Wawasee Community School Corporation Director of Finance and Legal Services James Flecker talks to the Wawasee School Board about the benefits of using Blackboard for their website hosting on Tuesday evening. Photo by David Slone, Times Union.

SYRACUSE — Steps were taken by the Wawasee School Board on Tuesday to improve the school corporation’s website and to help find replacement teachers.

Superintendent Dr Steve Troyer had asked the board in January for permission to explore a substitute teacher recruitment company – EduStaff – and an updated absence management system – Red Rover.

“After meetings and discussions with the various companies, we recommend EduStaff for our replacement staff needs. They provide quality educational staff and human resource services to schools through recruitment, face-to-face workshops, extensive customer service, and more. Troyer told the council on Tuesday.

He said Wawasee sets the parameters and qualifications it wants for its substitute teachers, and EduStaff recruits, trains, hires, and handles all paperwork, including payroll, taxes, and even offers insurance and incentives. retirement for replacements.

“The substitutes become employees of EduStaff. We will have our own local recruiter, based in Mentone. Warsaw and Whitko are two local school corporations that use EduStaff. We are confident that the change will help broaden our base of substitutes,” Troyer said.

EduStaff is headquartered in Michigan and can make the switch from Wawasee to EduStaff happen right after spring break, he said.

On Red Rover, Troyer said it is “an intuitive absence management software interface that manages absence reports and fills those positions with subs. The software would replace our Region 8 system that we are currently contracted to.

Red Rover offers a free app for iOS and Android mobile phones.

“One thing our contractors have been asking for is a mobile app or the ability to use their phone for work, and that’s something Region 8 doesn’t offer,” Troyer said. “Red Rover works with EduStaff, so they know each other very well.”

He recommended that the board approve the continuation of EduStaff and Red Rover, which he did unanimously.

Finance and legal director James Flecker said Red Rover is the software used by EduStaff, but Wawasee has to pay for them separately.

Board Vice Chairman Mike Wilson asked, “Do you often have empty classrooms?”

“Yes,” Troyer said. “Especially lately. COVID has significantly hampered our ability to find submarines. There will be times in any given building – and ask the principals – four, five, six classes are discovered. We don’t expect this to completely solve this problem, but we hope that by expanding the pool and bringing in someone whose sole purpose is to fill sub-positions, it will help improve it.

He said Wawasee hopes EduStaff will help them find more substitutes locally.

Flecker said they looked at this about five years ago, but decided against it because Wawasee wasn’t paying as much as the pool it was in, so Wawasee’s replacements could be replacements. other school districts and it was not good.

“Now their subs can be our subs because they’re going to see the same jobs and we’re paying more,” Flecker said.

He said that at the end of the day they think it’s a win for the substitutes, a win for the building managers and a win for everyone.

Another action taken by the board was the approval of Blackboard as the host of the school district’s website.

Flecker told the board that CTO Wade Wirebaugh “has worked tirelessly to find companies to host our website.”

Flecker reminded the board that Wawasee underwent a website overhaul a few years ago because “it was really tough” before that.

“We cleaned it up a bit. It’s aesthetically much nicer than it used to be, but the host we use has a 100-page limit,” he said. “So that means every time you go to a new page or click on the website, it’s a new page. You can only have 100. That seems like a lot until you have five school buildings, everyone has clubs – it becomes a problem.

Flecker said Wawasee was “maxed out” and Wirebaugh researched “a ton of companies” before recommending Blackboard.

He said the recommendation to Council was for three years.

“It may seem like a lot of money at first, however, Mr. Wirebaugh almost completely redesigned and uploaded our website to a new platform, which significantly reduced the cost of our upfront Blackboard fees as other quotes that we were getting were in the range of $20,000. So under $10,000 for three years of service with a rig he’s worked with before is really a phenomenal deal,” Flecker said.

He said it also allows Wawasee to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act and other regulations.

Wilson asked if there were any publicity opportunities with the website.

“There are a ton of opportunities,” Flecker replied.

The board unanimously approved Blackboard as the web host.