When the School District of Clayton, Mo., added a voice broadcast system to its communication toolkit late last fall, school officials weren't sure how parents would react when they started receiving district messages at home.

However, when a heavy snowstorm blanketed the St. Louis area in January and prompted an unusual Sunday evening closing announcement, the small suburban district decided to find out.

The SchoolReach service, designed and offered by a St. Louis-based company called GroupCast Messaging Systems, was ready. The district had updated its database and had tested...

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