The New Albany-Plain Local Board of Education approved two contracts totaling $70,000 during its monthly business meeting Aug. 24.

The New Albany-Plain Local Board of Education approved two contracts totaling $70,000 during its monthly business meeting Aug. 24.

Board members unanimously approved a contract with Cambridge Strategic Services to facilitate the district's strategic-planning process.

According to the quote Cambridge had submitted to the district, NA-PLS would pay Cambridge $47,000, which includes $36,500 for part 1 -- strategic action and organization -- and $10,500 for part 2 -- strategic action and school planning.

The cost does not include travel expenses, which are estimated at no more than $7,500.

Superintendent Steve Castle said Cambridge president and founder William Cook provided the district with a detailed timeline.

First, board members and administrators will attend a one-day organizational and planning session facilitated by a Cambridge associate. Cambridge then will help district officials gather information on NA-PLS vital signs, or the conditions surrounding the school district. Throughout the process, Cambridge will help the district form teams of community members to assist with strategic planning.

Board member Mike Klein said he is excited to start work with Cambridge.

"I have great faith in Dr. Cook and his over-40 years of experience that he can help us reach our goals," he said. "It's going to take the community to get behind the effort."

Board members also approved a nine-month, $10,000 contract Monday night with Peirce Internet to redesign the district's Web site.

Klein voted against the measure, citing concerns that the site is not updated quickly enough and the way Peirce initially was hired.

Kathleen Peirce, of Peirce Internet, has been working with the district since 2008, when she was brought on to assist with routine Web updates.

The board first approved a $17,510 contract for Peirce Internet Dec. 15, 2008, for Web services ending June 30, 2009.

The board approved a new contract for Web services June 22 for work not to exceed $16,800. The contract runs through June 30, 2010.

"I'm not thrilled with the transparency of the whole thing," Klein said. "I think there are other options out there that we need to look at. I didn't get all the answers (to the questions) I asked tonight."

He asked administrators about the hiring process a year ago.

"We went through a fairly full-blown process," said Ken Stark, district director of business operations. "I believe we sent out over 100 copies of the request for proposal. We went through the Yellow Pages and sent notifications out. Jon (Stonebreaker) and Carole (Dorn-Bell) conducted interviews, and Peirce Internet was the preferred provider."

District communications director Jeff Warner, who replaced Dorn-Bell earlier this year, and Stonebreaker, technology director, gave a presentation to the board about why the district needs a new Web site and how it would be redesigned.

"We want to create a Web site that people want to go to, not just one they have to go to to get lunch menus," Warner said. "We believe the redesign of our Web site is critical right now."

Both Warner and Stonebreaker stressed the need for the new site to focus on the student as top user.

Warner said the district, with the help of Kathleen Peirce, would launch a new site by late spring or early summer 2010.

gmartineau@thisweeknews.com