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School district answers call for new phones
slt USD428phones
Cathie McManaman, transportation secretary at Great Bend USD 428, tends to a call on the new IWATSU phone system put into place the last week of January at the District Education Center.

By late spring Great Bend USD 428 will be better connected than ever.
That’s because of a new $48,700 IWATSU phone system that will allow each classroom phone to call any other phone in the district. Great Bend High School and the District Education Center (DEC) are already on the system.
“This will expand our phone capabilities by increasing features like direct calling, voice mail and call clarity,” said Khris Thexton, assistant superintendent and director of business and operations. “It will also update obsolete, discontinued phone systems.
“We will be able to reduce physical phone lines into the district while becoming more efficient and reducing costs,” Thexton said. “The cost savings will recoup the new system’s cost in roughly three years.”
The high school was the first building to convert to the new system followed by the District Education Center. Great Bend Middle School is next on the list with the elementary schools and other buildings coming next.
“GBHS was the first site for improvements and the hub of the phone system is located on their site similar to the district computer network,” Thexton said.
“It was time for an update,” he said. “The DEC Norstar system and Helping Hands Toshiba phone system are over 30 years old and parts were no longer available.
“DEC saw the biggest change because everything needed to be changed including handsets and the main switch because they were not compatible,” he said.
“All sites except Helping Hands and DEC will not see anything different,” Thexton noted. “All sites will have their infrastructure updated, but the handsets will remain the same.
“The old platform was DOS based and very cumbersome to maintain,’ he said. “The new version will be Windows based and offers the district features not available to us before.”