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Schools Find That Streamlining Communications with Parents Improves Attendance, Safety, and Security


Technology from SchoolMessenger and Cisco Automatically Alerts Parents About Absences, Events, Emergencies

SAN DIEGO, July 5, 2006 - Cisco Systems® highlighted a new product today that enables schools to communicate important information to parents more quickly and efficiently. A school district in Utah, one in Washington, and another in Illinois are using an advanced automatic communication technology called the SchoolMessenger for Cisco® Unified Communications solution.

SchoolMessenger, the leading U.S. parental notification company, has integrated its system with the Cisco telephony solution, which is based on Internet Protocol (IP). Teachers can record a personalized message, select a preprogrammed calling list, and send a message to parents from a computer or IP phone. The solution allows teachers to communicate with parents more regularly and helps foster a stronger relationship with them.

SchoolMessenger works with the schools’ student information systems, so data can be quickly mined for names and numbers. Then the system uses a district’s IP voice infrastructure to notify parents of absentees, school closings and more. Because fewer dedicated circuits are needed for outbound calling campaigns, the district saves money.

“The SchoolMessenger for Cisco Unified Communications solution provides a more cost-effective and efficient communication system for schools as opposed to traditional autodialer systems,” said Charles Fadel, global lead of education for Cisco. “The cost savings allow school districts to gain additional revenue that can be put back into the curriculum for the students. And effective communication with parents has shown to help improve attendance rates and increase student performance.”

“By integrating SchoolMessenger’s parent-notification solution with Cisco’s Unified Communications platform, we’re extending the reach from the school campus to thousands of students’ homes, maximizing the school district’s investment in IP communications infrastructure,” said Kent Lowry, president of SchoolMessenger. “The Cisco IP phone becomes a powerful tool where teachers and administrators can send personalized and timely messages in any language, notifying thousands of parents within minutes. When a parent hears a teacher’s voice about an important test, or an invitation from the principal to a school event, a connection is made and everyone wins.”
Davis School District

The Davis School District is located just north of Salt Lake City, and is the third-largest district in Utah. It educates 62,349 students, has a budget of $471.3 million, and was recently named by the Manhattan Institute as having the nation’s highest graduation rate among the 100 largest school districts in the United States.

“We chose the SchoolMessenger for Cisco Unified Communications solution because we wanted to improve our communication method with parents. The ability to communicate with them in English or Spanish was important,” said Vickie Calder, support manager for the school district’s information systems department. “We also knew we had to look to technologies that would offer a migration path to a converged IP network and help enable us to reduce our overall cost.”
Township High School District 214

Recognized as a “blue ribbon” high school district by the U.S. Department of Education, District 214 is about 25 miles northwest of Chicago and serves students from the communities of Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Des Plaines, Elk Grove, Mt. Prospect, Prospect Heights, Rolling Meadows and Wheeling.

Last fall, the school district migrated from a traditional centrex system to Cisco Unified Communications and has experienced significant savings. “We’ve already saved $400,000 with our Cisco IP telephony deployment,” said Keith Bockwoldt, the district’s director of technical systems and support. “And now, with the SchoolMessenger Comm Suite, we’ve been able to eliminate our third-party outreach service, which saves us even more.”
South Kitsap School District

The South Kitsap School District, located on the Olympic Peninsula, comprises the largest high school in the state of Washington as well as three junior high schools and 10 elementary schools. It serves more than 10,500 students and was looking for ways to automate outbound communications with parents for the entire district.

“Our outbound dialing system was site-based and required dedicated lines. This solution has allowed us to provide automated dialing services to every school in our district and saves time,” said Derry Lyons, the district’s director of informational technology services. “With Cisco and SchoolMessenger we’ve eliminated manual dialing for attendance and improved administrative communications for weather-related school closures.”

The SchoolMessenger for Cisco Unified Communications solution is made up of the following Cisco products: Cisco Unified CallManager, Cisco IP phones and SchoolMessenger Comm Suite. For more information, visit

Cisco will demonstrate its suite of education solutions July 5-7 at Booth 1918, at the National Educational Computing Conference (NECC) in the San Diego County Convention Center.
About Cisco Systems

Cisco Systems, Inc., (NASDAQ: CSCO), is the worldwide leader in networking for the Internet. Information about Cisco can be found at For ongoing news, please go to
About SchoolMessenger

SchoolMessenger, a division of Reliance Communications Inc., is the leading provider of parent-notification solutions for education. Its family of products, which include desktop, server and hosted solutions, are in use in more than 5,000 school districts, connecting educators with millions of parents everyday. Founded in 1999, the privately-funded company is headquartered in Santa Cruz, California. For information, call 888-527-5225, email or visit

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