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As the Tonawanda City School District deals with a temperamental phone system, the Board of Education authorized a telecommunications upgrade estimated to cost $150,000 during its regular meeting Tuesday night.

Tonawanda Facilities Director Paul Maziarz said the upgrades would replace the telecommunications switchgears, servers and call accounting system. The board authorized the hiring of Gordon Jones Architectural to design the upgrades.

The current phone system has had many problems recently and has gone down three times since the school year started. The voice mail system occasionally malfunctions, and if the district receives a large volume of phone calls without triggering voice mail, the server goes down and effectively disables the entire system, including enhanced 911 calls.

“We have a failing system,” Maziarz said. “If the system should fail, we would have to do something immediately.”

The state Education Department must approve the district’s upgrade plans before they can be implemented. The process could take as long as 13 weeks, but Maziarz believes it could be approved earlier in case of emergency. While the upgrade is not part of the district’s recent capital project budget, Tonawanda can receive as much as 78 percent of the $150,000 projected expense paid for by the state.

Once all the approvals are in place, Maziarz projects the new system can be installed in early 2014, possibly over a holiday weekend.