Valley Breeze

The North Providence Breeze 03-27-2019

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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NORTH PROVIDENCE EDITION | VALLEY BREEZE | MARCH 27-APRIL 2, 2019 NORTH PROVIDENCE 3 NORTH PROVIDENCE – The North Providence School Department's homepage and indi- vidual school websites will soon look very different for students, parents and teachers who have grown used to the district's outdated pages. A total redesign of the sites was recently completed, with school leaders prepared to roll out the new products as early as this spring. Ralph Nahigian, the town's direc- tor of communications and technol- ogy, said officials paused the launch so it would not interfere with the town's ongoing redistricting process. Officials expected the websites would experience higher volumes of traffic during the redistricting process as people visited them for more infor- mation or appeals forms. The process of upgrading the site began under former Supt. Bridget Morisseau in July of 2017. Through the district's partnership with the Northern Rhode Island Collaborative, she subcontracted the company Martin & Associates to work on the website, in addition to providing leadership training, profes- sional development, crisis commu- nications counsel, human resources services and marketing communica- tions services. According to copies of invoices obtained by The North Providence Breeze in September, the district paid $110,038 to Martin & Associates between June 2017 and September 2018, with roughly $25,000 going to work on the websites. The district was charged a rate of $75 per hour. Nahigian said his office became involved in the process around the time Morisseau resigned from her position last July, at which point the updates had not been completed. Members of the School Committee said there was no written contract on file for them to refer to outlining the scope, timeline and cost of the work. "It's no one's fault right now, but at the time no one but the former super- intendent had any knowledge of what the website work entailed," Nahigian said. "Based on whatever deal was made initially, they said that they needed $9,000 to complete the work. I said, 'if you're paying them more money, an absolute deadline needs to be set.'" Interim Supt. Bob O'Brien signed a formal agreement with Martin & Associates last September, in which the district agreed to pay an addi- tional $9,000 to test and review the sites, train school personnel and turn over ownership of the sites and their content to the School Department by the end of the year; bringing the total price tag for website upgrades to roughly $34,000. Though Nahigian could not offer a specific date for the launch of the new sites, he said they're ready to go live at any moment and he expects to put them online soon. The domain names will change when the sites change over, but email will not be impacted. Nahigian said Morisseau originally wanted to change the email server as well, but he said that would be "a major, major change that would need to be done by the communications depart- ment. We couldn't even tell you how many hours it would take to do that." The sites' platform will switch from Drupal Connect to WordPress, and in doing so will become compat- ible with mobile phones. Visitors will be able to choose from multiple languages, and improvements were made for accessibility, including enlarging certain font sizes. Nahigian said the new sites will include more content and informa- tion for parents, and that certain forms will now be redirected to one place: the district's main page. Another important addition, according to Nahigian, is social media feeds for each school. Though Nahigian could not offer a specific date for the launch of the new sites, he said they're ready to go live at any moment and he expects to make the switch soon. School websites set to go online with $34,000 upgrade By NICOLE DOTZENROD Valley Breeze Staff Writer nicole@valleybreeze.com Lombardi, and that's been accom- plished. Fire Chief John Silva confirmed the numbers for the mayor, saying there were only four or five times over that month when the depart- ment had to call in help from one of five surrounding communities. Last year there were 606 emer- gency calls requiring outside help, or about 50 per month, according to officials. "If we didn't have that third rescue, we would have had to call in out-of-town support," said Lombardi. In addition to enhanced safety, the town will also be compensated for the rescue calls it responds to, adding up to a new revenue source. "First we wanted to address the calls, and second realize addition- al revenue," Lombardi said. Depending on the medical needs of a particular call, the receipts can hit $5,000 or more, he added. The mayor and fire chief esti- mate that many residents are now getting rescue help 10 minutes faster than when an ambulance was called in from a surround- ing town. He made the switch to accommodate the needs for the town, which, like many other communities, is seeing more res- cue calls and fewer fire-related calls. The town's fire union agreed to the changes, with members say- RESCUE From Page One See RESPONSE, Page 4

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