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Carlton votes to revamp district website

Members of the Carlton School Board voted in favor of switching to website developer Apptegy in order to boost marketing to prospective families.

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Carlton Middle School and High School.
Katie Rohman / Duluth News Tribune
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CARLTON — The Carlton school district’s website will receive an overhaul in the near future after the School Board voted unanimously to switch to a new provider at its Monday, Sept. 19, meeting at Carlton Middle School.

All four members present for Monday’s meeting — Sam Ojibway, Eryn Szymczak, Tim Hagenah and Sue Karp — voted in favor of the motion. Board Chair Julianne Emerson and Ann Gustafson were absent from the meeting.

The district will now utilize Apptegy for its website and mobile alert system after previously using Campus Suite. Neighboring districts of Floodwood and Willow River have reported positive results since turning to the Little Rock, Arkansas-based company for their websites, according to Superintendent John Engstrom.

Engstrom stressed the importance of having a strong first impression for attracting new families to the district.

“We all know it. You can lose families before you even get them if your website is archaic as ours is,” Engstrom said.


Engstrom said the new website could potentially pay for itself if it can help bring a new family to the district or keep one from leaving.

The cost is split into two options, with the first being a three-year contract available at $11,849 the first year, including initial development. The price drops to $7,349 in years two and three to cover Apptegy’s Thrillshare system, which manages all online interactions with the school and audience.

The second option spreads the initial development cost over a three-year term, setting the price at $8,849 annually. Unlimited training and support, along with the mobile alert system are included in both plans.

The district will opt for the first option under the advisement of Business Manager Norman Nelis, who said the initial cost will be covered by ESSER II and ESSER III funds, with Apptegy being used as a point of communication to meet the criteria for proper use of the funds.

The board received a tutorial during its committee-of-the-whole meeting Sept. 12. A representative from Apptegy answered questions while demonstrating the features of the website and mobile alert system.

Board member Eryn Szymczak asked about the possibility of the website not working during updates and maintenance.

“We’ve never had downtime when it comes to the websites or anything of that nature,” Apptegy representative Dutch King said during the Sept. 12 presentation over Zoom. “When you’re clicking on those updates, they’re going to be dynamic as well.”

King later answered a question from South Terrace Elementary School Principal Donita Stepan, who inquired about how information is disseminated through the Thrillshare system and if it could be shared building-wide instead of district-wide for school-specific information. King confirmed that both options are available.


The board will meet again Oct. 11 for the monthly committee-of-the-whole meeting.

Jake Przytarski is a reporter for the Cloquet Pine Journal covering a mix of news and sports.
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