UCaaS Helps Propel Leading School District to New Heights

“With Windstream, we have the peace of mind knowing that our schools are always connected and secure.”

Brenda McCombs Director of Instructional Technology, KCS

Industry Focus: Education

Location: Kannaplolis, NC

Windstream Solution(s):  UCaaS

Web Site: www.kannapolis.k12.nc.us

Building the learners of today to be the leaders of tomorrow

Nestled within Kannapolis, NC, and encompassing parts of Cabarrus and Rowan counties, Kannapolis City Schools (KCS) is made up of nine schools, two administrative buildings, 447 employees and 5,500 students. KCS is one of North Carolina’s leading school districts, featuring a highly acclaimed Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Academy, partnerships with the NC Research Campus, an innovative online learning program and highly effective teachers who have earned state and national recognition.

The Challenge

Seamless connectivity within budget

Like many public schools, KCS faced the ongoing challenge of meeting the needs of today’s modern schooling environment while adhering to the budget constraints of the district. With multiple locations, KCS relies heavily on interschool connectivity in order to deliver the highest caliber of education and a safe environment.

Prior to partnering with Windstream, KCS was using outdated communications equipment that often left their administrators and teachers with inconsistent connectivity, coupled with the difficulty of finding replacement parts. The fear of a severe outage affecting their aging system was constant. The KCS IT team was also increasingly frustrated with having to manage multiple phone lines for the district’s fax, Internet and phone services and were receiving multiple bills from different providers at the end of each month. KCS was looking to make a change in their communications infrastructure and was hoping to find a service provider that could deliver a more efficient solution.

The Solution

A unified communications strategy

KCS reviewed proposals from a number of providers before ultimately choosing Windstream as their service provider and strategic partner. It was important to the KCS administration to have the same communications technology capabilities at all nine schools for consistency and maintenance purposes; Windstream’s Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) solution provided that standardization. Once selected, Windstream designed a customized UCaaS solution that allowed for central management of one system for all schools and administration buildings. This solution resides in the cloud and Windstream designs, delivers and manages it on behalf of KCS. As a bonus, a portion of the UCaaS service was reimbursable to KCS via USAC’s E-Rate program.

Windstream worked closely with the school district’s IT team to make the transition to the UCaaS solution simple and seamless. KCS’ customized UCaaS solution, powered by Mitel, provides the district with a four-digit dialing functionality that spans all of the school locations. Seamless interschool connectivity with UCaaS not only streamlined day-to-day communications for KCS, but also improved safety in the schools. Windstream has given KCS the peace of mind that all schools can be quickly alerted and can stay in contact during an emergency situation.

“Windstream has proven to be reliable and responsive to our changing needs”

Dr. Daron Buckwell Superintendent, KCS

One of the deciding factors that led KCS to switch to Windstream was the ability to upgrade their communications systems to more current technology and newer equipment as part of the school district’s operating expense budget with no impact to their capital budget. By switching to Windstream, KCS was able to streamline their services into one enterprise solution with one monthly bill.

“We chose to work with Windstream because we knew exactly what we were getting,” said Brenda McCombs, director of instructional technology, KCS. “Unlike many of the other proposals we received, Windstream’s UCaaS is a complete solution.”

Since UCaaS is a managed service, Windstream experts now provide around-the-clock support so that KCS’ IT team can focus on other technology initiatives outside of communications.

Windstream’s cloud-based UCaaS solution has unique features that are ideal for an educational setting. The solution is designed to keep pace with changing technologies, providing the ability to acquire new technology and deliver on-demand UC resources and applications to students and teachers. UCaaS is also a scalable, flexible solution, which is ideal for schools districts like KCS that are experiencing consistent growth.

The Result

Communications you can count on

KCS has a renewed confidence in their communications capabilities, thanks to Windstream’s customized UCaaS solution. The KCS IT team can trust that Windstream will manage their voice solutions so the school district can focus on preparing their students for the future at a cost that fits into the school district’s budget. McCombs remarked, “With Windstream, we have the peace of mind knowing that our schools are always connected and secure.”

“Windstream’s UCaaS solution has improved communication and collaboration immensely for our entire school system,” McCombs said. “Essentially, all of our schools and offices are able to operate as if they are in one location with the help of our UCaaS solution. Best of all, this solution and all of its benefits comes to us at a lower cost than our previous solution, allowing us to invest more in the education of our students.”

KCS has developed a close relationship with their local Windstream representative, Glenn Whitmarsh, who is always available to customize and deliver solutions that meet every challenge.

“We set high standards for our teachers and students, so we strive to do the same with our service partners,” said Dr. Daron Buckwell, superintendent, KCS. According to Buckwell, “Windstream has proven to be reliable and responsive to our changing needs. Windstream has gone above and beyond our expectations to deliver communications solutions that make KCS a better place to work and learn. We plan to continue to work with Windstream as our technology needs change and grow.”

Watch an overview of Kannapolis City Schools