One local school district is resting easy about its new emergency alert system. Victor Schools planned to do a test run with the system Thursday night, but the practice run turned into the real thing in the afternoon.
Phones across the town of Victor rang off the hook starting around noon. When parents picked up their home, work and cell phones, Superintendent Tim McElheran’s voice was heard on the other end, saying: “Due to weather, all after-school activities are canceled.”
Victor Schools purchased the new voice messaging system that allows McElheran to place close to 10-thousand calls almost all at once.
“Within five minutes, we were able to reach 94.8 percent of our residents successfully,” he said.
And on a second try, even more families were notified. Now, whenever there is an emergency, all McElheran has to do is log on to a service on the Web called, “Connect-Ed.”
“I could either type in an email message or go onto the telephone system and place voice message,” he said.
And just like that, messages will be sent to the emergency contact numbers of the 4,000 students in the district.
“I thought it was great that it was so instantaneous,” said Carol Prescott, a parent. “It was like all three phones were going at the same time."
“I loved it,” said Kristin Williams. “I didn't know they were even doing it, so I was thrilled when i got the message.”
“Connect-Ed” is used by 15,000 schools across the country. It costs $14,000 annually, but New York State is picking up $9,000 of the tab for Victor Schools.
“I think it was well worth it because I was really, literally impressed,” Prescott said. “I came into school saying ‘oh my gosh we got phone calls saying activities were canceled!’”