February 3, 2012

A ‘net gain’ at Katonah-Lewisboro

Did you know that Wednesday, February 1, 2012, marked the first celebration of Digital Learning Day, a nationwide acknowledgment of the important role technology plays in building the skills necessary for people of all ages to succeed in school, a career and life? Thirty-six states, including New York, and over 12,700 teachers have signed on to support and participate in this event. More than 1 1/2 million students across the country will participate in activities to support digital learning.

One of the Katonah-Lewisboro school board’s stated directives last year was to “improve the functionality and ease of use of the district website and online messaging.” Enhancing the website was listed as one of eight stated district public information goals, and a priority in a district that “considers itself responsible for keeping its residents informed.”

The district’s public relations agency, Syntax, said the cost for upgrades and maintenance was included in their contract. Separately, the budget for public information staff was $33,100 in 2011-12. Payments for central data processing, which serves as contractor support for all existing administrative systems including the district website, was budgeted at $439,947.

The new site, www.klschooldistrict.org, improves upon the old, which, while functional, lacked the zip and pizzazz of the new site, with its wintry-themed frame and copious links. We like the rolling crawl on the right that posts announcements — including highlights of board meetings, calendar announcements and a quick link to the district’s web survey. Class pages — restricted to students and their parents only — are an awesome way to share assignments and materials. The district has also added a layer of security by adding “captcha” letters for registration, helping to maintain security by blocking Internet ’bots.

The current site has the same links to the schools and departments as earlier versions, but there’s much easier access to board of education meetings and streaming video. Documents from previous board meetings are available from a link inside the site, and downloadable via .pdf. Even the seven smiling mug shots of the board members are a nice touch. Our favorite feature, though, is the language accessibility. Through a Google “translate” link, you can view the website in 45 languages, including Urdu and Icelandic.

There are still some glitches: the athletics calendar does not list any events. On the page explaining the state’s Freedom of Information Law, it would be convenient to place a direct link to a form, as the Bedford Central School District site does. On the news and media page, school district press releases are not identified as such, and it is possible that readers might be led to believe that these are independently reported. It would be useful to identify the contact person for each of the releases and notices for accountability — as the site does with one announcement, from the Katonah-Lewisboro Foundation.

Another frustrating feature is search. Type in “Budget 2011” and it comes up with “no results found” — typing “budget,” however, will take you where you want to go.

The “Local and National Media” department is “coming soon.” We’d propose that the page contain links to The Record-Review and local newspapers, as well as electronic news sources that cover the community. If links to stories are provided, we urge the district to run the good with the bad, so to speak. Selectively choosing stories could prove problematic.

In the “what’s this all about” department, archived board meetings are available from 1999 to 2011, with 1992 also available. We’re wondering what happened to 1993 to 1998.

In a digital world, we see the critical need for internal and external communications with students, families and the community. Registration, board meetings, student assignments are all part of the process that can enhance the academic environment. But along with the website, the district would do well to remember that there is still no substitute for a teacher-student personal interchange; a parent meeting; or a direct discussion with the superintendent, school board member, principal, coach or staff.

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Pound Ridge/Scotts Corners

  1. Scotts Corner Market – Trinity Corners Shopping Center;  55 Westchester Avenue

  2. Pound Ridge Sunoco — 66 Westchester Avenue    

  3. Sam Parker Country Market — 257 Westchester Avenue    

Bedford Village

  1. Bedford Rexall Pharmacy — Hunting Ridge Mall; 424 Old Post Road  

  2. Village Green Deli — Village Green; Routes 22 and 172    

  3. Bedford Shell — Routes 22 and 172 (at blinking light); 848 So. Bedford Road

  4. Village Service Center —193 Pound Ridge Road (at Long Ridge Road intersection)    

Bedford Hills

  1. Bedford Hills Deli – 7 Babbitt Road    

  2. Bueti’s Deli – 526 Bedford Road (Route 117)


  1. NoKA Joe’s – 25 Katonah Avenue    

  2. Steger’s Paper Mill – 89 Katonah Avenue    

  3. Perks – 197 Katonah Avenue    

  4. Katonah Pharmacy – Katonah Shopping Center; 294 Katonah Avenue   

  5. Bagel Shoppe – Katonah Shopping Center; 280 Katonah Avenue    

  6. Katonah Sunoco – 105 Bedford Road

Mount Kisco

  1. Teamo/Mt. Kisco News – 239 Main Street    

  2. Connie’s at Northern Westchester Hospital
    400 E. Main Street    

South Salem/Vista

  1. JNR Pharmacy – 222 Oakridge Commons;
    Route 123   

Cross River

  1. Bagel Boys Café – Cross River Shopping Center; Routes 121 and 35    

  2. Cross River Shell Station – Route 35    

  3. Cameron’s Deli –  890 Route 35    

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