St. Louis school builds campus-wide connectivity into construction project
When Westminster Christian Academy broke ground last year on a 250,000-square-foot building in the middle of St. Louis, technology director Kent D. Kehr Jr.'s excitement was tempered with great apprehension. How was he going to integrate the myriad communications systems required to keep a sprawling state-of-the-art campus in sync? Fortunately for Kehr—and the students and staff at the private 7-12 school—he happened upon the answer while visiting his son at Centre College in Kentucky.
There, AMX was leading the way to connected schools with its automation and control solutions for higher education.
"We were halfway through the construction in October 2010, and I still did not have a solution for how we were going to handle bell schedules, intercoms, video broadcasts, cable TV-to-classroom, digital signage," Kehr said. "I was looking at separate products for each issue. Then I saw that SchoolView addressed seven or eight systems in one package, over IP, and I said 'We need to do this!'"
He contacted AMX, and within a month the company was working with the building contractor and school officials to ensure everything came together in time for the school's opening this summer.
"We've had weekly conference calls so I always knew where they were in the project," Kehr said. "They were flexible and knew this was a last-minute addition to our construction project. Tweaking things hasn't been a problem."
One of the more vexing issues for the Westminster technology department has been the bell schedule. With SchoolView, bells can be programmed to ring at specific times for specific classrooms or grades. These schedules can be manually overridden, and bell tones can be customized with an MP3 player. For example, Kehr recalled hearing the theme from "Jaws" signal the start of an exam while he toured another school with the system.
SchoolView's digital signage capability allows customized messages for different locations. "So if we want to deliver something to the upper school, we can put it in the commons for students to see when they walk through that area. Information at the grand entry might be for visitors," Kehr said. "It allows us to be more focused."
Remote video broadcast allows schools to share student announcements, live (or recorded) lectures or a group project anywhere on campus. Video-on-demand allows teachers to DVR programs that come through a cable or Internet provider.
Administrators can power the school's 100 projectors on—to ensure every classroom hears an important message—or off, to save energy when equipment is not in use. And the AMX SchoolView system can grow with Westminster, which now has about 880 students but can accommodate 1,200 with the new building.
Perhaps most important in today's mobile world, administrators can control the entire system from one intuitive touch panel—or with a hand-held device such as an iPad or Android phone. They can watch security cameras from the road, announce a weather-related early dismissal while in a meeting or trigger a digital message from a forensics competition to share the team's victory with the rest of the school.
"This mobility and flexibility are important components we wanted in the same package," Kehr said. "SchoolView answered everything in a way that was deliverable to the administration in an easy-to-use package that would require just one training."
For more information about AMX SchoolView, please visit www.SimplifyYourCampus.com.