ST. LOUIS, MO., Sept. 22, 2009 – When Hillside Catholic Academy added an automated parental notification system to its communications toolkit last year, its sole purpose was to replace the traditional, and often unreliable, ‘phone chain’ approach to communicating. However, in February, Hillside’s principal Michael Butchko decided to use their SchoolReach broadcast messaging system to remind parents that tuition payments were due. The result? Butchko was able to reduce the amount of overdue tuition by an astounding $19,000.
Like hundreds of private, Catholic, and parochial schools nationwide, Hillside is using the SchoolReach instant parent contact solution to communicate about everything from unexpected weather closings, utility failures, and rumors to more routine tasks such as grade level announcements, messages about sports team events, and reminders about upcoming fundraising activities.
“In the past, schools relied on non-tech methods such as ‘phone trees’ and backpack mailings to get messages to all parents,” said Butchko. “But all too often the messages were never received. With SchoolReach we are able to send a personalized message recording that enables us to efficiently place hundreds or even thousands of calls almost instantly. This complements our existing communication vehicles like newsletters and Website postings, plus it’s helping us build a real sense of community. Parents feel personally engaged.”
SchoolReach is the leading provider of parent notification services among Catholic K-12 schools in the United States. While many individual schools like Hillside Academy implement the system, increasingly, Diocese and Archdiocese leaders are taking a more active role in procuring SchoolReach for use in their schools. Because of the widespread adoption of SchoolReach and the positive impact of the technology, Diocesan leaders are now more willing and able to pursue a centralized procurement or recommendation. Diocesan involvement generates the lowest possible cost to schools, as well as a consistent, cohesive approach to communications across the Diocese. Dioceses that have adopted a centralized or recommendation based procurement process with SchoolReach include: Washington, D.C.; New Orleans, La; Savannah, Ga.; Evansville, Ind.; Fall River, Mass., Biloxi, Miss., and Burlington, Vt., and more than 30 others.
“What’s really exciting to see is that so many Diocesan leaders are actively participating in, and sometimes leading, the deployment process,” said Paul Langhorst, chief marketing officer, SchoolReach. “This trend is due in large part to the success schools have with the service and the overwhelmingly positive feedback from principals and parents. Another factor is their realization that SchoolReach can be used in other areas such as congregational messaging and offices of development and alumni affairs.”
The SchoolReach communications solution allows users to record a brief message for delivery to an extensive or selective list of recipients, simultaneously. Greeted by the familiar voice of a school representative or church leader, parents or parishioners immediately know the message is important. The “Record-Select-Send” rapid messaging process takes only minutes for the notification to reach recipients.
“When we first learned about the benefits and cost efficiency associated with using the SchoolReach system, we immediately presented it to our Diocesan administrators,” said Sister Rose Mary Collins, superintendent, Diocese of Savannah. “Their interest was piqued immediately and when one of our principals told us her school was already using it with great results, more than 50 percent of the Diocesan schools quickly decided to purchase the service for the 2009-2010 school year.”
More affordable than hardware- or software-based systems of the past, the SchoolReach system does not require on-site installation of any additional hardware, software or phone lines, nor does it require any maintenance. School administrators can simply log in from a Web browser or call in to record and broadcast a message. The system is programmed to call recipients at a preferred phone number or multiple phone numbers, including work, home, or cell phone numbers.
Said Butchko, “The SchoolReach system is an efficient way to stay connected with our parents. In fact, parents have sent me notes and stopped me in the halls after church to express appreciation for the notification system. For those of us striving to increase enrollments in Christian schools, the implementation of a notification system is a good way to be differentiated from other schools.”
ABOUT GROUPCAST AND SCHOOLREACH
GroupCast is a St. Louis-based instant messaging notification service, delivering automated messages via three platforms: voice, email, and text messaging. SchoolReach, a subsidiary of GroupCast, is the nation’s leading parent notification service among private schools, and the fastest-growing communications service used by public schools. More information about GroupCast or SchoolReach can be found at www.groupcast.com and www.schoolreach.com or by calling 800-420-1479.
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Charlotte Andrist @ 770-578-8007 or Charlotte@EicherCommunications.com
Leslie Eicher @ 314-965-1776 or Leslie@EicherCommunications.com