The phone system currently used by Clinton City Schools was installed in 2007, and school personnel have now requested the purchase of a new system, getting the approval of the board during a meeting earlier this month.
According to John Lowe, director of Information Technology, the existing 3Com phone system was installed by BrightStar Communications more than nine years ago. In the last 12 months, Lowe said components of the system have caused a loss of phone connectivity for schools in the district.
Based on information provided by BrightStar Communications, the manufacturer of the phone’s system has discontinued production of parts for the existing system, therefore Lowe was seeking approval from the board to replace the phone system.
“My fear is that a system will crash and we will not have the parts available to repair or replace it,” Michael Seibert, president of BrightStar Communications, said when contacted about updating the current system. “It is not cost effective for any client to try to repair or replace a 3Com system at this point in time.”
With the board’s approval, the district’s phone system will be replaced and through a local company, keeping money here in Sampson County, at a cost of $32,432 through Star Communications.
According to Lowe, E-rate support for telephony in schools and libraries is being phased out and will no longer be available in school year 2018-2019. Clinton City Schools is currently receiving a 60 percent discount on eligible telephony services. This rate will reduce to 40 percent in 2016-2017 and 20 percent in 2017-2018, before being completely eliminated.
“Considering these two factors, I have been exploring cost-effective options to replace our existing phone system,” Lowe stated in his proposal to the board. “I considered hosted VoIP (voice over internet protocol) phone system options that will enable us to procure all new phones that operate on an updated platform that runs on vendor supplied and maintained hardware and infrastructure”
According to the director, new VoIP platforms provide a host of new features like computer based attendant consoles, enhanced voice mail management, and find me follow me capabilities that allow a user to forward all calls to their extension to a another number and device, like mobile phones.
Services through Star Communications came in at the lowest price, but Lowe assured board members he was confident in the company’s services and expertise in the phone system requirements. The highest option would cost the board more than $100,000 for similar services through Big Dog Networx/BroadVoice.
Board members approved the proposal, and plans are to have the phone system installed before the beginning of the next school year.
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.