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Published: Tuesday, 2/24/2009

Emergency alert system due soon for families

BY MARK REITER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

MONROE An emergency notification system that is being used by schools and colleges throughout the country will soon be available to Monroe County families.

The Monroe County Intermediate School District is overseeing the implementation of the AlertNow Notification System operated by New Jersey-based Honeywell International.

Betsy Taylor, assistant superintendent for human resources and legal counsel for the ISD, said the system is designed to improve parent communication and emergency responsiveness.

Monroe County Community College launched the instant notification program in August as part of the college s Violent Threat Management Plan.

It has been routinely used to notify students, staff, and others about class delays and cancellations.

The ISD board signed a three-year contract with Honeywell for the service to cover the nine school districts in the county as well as students served under the ISD.

We think it will be an effective tool for the school districts, Ms. Taylor said.

After test runs in January, Mason Consolidated implemented the system earlier this month to connect with parents and students.

We worked out all the bugs. We have been using it, said Superintendent David Drewyor.

In addition to cancellations and delays for the start of classes, the Erie Township school system has utilized the warning system to send a notification about the change in a meeting of the Parent Teacher Association.

Mr. Drewyor said the district has been using the system to send parental notifications about absent students.

The service and programs provided by Honeywell cost $1 a year for each student in the county. Ms. Taylor said each school district is paying the cost of the system for their students and staff.

Bobb Vergiels, spokesman for Monroe Schools, said information relating to the 6,700 students in the district was still being inputted into the system last week. He said the district hoped to go live with the system soon.

Parents can sign up to receive notifications by providing phone numbers for land lines, cell phones, and pagers, allowing them to get voice messages and text messages.



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