Lawrence school board approves purchase of online comment feedback software

photo by: Nick Krug

Lawrence Public Schools district offices, 110 McDonald Drive.

The Lawrence school board approved Monday the purchase of a software package that Superintendent Anthony Lewis said would allow district staffers to respond to all stakeholder complaints and comments within 24 to 48 hours.

The district approved a three-year contract for the Let’s Talk! software at a cost not to exceed $35,000 annually. Lewis said the platform will allow the district to conduct student surveys and replace a similar service that currently costs the district from $24,000 to $30,000 a year.

Lewis said the Let’s Talk! software also would allow the district to glean insights from comments that students, parents and other stakeholders make on a link to be provided on the district homepage. The software will provide a secure cloud-based repository for the comments, which will help the district identify trends and quantify the number of comments or complaints on an issue, he said, giving the example of how many bullying incidents were reported during a given period.

Kevin Harrell, district executive director of student services and special education, said staff can also enter comments made through phone calls and letters into the Let’s Talk! system. District administrators will be able to review all comments, and the software sends alerts to appropriate administrators, he said.

Lewis said the district’s goal was to have the appropriate administrator or staff member respond to comments within 24 to 48 hours.

Harrell said the homepage comment link and Let’s Talk! software should be available in January.

The board also approved purchase of the meeting management software platform BoardDocs for a first-year cost of $10,000 and a $9,000 fee annually in subsequent years. A representative from BoardDocs told board members in August that the package will allow the district to post online board meeting agendas, minutes and documents shared with board members at meetings. That software also should be operational in January.

The meeting ended with an hourlong executive session in which the board discussed the district’s ongoing 2018-2019 contract negotiations with the Lawrence Education Association.

The district and teachers’ union meet with a mediator Oct. 10 in an attempt to resolve salary and other issues that have brought the negotiations to an impasse. The union and district teams agreed to meet with the mediator again in November. Board president Jessica Beeson said the board, union and mediator were still trying to find a date that worked for all.

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