Honeywell announced that five Michigan school districts selected Honeywell Instant Alert(TM) for Schools, a Web-based notification service that will allow them to deliver both emergency and routine messages to parents and guardians within minutes via phone, cell phone, pager, e-mail and PDA. Automating parent communications also will lower paper, postage and long-distance costs for the districts, enabling administrators to focus more resources on the classroom.
The districts include Mendon Community Schools and Centreville Public Schools in St. Joseph County; Camden-Frontier Schools and Waldron Area Schools in Hillsdale County; and Montabella Community Schools in Montcalm County. The schools in these districts serve nearly 4,000 students and families. All five districts expect to have Instant Alert fully operational by the end of the year, and will introduce the service at parent-teacher conferences and other fall events.
"Improving overall communication with parents, especially at the high-school level, is our main goal," said Chuck Frisbie, superintendent of Mendon Community Schools. "But lowering call volume and communication costs is important as well. We looked at a competing service, but Honeywell offered the best value."
To use Instant Alert, designated representatives at each school district initiate a message through a secure Web site or by phone. Instant Alert then broadcasts the message immediately to all contact points provided by parents or guardians. Parents can specify how they prefer to be contacted and update their information online or at a school.
"Our goal is to keep parents informed, but it's almost impossible to quickly reach them using a phone tree during an emergency," said Scott Merfeld, superintendent of Waldron Area Schools. "Instant Alert will enable us to be more communicative with parents and the community, and provide critical information in a timely and consistent way."
Each school in the district also can develop an unlimited number of groups and subgroups for individual classes, sports teams, etc. As a result, they can send messages to a specific set of parents to deliver information like band schedules, cancelled sporting events and bus delays. The latter is especially important in rural parts of the state, where inclement weather can close roads and force schools to make last-minute transportation decisions.
In addition, Waldron and Camden Frontier administrators will use Instant Alert to notify parents about unexcused student absences. "After six unexcused absences, students must appear before a judge," Merfeld said. "Instant Alert will allow us to send messages directly to parents about attendance so we don't reach that point."
"Honeywell has served the education market for more than 50 years, providing solutions that improve safety, security, comfort and efficiency," said Laura Schultz, vice president of Global Marketing for Honeywell Building Solutions. "By offering a communication service like Instant Alert, we're building on that commitment and helping schools remain focused on their students."
For more information about Honeywell Instant Alert for Schools, visit www.honeywell.com/instantalert.