A large school district in Chicagoland needed upgrades to the audio and visual display technology in the gymnasiums of 12 schools – 3 middle schools and 9 elementary – across 6 towns. Teachers would move between schools as needed but the technology was different in each, making it difficult for teachers to remember system operations across the district. Classes would be missing technical benefits if the system would not work as required.
One elementary school gym had already been upgraded with new audio and large screen projection. This upgrade created the need to upgrade the rest of the schools to allow teachers to work seamlessly among locations. These capabilities would alleviate confusion and additional training required if various technologies were being used.
Another challenge was the finances and approval from the board. Upgrades for 12 schools are significant so several budget options had to be presented and considered without compromise to the main goal.
To accommodate budget constraints, two levels of solutions were chosen.
Every elementary school received a new screen, projector, basic video distribution, new speakers, new wireless mics, and new media players. This simplified solution would cover the vast majority of school requirements.
The middle school solutions allow for more flexibility with programs. They were designed with true theatrical audio, easy set up screens, a projector, wireless mics, media player. A digital mixer was added to provide the ability to connect networked audio for larger performances and programs. Allowances for simplified control of inputs/outputs and control of wireless mics from other systems gave each space lot of flexibility for different uses
For both solutions, the setup requirements for the types of programs the school ran were simplified to two presets programmed right on the control panel. Teachers can easily start the systems for different event types.
Pentegra spent 12-15 hours walking through each of the spaces and gaining a clear understanding of the school’s needs and discussing solution options. Upon completion, an additional 8 hours of training was provided to ensure the staff understood how to navigate and manage the system and control board.
The district has been very happy with the technology in each facility and all teachers were appreciative of the thorough walk-through and explanations. The additional time given for training gave the teachers the confidence needed to run the technology without error or further assistance.
Despite frequent supply chain disruptions during the shutdowns, Pentegra was still able to meet the project timeline without sacrificing the quality of work.
The client is now planning a new district building and is hiring Pentegra for the technology side. Our performance on the gymnasium projects and the value the solution brought led the school to award the contract to Pentegra without pursuing the normal bid process. The enhanced experience provided by the new audio and video technologies also caused the district to consider portable systems and additional projects that will benefit more school events.