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Phone outage leaves schools scrambling PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by BILL SCHANEN IV   
Wednesday, 05 March 2014 20:13

AT&T circuit problems force PW-S employees to use cell phones on job for two days

    The Port Washington-Saukville School District was without phone service for two days this week, a situation that forced district employees to resort to personal cell phones to communicate with each other, keep track of absent students and contact parents.


    The problem?

    “Three letters: AT&T,” Director of Business Services Jim Froemming said, referring to the district’s phone service provider.

    Phone service stopped Monday morning, and by Tuesday afternoon, the problem and length of time it would take to fix were still unclear.

    “We were told it has something to do with a circuit being down,” Froemming said Tuesday, adding that the problem is AT&T’s equipment, not the district’s.

    “AT&T switches you among personnel so often it is difficult to get a status report,” he said. “We know our job ticket is in and have been told they’re working on it. Now we’re just waiting. You don’t get ahold of AT&T. They get ahold of you.”

    While the service that supports about 250  phones in the school system was down, the district’s e-mail system remained functional, giving staff members a way to communicate with parents, Froemming said.

    One of the challenges was monitoring attendance. When students will not be in class, parents are instructed to call schools and report the absence and the reason for it. The system is designed not only to prevent kids from playing hooky, but to ensure they make it to school safely.

    The phone service outage turned that system around. Secretaries at some schools used cell phones to call parents of absent students, Supt. Michael Weber said. Daily-Press

    Froemming noted that each school still has a traditional “hard line” that can be used in case of emergency.

    Phone service was restored late Tuesday.