School starts this month in most of the United States, and local school district budgets are under greater pressure than ever before. “States’ new budgets are providing less per-pupil funding for kindergarten through 12th grade than they did six years ago — often far less,” the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reported earlier this year, citing not only the lingering effects of the recent recession but also continued fiscal austerity in many states, noting that schools in around a third of states are entering the new school year with less state funding than they had last year. This underscores the need to protect as comprehensively as possible the capital investments that schools make in their technology infrastructures.
“It’s difficult enough for schools and school boards to have to pay for new audio and video systems that they need to give teachers better performance and their students greater advantage,” acknowledges Jeff Tate, Sales Engineer at B&B Communications, a Lancaster, Pennsylvania-based AV systems designer and integrator that specializes in education markets. “But it’s even harder when they have to pay to replace components of those systems when they’re damaged by things like power surges. That’s one of the most common types of damage that schools experience, yet it’s also one of the most preventable.”
Tate strongly recommends that education clients include both surge protection and sequential power-on/power-off capability for their AV systems, functions they deliver by specifying the Furman CN-1800S SmartSequencer 15-amp bidirectional power sequencer as part of their system designs. That’s what they did at several recent school venue projects. For the Manheim Township (PA) School District’s District Office Boardroom, B&B Communications added audio teleconferencing capability for the start of this year’s school term, allowing board members away from town to participate remotely in board meetings. The district, which has a school population of over 5,000 students in kindergarten through twelfth grades at six elementary schools (K-4), an intermediate school (grades 5 & 6), one middle school (grades 7 & 8), and one high school (grades 9-12), is a busy one — the boardroom is in constant use and as a result its audio system is nearly always on. “If they take a surge hit, components can be damaged, but just as important is the fact that even if they survive the surge, they can also be damaged if all of the systems are restarted at the same time, producing a huge load on the system,” Tate explains. “That’s why we used the CN-1800S SmartSequencer there. It offers both surge protection and sequential power-on capability in a single unit. The school realized that it needed to protect the investment in the new audio conferencing system.”
A CN-1800S SmartSequencer was deployed at the Brecknock Elementary School Gymnasium in Denver, PA, part of the Eastern Lancaster County School District. There, an expanded PA system in the school’s gym, necessary to improve the space’s spoken-word intelligibility, required additional power amplifiers. The new Crest amps are connected to two CN-1800S SmartSequencers, protecting them through sequential power-ons and with surge protection. “The amplifiers are all on a single circuit, so it’s important that they be powered up in sequence rather than all at once,” says Tate. “Once it’s programmed by us, the CN-1800S SmartSequencer does this automatically, so the school’s staff doesn’t have to worry about training someone on how to do this.”
Tate says he sees the effects of tightened budgets every day as he helps school districts try to maximize their technology platforms cost-effectively. “Schools do make mistakes by not including power protection and conditioning in their AV systems designs, all in the effort to manage their budgets, and we understand that,” he says. “But we really try to emphasize the importance of including surge protection in AV systems, because that’s really the best protection you can get. And to do that, we always go first and exclusively with Furman. Their products are the best when it comes to functionality and reliability. It’s the best service we can offer an education client, or any client.”