In its Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave public school facilities a “D” grade in 2005 and claimed then that it would take more than $268 billion of renovations and construction to bring them up to good condition. Since then, the NEA has claimed that over $320 billion is needed. The average age of public schools is now estimated to be 45 years, with 45 percent built between 1950 and 1969, while 2008 saw a record enrollment of nearly 50 million students. The NEA puts it bluntly: “America’s schools are in desperate need of repair and renovation,” while citing recent studies linking the quality of facilities with the level of student achievement. The American Association of School Administrators surveyed superintendents from 48 states in December, who identified $6.52 billion in new construction projects and $4.49 billion in renovation and repair projects that could be immediately undertaken in their districts if they were provided with the necessary funds.
Change Is Coming
Barack Obama has repeatedly emphasized school construction as part of his overall infrastructure job creation plan to jumpstart the economy. “We’ll put people back to work rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges, [and] modernizing schools that are failing our children,” Obama said in a recent radio address, while also pledging to install more broadband access for school districts nationwide. The new administration is planning to immediately propose a $25 billion Jobs and Growth Fund, in part to ensure that schools can meet their energy costs and undertake key repairs starting in fall 2009. This perfect storm of political and economic conditions, as well as energy and environmental concerns, has ironically created an unprecedented opportunity for the improvement of public school facilities, and the need for making informed decisions about school facilities products has perhaps never been greater.
Among our facilities winners are security products, as security continues to be a top priority for administrators. SimplexGrinnell’s TrueAlert messaging system, for example, can instantly display crucial information on an LED screen in a school building during an emergency. In addition, surveillance camera systems such as those from Sony and Honeywell are becoming increasingly common. They broadcast a high image quality and have become more affordable and easier to use. Devices like GE Security’s MobileTrace enable users to detect dangerous or illicit substances like never before, and even low-tech yet ingenious security solutions like Data Management’s One Day Visitor Pass have helped administrators to secure their facilities.
The rising cost of energy has driven administrators to look for ways to use less energy, lower utility bills, create less waste, and improve the atmosphere of their district facilities. Using products such as LiteControl’s Radi-X lighting design and Bard Manufacturing’s Quiet Climate 2 on a districtwide basis can substantially reduce energy use and costs.
In the food service sector, new technologies such as Food Service Solutions’ fingerprint scanner streamline the lunch purchasing process while also ensuring accuracy and avoiding lost or stolen funds. Interflex BidAdvantage For Schools enables administrators to more efficiently carry out food service bidding processes by doing them entirely online. And growing concerns about childhood obesity and diabetes have led to school nutrition policy changes, revising lunch menus, and removing junk food and soda vending machines and, in many cases, replacing them with machines such as YoNaturals Healthy Vending models.
The winners are:
Bard Manufacturing Company
Quiet Climate 2
HVAC Unit, Price varies based on installation
The Quiet Climate 2 is a wall-mount heat pump designed specifically for classrooms, delivering operating sound levels 20 to 35 times quieter than standard units. The unit is also 44 percent more energy efficient during cooling and 38 percent more efficient during heating, meets or exceeds most air quality standards, and uses environmentally friendly refrigerants. Designed for fast installation and easy servicing, this unit works well with new construction and can also easily be retrofi tted for older or portable classrooms. www.bardhvac.com
Flat-Panel TV Carts, $785
Technology and media furniture manufacturer Bretford’s new flat-panel television cart is fully UL-certified. A display can be mounted on the top shelf using anti-theft screws on a pole that can support any size LCD or plasma model weighing up to 85 pounds. The wheeled cart allows educators to safely and easily move a television, along with a DVD player and speakers, to different locations. www.bretford.com
One Day Visitor Pass
Security Badge, From $75 for a book of 500
Data Management’s One Day Visitor Pass enables administrators to issue nametag security badges that cannot be used more than once, ideal for institutions with a high volume of visitor traffic and low financial resources with which to manage it. When a visitor signs in and fills out an adhesive nametag, the patented fold-over tab activates, and in 24 hours the badge shows a red “Void” box, preventing tampering, reuse or unauthorized access and increasing the security of the building. www.datamanage.com
Food Service Solutions
Sagem-Morpho MSO 300
Fingerprint Scanner, $795
The heart of Food Service Solutions’ cafeteria point of sale system is this Sagem-Morpho biometric fingerprint scanner. The advantages of finger biometrics include increased accuracy, speed and expandability; the elimination of lost or forgotten swipe cards, sharing of personal identification numbers, and fraudulent ID card use; and card issuing or replacement costs. Both parents and students are assured that the biometric images cannot be used by law enforcement for identification purposes, since only a mathematical algorithm, not fingerprint images, remains in the system after registration. www.foodserve.com
Portable Trace Detector, $32,200
GE Security’s new MobileTrace is a user-friendly, handheld detection instrument capable of detecting trace elements of explosives and narcotics simultaneously. The unit is suitable for a variety of security applications, including those in large-scale education settings. Based on GE Security’s field-proven Ion Trap Mobility Spectrometry platform, the MobileTrace offers users a reliable detection tool in a lightweight, compact package, with an easy-to-read data display and touchscreen user interface. www.gesecurity.com
Surveillance Camera, Contact manufacturer for price
The ACUIX ES is the latest addition to Honeywell’s line of pan-tilt-zoom security cameras. An indoor surveillance model, the ACUIX ES is energy efficient, using just 15 watts of power rather than the average of 29 watts used by other models in this series. It includes in-ceiling housing and a surface-mount configuration, and at just eight inches in height and with an integral recessed mount, it is a low-profile, inconspicuous surveillance solution. www.honeywellvideo.com
BidAdvantage for Schools
Online Bidding System, $895 annually
Focused on the K12 food service sector, BidAdvantage for Schools is an online competitive bidding system that streamlines the bid process by improving the communications between food manufacturers, distributors and brokers. Designed to save valuable time when building bids, it offers a simplified process to standardize and issue bids, maintain a vendor database, analyze vendor responses, and award bids while eliminating paperwork. www.interflex.net
Lighting Solution, Pricing dependent upon installation
The Radi-X lighting solution uses a new baffle material, the exclusive LiteCycle resin, in an innovative design that maximizes visual comfort by carefully cutting off any potential glare from the lamps, while still delivering light in a highly efficient way. The design combines a traditional steel fixture body with 50 percent recycled content that can be completely recycled when removed from the building, which earned the Radi-X Cradle-to-Cradle certification. A “daylight harvesting” feature saves energy and helps meet CHPS, LEED and energy code requirements. www.litecontrol.com
Emergency Visual Messaging Display, Contact manufacturer for price
The TrueAlert appliance can help deliver crucial information to occupants of a K12 school during an emergency. An electronic reader board with an easy-to-read, two-line LED display, TrueAlert helps notify teachers, students, administrators and visitors and instructs them where to go and what to do. Powered and controlled through a Simplex fire alarm panel, TrueAlert can enhance emergency communications in areas where loud or poor acoustic conditions may compromise the effectiveness of voice communication. www.simplexgrinnell.com
Surveillance Cameras, Starting at $995
Sony’s new megapixel IP surveillance cameras feature advanced complementary color progressive scan CCDs with ExwavePRO technology, which provides increased levels of light sensitivity. Additional features include Light Funnel technology, which combines image data gathered from multiple horizontally and vertically aligned pixels to provide extremely bright images even when monitoring moving objects at night. The DM110, CM120 and DM160 all feature 1.3 megapixel resolution for high clarity. www.sony.com/security
USB 2.0 DVR Guardian
Portable Surveillance Interface, $99
The USB 2.0 DVR Guardian portable system turns any notebook computer into an advanced surveillance system. It plugs into any computer’s USB port and is a cost-effective solution to replacing VCR recorders. This device supports up to four channels so users can choose to display and record live video from one to four cameras at a specified time, set up for motion detection, or auto e-mail a notification to the user’s e-mail account upon motion activation. The entire system can be viewed and controlled remotely online. www.swannsecurity.com
YoZone, YoThirsty, YoHungry
Healthy Vending Machines, Leasing starts at $35 per week
In an effort to promote healthier eating habits in schools, YoNaturals provides vending machines that offer natural, organic, low-sugar snacks and drinks. Under its new leasing program, the company provides its machines for as little as $35 per week with no down payment. School administrators are able to choose from over 500 nutritious vending products such as chips, juice, dried fruit, granola bars and other products from such brands as Clif Bar, Fiji, Silk and Vitamin Water. Three models are available: YoThirsty offers drinks, YoHungry offers snacks, and YoZone offers both. www.schoolhealthyvending.com