Bangor School Department advances communication methods ahead of school year

Published: Aug. 24, 2023 at 5:40 PM EDT
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BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - Summer is drawing to a close and kids and teachers will be heading back to school.

Over the summer, districts across the state have been busy preparing for students.

That includes reviewing and updating safety protocols.

“We want to hear the voices of our students and parents to see how we can do better with that but that is a priority of ours. I would tell everybody it’s a new year and a new start, and please come out and participate in our schools,” said James Tager, Bangor Schools superintendent.

As superintendent Tager and his staff turn the page on a new school year, they remain focused on keeping students safe while learning.

Over the summer the district has been working diligently to revamp their website and communication methods.

This year they’ve added the new Apptegy communication system to their toolbox.

In the coming days, families will receive a message from the school department that will introduce them to the technology.

Once that message is received, families will be signed up for new alerts and will not need to respond.

“At some point in time parents may receive two messages, one from the old system, one from the new system. That’s okay. We want to make sure we get all the bugs worked out as move into this new system and make sure it’s working effectively,” said School Safety Director Ray Phinney.

Phinney is responsible for overseeing security practices within the districts 10 schools.

As required by law, the Bangor School Department has a variety of safety plans in place.

Earlier this year, they unveiled a new security badge alert system called CENTEGIX CrisisAlert.

All staff members wear a badge that will allow them to request help, if needed, from anywhere on school grounds.

Bangor is the first school district in the Northeastern US to use the emergency alert system.

“I think that the way we send alerts to parents with the new system, I think it’ll be better. They’ll get it through phone calls, text messages, and through their socials,” Tager said.

A number of threats and false reports were made to schools last year, raising concerns among school administrators and law enforcement.

Phinney says through those ‘swatting’ calls, they’ve learned to better communicate with first responders, school staff, and families.

As always if students see something suspicious in school or online, it’s crucial they report it to a trusted adult.

“Our administrators are here. They are here to listen to students, but they can also tell teachers. They can tell Ed techs in their classroom. They can tell the crossing guard. Anyone that they feel comfortable with, they should be able to let them know that something is going on in school. We will take that information and look into it more fully because we want to make sure that everyone is safe. We want to make sure everyone has a good day at school and is happy to be there,” Phinney said.

More information on the district’s new school safety protocols can be found here.