South Whidbey school phone system kinks worked out, officials say

Several issues with the phone systems throughout the South Whidbey School District are just about resolved after a $120,000 conversion nears completion.

During the first ten days of school, the kinks of the new system were still being worked out. Users had difficulty hearing each other and the system also made it difficult to connect with the school network.

Even the school board and administrators found themselves without a connected projector during a special meeting and workshop on Wednesday, Sept. 11.

“Really there aren’t any issues at this point,” said Superintendent Jo Moccia.

All the basics are now working in the system and there are just a few utilities that need to be brought online, she said.

The conversion updates phones throughout the district to a Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) system, which delivers voice and multimedia information through the internet. The system primarily sends voicemails to teacher and staff emails.

It also supports voice, video and data on the same wire and expands wireless access at a lower cost. The older analog system cost $44,412 annually while the new system will cost $22,371.06, according to the project proposal by Tom Atkins, technology operations manager for the district.

“We didn’t just replace 230 units, we added a new phone system along with network infrastructure,” Moccia said.

She added that the district had a short summer window to complete the work.

“We hoped it would have been done before school started, but I don’t think it could have been done any faster.”

Atkins has worked single-handedly with companies to complete this project, Moccia said. He’s worked hard, and has worked nights and weekends to finish the conversion.

Work done beyond the completion date did not add to the total costs — it was an anticipated expense, Moccia said.

The conversion replaces a 25-year-old analog phone system that came to the schools used.

Moccia often heard complaints of calls being dropped and voicemails not working with the old system. Those complaints have largely gone away at this point with the new phone system, she said.

The project was passed unanimously during a school board meeting June 26 with the expected completion date Aug. 23.

“We are pleased with the fact that the community supported a project and we have competent people working on it,” she said.

“It went as well as to be expected.”


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