Nestled in the picturesque green mountains of central Vermont lies Greater Rutland County Supervisory Union (GRCSU), a forward-thinking, rural New England school district that’s challenging the status quo by embracing 21st century technology with modern communications.
The Starting Point
Back in 2016, GRCSU’s analog phone system was creating a variety of problems for the district:
- Administrators were unable to identify which extension calls were placed from, including 911
calls in emergencies
- They were managing 9 legacy analog phone systems through 6 different vendors
- Every vendor had their own resolution response when issues arose (which they did)
- Issues required vendors to travel on-site to fix phones, resulting in costly repairs and
- IT productivity suffered as internal team members were pulled away to focus on phones
- Incoming younger IT professionals were unfamiliar with the antiquated analog technology
- District staff couldn’t utilize any modern phone features like checking voicemail from their
GRCSU’s technology leaders knew their communication system needed a complete revamp. When news came that the region’s two local supervisory unions were merging, it marked the perfect time to centralize, unify, and simplify communications across the entire organization.
“Coming from the private sector, I knew our school district needed a robust IT infrastructure and wide area network (WAN) to support the enterprise-level functionality and features we wanted in a 21st century communications platform,” said Connors.
Building a Fiber Internet Backbone
Before they could update their communications system, GRCSU’s Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Greg Connors recognized the district’s outdated connectivity infrastructure needed an overhaul and was determined to deliver a powerful and high-capacity connectivity environment.
After reviewing their options, GRCSU chose ENA to deliver a resilient, high-speed fiber Internet and WAN backbone.
Next-Gen VoIP Technology
With the fiber backbone in place, GRCSU was in position to replace their analog phones with next-generation voice over IP (VoIP) technology. Connors and his team applied for and were rewarded state grant funds to cover new phones, cabling costs, and more through the state’s Enhanced 911 Compliance Grants Program, which provides “financial assistance to Vermont schools to support the identification and implementation of needed changes to the school’s telecommunications technology so accurate address and location information is provided to Vermont 911 in the event of an emergency.”
Prepared for Emergencies
Now, after deploying ENA SmartVoice, ENA’s cloud-based, hosted VoIP solution, anyone at GRCSU can push a button on their phone and alert the entire building of an emergency through the intercom announcement system. Additionally, GRCSU is equipped with intelligent 911, a vital feature school districts need to accelerate emergency response time.
Freeing Up Precious Time
Beyond security, the additional benefits included with ENA SmartVoice’s managed service—dedicated, live customer support and continuous maintenance and monitoring from ENA’s customer technical assistance center (CTAC)—have been an immense asset to GRCSU’s IT department.
“The first step in an emergency is knowing what’s happening and having the tools in place to effectively communicate,” said Connors. “Your phone system is the most important component of any emergency response plan. With the intelligent 911 feature, anyone in any room throughout our district can dial 911 and immediately have the location of their call identified to Vermont 911 without saying a word.”
“It’s fantastic because ever since ENA has managed our firewall, VoIP, and fiber infrastructure, we haven’t had to deal with those issues,” he said. “Because we no longer see those tickets come through to our help desk, our networking team can focus on other more critical items.”
Unifying All Communications
With their VoIP and connectivity systems running smoothly, the last tool GRCSU needed was a reliable and powerful video collaboration tool. After installing ZOOM through ENA, administrators can quickly and easily hold weekly team meetings and seamlessly communicate remotely.
“There’s a huge push for greater security and enterprise-level services, and you just can’t have that without the whole infrastructure working together,” he said. “We are really happy with all the services in our ecosystem.”
Encouraging Others to Embrace Change
Although some IT leaders may be reluctant to move to cloud-based solutions, Connors encourages other school districts who are still managing infrastructure on-premises to consider all the benefits and opportunities hosted solutions can bring to their IT department and district.
With all their systems aligned, GRCSU has successfully built a sustainable and scalable technology infrastructure that enhances the districts’ learning environments and puts administrators, staff, and students on the path to success.
“Switching to hosted services enabled us to stop spending unnecessary time, money, energy, and manpower maintaining our own infrastructure, and allowed for better allocation of capital project management funds,” he said. “The benefits of utilizing a managed service provider like ENA is two-fold – you offload a majority of day-to-day IT maintenance, and your IT team gains enterprise-level technology platforms manned by the world’s best security experts and engineers. You can’t beat that.”