MAPS preparing to unveil new website

MANISTEE — Following what is taking place at the Manistee Area Public Schools will become easier in the very near future once a new website is up and running for the 2018-19 school year.

That was the message MAPS superintendent Ron Stoneman delivered to the board of education on Wednesday evening. The new website is being designed by RIGHTside Design.

“This is going to be a huge part of our back-to-school days on Aug. 21 and 22,” said Stoneman. “It is much more than a website as the purpose is as a communication site. The showings that we had for it of the Student Advisory Committee and today and at the district PLC meeting has produced great feedback on it. This will be a great communication tool for the parents.”

Stoneman said it is important that they empower their staff on how to communicate with the parents and students so they can access the information that is on the website.

“That will be a big part of our roll out on Aug. 21,” said Stoneman. “I have been around and seen a lot of school websites and this is something I have never seen associated with school websites.”

Stoneman also reported that the new watering system for the infield of the Manistee Community Track is almost in place thanks to the efforts of Lance Liston and about 20 volunteers who came and assisted with part of the process.

“The irrigation system is at about 99 percent completion,” said Stoneman. “We were really happy that Lance was able to fit that into his busy summer and get it installed for us. I think the very exciting part was (business manager) Howard (Vaas) put out an email to filling in the trenches and about 20 volunteers showed up to help.”

Stoneman said the eventual plan is for that infield area to become the home field for the boys and girls soccer programs, but that it will not happen this year.

“It’s been watered the last four or five days, and we have some fertilizer that is going on there,” said Stoneman. “We are going to nurse it until it gets a little stronger and we can get the soccer team on there.”

Vaas gave a report on the progress of the Honeywell project.

“Things are progressing very well and this past Tuesday we had a progress report,” said Vaas. “We were told to go ahead and open the pool today and there was team practice there today.”

Vaas said the two big dehumidification units are up and running, but they still are working out some minor adjustments.

“The smaller unit is running without any issue and the big unit they are still doing some trouble shooting,” said Vaas. “I was there this afternoon and the building is very comfortable and the people swimming are happy.”

The next progress meeting is two weeks away and Vaas anticipates they will be closing out a lot of the trades (sub contractors) working on the projects by that time.

“The last component is the fire alarm system being replaced in the Kennedy Elementary School building,” said Vaas. “They are staffed up and have five workers here all day long.”

Board member Jim Thompson inquired if that work had to be completed to open the school and Vaas said no.

“We still have our old system in operation at this point,” said Vaas.

A report was also given on the progress being made with the Student Safety Advisory Committee. One of the big things they are looking at is making the student handbook easier to access on the website by students and parents.

“They met this past Monday we did a student handbook reorganization review and this is a big part of our website and how this is laid out as the format has great improvements that were made to it,” said Stoneman. “Navigating and accessibility has really improved.”

Thompson said he was one of the board representatives at the meeting and was impressed with what he saw.

“They are looking for the betterment of all kids and I like what I saw,” he said. “It doesn’t seem to be made up of people with hidden agendas and there is good dialogue taking place with everyone so I was very impressed.”

Fellow board member Daniela Thomas said she also was impressed by what has transpired with making the student handbook easier to understand and access.

“I think RIGHTside did a great job in coming up with the categories and it is going to make so much more sense,” said Thomas. “When we had the meetings early on the number one issue was communication and I think this is going to go a long way.”

Stoneman said something they discussed that has been a problem is there are several different apps that teachers use for online communication. The feedback from parents was they had students in several different buildings and they all used different apps to navigate to get communication.

“Seesaw seemed to be a very popular app to use and there was great feedback on it,” said Stoneman. “We talked to the PLC leadership group today about that, and how we can streamline that and make it a little more usable for our parents.”



Posted by Ken Grabowski

Ken is News Advocate’s education reporter. He coordinates coverage for all Manistee County schools and West Shore Community College. He can be reached by phone at (231) 398-3125 or by email at

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