The Richland (S.C.) School District 2 serves over 23,000 students and includes 35 schools and centers. The average pupil-teacher ratio is 19 to 1. The district offices are located in the state capital of Columbia.
The pleasing, uncluttered design of this site makes it very user-friendly. The home page offers a selection of valuable content, presented in a highly organized manner. Site visitors will find news headlines and “How do I ? ?” informational links, including “How do I register for school?” and “How do I find safety information?” There are four-color photographs (that rotate upon page refreshes) representing each of the main content portals: “Parents,” Students,” “Community” and “Faculty & Staff .”
The individual school and center sites have unique designs, but because there is an introductory page for each school and center with the same presentation as the main district site, a feeling of continuity is maintained. Although there is a prominent “Home” link at the top left of every site page, the district logo, which appears just under the “Home” link throughout the site, does not serve as another handy way to get back to the home page, as it often does in the Web sites of other districts.
The top navigation bar, with its five categories, appears consistently atop all site pages. An “In This Section” left-side navigation box, with section-specific links, is offered throughout the site as well. To aid further in smooth site browsing, a breadcrumb trail (links indicating the path you’ve followed to a particular page, allowing you to quickly retrace your steps) appears at the top of the sites’ pages.
A search box is provided on every page, although its location is different on the home page (at top right) than on the rest of the site (at top left). The search function is a bit quirky. For example, although the “Message from the Superintendent” is prominently linked from the site’s top navigation bar, in the search results, it comes up as the 8th item. Among the helpful search-related features: search terms are highlighted in relevant content results, and each content item is dated. An advanced search feature is offered, allowing filters to be applied (for author and date created, among others).
The site map is linked from the bottom navigation bar, rather than adjacent to the search box. It seems incomplete, however, and the sections that are called out somewhat confusingly don’t appear to consistently match those named in the top navigation bar and other high-profile content sections. At the time of this review, several of the links were inoperable.
This site provides a wide array of useful information for all visitors. There are specific sections for parents, students and the community at large. In the “Parents” section, there are links to content covering everything from academics to volunteering. The “Parent Portal” (which is hosted off-site) enables direct access to students’ grades and attendance records. In the “Students” section, educational and instructional resources are listed.
Visitors can find detailed information on the district’s education foundation and the grants development program in the “Community Relations” area.
This site is not optimized for access by disabled users.
Content related to school board activities—including meeting dates, meeting reports and school board policies—is readily available. Information regarding parent organizations and athletic events, along with event calendars, can be located on most of the individual school sites.
While there is no central “Contact Us” link, administrative department staff contact information (telephone numbers and e-mail addresses) can be found in the staff listings linked in relevant site sections. Unfortunately, the “Staff Directory” linked from the “Faculty & Staff ” section requires a specific teacher’s name (first or last) to be entered.
A phone number and mailing address for the district appears on the bottom navigation bar throughout the site. Contact information on individual schools is off ered on their sites.
Use of Online Technology
The main district site features a link to “R2TV On Demand,” with an impressive selection of video clips on subjects such as new district developments and special events.
Several of the middle schools and high schools in the district have e-mail newsletters and photo albums. One of the magnet schools has a podcast.
Online meal payment is offered on many of the individual school sites.
The content on the main district site and the individual school sites appears to be kept up-to-date. However, the copyright line on the main district site reads “2007,” and several of the school sites had outdated copyright lines as well.
At the time of this review, the news headlines listed from the home page were all dated within the past two months, and the individual schools’ news item were, for the most part, timely as well.
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.