D.215 considering smartphone app, ads on its website

2013-05-13T00:00:00Z D.215 considering smartphone app, ads on its websiteGregory Tejeda Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
May 13, 2013 12:00 am  • 

CALUMET CITY | School Board officials for the Thornton Fractional high schools are considering whether to create a new application that would allow use of smartphones to access information about District 215.

Officials are working with a company called School Apps to develop the program that would allow the information already contained on the district’s website at tfd215.org to be easily accessed on smartphones.

District Superintendent Creg Williams said he thinks it is easier for many people to use an app rather than tap into a website, and that developing the app merely ensures that information about the high school district is distributed to all who are interested.

“It would allow students to access information about the district without the Internet,” he said, adding that information made available on an app could range from sports scores for the athletic programs at T.F. North High School in Calumet City and T.F. South High School in Lansing to information about school cancellations due to inclement weather.

It also might be possible to develop different portions of the app for each high school in the school colors (purple and gold at North and red and gray at South).

In theory, it might even be possible to broadcast high school sports events live so they could be viewed by people with smartphones.

“We could put the football games on the app,” Williams said. “People sitting in the stands could use their smartphones to get a closer look at the action.”

One aspect of an app that School Board members were in agreement on is cost — it would be free of charge.

“It’s got to be free,” said School Board member Michael Bolz.

While Williams said, “some people’s apps are 99 cents, but I agree ours should probably be free.”

A new app was not the only issue under consideration by the School Board last week. Officials also are considering changing the district website to permit advertising to be sold in its space — even though officials were unsure just how much money could actually be generated for the district.

The School Board is considering a deal with Alternative Revenue Development of Troy, Mich. Under the agreement, the district would provide the company with a list of local businesses.

The company would then contact those businesses and negotiate with them if they are interested in advertising on the district’s website.

The deal, if ultimately approved by the School Board, would be for three years, with five options for renewing the deal for two years at a time. School Board President Richard Dust said it is structured in a way that ensures the district will not lose any money.

He also likes the way the deal offers various options to get out if circumstances change.

“It’s not seven decades like the one in Chicago,” he quipped, in reference to the length of the deal concerning parking meters in the city.

Tuesday’s discussion came up during a meeting of the School Board’s IT committee. Williams said it will be considered again on May 13 at a meeting of the board’s communication committee.

If recommended at that time, it could be given final approval when the School Board meets again for a regular meeting on May 28.

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