ST. LOUIS, MO., Sept. 25, 2009 – In a report to Congress in 2007, the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO), found that many school districts experience challenges in planning for emergencies. Of particular interest, were the unique difficulties rural districts faced in communicating and coordinating with parents, community members, and emergency personnel. In interviews, about half of the officials in the 27 school districts GAO visited reported difficulty in ensuring that parents received consistent information from the district during an emergency.
To help rural educators enhance their school-to-home communications efforts during both emergency and nonemergency situations, the National Rural Education Association (NREA) has entered into a strategic partnership with SchoolReach, one of the fastest-growing parent notification services used by public, private and parochial schools in the United States. Through this agreement, the SchoolReach system will be made available to NREA member schools at an exclusive discount.
More affordable than hardware-based systems of the past, the SchoolReach system does not require on-site installation of any additional hardware, software or phone lines. Most importantly, SchoolReach offers a Web- and phone-launch utility. This means that even if a school loses its Internet capability, administrators can still initiate and complete a broadcast using any touch tone phone.
“Rural districts, just like their large district counterparts need to be able to quickly and effectively communicate with parents, staff and students for a variety of reasons,” said Dr. John Hill, executive director of the NREA. “With this solution in place, our member districts can feel confident that they have access to a remarkable solution that will immediately increase their capacity to bridge the communication gap with their parents and community members at a very affordable price.”
The timing of the announcement coincides with the National School Safety Center’s America’s Safe Schools Week observance slated for October 18-24, 2009.
“While most rural schools have existing safety programs complete with plans for disseminating important information to parents, staff and the community-at-large, deploying our advanced parent notification solution increase the timeliness and accuracy of those communications efforts,” said Paul Langhorst, chief marketing officer, SchoolReach. “Working with small rural districts is our specialty because we understand their distinctive needs.”
SchoolReach’s expertise in rural district communication efforts centers on their industry-leading local telephone switch load balancing system. This proprietary process matches the call receipt capacity of rural telephone offices with a compatible broadcast rate so when hundreds or thousands of calls are delivered, smaller telephone company switches don’t become flooded causing failure, blockage or even delays, when every second counts.
“The SchoolReach system puts the dialing power of thousands of phone lines at the finger tips of school administrators,” said Hill. “That means not only more efficient communications but more personalized, accurate and timely communications, too.”
ABOUT NATIONAL RURAL EDUCATION ASSOCIATION
The NREA is the oldest established national organization of its kind in the United States. Through the years it has evolved as a strong and respected organization of rural school administrators, teachers, board members, regional service agency personnel, researchers, business and industry representatives, and others interested in maintaining the vitality of rural school systems across the country.
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