The phone system for Norwich Public Schools has only been working intermittently since last week, but seems to be back up and running for now.
“Probably very frustrating to people as they’re trying to reach us, it goes right to voicemail or there’s no answer, or we’re talking and we lose a call,” said Superintendent Abby Dolliver.
Mahan Elementary, Case Street Early Learning Center, Kelly Middle School and the district's central office have been difficult to reach.
Norwich Schools used grant money to install a Toshiba phone system two years ago, but, according to Dolliver, Toshiba doesn’t make phones anymore.
"So finding a service person to help us troubleshoot is very challenging," she said.
The district’s tech personnel have been working to find the bug, said Dolliver, who’s been talking to Public Utilities about putting the school system on the city’s phone system. But she said it could cost an estimated $700,000 that the district doesn’t have.
"Our security system still works. It doesn’t impact our internet or our doorbells, or our locks on our doors, none of that," Dolliver added.
The glitch does impact 'all call' where someone can page an entire school with announcements, whether it be for bus arrivals or a lockdown, but Dolliver assured the system can be rebooted quickly and then used.
Principals at the three schools impacted sent emails and voicemails to parents. It included the school’s landline number that’s not connected to the faulty phone system, according to Dolliver. She’s given her email out to all parents, too.
"Between emails, and phone calls and things like that, yes, they’re on top of it and trying their hardest to fix it," a Mahan Elementary parent Marion Lattin said.
"It’s horrible and they need to fix it," said another Mahan Elementary parent who wished to remain anonymous. "I have a disabled child that goes to this school and he has a lot of needs."
Dolliver said she told the Board of Education that there needs to be a solution by Friday. Either they find someone to come in and fix the phones, or they have to look at somehow finding a new system, which won’t happen overnight.
After the problem reached the news, many people called in with ideas, Dolliver said. Through trial and error, the district has gotten the phones to work pretty steadily, but Dolliver said the district is applying for a safety security grant through the state to replace and update the phone system.
For now, they can monitor and reboot phones as needed.