A simple way to connect with a growing student population
Round Rock ISD spent the past decade going through a big growth spurt. Along the way, it became clear that its data and communications systems, like an old pair of pants that are suddenly two inches too short, needed an upgrade.
The district, located in the suburbs of Austin, Texas, grew by 1,500 students in the past year and has added six new schools since 2006. Administrators wanted a technology infrastructure to handle that surge, one that was simple, powerful and wouldn't have to be replaced any time soon. They found their answer in AMX SchoolView, a hardware and software package that ties together a number of systems—bell and public address, energy management, video-on-demand and emergency alerts—into a single set of streamlined controls.
Round Rock has always embraced technology. A decade ago, the district installed heavy, 37-inch analog monitors in each classroom in custom cabinets. But by the time four new schools opened in 2006, flat-screen monitors and other improvements were available.
"We could eliminate cabling for telephone, we could eliminate video cabling for coax TV," said Ed Zaiontz, the district's executive director of information services. "Our course of action was to move to ceiling-mounted data projectors."
It wasn't until a high school and an elementary school were built last summer, however, that the district put everything together with AMX SchoolView.
"The solution wasn't any more expensive for us than what we had before, but we were able to deliver better services," Zaiontz said.
AMX introduced some clever design features, such as a recessed, ceiling-mounted box to house all in-class equipment. The data projector hangs from the ceiling nearby, but doesn't have to be mounted directly next to the box, which is easily accessed for repairs and service.
"It's a lot cleaner installation," Zaiontz said. "You don't see the box." AMX SchoolView gives teachers complete control over display options. They can use a DVD drive in the classroom and run the image through the data projector. Or they can tap a video feed sent campuswide.
Live video capability means the district can beam a school choir concert or an address from the principal to each classroom. In fact, the school used the system for the opening of Cedar Ridge High School. Broadcasting the event throughout the building meant everyone in the overflow crowd was able to see the ceremonies.
"If you want to play something for everyone on campus, you can do it," Zaiontz said.
AMX SchoolView also improves security in the district, particularly in the new high school. Administrators can click on and control dozens of security cameras in the building and review recorded footage. Emergency alerts, which can be activated from a main office wall unit or remotely through password-protected controls, immediately stop all DVD players and video feeds. An alert message pops up on display screens, and specific instructions regarding a lockdown, natural disaster warning or the like can be sent on a crawl feed at the bottom of the screen.
Zaiontz said the feedback from teachers and staff has been good.
"The highest kind of praise comes from teachers who go to another district and say, 'I didn't know what I had until I didn't have it any more'," he said.
Round Rock administrators still feel they haven't fully tapped the capabilities of the system. Digital signage in cafeterias, for example, isn't tied into AMX SchoolView, but the district is looking into that option.
"We think the more we can integrate into the system, the better the overall system will be for us," Zaiontz said.
For more information about AMX SchoolView, please visit www.simplifyyourcampus.com.