Apr 17, 2012 (The Hawk Eye - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Parents who have been calling Burlington High School this year may have noticed something different when their phone call was answered.
In the past, a secretary would field incoming phone calls. Now, parents have been greeted with an automated answering machine.
Last year, the Burlington School Board voted to cut the PBX operator, which managed the telephone calls. The cut saved the school district $18,000.
"We looked at what other school districts in the area do," said Tom Messinger, principal at BHS. "Some other area schools have an automated system that takes care of the phone calls."
The PBX operator was one of the budget cuts made last spring. The automated phone system was implemented in the fall.
"We had some concerns early on because people were complaining about the amount of choices available when they called," Messinger said. "We made those changes after three or four weeks. We shortened up the options, and I haven't heard a complaint in several months."
William Brackett, technology coordinator, said the overall purpose of the automated telephone system is to route calls quicker and not have people wait on a busy signal.
"I know some people don't like the automated line, but we want to get people to teachers as fast as we can," Brackett said. "We are not trying to trap anyone or anything like that."
Brackett said if a person knows a staff member's extension, they can dial it when they call and connect with the person they are looking for.
"This is a better way to field the phone traffic," he said. "You can get to a teacher without having to talk to the secretaries."
People who call the school without a staff member's extension or want to speak to an operator, have to press zero to speak to a secretary.
"There are different numbers during the prompt to route you to different places throughout the school district," Messinger said.
BHS is the only school in the district with the automated phone system.
"We would like to have more schools use this automated system. BHS really wanted this system this year," Brackett said.
The administration building also uses an automated phone system, but it's different than the system at BHS.
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