Alert Solutions Blog

4 Ways for K-12 Schools to Go Green for Earth Day

Posted by Philip Young on Tue, Apr 16, 2019 @ 08:04 AM

Earth Day is an international awareness event focused on preserving the environment’s natural resources from the negative impact of industrialization. There are many ways people can go green and take action, including attending marches, signing petitions, getting involved in local politics, cleaning up litter or waste in public spaces, or working in community gardens.

Earth Day

Across the United States, local K-12 schools have a unique opportunity to participate in Earth Day. This year, the holiday falls on Monday, April 22nd, and it’s the perfect time of year for administrators, teachers, students, and staff to look into new ways to go green.

Prioritizing sustainability in K-12 settings is a practice that will improve the community as a whole. Students will take these lessons home, and consider their individual impact on the global climate outside of the classroom. It’s also an opportunity to reassess school functions, both on an administrative level and in the classroom. Schools are likely to find new ways that technology fits into the picture while exploring eco-friendly options, and these solutions will improve operations for their district. By going digital, administrators can further reduce waste on school grounds while increasing access and convenience for students and parents.

Four Ways K-12 Schools can Go Green for Earth Day

  1. School-Wide Recycling Initiatives
    One of the most essential ways K-12 schools reduce waste is recycling. Luckily, there are several ways schools can make recycling a priority, starting with a student-led recycling club. Putting students in charge of collecting and emptying recycling bins is an excellent way to empower young people to be active participants in green initiatives. By making recycling a chance for students to hang out with friends and be social, the community will be more motivated to participate. Teachers, students, and custodians working together will reduce the number of recyclables wasted or put in landfills, but it is also another way to strengthen a sense of community.

    Schools also have an opportunity to find fun and unique ways to reduce recyclable waste. For example, art teachers can integrate old newspapers, magazines, and other discarded paper goods into classroom projects. Many crafts and classroom activities integrate recyclable materials, including hanging bottle gardens, creating bracelets or other accessories from newspapers, making a rainbow made from bottle caps, or using old cans and pots to create classroom organizers.
  1. Invest in Clean Energy
    K-12 schools across the United States are exploring ways to utilize green energy, such as installing solar panels on roofs and using electric buses. Schools make ideal candidates for solar power panels since they only require energy during the day when the sun is shining, and because they often have the roof size required for installation, as per the New York Times. The main barrier to access electric solar panels is financial, but costs are coming down. If a school does have funding for the installation, the panels can help the building save money on electric bills in the long run.

    Electric buses are an option school systems are  beginning to explore in the United States, though they’ve long been popular abroad. These buses provide a valuable alternative to diesel because they don’t expose children to soot or other harmful pollutants. Unfortunately, these vehicles are still twice or three times as expensive as traditional buses, but K-12 schools can potentially make up that money in low fuel and maintenance costs. These green solutions might not be viable in every community, but students, teachers, and administrators can advocate for clean energy funds on the local and state level.
  1. Start a Community Garden
    A community garden is a great idea for school systems looking to bgo green. Gardens help decrease air temperature, increase property value, and have the potential to provide fresh food to supplement school lunches, which reduces carbon emissions by cutting down on transport. There are also mental health benefits to gardening. Being in nature is therapeutic, and the sense of responsibility gardening provides can have a positive impact on mental health for students. Dedicating even a small amount of resources and class time to a school-wide garden space can help cultivate a healthier, greener community.
  1. Go Paperless
    Schools tend to use a lot of paper for bureaucratic and communication purposes. From student health files to detention or late slips to report cards, a lot of paper is used in the daily management of a school. Administrators can eliminate or significantly reduce the amount of paper waste by migrating systems into the digital sphere.

    Luckily, technology provides plenty of paperless methods for communication. A school notification system like SwiftK12 can send voice, e-mail, social media and SMS Text alerts that keep students informed of changes in scheduling or developing emergency situations in the community. Also, our Secure Document Delivery feature can help schools drastically cut paper use by sending report cards, student transcripts, and other timely notifications electronically.  

Not only will investing in digital communication make for an eco-friendly campus, it has also been shown to result in reduced truancy, better parent engagement and more transparency between staff and student families.

SwiftK12 Brochure Download

Topics: earth day, environment, school announcement, power announcement, powerschool, education, school programs, go green

Earth Hour Day: 5 Ways to Encourage Students to Participate

Posted by Nina Caliri on Mon, Mar 25, 2019 @ 15:03 PM

Earth Hour Day is almost here! On Saturday, March 30th, millions of people, businesses, landmarks, and schools will set aside an hour of the day to switch off their lights and electronics. This event aims to spread awareness  about climate change, unite people around the world, and prompt individuals to take responsibility towards creating a sustainable future by turning off electronic devices and lights. Many participate, proving large populations are committed to protecting our planet.

Earth Hour Day History

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According to Time and Date, Earth Hour Day began in Sydney, Australia back in 2007. People wanted to stand up for climate change that year, and about 2.2 million businesses and homes turned their lights off for one full hour. After this first Earth Hour event, the effort gained traction and became a large global sustainability movement. 50 million people joined the next year across 35 countries and large monuments and global landmarks such as the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the CN Tower, and the Golden Gate Bridge all stood in darkness for an hour.

Celebrating Earth Hour Day in K-12 Schools

Although Earth Hour Day is always on a weekend day, your K-12 school can celebrate and encourage teachers and students to participate on another day during the week, or throughout the entire week leading up to Earth Hour Day.  Ontario Eco Schools have great ideas to make celebrating Earth Hour Day fun and informative for an entire school. Consider trying these creative activities in your classroom:

  • Earth Hour Pledges
    During the hour of no electronics and lights, pass out slips to your students and have everybody write their own pledge to the environment. Afterwards, collect each pledge and display them for everybody to see in a common area of the school such as the cafeteria.

  • Earth Hour Awards
    Celebrate students who are actively engaged in positive environmental actions! Reward the students who (for example) turn off or unplug electronic devices at the end of the day. Try presenting awards at a classroom or school-wide level with an audience to promote why the student is receiving the award.

  • Flashlight Campfire
    As you cannot light a real flame within school walls, host a flashlight camp fire! Encourage students to sit around the flashlight campfire to share stories and sing campfire songs.

  • Earth Hour Art Show
    During the day inspire students to create meaningful and eco-friendly art projects. Once completed, display them within the classroom or out in the hallway for others to see. During Earth Hour, lead your students with flashlights to look at each piece of art from a different perspective.

  • Flashlight Yoga
    What better way to relax and reflect on the Earth Hour pledges mentioned above than flashlight yoga? Ontario Eco Schools suggests, “During, or leading up to, Earth Hour set up a yoga class and hand out flashlights to participants. Students can reflect on their Earth Hour pledges as they exercise, relax, and meditate.”

Promoting these fun activities will hopefully prompt your students to participate in Earth Hour Day at home with their family.

At Alert Solutions we’re very conscious of our environment, and the importance of spreading a green message to K-12 schools and districts across the country. We’ve blogged about several ways schools can ‘go green’ and lead in a movement toward a greener future. Our school notification platform, SwiftK12, is a great way to send texts, emails, and calls home to parents to spread awareness of the Earth Hour Day activities teachers and administrators are planning out.  

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Topics: school announcement, power announcement, powerschool, education, go green

K-12 School Budgets: 4 Ways to Cut Costs Efficiently

Posted by Tara Gibson on Thu, Feb 14, 2019 @ 09:02 AM

Discussions on school budgets and cutting costs come up in K-12 school districts across the country each year. Every district looks for efficient ways to streamline operations and save money without putting students at a disadvantage and upsetting teachers, administrators and parents.  

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The role and purpose of a K-12 school budget is outlined within the AASA White Paper: School Budgets 101 as “a district’s plan for the upcoming year as related to anticipated revenues and expenditures. School budgets allow districts to translate sometimes intangible missions, operations and objectives into reality by outlining and providing specific programs and funding/financial terms.”

According to the Government Finance Officers Association, “Budgeting principles and policies should be developed collaboratively by the district’s school board and the staff members who develop and recommend the budget. Because both parties have integral roles in developing, adopting, and, ultimately, implementing a budget, both parties must strongly support the principles and policies underlying the budget.”

Everybody should be involved with these important financial decisions, and everybody should seek to balance the school budget equally to benefit the district and in turn the teachers and students. So, how do you make these difficult resolutions?

Making Room in Your K-12 School Budget: 4 Suggestions

Cutting school budget costs is no easy feat. The below suggestions are examples of what some K-12 school districts have done to help with slimming down yearly costs.

  1. Target School Utility Costs
    One thing to consider when discussing your school budget is what your yearly utility costs are. If you’re able to bring down electricity costs from your building equipment and lighting, that may free up some room for your budget. According to School Leaders Now, a district in Grapevine-Colleyville found that the lightbulbs in all of their buildings were not energy efficient. “A company was hired to help encourage more energy-minded behavior, from decreasing water usage to making sure all lights were turned off at night. Together those strategies lowered the district’s utility bills from $4.7 million in 2011–12 to $3.3 million this past year (2017).”

  2. Consider Contracting Services & Sharing Services
    A School Budgeting Report refers to contracting services, or outsourcing, as “a practice of making agreements with outside organizations to provide services in a school district.” These outsourced services are a great way for you to maximize your school budget, and cut costs on services such as food & nutrition, transportation, security, custodial services, maintenance, tutoring, and more. Reduced purchasing costs occur with outsourcing as contractors often have the ability to buy in higher volumes. School districts can also share these services with other districts. In a recent study, “Deloitte found that potential savings across the country from shifting just a quarter of non-instructional services to shared services could potentially yield savings in the range of $9 billion.”

  3. Go Green & Paperless
    Did you know the average school with 100 teachers can use over 250,000 pieces of paper annually? We did the math in a prior blog post and found that these costs add up to about $32,500 in paper and printing costs. A shocking number for handouts! Our Secure Document Delivery Module allows administrators to send report cards, transcripts, school schedules, student evaluations, and more home to parents electronically (with no page limit), saving schools thousands.

  4. Online Schools & eTextbooks
    Most K-12 school districts receive money from the state based on student enrollment. In 2013 the Grapevine-Colleyville district launched a virtual school which boosted their number of students enrolled to almost 14,000. “The virtual campus within the district teaches students from all over the state. The expansion was a way to increase state funding and service a larger number of students with fewer teachers, resulting in cost savings.” Another way school districts can utilize online schooling and e-learning is by conducting Summer School online instead of on campus. Technology also makes it possible for schools to save money by switching from traditional textbooks to eTextbooks. Governing tells us “Traditional textbooks cost California $350 million annually. By transitioning to online textbooks, the state hopes to encourage students' participation in virtual learning while radically reducing textbook costs.”

Alert Solutions works with many school districts across the country. We provide an affordable school notification system, SwiftK12, with features like our Secure Document Delivery Module that allows schools to cut out paper and save money! Get started today.

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Topics: school announcement, mobile learning, report cards, educational technology, power announcement, powerschool, education, school programs, go green

Go Green - 6 Great Ways K12 Schools Can Observe Earth Day

Posted by Tara Gibson on Wed, Apr 18, 2018 @ 11:04 AM

For many k-12 school systems, the international holiday known as Earth Day — always held April 22nd — represents a time to reassess go green progress made in terms of sustainability.

For others, Earth Day presents the opportunity to start a new program promoting environmental friendliness.

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It’s important that our nation’s schools act as leaders in the movement toward a greener future. Not only do responsible environmental practices set a good example for our children, but going green can also protect students’ health, improve learning conditions, help attract new students to k-12 schools and save schools money.

“Safeguarding the health of America's 58 million schoolchildren must be central to a high-quality education,” writes national nonprofit Green Schools Initiative.

The organization points to research indicating green schools cost an average $3 per square foot to build, but generate an average $74/square foot in benefits including energy savings, increased attendance and teacher retention.

If you’re a k-12 school district looking for ways to go green, here are a few of the many possibilities:

  • Participate in Nationwide Events All Year. Your school family could choose to participate locally in any number of earth-friendly events that enjoy national or international support. A few examples this spring include Arbor Day, World Fair Trade Day, World Migratory Bird Day, World Oceans Day or National Trails Day.
  • Go Paperless. With today’s digital technology, there’s no need to waste copious amounts of paper communicating with parents and students. Instead, implement a school notification system like SwiftK12 can efficiently and effectively broadcast such important information with a few taps of your keyboard.
  • Demonstrate Solar Cooking. Go green by showing students how to cook something simple via ovens they construct of cardboard, aluminum foil, rocks and sticks. 
  • Visit a Site of Interest. Field trips to landfills, alternative energy plants, recycling centers, sustainable fisheries, farms, etc., can be real eye-openers for students.
  • Start a Composting Program. Teach students how composting works, encouraging them to bring ingredients from home and assigning them maintenance tasks.
  • Attract and Help Birds. Explain to students what birds mean to our ecosystem, then build and install birdhouses and bird feeders that can help sustain them in your area.

Taking steps to go green can often be a win-win for everyone in your school family. Think about how you might add better sustainability to both your school curricula and your school operations.

Decatur Public Schools Goes Green,  Saves Budget Dollars with Alert Solutions LEARN HOW

Topics: earth day, environment, school announcement, power announcement, powerschool, education, school programs, go green

4 Key School Communication Channels and Why You Should Use Them in 2018

Posted by Nina Caliri on Tue, Dec 19, 2017 @ 12:12 PM

Good communication is at the heart of any k-12 school. Improving school communication and parent involvement is also a common ‘New Years Resolution’ for most k-12 school administrators.

With technology expanding each year, the difficulty is finding which school communication channels to use when reaching out to parents and school community members.

Here are a few of the most popular options:

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1. K-12 School Websites
A website is an important tool for school districts. A good school website is accessible via mobile devices and easily shows all updates of school communication that is being shared. Many school notifications systems will offer RSS feeds that easily share important parent alerts to any school website.

2. Email
Many people think email is outdated – but it is still a key school communication channel. Most parents have email accounts, and it allows k-12 schools to provide many different types of information. From regular text-based email messages to fancy HTML school newsletters, email offers a range of options for k-12 schools. Plus, sending information electronically helps schools go paperless!

3. Social Media
Popular social media websites like Facebook and Twitter are key school communication channels. Social media is an excellent way for a k-12 school or district to share information rapidly with parents, students, staff members and the entire school community. It’s free for k-12 schools to create most social media pages.

4. School Notifications and Alerts
Critical emergency notifications and important alerts need to be communicated using an effective school communication system – preferably one that uses parent-preferred communication channels like voice, email and SMS text messaging. Better yet, find a school notification system that offers a way for parents to manage their communication preferences via a parent portal. This will drastically improve message deliverability.

Are you looking to improve school communication in 2018? Contact Alert Solutions today.

We offer a suite of award-winning school communication tools to meet the needs of all k-12 schools.

SwiftK12 Brochure Download

Topics: school announcement, power announcement, powerschool, education, social media education, parent engagement, go green, parent communication

3 Ways Going Paperless Can Save Your K-12 School Money

Posted by Nina Caliri on Tue, Nov 21, 2017 @ 10:11 AM

K-12 schools across the country have been feeling the effects of deep budget cuts that seem to get worse each school year.

Before cutting extracurricular programs, teacher salaries and educational field trips, k-12 schools should consider reducing an expense that is often times overlooked: paper and printing supplies.paperless.png

Of course, paper doesn’t seem costly on a daily basis, but over the course of a school year it can add up. For example, the average school with 100 teachers can use over 250,000 pieces of paper annually!

Doing the math, that adds up to $25,000 in paper costs and an additional $7,500 in printing. Imagine what your k-12 school could do with an extra $32,500! Here are 3 ways your k-12 school can go paperless and start saving money:

1. Submitting Homework Online
Students can submit their homework online. This places everyone’s assignments in one place and prevents teachers from accidentally misplacing a student's work. Plus, this limits a student’s excuses. They can no longer says they ran out of ink or paper – or the dog ate their homework!

2. Digitize Parent Communication
Sending home flyers and other paperwork with students isn’t the most reliable way to get important information to parents. School notification systems can help k-12 schools significantly save money and alleviate their paper use by communicating with parents via voice calls, email and SMS text messaging. All of which can be tracked to confirm parents are receiving the message!

3. Implement Paperless Report Cards
Between paper, printing and postage costs, sending home tens of thousands of report cards isn't cheap. Compounding the issue, not all mailed report cards make it to their destination. Plus, with digital access to report cards, parents stay informed of their child’s progress throughout the school year.  

Did You Know? Alert Solutions offers PowerSchool users the ability to send report cards home to parents electronically with its PDF Builder. This school is saving thousands of dollars with it!

Decatur Public Schools Goes Green,  Saves Budget Dollars with Alert Solutions LEARN HOW

Topics: school announcement, report cards, power announcement, powerschool, education, school programs, go green, parent communication

K-12 Schools are Moving to Paperless Report Cards – 3 Reasons Why

Posted by Nina Caliri on Tue, Apr 25, 2017 @ 15:04 PM

Nervous students waiting for the mail to hide their report card from their parents may no longer have that option.

In this digital age, more and more K-12 schools across the country are nixing with tradition and moving to paperless report cards by sending home report cards to parents electronically.

Here are 3 reasons why:

1. Schools are Going Green.
Schools waste enormous amounts of paper. Did you know k-12 schools, on average, use about 250,000 pieces of paper each year? That’s crazy! With each student needing about 4 report cards per year, moving to a paperless report card system is a great way to eliminate excess paper use and reduce the school’s carbon footprint.Automated_Report_Cards-1.jpg

2. It Improves Parent Communication.
With digital access to report cards, progress reports and more, parents stay informed of their child’s progress throughout the school year. Not only is student and parent communication enhanced, but parent-teacher relationships flourish when student information is readily accessible any time.

3. There is a Significant Cost Savings.
With k-12 school budgets getting smaller every year, school administrators are always looking to cut spending. Between paper, printing and postage costs, sending home tens of thousands of report cards isn't cheap. Compounding the issue, not all mailed report cards make it to their destination.

Did You Know? Alert Solutions offers PowerSchool users the ability to send report cards home to parents electronically with its PDF Builder. This school is saving thousands of dollars with it!

Streamlining Report Card Distribution A Best Practice Guide

Topics: environment, school notifications, school announcement, report cards, power announcement, powerschool, education, go green

Going Green – Key Benefits of a Paperless Property

Posted by Philip Young on Thu, Feb 23, 2017 @ 11:02 AM

Did you know that GoPaperless.com estimates that the average office worker can print up to 10,000 pieces of paper per year?  It’s astounding!

Property management operations can be very paper-heavy also.  With numerous leases, payments and other documents to keep ahold of, it’s easy to lose track or become disorganized.

To reduce the reliance on paper, ink and postage, your property management operation may have already taken steps to “go green”.  If not, a paperless property management operation can bring numerous benefits – including:

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- Time Savings: The National Apartment Associates claims online rent payment users will spend 65% less time processing payments than those that accept traditional payment methods.

- Fewer Costs: Paperless means no paper, ink, or postage to buy in order to distribute information to tenants and staff.

More Tenant CommunicationDigital tenant communication ensures each tenant receives important updates about what’s going on in their rental communities. Plus, you can track who receives each message and take corrective action.

Tenant Benefits

- Better Service: Property managers that go green may have better response times than those that do not. This means faster resolutions to maintenance requests or complaints.

- More Tenant Communication Options: Many tenant communication systems offer multiple channels, allowing tenants to choose the method that they prefer.

To learn more about how Alert Solutions can help your property management office use less paper, click here to download our brochure.

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Topics: property management, environment, tenant communication, go green

Property Managers – Are You Ready to Go Green?

Posted by Philip Young on Thu, Sep 08, 2016 @ 11:09 AM

The Credential for Green Property Management (CGPM) is offered by industry associations to properties that exemplify green standards of living. RecycleGoGree.png

Some of the training topics included are:

  • Water and Energy Efficiency
  • Indoor Air Quality
  • Recycling and Waste Reduction
  • Resident Education

Even the most efficient property management operations can benefit from the certification. How about yours?

Properties that ‘go green’ attract like-minded tenants that also want to help the environment, articles suggest.  Here are 3 more reasons prompting property managers to go green:

1. Saves Money
Go Green initiatives such as water and energy conservation save money for property managers and tenants alike.  The use of energy-efficient appliances, light bulbs and replacement windows all help cut down on high utility bills and increase the bottom line!

2. Improves Tenant Satisfaction
Property managers can do simple things like provide abundant recycling bins or perhaps educate their residents about energy-saving techniques. Regardless, these efforts are appreciated by tenants who will more likely keep the rental space clean and well-maintained.

3. Streamlines Tenant Communication
One widely practiced method of ‘going green’ is digital tenant communication.  This significantly reduces paper, ink and postage, as well as helps to ensure all tenants receive your important updates.  Property managers can even reach tenants in their most-preferred communication channels with this green technology.

Alert Solutions can help your property management team go green by implementing multi-channel messagingTo learn more, download our brochure today!

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Topics: property management, environment, tenant communication, go green, tenant satisfaction

3 Ways Your Property Management Office Can ‘Go Green’

Posted by Philip Young on Thu, May 05, 2016 @ 11:05 AM

Some property management offices are buried in paper.  Others are buckling under the stress of high energy bills. 

Regardless, now is a great time to make efforts toward “going green” in and around your property management office. The following can help get you started:

1. Cut down on paper usage.paperless.png
Lease renewals, rent payment receipts, legal documents; it all adds up!  According to PropertyManager.com, more and more property management offices are finding that the key to organization lies in a paperless office.  For starters, cut down on paper usage.  This could be as simple as not printing emails.

2. Digitize your tenant communication.
Digitizing your tenant communication prevents you from printing documents and spending money on postage.  It’s also preferred by the majority of tenants!  Implement a multi-channel notification system and keep in touch with tenants in the ways they most prefer.  Another benefit to keep in mind – digital tenant communication makes it easier to keep records of all the dialogue that occurs between you and your tenants.

3. Instill energy-saving initiatives among tenants, staff and contractors.
You can’t accomplish this on your own - make sure everyone on and around your property knows about your efforts to ‘go green’.  Start by letting tenants, staff and contractors know where recycling bins are.  Have contractors install energy-efficient lighting or have them recommend more ways to cut down on energy consumption.  

To read more tips on making your property management operations more sustainable, click here to see all of our property management topics.

Ready To Go Digital? Click here to learn more.

Topics: property management, environment, tenant communication, go green

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