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TMCNet:  Memphis schools redesign website

[December 11, 2012]

Memphis schools redesign website

Dec 11, 2012 (The Commercial Appeal - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Memphis City Schools went live with a website redesign Monday that allows users to subscribe to news feeds and interact via social media.

The district did the design work internally but contracted with an outside firm to host the site. It is paying Memphis-based WorldSpice Technologies $1,750 per month for access to a dedicated server and maintenance.

"Our current server is old and outdated. It did not support the program and language we used in the redesign. It did not have enough memory to accommodate all the content, all the school sites," said Dawn Newberry, MCS graphics and web manager.

When asked why the district invested in website redesign now, about six months before the merger, MCS spokeswoman Staci Franklin said "it took some time" to weigh the options.

"Dawn and her team had to do their due diligence," she said, including researching the value of contracting with a web-hosting service vs. buying a new server.

"If we bought a new server (and it wasn't large enough to potentially add Shelby County Schools), we would be back in the same situation," she said.

The website (mcsk12.net/welcome/) is the district's official portal for posting jobs and receiving applications, advertising purchases and contract bidding. It also includes individual sites for each school.

The district's one-year contract with WorldSpice ends June 30, 2013, the day before the school systems officially merge.

Franklin said the contract was activated in September when the company submitted its first bill. She said the arrangement allows the district to spend up to $21,000 with the firm.

It's unclear what will happen to the MCS site, which the district spent a year redesigning, after the merger.

"We are currently conducting an inventory to see if the current Shelby County Schools site can hold all the information that both districts will have," Franklin said.

"If necessary, we will go with a web-hosting service or purchase a new server." For months, Newberry said, server size crippled the site. "We had run out of memory. It was hard for us to upload files. They kept getting caught; we'd have to start the process of uploading again." Besides a live Twitter feed, the new calendar will allow district officials to post news and events that will show up immediately on the site.

There were glitches Monday; the district's main event calendar did not work and some department links ended in error notices.

"As people see different things and travel to different pages, we are asking them to let us know where problems are so we are aware," Franklin said.

___ (c)2012 The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tenn.) Visit The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tenn.) at www.commercialappeal.com Distributed by MCT Information Services

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