District looks at new phone app

By Staff, 04/19/17 9:50 AM


PRESCOTT – Most of the April meeting of the Prescott School Board was taken up in executive session.

The session lasted 55 minutes with the end result being the board’s accepting four resignations and voting to advertise three positions. All of those resigning was from Prescott Elementary School.

The panel, Tuesday night, also heard from Mark Lienhart, with Apptegy, a company that designs websites and phone apps. He said the company works with 50-60 schools in the state and its goal is to share student stories and promote positive things going on in school districts.

Lienhart pointed out most people have smart phones and are familiar with social media. Apptegy links the two together so district patrons can get the information they need and want right from their phones without being redirected to other websites. Apptegy’s app uses drop menus that allow users to scroll through and look for particular information, such as lunch menus or athletic scores and/or schedules.

The app would have a live feed section where people could ask questions. However, it would be a one-way format and others couldn’t comment about questions asked. It would also contain private, customized forums where patrons could ask questions and get information from the district, as well as a section where the district could promote good things happening.

It has what he called a “thrillshare” platform which would allow administrators to go to one location and send information where it’s needed, whether that be texts or social media posts. This information would also be immediately posted to the district’s website. According to Lienhart, the beauty of thrillshare is the posting only has to be done once.

The district’s website could also be “branded” with the application. Lienhart said the district’s home page should make a good first impression on users. “You don’t have to be a tech genius,” he said of uploading to the app. “Students can be given access to specific areas and access to other areas can be limited.” He suggested using students to update sports information on the site and app.

However, the app and website don’t come without cost. Lienhart said it would cost $9,000 for the site redesign, and $6,500 for thrillshare and the mobile platform. While the website fee would be a one-time charge, the cost of thrillshare would be an annual expense. The fee would be a base of $3,500 plus $3 per student and teacher. Alert notifications, training and support would be free. He told the board the company does have discounts for longer term agreements, adding typically Apptegy has one-year contracts.

No action was taken on the issue.

Robert Poole, district superintendent, reminded those gathered of the special school election on May 9 to allow the district to extend its bonded indebtedness so several projects can be done. Voting, he said, will be done in the lobby at Prescott High School. If the measure passes, it will free up $805,000 to be used for projects including: a new roof for PHS, air conditioning for the Prescott Sports Arena, new seating in the PHS auditorium and more security cameras.

The board renewed contracts for three areas: occupational therapy, physical therapy and lawn care services. There were no rate changes in any of these areas.

Judy Clampitt, district financial officer, said the district is still up by $641,000 with more tax money expected to come in as well as more state funding to be collected. The district, she added, won’t be receiving funding for declining student population if the current growth holds until August.

She told the board the district already has its beginning balance for the 2017-18 school year, but still has to do payroll for the summer break.

The panel approved increasing the salaries of certified staff by $1,000 in accordance with state law, and classified staff by $472. These increases will be added to the base salaries.

It also approved a bonus program where the district would pay $1,000 for the recruitment of certified personnel and another $1,000 retention bonus at the end of the person’s first year. These funds will come from Title II monies. The primary areas instructors will be sought for are: English, Math and Science.

Sandra Evans was picked to replace Herbert Adams for Zone 2. Adams resigned from the board due to health reasons. Evans will occupy his position until the September school election.

The board tabled selecting a new secretary for the board until the May meeting.

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