R-XI puts more emphasis on websites | Local News

Select Union R-XI School District staff will receive a little extra pay to help keep the district’s new websites up to date.

The school district is rolling out a new website and mobile app, part of new superintendent Dr. Scott Hayes’ vision to revamp how the district communicates with families and other stakeholders, Dr. Justin Tarte, executive director of human resources for the district.

After a “hybrid soft rollout,” where old and new versions were available, the new website is live, Tarte said. A more formal rollout is planned later in the spring semester once the website and mobile app are fully ready.

But the new website needs more attention than the district could give it before.

The school district will pay an employee of Union High School, Union Middle School and the district’s three elementary schools an additional $1,000 to manage the websites.

“What we’re seeing is that there’s a lot of things that go into maintaining a website and keeping it fresh, keeping it fresh, keeping the content relevant,” Tarte told the district school board during the its January meeting. “(Network Administrator) Dan Hall has about 27 jobs in addition to what he does with the website.”

The district sent out surveys and worked to determine which employees would make good webmasters, Tarte said.

“We hope that with our new team of webmasters, we can continue to refine and improve our new website to improve the user experience,” Tarte told the Missourian.

Building the website, creating the app and overhauling the external and internal communication systems cost a total of $24,000, including a one-time fee of $12,000 to start the new software, Tarte said.

Though he thought it was a “great idea”, board chairman Dr. Virgil Weideman asked if webmasters would be able to work with students on developing internet skills.

“It seems to me that there would be a real opportunity there for students to learn a lot,” he said.

Tarte said it will depend on the level of education.

“In primary they have a bit more flexibility and leeway with their work, so I think there will be opportunities to work with students and hopefully be able to leverage their expertise,” did he declare. “And I think it will improve our overall website experience as well.”

While the board unanimously approved the additional pay, some suggested that webmasters at some schools should be paid more than others.

“The reality is there’s a lot more content on the high school section of the website than Beaufort (elementary), in terms of activities and events and making sure those things are in place,” Matt said. Borgmann, board member. “There is still a lot of work to be done at the secondary level.

Tarte replied that he had already received emails on the subject, but that they would stick to the general allocations of $1,000 for now.

“Of course we’ll look at it, and if it’s determined there’s a significant difference in workload, then we’ll come back with the board and come back,” he said.

The district will also track how much each webmaster works on the website to help determine how much each should be paid.

“I say start with $1,000, track the hours and see,” board member Amy Hall said. “Because some people can do things much faster than others.”

Some of the high school webmaster’s workload could be reduced with help from students in upper grades, Borgmann said.

About Stuart M. McFarland

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