No confusion with SchoolFusion

John ColsonAspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN The Aspen School District – wanting to improve communication with parents, students and even teachers – is planning on using the Internet to achieve its goal.The district has been working for the past couple of years to launch a new, improved website. It’s already on the Web at in a preliminary form, but will not be in its final form until later this year.The shift to the new format, called SchoolFusion, is intended to replace the district’s current site,, which Aspen High School graduate Seth Wilcox originally designed.The new site, district technology coordinator Chris Durham explained, will incorporate more features that its predecessor, which he called a “monster” plagued by dead links and other problems.”One of our goals is to try to clean that up,” he said. The new site features special tabs to direct users to different links within the site, such as the school calendar, or a student’s homepage, or even a page designed by (and for) a parent.The site would allow teachers to post assignments, with links to appropriate sites or materials; allow parents to check their children’s progress in class or on assignments; allow parents to check out their children’s level of involvement in such activities as after-school sports and clubs; and allow parents to overlay their own calendars onto the school’s calendar to better schedule events and avoid conflicts.Durham said buttons at the bottom of the homepage will instantly translate the text into a different language. And links can be set up to any number of local agencies, clubs, city departments and other entities, according to Durham and assistant superintendent Bev Tarpley, who is in charge of technology issues for the district.”We’re hoping that the flow of communication with this is going to be a big improvement,” Durham told parents at a meeting this week.According to school board member Charla Belinski, there will be a teacher-controlled “chat forum” to prevent unauthorized access.The district currently uses Blackboard software, which costs about $9,800 per year in fees and maintenance charges, according to Superintendent Diana Sirko. Sirko said the SchoolFusion fees will be the same, although there will be greater “functionality” on the new site. Officials have said the shift to SchoolFusion incurs no start-up costs.Durham said it will be tested over the fourth quarter of the current school year, and that he is hoping to enlist help from computer savvy students, teachers and parents – as well as those who might not be so savvy.John Colson’s e-mail address is