By Kevin Barlow
STANFORD - Olympia school officials now can send telephone messages simultaneously to parents within the district.
The SchoolReach system allows a school official, such as a principal, to record a brief message to send to a list of parents. The system also can generate a report that tells officials which parents answered, when an answering machine picked up and whether those who answered listened to the whole message.
Messages can be sent to all parents or students in the Stanford-based district or to a specific group, such as members of a class or sports team.
"The Olympia school administrators have realized the importance of establishing an effective communications network to reach parents in case of an emergency, and we think it will be very beneficial to the students and parents in the district," said Paul Langhorst, vice president of SchoolReach.
The school board approved the purchase of the system in May at a cost of $5,000 for one year. There is no limit on the amount of calls that can be made.
The system can be used to notify parents of important school events, such as report card distribution and registration, and emergencies, such as weather-related school closings.
It also can be used by administrators during potentially life-threatening situations, such as a school bus accident or the discovery of a gun on school grounds.