The East Allen County Schools board seemed supportive Tuesday of a proposed digital makeover that will give the district its first mobile app.
Keith Madsen, technology director, recommended the switch to Apptegy, replacing Intrado as the district's website management tool and School Messenger as its parent communication tool.
Apptegy stood out among seven app, website, and communication tools the district considered, Madsen said.
“I've looked at many of these, and none of the other companies we've looked at this year or previous years have ever really been an app,” Madsen said. “This one is.”
If approved by the board Feb. 1, he said, this year's upfront cost would be $45,300, with $35,800 paid in February and $9,500 paid in July. This would include the transition of the district and school websites to an updated, user-friendly web platform, staff training and the app-build process.
The annual cost would then be $35,800.
“This purchase will be an annual increase of $4,925, but we will receive a fully functioning smartphone app and upgrade our websites and parent communication tool,” Madsen said.
Board member Ron Turpin said the expense is reasonable and the upgrade would make EACS “much more customer-friendly.”
Internally, it would make it easier to update information online, Superintendent Marilyn Hissong said, noting that it would be a one-stop shop.
“At 4:30 in the morning, it will be nice to just have one click,” she said, presumably referencing the effort to communicate Tuesday's early-morning decision to implement an e-learning day.
The new websites would be ready as early as April or May, and the app would launch by July or early August after a few months of testing, Madsen said.
In other business, the board considered the annual school bus bid. The administration is recommending the purchase of eight 78-passenger buses and two 54-passenger buses from Kerlin Bus Sales for a total cost of $1,366,560.
The vehicles, which EACS wouldn't receive until summer, will have seat belts, stop-arm cameras and cameras inside the buses, said Patrick McCann, chief financial officer.
Turpin asked whether the buses will have the illuminated school bus signs other districts, including Southwest Allen County Schools, have begun purchasing. McCann said he would check into it.
“As dark as it gets, I think that could be a real benefit for us,” Turpin said. “If it doesn't add that much to it, I think it's well worth the money.”