The Greenwich (N.Y.) Central School District is located 40 miles north of Albany and includes 1,200 students and 146 staff members in three schools.
The opening screen has a long animation, displaying the district mission statement and photos of the schools, with a recording of the alma mater playing in the background. Fortunately, users can click on "Skip Intro" if they so choose. However, the similar animation at the top of the home page plays relentlessly and may annoy some users, and it offers no such "Skip" option.
The layout of the home page, which is shared by many of the other pages, uses a wide border around a small content window, resulting in a large amount of blank space. Making more efficient use of space would make text easier to read, and viewing content wouldn't require as much page scrolling.
Some of the district pages, particularly several in the Sports section, have an even more awkward design, with even larger headings and margins, resulting in an uncomfortably small, difficult to read main content window.
The navigation menu is simple, easy to understand, and is maintained through most of the pages, so navigation is consistent and straightforward.
The menu in the middle of the page duplicates many of the options in the main navigation menu on the left, a redundancy that is unnecessary and confusing.
There is no site map available, which would aid users who prefer to see every link on one page instead of navigating through menu options.
Interaction with the User
The "Current Headlines" columns on the home page are conveniently divided into K6, 7-12, and District News categories, so users can immediately see the information most relevant to them.
The Alumni and Transportation pages had not yet been developed at the time of this review. It would therefore be better that they not yet be options on the navigation menu so that users are not accessing blank pages unnecessarily.
The Sports pages are inconsistent in quality. Some sports, such as football and cheerleading, include extensive photos, team histories, and other resources. However, others, such as baseball and field hockey, offer nothing besides a text schedule. More work should be done to consistently develop the pages of all the sports in the district.
There are no access provisions for disabled users.
The Counseling Department's home page is particularly well done. It offers profiles of each staff member, emergency hotline numbers, and online career resources. In addition, there are pages highlighting an Alumnus of the Month, Student of the Month, and graduates currently in college.
While e-mail addresses and phone extensions for the administration, central office and teachers can be found in various locations, there should be a main "Contact Us" page that gathers this information so parents can quickly and easily contact district personnel.
The School Calendars page includes yearly and monthly calendars for online viewing, as well as a convenient printable annual calendar, which also includes school policies and contact information.
The Administration page includes links to the principals' Web sites, and e-mail addresses for each administrator. Unfortunately, the Board of Education page does not offer such contact information.
The Music Department page offers extensive information, such as a calendar of upcoming music events, information about the instrumental and choral programs, and links to a wide variety of music education resources on the Web.
Use of Online Technology
Instead of relying on written driving directions that may not be applicable to all users, the Directions link accesses Google maps so that users can enter their own addresses and receive precise directions to the district from any location.
The District Technology page includes resources and information for teachers, including help request forms, links, policies, tutorials, technology newsletters, podcasts and educational videos.
The Board of Education page includes well-designed highlights from recent meetings in easily printable PDF form, and archives with highlights from several previous years.
Dated information around the site, from board of education meeting minutes to calendars and upcoming events, are faithfully maintained and up-to-date.
The home page includes a lot of live information, from the date and time, to a scrolling news banner, to a sports ticker and current weather conditions. As a result, users are given plenty of incentives to check the page regularly.
Kurt O. Dyrli is a contributing writer for District Administration. To nominate your district for a site review, contact Judy Hartnett at: email@example.com.