The Citrus County School Board recently unanimously approved a contract with Verteks Consulting to update its current phone system. The five-year, $767,087.50 contract will allow for new technology in the district’s 22 schools and nine support locations, which include administrative offices.
School Board Director Steve Chamblin said district administration began looking for a more modern system last year as a contract with CenturyLink neared expiration.
“We felt Vertex had a better solution and was a better local partner to work with,” he said, citing the organization’s high customer satisfaction rate.
With the approval of the contract on March 8, Verteks Consulting will begin installing a new ShoreTel Communication System that will allow for a new emergency calling system, remote voicemail access and a district-wide directory.
By July 15, Verteks president Don Gulling said the system and 1,700 phones – including 500 phones for teachers who previously did not have a phone in their classroom – will be replaced across the district.
“I think it’s an important step forward in their communications,” Gulling said. “Teachers need to collaborate across traditional boundaries.”
Despite the overhaul of the old system, Chamblin said the updates will eventually save the school system money without the pressure of maintaining the old phones. He expects the district will save roughly $600,000 over the course of five years after paying about $300,000 a year for the previous contract with CenturyLink.
“The savings are real,” Gulling said. “This is money they can put back in the classroom.”
He said he views the increased ease of communication between administration, teachers and students, especially in the case of an emergency, as an important step for the school system.
“It’s by no means a silver bullet, but it is an important tool for them to use,” Gulling said.
This is the third school system Verteks Consulting has partnered with in Florida, in addition to Desoto County Schools and Walton County Schools. But for Gulling, an alumnus of Lecanto High School, this project is more personal.
“It’s an important project in our backyard,” he said. “So it’s near and dear to our hearts.”