By Anthony J. Andronico, Quincy School Committee Vice Chair
As the virtual face of Quincy Public Schools, the current website sends the message that we are not making the necessary investments in our educational system to be successful – of course, this could not be further from the truth. Over the years Quincy has always taken pride in making investments in our students, teachers, and facilities to provide a top-notch education. This dichotomy was one of the reasons I made overhauling the website a campaign promise when I ran for School Committee in 2017.
I am very proud to say that as of this Friday, January 31st, Quincy Public Schools will have a brand-new website that will meet the needs of its users. This announcement is the culmination of years of work behind the scenes and I wanted to take a moment to walk you through how we got here. At the beginning of 2019, I met with Superintendent DeCristofaro, IT Systems Administrator Bob Cavallo, and Career Vocational and Technical Education Executive Director Keith Segalla to discuss potential website options.
After a few initial conversations, we sought quotes from five vendors – Blackboard, Civica, Civic Plus, Finalsite, and School Messenger – that have experience hosting and designing websites for public schools and cities/towns in Massachusetts. The quotes included a comprehensive list of features offered through their plans.
It was clear from the beginning that School Messenger was the right vendor for us. They had more in-depth experience with public school websites in Massachusetts, having contributed to Cambridge, Fall River, Needham, Whitman-Hanson and many others; they offered unlimited training and support for staff; they offered a free redesign every three years; they were fully ADA compliant and offered ongoing scanning to ensure compliance; and their websites had the ability to be translated into other languages. On top of all of this, they were not even close to being the most expensive option.
In all, the price tag for the website redesign in year one – including the design fee, base annual fee, and ADA Compliant Scanning – was $59,410. The bill was not paid for through the QPS Budget nor through taxpayer funds – a decision that is thanks to Mayor Koch. The website overhaul was paid for via fees Comcast pays to Quincy through its licensing deal.
Our website should be a place where parents, students, teachers, and administrators are able to go to connect with one another from the district level all the way down to the neighborhood school level. Prospective parents and students who are considering Quincy as their new home should be able to easily get a feel for how our district and schools function. Interested community members should be able to find detailed information about all of the academic programs we offer within the system. Now, Quincy will have a website that reflects the investments we make within our schools.
Thank you to my colleagues who have supported this effort from the beginning, thank you to Mayor Koch for stepping up with a funding source, and thank you to Superintendent DeCristofaro, Mr. Cavallo, and Mr. Segalla for putting in the hard work behind the scenes to make this happen.
A government website that uses modern design principles is able to serve its citizens more effectively, efficiently, and conveniently than one without.