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School board setting up website

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The Rainy River District School Board has hired a Toronto man for a four-month term to design a website to increase the public’s access to information.

“The Ontario government has a centralized data base, linked to many of the school boards across Ontario,” Nelson Chan noted last week. “But so far, the Rainy River District School Board isn’t linked up.

“And that’s where I come in--to put it on the ‘map,’” he added.

While this is Chan’s first crack at getting a school board online, he has spent the last two years as an independent web design co-ordinator.

Although Chan said he couldn’t be explicit on what will be featured on the website, as his ideas are still going through the trustee approval process, he did say there will be links to board administration.

“For instance, transportation is one of the services based in the board office and that’s one I’ve been told gets many inquiries,” he remarked.

Board information on the website will include policies and regulations, the annual school calendar, meeting agendas and minutes, and job postings.

The board’s Mission, Belief, and Vision statements also would be available.

As well, the site will allow people to submit inquiries to administration and trustees, and serve as a hub for individual web pages for schools under the board.

“It should represent all elementary schools and the high school,” Chan said, adding the only school currently with a web page was Robert Moore here.

While Chan will be focusing on internal links (meaning links within the board and ministry), he noted he also would like to see the site have external links.

“There may be local sites connected to this one as a way to provide a community service through the board,” he explained, citing the Town of Fort Frances, the local Chamber of Commerce, and others.

Chan stressed the usefulness of making the site a centre-point for district “surfers.”

“If a user doesn’t know a URL [universal resource locator], they can simply visit the school board’s site, browse, and click,” he said. “Providing public information [is the] essence to all websites in my opinion.

Education Director Warren Hoshizaki, who helped spearhead the website with Stephen Danielson, the board’s information technology co-ordinator, was pleased to see the project in motion.

“It’s really nice to have Nelson’s expertise at our disposal for the next four months,” he enthused. “He’s researched other education sites and got some neat ideas from them.”

Hoshizaki noted it’s become increasingly common for other school boards in Ontario to establish and maintain websites so it was only natural for the local board to get online.

“There’s so many things that can be available through it. I think it will be very useful for the district,” he stressed.

The venture is being funded in part by Education Network Ontario, with the board footing the rest of the bill

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