Starting in August, visitors to the Pickerington Local School District's Web site will see several new features.

Starting in August, visitors to the Pickerington Local School District's Web site will see several new features.

The site,, has been updated to be easier to navigate, according to district communications director Lee Cole. Some of the changes are already in place and the rest should be up and running by Aug. 4, she said.

"I think some of the pages were hard to find and it had been brought to my attention since I was brought here that it was a priority to make the site more accessible," said Cole, who started with the district in June. "Some things have been adjusted to help families find information quicker and with less steps."

For example, she said "quick links" for things such as lunch menus, inclement weather information and back-to-school details have been added in a prominent location. Information on bus routes will be easier to find, too, she said.

"It was there; I just don't think people could find it," Cole said. "This makes everything simpler and easier."

Another, perhaps more significant, change to the Web site is the addition of a parent portal.

Walt Podgurski, the district's director of technology, said the portal will give parents direct access to student information and will make it easier for two-way communication between teachers and parents.

"A year ago, we started using a new student-information system called eSIS," Podgurski said. "That system gave us the capability to give parents the access to grades online. Our prior system was 20 years old and didn't have that capability."

He said Pickerington teachers have been working with the system for a year to get some of the bugs worked out before making information available online.

Initially, Podgurski said, only information for students in grades five through 12 will be online, starting sometime during the first grading period of the 2008-09 school year. Information for students in kindergarten through grade four will follow later, he said.

A specific timeline of how the online portal will roll out is expected to be presented to the Pickerington Board of Education at its next regular meeting on Aug. 11, Podgurski said.

Information available through the portal will be secure and password-protected, he said. The details of how passwords will be assigned to parents are still being worked out, he added.

Access to student information is something parents have been asking for and that other school districts have been providing for years, Podgurski said.

"It's basically a method for parents to stay informed about their students' progress," he said. "They will have access to the teacher's grade book, which is electronic. They will be able to see their own students' grades, attendance and assignment information.

"The benefit is that both students and parents will have online access to student grades and progress," he said. "Parents will be able to know where their kids stand at any point in a grading period, as opposed to only when an interim report or grade report comes out."