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Superintendent's Message: District Launches New Website

Midlakes middle school students celebrate homecoming

Colder weather is upon us and it is difficult to believe that the school year is already two months old! While the initial flurry of excitement surrounding the opening of school may have passed, our students and staff are doing great work with lots to look forward to and celebrate.

Over the past year, a major goal of the school district has been to improve communication with our families and the community. To that end, I am excited to announce that Midlakes is rolling out an ambitious new website that has been designed to showcase the work of our students and staff and provide easy access to important information.

Midlakes.org has been overhauled with easy-to-find sections, new features, a responsive web design allowing for an enhanced mobile experience, rich multimedia content showcasing students and staff, an extensive catalog of valuable information, and more.

Every section of the website has been designed to provide the best possible experience for visitors while helping us reach compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Visitors will notice high contrast and language translation buttons, and other elements intended to make the site more accessible.

The website is clean, easy to navigate, and intuitive. Information has been updated across sections, and some content has been reorganized for easy navigation by “Parents” and “Community”. The site also includes captioned videos of students and staff, and there are click-through photo galleries of Homecoming Week, student activities, guest presentations, and athletic events.

Visitors will find articles and photos of teachers volunteering in the community and students receiving accolades for their achievements. Additional features include a comprehensive staff directory, a new community calendar, sports schedules, and updated lunch menus.

None of these features would be possible without the support of the Board of Education and our community. We are grateful to our taxpayers for approving a 2018-2019 school budget that allowed for the hiring of a public relations officer to improve our communication and transparency.

Todd Clausen, a former journalist with extensive digital media expertise, joined the District in September to help launch the new website and implement a comprehensive communications plan.

Since his arrival, Todd has been busy documenting school events and meeting with building principals, department supervisors, and faculty to ensure that the new website will be the definitive source of information on the District. He has also launched district-branded social media accounts on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook, all under the handle "Midlakes Schools". 

Looking ahead, Todd will be developing a new Midlakes app that makes online content more accessible to mobile users. 

As winter approaches, all members of the Midlakes community can look to the school website, social media, and mass notifications through our School Messenger system for updates regarding school delays and closures. Of course, this information will still be available through local television and radio stations.

Modern communication methods will allow Midlakes to better communicate and be more responsive to our stakeholders, with the objective of strengthening our partnerships to benefit our students.

However, the school district is still committed to the Midlakes Journal, our newsletter, as it allows us to connect with members of our community in ways that the website and social media cannot support.

Readers of the Midlakes Journal can expect a redesign coming early in 2019. The new format will improve readability and take advantage of reduced costs by utilizing publishing services through the Wayne-Finger Lakes BOCES.

Of course, the focal point of all these efforts will be our students and staff. Accessible student stories and photos make it easy to share exciting news and achievements with family members, near and far, as well as with college recruiters and future employers.

As New York State and the Finger Lakes Region faces a pronounced teacher shortage, highlighting the strengths of our school community will make Midlakes more attractive to the educators of tomorrow.

The Phelps-Clifton Springs Central School District is grateful for the support of a proud and dedicated community. In return, we are committed to providing the most accurate and up-to-date information about the district and sharing the outstanding results of your generous support for our students.

Please visit the new website and share in the celebration of our students, who serve as the driving force behind our Midlakes Pride!

With Midlakes Pride!

-- Superintendent Matthew Sickles