LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- It's mid-morning the day before the first day of school inside the new JCPS Call Center, and five full-time employees are vigorously working to answer dozens of phone calls coming in from parents and community members.

"Jefferson County Public Schools, how can I help you?" asks Phyllis France, a district employee who has answered calls from the community for more than a decade. "Yes, that would be a question for our student assignment office. Let me get that number for you and make sure you are able to get through. One moment please."

The new call center -- which the community can reach by calling 313-HELP -- is JCPS' first-ever dedicated customer service helpline. The idea for it was created earlier this year with the unveiling of Vision 2020 - the district's new strategic plan

"We had so many people complain that they were getting the runaround or that their call would be dropped," said Michael Raisor, the district's chief operations officer. "This is our attempt to solve that problem and improve upon our customer service."

Indeed, Raisor said one of the district's major issues was that there wasn't just one place or one phone number to call if they have questions or concerns -- there were at least three numbers.

"And then, people would often get passed around and their question would never get answered," he said. 

Jonathan Roberts, the call center supervisor, told WDRB on Tuesday that the main goal is to "make sure our callers were getting the right information -- consistent information -- and getting that information quickly."

Roberts visited the MetroCall 311, the city of Louisville's customer service center, in order to get ideas on how to run 313-HELP.

"Eventually, we will have a ticketing system that will be able to track how we are responding to these calls," Roberts said. 

Raisor said another benefit of the call center will be to track the reasons why people are calling JCPS.

"We want to be able to keep track of why people are calling us and what kinds of issues they are having so that we can work to solve the problem on the front end before they have to call us," he said. 

Since the call center opened Aug. 1, it is averaging approximately 1,000 calls daily.

On Tuesday morning, some people called to ask about school lunch or bus stops, while others called to ask for an update on the district's contract negotiations with its employees. Others called because they were upset about something.

"You try to just listen closely, keep your voice even-keel and calm and let them know you understand their frustrations and help them the best you can," said France. 

During the school year, the JCPS Call Center will be open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Additionally, the call center staff will monitor a dedicated helpline email address (jcps.help@jefferson.kyschools.us), providing families another opportunity to submit questions and provide feedback.

This week, JCPS is also continuing its dedicated transportation hotline for parents. Parents can dial 485-RIDE or use the online JCPS Bus Finder tool to receive important information about their child’s bus number and find stops closest to their home.

The transportation hotline will be open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday.

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