Jackson, Madison County school systems selected to pilot new school emergency communication system

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WOODVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) -- Two Tennessee Valley school systems are part of a pilot program for a new school emergency communication system, and if all goes well, that system might go statewide.

Monday morning at Woodville High School in Jackson County, Jackson County Schools staff and state officials saw first hand a program designed to save seconds.

"Lokdown is an emergency communications system that schools can use," Lokdown owner Chad Doss says.

Doss says the system notifies teachers, staff, and law enforcement in seconds in the event of an emergency.

"Teachers can go in and initiate the lockdown, or administration can, or law enforcement can, and once they get that notification they can log in and say 'yes, I have all of my students, no I don't, or I have an emergency,' or even if they saw the threat, or know where the threat might be," Doss says.

They'll also be able to communicate during an emergency. "It's a first for the state," Doss says, "It's going to be implemented in Tuscaloosa City, Tuscaloosa County, Madison County, and Jackson County." Those school systems will use the program for free until February.

"It's probably going to be about a quarter per pupil, per year, so that's pretty economical," District 23 Representative Tommy Hanes says.

That's if the entire state implements the system, and Hanes says if all goes well now, they'll take the steps to do that. "Try to get the state legislature to go along with it," Hanes says.

Jackson County Schools Superintendent Bart Reeves says they're working with teachers and staff to use the system. "We are one of four school systems to pilot this program and we are very fortunate to be selected as one," Reeves says.

Alabama is the third state to use this system, which has been active for two years.

The communication system uses cell phones for alerts in addition to other notifications, so the Jackson County School district is working to improve service in some school locations.