Technology keeps parents informed

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 27, 2006

WINTON – The future is now for Hertford County Public Schools and their efforts to move into high tech communications.

AlertNow Rapid Communication Service, a new tool used by school systems to keep in touch with parents of school children, will replace many traditional communication methods currently used by schools


Traditionally, school districts like Hertford County’s would notify local and regional radio and television stations of events like school closings, school delays and other announcements.

The AlertNow system, currently being used by over 3,000 schools in more than 500 school districts, enables schools to deliver voice or text based messages to telephones and other electronic devices in minutes.

Hertford County Public Schools public information officer Clara Ann Baker, said the system far surpasses previous methods of contacting parents.

&uot;Administrators who use AlertNow have given positive feedback and our parents find it helpful to be more informed about school activities,&uot; Baker said. &uot;The conventional ways of communicating simply do not compare to AlertNow’s efficient and fast one-to-many communications.&uot;

Saf-T-Net, the Raleigh based company that provides the AlertNow system, estimates there are over one million messages sent each month across the United States using their web based application service provider (ASP).

Implementing the new system requires no hardware, software or additional phone lines from customers looking to utilize the system.

AlertNow manages and hosts the hardware, software and telephone infrastructure required to deliver services.

Any authorized administrator can record and send a message with one phone call or by using a secure, password-protected Internet site.

Through the Web-based interface, administrators create an unlimited number of distribution groups, schedule messages for distribution, manage contact lists and view reports.

Administrators create messages for parents of all students or smaller groups, such as parents with children in a specific grade level, bus route or athletic team.

The messages can be delivered to any telephone device, pager, fax, PDA or other e-mail device, based on the parents’ preferred communication methods.

HCPS has five schools with approximately 3,600 students.

Robert Bruce, president of Saf-T-Net, commended Hertford County for its decision to use AlertNow.

&uot;Hertford County administrators want to enhance education through proactive communication,&uot; Bruce said. &uot;This decision demonstrates Hertford County’s significant commitment to communicating with parents.&uot;

&uot;We developed AlertNow with precisely that objective in mind, providing the easiest and most cost-effective solution to communicate quickly and directly with parents, students and staff members,&uot; Bruce went on to say.

&uot;Delivering the right information to the right people at the right time is what AlertNow is all about.&uot;

Baker said efficiency is the key.

&uot;Sometimes when you try to send paperwork home with a student the papers don’t always make it to the house,&uot; Baker said. &uot;It might get lost in a book bag or thrown in trash can before leaving the classroom.&uot;

Thanks to AlertNow, that’s a problem that Baker and other HCPS administrators should not have to worry about anymore.