Monona Grove School District officials have added a second system to contact parents, one that will be geared more toward emergency notifications.

Messages from the new School Messenger will cover emergencies, severe weather and school closings, transportation, districtwide messages and schoolwide messages.

In the past, the district used Infinite Campus. This program will continue to be used for school and nutrition account balances, attendance, grade-level messages, and classroom and teacher messages. Infinite Campus will also serve as the backup messaging solution for emergencies and school closings if SchoolMessenger has an outage.

The decision to find an alternative to Infinite Campus for emergency situations was prompted when Infinite Campus failed to notify parents of a lockdown at Monona Grove High School in September 2018 due to a shooting on a Madison Metro bus near La Follette High School.

“When Infinite Campus failed to notify parents last year, we immediately set out to investigate other means of communication with families,” said Katy Byrnes Kaiser, director of communications and community engagement for the Monona Grove School District. “After reviewing other school districts’ communication systems and getting proposals and demos from multiple services, we decided to move forward with SchoolMessenger.”

MG officials had conversations with other school district, CESA, other public service agencies and education partners to learn about the systems they use, their experience with those tools and more.

“While we were prompted by the outage, Infinite Campus is a student information system, not a communication portal,” Byrnes Kaiser said. “As such, our options were limited within it, and we had no back-up system. So, although we were prompted to act deliberately but with some speed by the incident last fall, it is best practice to have a communication system separate from our student information system and to have a backup in place.”

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