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Madison district switches online communication to School Messenger

Dennis James demonstrates how the LobbyGuard system works at Madison Elementary School. (CONTRIBUTED)
Dennis James demonstrates how the LobbyGuard system works at Madison Elementary School. (CONTRIBUTED)

MADISON – Madison City Schools is changing the online communication medium used to contact parents.

On Sept. 2, the School Messenger software package will replace NotifyMe.

In April, superintendent Dr. Dee Fowler announced by email that school officials were investigating a new provider. The district has used NotifyMe, which is email-based and free, for several years. However, delivery has become increasingly slower.

“Notify Me has some limitations that resulted in messages arriving late during emergency situations last year,” director of student services Dennis James said in recent email. “That was unacceptable.”

“School Messenger is a very robust system that will allow us to send both email and phone messages,” James said. The software “retrieves phone numbers and email addresses directly from our student information database, InformationNOW or INow.”

Parents do not need to sign up for School Messenger. However, parents must log on to INow and update their email address.

“Logging on to INow for parents is a two-step process,” James said. The first step is logging on to the Web Portal using the account that parents have created. The next step is logging on to INow with user name and password that the school has provided.

From INow, parents must record one email address to receive School Messenger messages.

“I apologize for any inconvenience this switch may temporarily cause,” James said. “We feel the end result will be a much better method of communicating when it matters most.”

The Madison district also communicates announcements, especially weather emergencies, to local television and radio stations, al.com, Facebook/Madison City Schools, Knology channel 3, madisoncity.k12.al.us and Twitter.

Another medium is Nixle.com, which broadcasts both email and telephone text messages from the Madison Police Department and Madison County Sheriff’s Department. Nixle service is free.

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