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Niagara Falls School District to add texting option

NIAGARA FALLS – Texting notices and updates have become mainstream in the business world – from your doctor to your dentist to your pharmacy.

The Niagara Falls City School District plans to join in and will begin offering the option to receive text messages from the district beginning May 2.

The text message service is for outgoing messages only and will only be offered to those with a wireless phone number on file with the district who have chosen to opt in. No text messages will be sent to a wireless phone without this confirmation.

Judie Glaser, community relations director for the district, said there is no extra cost for the district to add the service, noting that texting has been available to the district since it added an automated dialing system – robocalls.

“We’ve been thinking about better ways to communicate for awhile and have been examining our options,” Glaser said. “We introduced the auto-dialer system some years back and people seem to like it, but texting has an even greater convenience factor.”

Glaser said in the beginning, use of the text system will be confined to the central office and it will be used for things such as snow days and other important information.

“We want to make sure that as we roll this out that it is not overused,” she said. She said the concern is that some people are charged and the district does not want to inundate them. “Once we get our feet wet, the principals will be able to use it as well.”

Glaser said what’s nice about the automated dialing system is that it can be used to reach targeted populations, such as only staff, only high school parents or members of sports teams.

“Our main purpose is just to communicate more quickly and efficiently,” she said.

Text messaging will not replace automated calls. Attendance messages, for example will still come via telephone. Glaser said if there were a major emergency, people would likely get a call, a text and an email.

Glaser said texting is the beginning of looking at the district’s social media footprint beyond just a website.

“I’d like us to look at a mobile app, so people can pick and choose on their smartphones what kind of information they’d like to receive, but we’re not there yet. We are just starting to investigate that,” Glaser said.

Over the coming weeks, parents and staff are encouraged to confirm that the district has accurate phone numbers and then agree to participate in the text notification system.

After confirming a wireless phone number, participants should text “Y” to 67587 from each wireless device on which they wish to receive texts. Due to data synchronization configuration, it may take 24 hours or more for these numbers to be updated.

People may opt in at any time. Those who wish to opt out on a particular phone number may simply not opt in or choose not to reply to an invitation message.

If you have already chosen to opt in and want to stop text messages, text “STOP” to 67587 at any time.