School district installs emergency notification system |

School district installs emergency notification system

On April 20, 1999, the day of the Columbine High School shootings, parents and school districts across the country realized there needed to be a greater line of communication between school and home during emergencies.

The Tahoe Truckee Unified School District was no exception.

“Columbine identified problems and needs for communication,” said Chris Cooper, director of district safety.

At the time, the school board directed the former District Disaster Committee to come up with communication solutions.

Now, more than four years later, the school district has decided to create an emergency communication network, so in the event of an emergency, disaster or urgent incident, parents can be notified quickly about what is happening with their children. The system should be running by mid-November, Cooper said.

With the network, people who sign up for the service can be notified via e-mail, cell phone, fax machine and other methods.

The school district will purchase the system from Florida-based Emergency E-mail Network for $5,900 for the first year and $5,400 for each additional year. It will be free of charge for parents and interested community members.

The network is capable of sending up to 50,000 messages in three seconds, Cooper said. Other services Cooper looked into would take three hours to send 5,000 messages.

Parents can sign up to be on specific lists, so they only receive information that pertains to their child’s school. With last school year’s Donner Pass Road propane incident, for example, only people on the lists for schools effected by the leak would be notified of the status of their children.

“Communication is so important with our inclement weather situation here,” said school district Superintendent Dennis Williams.

“It increases the safety of students and it increases the safety of the community. It’s very powerful,” Williams said of the new network.

Cooper has asked other Truckee agencies to join the network, so people can know more about road closures and other urgent situations in town.

Forms to join the Tahoe Truckee Emergency Communication Network will be available at individual school sites and the district office. For questions about the network, call Chris Cooper at 308-7712.

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