VoIP telephony offers K-12 schools reliability, redundancy, smart tools, and cost savings compared to traditional phone systems.
The real question is not whether VoIP telephony is feasible for K-12 schools, but whether older, traditional phone systems are even sustainable. Let’s consider an all-too-common story: an entire K-12 building—with hundreds of students across dozens of classrooms—served by a small, legacy phone system in the main office.
This sort of infrastructure creates a lot of inefficiencies. For example:
- High ratio of employees to phones
- No automation tools to close communication gaps
- Less phone access in areas where students congregate
- Calls for faculty are fielded by staff (often accompanied by hand-delivered paper notes)
- Must maintain traditional phone lines
- Too expensive to expand the system or add more lines
By comparison, a VoIP solution offers numerous opportunities for improvement:
- A flexible number of phones to suit your needs
- Easy multi-platform integrations and automation (calls, text, email, video, etc.)
- Portability—access the phone system anywhere in the building (or outside of it!)
- Easily route all calls to the correct point of contact
- Significant cost savings with internet-based phone calls
- No aging phone lines, rewiring, or costly additions of new Centrex lines
Let’s take a close look at a few of the key advantages of VoIP phone systems for schools at the K-12 level.
More Reliability & Redundancy
A VoIP solution’s reliability is an invaluable asset in an education environment, where prompt and accurate communication is necessary for both compliance and safety. If a school district suffers a power or internet outage, communication isn’t dead in the water. Just reroute calls to administrator mobile phones, where they can also access critical school communication functions.
IT director Manuel Zamudio learned this firsthand when the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District in Northern California experienced a two-day outage at one of their elementary schools. As Zamudio told EdTech, “Parents didn’t even know the systems were down,” he says. “If we’re ever in a situation where a site no longer functions, we can plug the phones into the network from a new location. As long as there’s an internet connection, they function as if they were in the office.”
Improved School Safety
VoIP telephony makes your school safer than it is with a traditional phone system. It’s easier to send mass notifications during emergencies, such as lockdown scenarios. This accelerates in-building communication, but that’s just the start. VoIP telephony also helps emergency first responders reach problem locations quickly.
CTO Kyler Berger of Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District told EdTech that the large high schools in Texas use VoIP to show “not only someone’s address but also their location within a building. If I’m calling from the gym, the system lets responders know where the closest entrance is or what room I’m in, because time is critical in those types of situations.”
A VoIP telephony system integrates a whole series of technologies and conveniences that are simply out of reach with a traditional phone system, such as:
- Intercom support from any phone in the system (and pages from anywhere)
- Call logs and recording capabilities for maintaining records (when appropriate)
- Automated calls and texts to home for unexcused absences or weather alerts
- Video conferencing on par with most computers (no additional equipment necessary)
- Email integration to conveniently unify voicemails with email inboxes
- Surveillance integration to unite voice communication with surveillance camera feeds
- Analytics and reporting for in-depth insights into who is calling and why calls are coming in
Installation is quick and generally compatible with the infrastructure you already have in place, which results in huge savings. Updates are easy since they can be made remotely—no expensive visits from technicians. These reduced costs for infrastructure, maintenance, and service will provide a significant return on investment, but efficiency gains are even more significant.
Administrators will need less staffing assistance to handle their work. Auto-attendants can provide after-hours help, and automated alert calls save a ton of time on manually relaying critical information. Overall, VoIP telephony will allow your K-12 school to put effort, time, and resources where it has the most impact — education.