The beginning of a school year brings to mind images of fresh starts and new beginnings.
Perhaps it's almost fitting that this year as students returned to their classrooms around the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, even their virtual world had been revamped.
The district launched a revitalized website on the first official day of classes late last month with a strong public image focus.
The project has been months in the making, with work starting on the new design in January.
According to Kelly Reisig, spokesperson for the district, the old site almost had too much information, making it hard to use.
"We wanted a clean, uncluttered design to the front page that focused on student achievement and improved navigation for visitors," she said last week. "We wanted a simplified look so people could go where they needed to go to find the information they needed."
The new site is clearly geared toward a wide audience, with an eye-grabbing feature story box in the center of the page bordered by different district events and community interest links.
Meanwhile, information tabs at the top of the page have been streamlined to direct users to different parts of the site.
Jesse Glaves, webmaster for the District, said the new site also features improved search options and feedback capabilities, among other new features.
The re-design of the site goes hand in hand with the district's recent jump into the world of social networking.
They now feature a home page on Facebook, and are also on Twitter, a site that allows a user to send out short text messages to subscribers.
Reisig noted that while not everyone makes a point to visit the district's website every day, most people on Facebook do check their accounts daily.
She said both Twitter and Facebook will enable them to quickly communicate with parents and publish events or happenings that don't necessarily require an entire press release.
Along with the two networking sites, the district also launched a "bond blog" to focus on the $16.8 million roof repair bond vote that will come before voters on Oct. 5.
"That's just another way that we can get information to stakeholders and they can feel like they're getting transparent information from the school district on what's going on," she said.
Reisig added that with a blog, readers can view posts and then comment or request more information immediately.
"We want to have (the community's) input as much as possible," she said.
So far the site rollouts have been greeted positively according to Glaves and Reisig.
Glaves noted that with any change to websites it's not uncommon for people to initially dislike the changes, however, this has not been the case thus far, though he said he'll continue to look for suggestions on ways to improve it.
You can view the new site at the following URL: http://www.kpbsd.k12.ak.us/
Dante Petri can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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