HISD Phone System

Houston Independent School District administrators are hoping to use a phone system to deliver important messages to parents and staff. Houston Public Radio's Capella Tucker reports school officials used the opening of the Hurricane season to demonstrate the new phone system.

Click to Listen

"Welcome to the NTI Connect-Ed dial in message recorder. Please enter your six digit user ID."

It's a problem with any emergency situation ... getting timely information to those affected.

"At the tone record your message. (tone) Good Evening, this is Abe Saavedra, superintendent of schools with the Houston Independent School District. I am calling to tell you that schools across HISD will be closed tomorrow (fade out)"

About a minute after completing the test message, phones in the room start ringing to deliver the superintendent's message.

Abe Saavedra says the phone system will improve communications with HISD's 305 schools, students' parents and 30-thousand employees. In emergency situations in the past, the district has had to rely on the media to get messages out to parents and employees. Saavedra says the phone system can be used in any number of situations, including standard school business.

"The new system will allow school principals to record messages for immediate delivery to parents about important parent meetings at school, report cards, testing schedules, back to school information or local school emergencies such as power outages or floods."

Lamar High School Principal Doctor James McSwain says the immediacy of the system is a great advantage.

"At the present time with the current technology in place in my school, it takes me as much as two weeks to deliver a message to my student body about an upcoming event."

Officials say they will be able to tell that a message is real, first that it's a recorded message, not a live person ... and second, the caller ID will indicate the call is coming from HISD or the child's school. NTI's Connect-ED President Thomas Motter says the system is backed up so it won't go down during a natural disaster.

"The system is actually delivering these calls, long distance calls, from different parts of the country. We have data centers spread across all three power interconnects so you would have to shut the whole U.S. power grid down to prevent us from actually initiating a call."

The system can be set up to send e-mails also. The board will vote this week whether or not to accept the program. It costs $600,000 a year. If approved by the board it would be up and running by the beginning of the school year. Capella Tucker, Houston Public Radio News.

cut "Your message is now scheduled and will begin delivery immediately. NTI is glad to have been able to help in your emergency situation, goodbye."
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