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Local districts plug into Connect-ED

SMOKEY POINT The Arlington and Lakewood school districts have turned to Connect-ED, a service intended to provide their principals and administrators the ability to contact all the parents in their districts, within minutes, with a single phone call.
According to ASD Public Information Coordinator Misti Gilman, Connect-ED enables school administrators to schedule, send and track personalized messages through the Internet to thousands of staff members and parents ensuring they all receive the same information quickly. She elaborated that administrators can use Connect-ED to communicate periodically and personally with parents about subjects such as student attendance, state testing, parent-teacher meetings, and school-or district-wide emergencies.
We were looking for a way to improve our communication with parents, thus improving student achievement, as well as to inform parents quickly in the event of emergency situations and provide them with instructions if necessary, Gilman said. Likewise, in the event of non-emergency situations, she added that parents schedules are busy, so letters home may be set aside until theres time to attend to them, and notes can get lost, forgotten or squished under a lunchbox in the bottom of a backpack. Some childrens parents also live in separate households, which means that even the important information that does get home might not always get to both parents.
Users of the Connect-ED service can send a message in any language and to as many as six phone numbers, including home, cell and office, for each student or staff member. To ensure that the schools know which and how many numbers were reached, the results of those outgoing messages are reported back to school principals and administrators immediately upon availability.
Districts using Connect-ED can also create unlimited numbers of groups and subgroups for individual classes, activities, bus routes, sports teams or other categories, and send their messages only to the groups that they specify.
Gilman explained that ASD knew of other districts using Connect-ED, and chose it after a comparison with similar systems, as well as input from their information technology director. She cited the potential savings it offers in time, postage and supplies, while praising its ease of use and customer service as another factor in its selection.
Gilman reported that ASD is currently working on interfacing the data systems and as soon as that task is accomplished each Arlington school plans to send out an introductory, proactive message to its families, by the beginning of February. As for the Lakewood School District, Executive Administrative Assistant Robin Barker noted, Weve implemented it already.
Barker pointed out that information has been out to their staff and parents, introducing the program, and at least two of their schools have tested it, by sending out attendance calls and messages to parents. This follows the Connect-ED training session that Lakewood School District representatives attended Jan. 18.
To learn more about Connect-ED, you may log onto its Web site at www.ntigroup.com.

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