Friday, August 17, 2007

Summer PTSA Executive Board Meeting

This year we have a new PTSA president who is very motivated to get more parents involved in school functions and to improve communication among the teachers and students. We met at her house as the summer ended to talk about the coming school year. As usual, I made a pitch for the increased use of the web site to continue the lines of communication from school to home.

One of the issues we have been having with the school web site is that our web host, has not upgraded our server to include the latest version of MySQL. Most of the software we run on the web site requires a version of MySQL higher than what's on the server. So we are unable to upgrade. The reason we need to upgrade is to take advantage of new features of the software and new security patches. We are getting our web hosting for free so we don't have a position to make a request such as upgrading. So I suggested to the PTSA that we look into paying for hosting at or another hosting company. They asked me to look into options and one of the parents suggested a company she uses for hosting.

I had been using for a while and was pretty satisfied with the service. So I checked into their hosting plans that may suit our needs. I subscribe to the basic plan for $3.99/month and it has all the features we need: PostNuke CMS, Moodle LMS, PHP and MySQL with the correct version. The major drawback to their hosting plan is that is doesn't allow Secure Shell (SSH) access to the virtual server. This is a very important tool for managing a web site. It does allow FTP but I prefer SSH because it creates a remote console on the server so I can manage it as if I were sitting in front of the actual server. Of course, many security features are applied so I don't get total control, but enough to do what I need to to do. I believe that we could manage the site without SSH and since I don't know how much longer I'll be at TJ Middle before getting an administrative job, it probably won't matter. Not many people know how to use SSH. FTP is more common.

I have always considered communication to be one of the most important aspects of leadership. Communication brings together all the stake holders of the school and allows for dialog and the passing of information that will directly or indirectly impact each stake holder. The use of a web site to pass along that information, and in a more perfect world, to gather information from the stakeholders will allow me to make better judgments about the culture and climate of the school. When I eventually leave TJ Middle, I will want to continue using a web site for communication.

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