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March 19. 2013 9:57PM

5 a.m. snow day calls not welcome by everyone

GOFFSTOWN - For teachers and staff in the Goffstown School District, there will be no avoiding that 5 a.m. phone call from SAU 19 Superintendent Stacy Buckley on snow days.

Despite objections from some of its members, the school board Monday kept a policy on the current emergency notification system.

Nashua, Weare, Epsom and Hooksett use a similar system. Manchester parents can sign up for text message alerts.

For Goffstown parents who find the Power Announcement phone calls more annoying than convenient, there is an opt-out. That option is not available to teachers and staff, and one board member thinks that's unfair and a misuse of the technology.

Board member Dan Cloutier said he's concerned those early morning phone calls are a nuisance to spouses of school district employees who don't have to be up at that early hour. He said the system wasn't really intended to be used to announce snow days.

"The issue is getting a call on a snow day," said Cloutier. "Is that an emergency? In my regard, no. I agree with it when there's an emergency, but that's not what we use it for."

Buckley said Power Announcement is intended to deliver a message before teachers get to school. She worries staff members who opt out of the phone call could walk into a dangerous situation.

"Heaven forbid there's a gunman or something," Buckley said.

In addition to telephone, TV and radio, snow day notifications are sent using text messages and emails, Buckley said.

New board member Ben Hampton, who teaches at Manchester Community College, said a similar system is in place where he works, but teachers and staff can opt out of the early morning phone call.

"I think there's a better way of doing this," he said.

Buckley said only two staffers have asked not to be included on the list.

In Bedford, the school district uses Alert Now, a system similar to Goffstown's Power Announcement. Superintendent Tim Mayes said in Bedford two phone calls go out on the morning of a snow day, one at 5 a.m. for teachers and staff and the other at 6 a.m. for parents.

"We didn't use it initially for snow days," Mayes said. "But then we had a number of days out when the power was gone and they said, 'This is great - keep doing it,'" he said. Mayes said since the system was put in place in 2009, no one has asked to be taken off the call list.

Mayes said snow day cancellations are also made using Twitter, the school district's Facebook page, as well as television and radio.

Scott Earnshaw is the parent of two children who attend Bedford schools.

"I think it's convenient to have the calls come through," he said.



hmetz@newstote.com


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