Free Website a boon for Idaho district

With under 5,000 students, Lakeland School District in tiny Rathdrum, Idaho, doesn't have a huge I.T. budget. Yet Lakeland has the same need to communicate with parents, students and community members as any larger school system would. So when the opportunity to develop and publish a free professional website arose, the district moved quickly. Less than two weeks after signing up to use School Loop’s free website system, School Loop Standard, Lakeland already had its brand-new district website up and running.

“We wanted websites that were easy for staff to create and update without having to take up precious professional learning time to learn HTML coding. We also knew that the improved sites would allow for better interaction between teachers, parents and students,” said Chad Parson, Technology Support Manager for Lakeland School District.

The user-friendly nature of School Loop’s content management system meant that Lakeland was able to avoid long delays and to make its site available to the public quickly. The software uses drag-and-drop functionality for placement and organization of page elements such as tables, directories, news, blogs, images, and more. The software also utilizes “what you see is what you get” (WYSIWYG) technology to allow any user to create web content, even if they don’t have formal web design training. A variety of professionally-designed page templates allows districts like Lakeland to quickly create a consistent look and feel across all schools in the district.

School Loop also lightens the load on school IT departments by providing unlimited bandwidth and storage, high-speed networking and full automatic backup all at no cost. Unlike other free services of its kind, School Loop does not inundate its users with ads—in fact, the system is totally free of any advertisements.

“Schools have struggled to maintain professional websites because learning HTML programming can be extremely time consuming and hiring outside vendors to maintain sites for the district is expensive. With School Loop Standard, we take all of the logistical issues away and provide a great platform that makes it easier for districts to build their web presence,” said Mark Gross, founder and CEO of School Loop and a former social studies teacher.

Under the new system, Lakeland’s district office and schools can assign publishing rights to as many individuals as needed to avoid “information bottlenecks,” situations wherein the webmaster has more content to post than time to post it. Educators can even provide publishing rights to students, allowing them to gain experience in the 21st century skill of managing web content while simultaneously lightening the workload of school staff.

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