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Technology has changed the way our schools teach, the way our students learn, and the way our educators interact with the community. Equipment for wireless networking, audio/visual needs, and security all too often get nods for upgrades, but more frequently overlooked is the communication mainstay, the phone system. Understandably, budgets are tight. There just isn't always room for everything. But what arguments are there for the phone and communications network to get equally serious budget attention?
First, consider the constant change in population in a school community. The student population is easily in flux every year, occasionally requiring expansions either temporary or permanent. If the phone system is not adaptable, these expansions require more bandwidth of personnel to work around solutions, a drain on admin staff and budget.
Another type of change can be in faculty and administrative head counts. A phone system that is easy to manage for moves, adds, and changes can go a long way toward saving valuable IT personnel time. Less time managing the phone system means more time for other IT projects, another related benefit of budgeting for improved communications.
Is collaboration between administrators and faculty a priority, or is general reachability of teachers in need of improvement? New technology allows for teachers to have a voicemail box on the phone system, while phones in the classroom are automatically set to not be disturbed during school hours. Faculty can receive notifications of voice messages via email attachments. Improved managed communication for teachers can drive more positive results with students, and thereby grow to overall better results for the school community as well.
Above all others, though, the most important factor for phone system budget attention is for security crisis and emergency response. How quickly can an announcement be broadcast to the school population, especially if there are multiple campuses? How quickly can emergency first responders be reached with critical information and location? How discreetly can key staff members be informed to meet of direct the response team? With integrated paging, desktop messaging, screen pops, and integrated apps for mobile phones, current phone systems can much of the crisis response from one single point of administration. Even just a few seconds matter. The phone system makes a difference in ways that deserve attention from any budget.
If you are looking for ways for your existing IT staff to accomplish more, or encourage more collaboration with faculty, the choice and budget for a phone system can make a difference. If improving security and emergency response tactics are priorities for you, the choice and budget for a phone system will be a catalyst toward these goals. The investment will make a difference not only for the IT support staff, but really for the entire school community.