SAD 4 expands ways to notify public of emergency messages from schools

Posted Oct. 25, 2012, at 1:11 p.m.

GUILFORD, Maine — SAD 4 has switched to a different company for disseminating emergency or time-sensitive messages such as school cancellations. The school board entered into a contract on Oct. 9 with Power Announcement of Parkside, N.J., to handle community notices sent out from school administrators.

The change should prove to be more convenient to the public. The previous system sent out messages only by telephone. The Power Announcement service will allow the public the choice of receiving emergency alerts by either telephone, text message or email.

The board also has entered into an agreement with Google to customize the computerized school calendars. The public will have online access to the SAD 4 calendar and will be able to download school event information into their personal devices. There will be instant updates when a ball game or another school function has been postponed or canceled.

“Families can customize how they want to receive an emergency message. If they want to avoid being woken up at 5 a.m., then they will have a choice between a text or email to notify them,” said Superintendent Paul Stearns. “Once the district becomes more comfortable with the new tools and technology, it will make it more convenient for our students and their families.”

In other action, the district is proceeding with its plan to install a new biomass boiler system into their two schools. The board entered into an agreement last month with Integrated Energy Systems of Falmouth to produce a pre-engineering study for energy upgrades.

As the study progresses, the board anticipates holding a January referendum to see if residents will approve funding for the project.

If voters approve the measure, it would allow the district to install two wood pellet boilers into the elementary and secondary schools. The district would use their two 2006 Buderus No. 2 fuel boilers located in the schools as backups.

District officials estimated that the biomass boilers could be installed as early as this spring in the hope of having the new heating system online for the 2013-14 school year.

The board has authorized Piscataquis Community High School Principal Kevin Harrington to find new ushers for the June graduation ceremony. In past years, faculty members have served as ushers. The teachers will not continue in that capacity because they’ll be marching into the ceremony dressed in caps and gowns.

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