Starting this fall, Three Forks administrators will have a new way to reach parents with emergency and weather alerts, transportation disruptions, school events and more.
Incoming Three Forks Schools Superintendent Robert DoBell said the district will use School Reach, a system that delivers notifications via telephone, email, text and social media.
According to the School Reach website, everyone from school administrators and principals to football coaches and band directors can use the notification system.
DoBell brought the technology to Montana for the first time when he worked as a teacher and principal in Stevensville.
DoBell said the School Reach is “well worth the money.” The alert system will cost Three Forks roughly $2 per student for one school year, he said.
In the past, DoBell has penned press releases and uploaded them to the school’s website during a crisis.
On Wednesday, the school put up a release about a Three Forks youth who was receiving threatening text messages from a Broadwater County juvenile. On Thursday, sheriff’s deputies arrested a former student for making threats to students and the school.
During the texting spree from the juvenile now sitting in jail, rumors circulated in Three Forks about the nature of the texts. The School Reach site says the timely alerts parents receive help update them before crises get out of hand.
The School Reach website also provides stories of how the company technology helps real schools around the nation. In March, an Indiana superintendent used the phone system to alert parents about an electrical fire in an elementary school.
The superintendent tells parents that all students are safe and there will be an early dismissal. The Indiana superintendent also tells parents that students will be bussed home and they are not to flock to the school because of the fire.
The whole message lasts only 40 seconds but conveys accurate, timely information to the hundreds of worried parents. The update also reached parents before news of the fire went live on local media outlets.
DoBell said he will use the new system for phone messages, texts and Facebook updates. Currently Three Forks does not have a Facebook page. DoBell plans to set one up in time for the 2014-2015 school year.
DoBell said parents can help the district transition to the new system by providing the school with accurate contact information.