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Nashua schools preparing for new website

Union Leader Correspondent

May 10. 2013 9:56PM
The current Nashua School District website is considered to be outdated and officials expect the Board of Education will approve a $50,000 to have a new one made. 

NASHUA - School district officials expect the Board of Education to approve a $50,000 contract for the design and construction of a new website to replace the current one, which officials believe to be outdated.

Given the rise in use of mobile devices and that staff, parents and teachers expect more from the school's website than it can currently deliver, Superintendent Mark Conrad said it was time to get a new one. Conrad said that after the Finance Committee decided to recommend that Planeteria, a California-based company, for the contract earlier this week, he expects that the board will approve it.

When the project went out to bid, project manager Stacy Hynes said the district received nine bids, one for as a high as $400,000, and one for as low as $17,000. Adding that Planeteria's bid of roughly $50,000 was the fourth lowest bid, Hynes said Planeteria was chosen as much for its reputation and competency as for the cost of its bid.

"We interviewed four companies, and clearly they were the best choice, it was unanimous," Conrad said.

Conrad said the need for a new website became apparent when the district's administration began to hear complaints that not only was the current website ill-suited to handle all the data the district wanted to upload onto it, but that the organization of information on the site was confusing for users.

A big aspect of picking Planeteria was its ability to design a website that doesn't need a webmaster, something Conrad said the district can't afford.

"It will allow all the different school departments to manage information relevant to their department themselves," Conrad said.

The new website, which Hynes said hopefully will go live during the next school year once approved by the board, will be able to handle the district's entire student database, curriculum workbooks, attendance information, budgets, calendars and more.

"A principal will be able to walk the halls with his iPad under his arm, and if he spots a student he can check on the spot where that student is supposed to be," Conrad said.

Hynes said Planeteria was chosen based upon two criteria, content management and accessibility.

"It's not so much that there is a lot wrong with the site now, it's just a recognition that we want to be as transparent and accessible as possible," Hynes said. "More and more people have expectations of gaining information about a school district on its website, and more and more people are using mobile devices. We think it is important to recognize that and try to keep pace with online behaviors because we have so many more needs."

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