The Warren County School District has brought back a call blast mass communication system for the upcoming school year.
The decision was unanimous at Monday night's regular meeting of the board of school directors held at the Warren County Career Center.
"I asked for this to be brought forward," Finance Committee Chair Jon Grant said. "I just would like to put in perspective the reality of good communication when we are stressed in an emergency situation.
"The price tag here to communicate to any parent instantaneously, heading off rumors," instructing parents how to pick up their kids, "the capacity throughout our district to me is priceless."
The program, One Call Now, will cost the district $7,768.32 for the upcoming school year, approximately $1.60 per student.
Grant explained that, about eight years ago when he served as superintendent, the district "had a rash of bomb scares." He explained that, with double the central office staff that currently is in place, the threats taxed their capacity to respond. "I think it's short-sighted to not consider passing this" without an understanding of what it is, he added.
Superintendent Brandon Hufnagel said that the "number one complain from parents this year" has been the lack of the blast communication capability. He said that when Allegheny Valley Elementary School was evacuated earlier this year because of a strange odor parents were upset because they were not notified but, given the time it takes to get everyone moved, all of the calls could not be made in a timely manner.
"Through the whole budget process, that's the one thing they (parents) wanted to see come come back in," Hufnagel added, indicating that this technology will also allow for email and text message blasts. "Parents can control how they want to be communicated with," he said.
"Even parents at work have the element of knowing what is happening," Grant noted.
"We are anticipating a savings from postage by using the blast system," Hufnagel said, adding that the savings will be used to pay for the system.
"As a board member, and a parent, I was disappointed we had to remove it (from last year's budget)," board Vice-president Donna Zariczny said. "Communication is key. It's the best thing we can do for our teachers, parents, students and community, in general."