West Aurora School district 129 in Illinois has more than 12,500 students and includes 12 elementary schools, four middle schools, one high school, one child development center and one special education facility.
This site is well organized and, while packed with information, the presentation is not overwhelming. The home page boasts a wide variety of content, including the latest news links (as well as a link to an extensive news archive) and a “Message Center” with featured links to content such as the district budget, the district report card, emergency closing information and even voter registration forms.
The sites or sections for the individual schools and centers all share the same design and similar content, ensuring a user-friendly and consistent experience throughout. In addition to the prominent “SD129” home page link at the top left of every site page, the district logo, which appears in the same area, provides a direct and handy way to get back to the home page.
The top navigation bar is consistent throughout the main district site and all the individual school sections. It links to the sections for students, parents and staff , in addition to district “Contact” and “About” pages. There is also a consistently offered left-side navigation listing, which includes links to “Calendar,” “Board [of Education],” “Athletics,” “Registration” and much more. Most site sections have customized right-hand navigation lists to further ensure smooth and rewarding browsing.
A search box is provided at the top right of every site page. The search function returned basically relevant results. However, a search for “athletics” did not return a link to the main “Athletics” section page within the top 10 results, nor did a search for “registration” include a link to the main “Registration” section page, as would be reasonably expected. There are no advanced search options offered, and there is no way to fi lter search results to narrow down the link information returned.
At the time of this review, no site map was provided.
There is a great deal of helpful content provided on this site. There are specific sections for parents, students, staff , alumni and the community. In the “For Parents” section, there are 33 links, with content on everything from “Central Administration/Superintendent’s Office” to “Curriculum” to “Internet Safety Links.” The “For Students” section features useful information pertaining to homework assignments and research, along with a direct link to “Library Media Nexus,” where students can renew books online, reference the “Library FAQ,” learn about Internet resources, and even reserve a library area or lab.
The “Community Involvement” section is robust. Visitors can learn about the Superintendent’s Community Advisory Council (meeting dates and minutes are available) and fi nd out about becoming band boosters and sports boosters.
This site is not optimized for access by disabled users.
Content related to the board of education—including meeting dates, meeting reports and policies, and contact information—is readily available. Information regarding parent organizations and athletic events, along with a detailed event calendar, is also quite accessible.
The “Contact SD129” page offers district department phone numbers, as well as a complete listing of board members’ names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses. A bit inconveniently, the “Contact a District Employee” feature requires a specific name (first or last) to be entered. (District staffers, however, can generate telephone directories by specific schools.)
The main district’s mailing address, phone number and fax number appear on the bottom of every site page. Individual schools provide contact information in their specific sections, along with personalized driving directions (powered by MapQuest).
Use of Online Technology
The main district site features a link to “TV SD129,” which provides a selected number of videos of board meetings, special events, and basketball and football games. There is also a “Concerts” button, but there is nothing on the corresponding page.
There is a customizable events calendar. And teacher RSS news feeds are available to keep parents and/or students updated on homework assignments and the like. The “D129 Parent News Email Listserv” offers access to customized information, delivered via e-mail, on a wide variety of subjects. The district also produces an online newsletter (Buzz129), as does the high school (Red and Blue).
Online meal payment is offered.
The Employment section provides access to online applications and listings of position vacancies (for teachers and administrators). Staff e-mail access is provided.
The content on the main district site and the individual school sites appears to be kept up-to-date; the copyright line, however, still reads “2008.” At the time of this review, the news coverage featured from the home page was timely, as was that of the individual schools.
Laura R. Bona is a contributing writer for DISTRICT ADMINISTRATION. To nominate your district for a site review, contact Judy Hartnett at email@example.com.