St. Mary's Public Schools to Get New Phone System

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St. Mary's Public Schools to Get New Phone System

Leonardtown, MD - 3/15/2013

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By Dick Myers

New Avaya VoIP phone system
New Avaya VoIP phone system

St. Mary’s County Public Schools (SMCPS) will be getting a new phone system. The St. Mary’s County Board of Education voted Wednesday on a two-phase rollout of the new system which will cost more than a half million dollars.

The board supported the staff recommendation to change to the Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology to replace the current system provided by Verizon. According to the staff report presented at the meeting, “The current telephone system used by SMCPS can no longer meet the demands placed upon it.” School Superintend Dr. Michael Martirano said the current system has subjected the schools with periodic outages that have been difficult to fix.

The first phase will cost $234,576 and will use monies in the current budget. Martirano would also like to roll out the second phase in the current fiscal year if monies are available. That assessment will be made in May. If they are not available the work would be included in next year’s budget. The second phase would cost $283,805.

The phone system change was originally on the Consent Agenda for the Wednesday board meeting, but school board member Cathy Allen asked it to be moved onto the action agenda for discussion. She said that was because of the large cost of the change but also because she was not aware that there were system-wide problems, although she was aware of problems in the central office building.

Assistant Superintendent of Fiscal Services and Human Resources Greg Nourse apologized to Allen for not informing her of the problems. “It won’t happen again,” he said.

The first phase includes changing the phones in Chopticon, Great Mills and Leonardtown high schools, the James Forrest Career and Technology Center, Esperanza Middle School and Park Hall, Green Holly and Evergreen elementary schools.

According to James Cornes, director of Information technology, the biggest cost would involve conversions in the county’s Emergency Operations Center, where the telephone switching system for the schools is located. Cornes said the schools chosen in the first phase were the ones with the highest usage.

The school board is piggybacking onto a contract used by the Virginia Information technologies Agency. The contractor for the Avaya system is Carousel Industries of Hunt Valley, MD. Cornes said that St. Mary’s County Government recently used the same contract as a vendor to purchase VoIP equipment.

Cornes said there would be no problem in using two systems in the interim. The schools with the existing system would continue to operate the way they do and those with the new system would use a different code for dialing out.

According to Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, “Avaya Inc. is a privately held global provider of business communications and collaboration systems. The international headquarters is in Basking Ridge, New Jersey, United States. The company provides contact centersnetworkingroutersswitches and other networking hardwareunified communications, and video products (integrated hardware and software) services.” The company was created in 2000 as a spin off from Lucent Technologies.

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