are alike (though they vary in depth and breadth and presentation from school to school), allowing for a generally consistent experience. There is a clearly labeled “Home” (to the left on most site pages in the top navigation bar) and “District Home” (at bottom right of most pages). However, the district logo, which also appears at the top left throughout, is not linked back to the home page.
The top and bottom navigation bars are consistent across the site, and include links to in-demand sections such as “Schools,” “Community,” “Parents/Students” and “Staff .” In the bottom bar, the individual links for “Parents” and “Students” were not operational; apparently there were once separate content sections, but these have since been combined. Many of the site sections have a left-hand navigation box with section-specific links called out. Some of the link labels could be made clearer by expanding them. For example, the link to the “Exceptional Student Education” department is tersely listed as “ESE.”
Unfortunately, there is no search functionality offered on the site, other than the very simple and limited “Staff E-mail Search,” which was not operating properly at the time of this review. Also, there is no site map; making one available would aid in overall site browsing, in addition to finding particular content.
Although there is no “About Our District” page offered, the street address and phone number for the main district office are readily available atop all of the main site’s pages. Each individual school site and section offers this same contact information, as well as school-specific athletic programs content. Other very useful information about the district and its programs is scattered throughout the main site and could benefit from being directly accessible via a more prominently placed gathering of such links, bypassing the need to hunt through drop-down navigation menus.
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The “Parents/Students” section on the main district site has a respectable array of content, ranging from supplemental educational services to the gifted students support program (a separate Web site) to registration and school safety information. There is an extensive, districtwide “Parent Resource Guide” in PDF file format, and a substantial listing of other Web sites of general parental interest.
At the time of this review, the links to “Student Handbooks” for individual schools in the district were not operational from the “Parents/Students” section (but they were accessible, when provided, from individual school sites, usually within the “Parents/Students” sections). In addition, a comprehensive staff directory could not be located on the main district site; the narrow “Staff E-mail Search,” as noted earlier, was not functioning.
Several of the individual school sites off er “Parents/Students” content sections with a selection of particularly pertinent and timely information, such as school supply lists, upcoming field trip details and fundraising activity updates.
Use of Online Technology
A “District News” RSS feed (also referred to as a blog) subscription is offered. In “Podcast Central,” several podcasts covering school news developments can be found. A handful of the schools in the district publish newsletters (in Adobe PDF file format). Access to an intranet portal and an e-mail login are provided for district administrators, teachers and staff .
The content on this site appears to be kept up-to-date. Although the welcome message from the superintendent is dated in February of this year, there is really no reason for this kind of introductory communiqu? to be date-stamped at all.
The district news offered throughout the main district site (and via the RSS feed) is timely and relevant. Many of the individual school sites do a particularly thorough job of presenting content tailored to keep parents and students informed.
Laura R. Bona is a freelance contributor to DISTRICT ADMINISTRATION. To nominate your district for a site review, contact Judy Hartnett at email@example.com.