Austin School District to power up new website

Published 10:19 am Thursday, February 25, 2016

Austin Public Schools District is aiming for a snazzy new look online as staff work to put out a new website.

Administrators realized the current website, located at, does not meet the needs of parents, community members or people looking for information on the schools.

“We found that the website that we currently have does not meet the needs of our stakeholders,” Director of Technology Burke Egner said.

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One of the biggest problems about the current site is that it is not device agnostic, meaning when people go on with different types of devices — iPhones, Windows phones, iPads and others — the website doesn’t always work or can be difficult to navigate.

“We wanted to come up with a website that meets our community needs and is easy to navigate and manipulate,” Egner said.

The new site will be located at the same web address. Administrators currently have a beta test site, but it is only accessible through a separate website through the district. Organizers hope to put out the new website March 21, and have been working on it since the beginning of August 2015.

Egner explained since it’s currently a beta test, the district will not make it accessible to the public until they are more confident most of the bugs are worked out. The district will replace the current site with the new site to avoid buying a second site certificate, which is fairly expensive. Egner noted because it is not available for the public yet, it has been hard to get feedback and find some of the bugs. He encouraged the public to contact him with feedback when it goes public, so they can refine the site as much as possible.

“This is a goal that we’re very ambitious about and we know that it’s a work in progress, and we know that it’s not going to be perfect,” Egner said.

“We’re doing this all internally, we’re not putting any district dollars other than staff hours into it, none of us are web masters that have web design degrees,” he added. “So if anybody finds something, they can give me a call at the district, 507-460-1920, or send me an email and we’ll address [concerns] as much as possible. We’re always looking for ways to improve the website.”

The website hasn’t cost anything, as it has been designed and created by employees of the district. Two of the biggest creators have been Technology Integration Specialist Ryan Mayers and District Network Coordinator Tony Campbell.

“This is all done internally, this is all with our existing manpower, with our existing staff,” Egner said. “So our new website redesign is all just the sweat and time associated with it we’ve put in.”

The district also partnered with Hormel Foods Corp. to get feedback on how to “build a brand,” and how to make the website better for the stakeholders.

“They see the value with our partnership,” Egner said. “We have a fantastic partnership with Hormel Foods. They’re a great business partner.”

Much of the content on the site will stay the same, but several new features include pages that will scale to the size screen the user is using, staff directories and bio cards to help people learn more about each staff member, links to the teachers’ websites, a district-wide calendar along with calendars for specific schools, a lunch calendar and more.

“It’s exciting,” Egner said.