W.F.I.S.D.'s Automated Calling System Connecting Home & School

The phone may be ringing more often these days at the homes of Wichita Falls I.S.D. students.

A new automatic calling system called Parent Link is in place and already this year, its left more than 37,000 messages.

Newschannel 6 Lindsey Rogers found out how the new system is helping parents, students and faculty.

The days of teachers sending notes home pinned on backpacks is over.

"My freshman son doesn't get home with anything. He doesn't know what's going on so, if the school wasn't letting us know we'd be in the dark. So, for parents like me, whose kids are not the world's best communicators, it's a God send," Wichita Falls High School Assistant Principal Debbie Dipprey said.

A new automatic calling system called Parent Link notifies parents of any important announcements or upcoming events.

The system will also send an alert of any unexcused absence or tardy later that night.

"There's not any ability or opportunity for a student not to tell their parent what's going on because now communication comes directly from the school and that's always a good thing in order to solidify that partnership between home and school," W.F.I.S.D. Public Information Officer Renae Murphy said.

In the case of inclement weather or emergency, the message can be sent immediately.

"We had a small emergency and we were able to within 15 minutes let parents know what was going on campus so they could be reassured their children are safe and that's a main priority for every parent," Dipprey said.

The system can make more than 1,500 calls within four minutes.

It costs the district nearly $23,000 dollars a year, which is a little more than $1.50 per student.

That's far less expensive than what it used to cost the district to snail mail notifications.

Parent Link also keeps a record of all the calls, which helps the district prove parents are being notified of absences and provides documentation for truancy cases.

But Attendance Services Director Diann Taylor said she hopes this will help cut back on the number of those.

"That is our goal with students knowing that call is being made in the afternoon that will prevent them from missing classes and school," she said.

The automatic calling system is installed at all W.F.I.S.D. schools and can be used in Spanish or English.

Parents can remove themselves from the calling list, but that means they will not get any of the district's notifications.

Lindsey Rogers, Newschannel 6