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New AV System To Be ‘Statement Piece’ For SSHS

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Sulphur Springs ISD Board of Trustees, during the regular July board meeting this week, approved a new $96,000 AV system for Sulphur Springs High School cafeteria for the 2022-2023 school year.

Jarret Wilson asked the school board to consider approving a cafeteria AV project at Sulphur Springs High School, which involves purchasing of an AV system with multiple screens. The project is to be obtained from C-N-C Pro AV through a purchasing cooperative, so it does not have to be bid out and include a video wall and display screens throughout the cafeteria as well as campus.

Jarret Wilson submitted a proposal for purchase of a new cafeteria AV system for SSHS to SSISD Board of Trustees during the regular board meeting Monday, July 11, 2022.

Wilson asked that the trustees greenlight the AV project and allow him to go ahead and order the necessary items out of next year’s budget. With the way electronics are currently so far on back order, it’s likely they won’t be in and installed until Christmas 2022.

“As you know the cafeteria is the hub for all of our students,” Wilson told the board. “We have all captive all 12,000-13,000 students during the day. If you are not aware, we lost our projection, our ability to do presentations and different things last year.”

Wilson said a one-time budget request was put in last summer for equipment, but, officials had hoped the bond issue would pass in the spring to provide or free up funds for the equipment, so the project was put on hold during the 2021-2022 school year. As a result, SSHS wasn’t able to offer countless events, such as banquets for school organizations and community outreach activities, due to limited equipment and equipment failure last year.

“What we’re looking for is not just for those kinds of events. I’m not asking for $96,000 for a projector. This is going to be state of the art, what you’re going to see in a metroplex school that’s going up. It’s a video wall. I contracted with Jake, to try to help me put this plan together to have the best thing that’s going to live in Sulphur Springs High School,” Wilson said of C-N-C owner/CEO Jake Morrill. “Regardless if we passed a bond or make changes, this is going to be a staple of what our school is going to look like. It’s going to vastly take us into what the future of what technology looks like for Wildcat TV, our AV groups, what they are going to be able to do with the different things, what we can do during our lunch time with announcements, video boards. I’ve even though about selling ads that we may be able to flash up on some digital signage and different things.”

Wilson said the equipment will be a large piece that will be installed and remain in the cafeteria, not something that will be taken down, but a “statement piece for Sulphur Springs High School.”

When asked by Board Secretary Jason Dietze how big the equipment would be, Wilson noted the all inclusive system consists of various screens throughout the SSHS campus.

A C-N-C representative was on hand to help answer questions about a proposed AV project for SSHS cafeteria.

The cafeteria has expanded seating, with additional seating areas to the serving lines as the school has had to reduce the midday meal down to two lunch periods. There will be video production and audio out there. In the main area there will be a video wall, which will replace the old projectors. When you go into a new area, if there’s anyway possible, they will use a TV device. There will be nine 55-inch TVs on the video wall, and TVs scattered throughout so that no matter where a student, staff or visitor is seated, all should have a viewing angle of at least one TV, according to Wilson

When asked whether the project would be using TVs as opposed to LED panels, Morrill noted that the TVs are not direct LED TVs but are comprised of LED displays.

The estimated $96,000 cost would also include audio upgrades, as there is no audio production currently in expanded cafeteria seating areas and the same would apply to the main corridor at SSHS, as well as upgrades to signage in the parent entrance, Wilson reported.

“It’s a little awkward but, you understand how hard it is to get equipment. Basically, the reason you are here is, anything over a certain amount you have to get approval for,” SSISD Superintendent Michael Lamb explained. said. “So that’s what this is about. It’s not approval to spend now, but approval to spend later.”

Wilson said he’s been involved in several projects throughout the district, including for middle school and stadium projects. One of the things the district has encountered is being able to get the professionals contracted to the school when needed, due to distance and other factors. He’s partnered with local company C-N-C in the past and in planning the cafeteria AV project. Wilson said when he’s called on prior projects, C-N-C has always taken their calls and responded promptly.

C-N-C is contracted through TIPS, so their bid has already been negotiated. That means the district can approve a bid from the business through TIPS purchasing cooperative without going the the usual bid process. Plus, it’s hard to go out for bids when there’s no spec written down per se. Instead of spending money for someone to devise a spec book, school personnel sat down with a C-N-C engineer to develop the project. He asked the district technology coordinator if the district has been using any other companies, but was told no. Wilson named a couple of other businesses he could have called, but said they are “just not capable of doing the kind of work and have the relationship with our district already.”

SSISD Business Manager Sherry McGraw noted that per policy any district expense that will be over $50,000 is brought before the school board for approval, and anything costing over $100,000 requires the district to go out for bids, unless expense is offered through a purchasing cooperative. The coop has taken the necessary steps to ensure the business is a viable vendor, then, they make sure their best prices are posted.

“It’s not the first time we’ve made this type of purchase without doing an actual formal bid,” McGraw said.

“I just want to make sure I know what you’re doing, what you’re going to do. Usually, we have a document that says here’s what we’re doing, here’s what it’s going to be. It’s a lot of money. That’s my only concern approving $96,000 without any specific project components,” said SSISD Trustee John Prickette.

Morrill assured Prickette he has a full one-line drawing of how it all goes together and why each piece is needed, as well as a layout of how the full system ties together and what that looks like that he can provide for the board to view

“This wasn’t something I thought, hey I need to go get renderings and have to kind of show you. I can tell you I am foremost trying to be frugal with the district’s money, trying to be a good steward of it. This is a nice piece. It’s been well thought out. Since 2014 I’ve been working on this project,” Wilson said.

“I assume what you’re getting at is to say, ‘Well, this is $96,000. Is there a company out there that can do the same thing for $76,000 or $66,000? We go through this all the time. We’ve kind of done that,” Lamb said. “This is the group that over and over h as proven to be the most reliable, best pricing, so, no we didn’t necessarily shop it around. I don’t know how much we would save. When I asked those questions, we were back to where we’ve always been. We did that with the Auditorium over and over. This is the group that we’ve used over and over. So we just didn’t spend a lot of time on specs and all that. It’s an AV system, very different than just putting that up. So as far as details go, yeah, a lot of panels, a lot of sound situations. I guess it’s on me for not having the detail you are talking about, but we’ve done this over and over.”

Lamb said he was asked last summer if the project could be done, but he did not approve funding for it at that time, because he was hopeful voters would pass the bond during the spring election, which would have provide funding for many needed upgrades and improvements.

Many activities were missed in the 2021-2022 school year because of the lack of equipment in the SSHS cafeteria, and envisions more without new equipment.

“It’s an AV project. this has been our reliable AV guy. It is legal with TIPS, so I would say this is something we want to do. We would like for you to approve it, but if you would rather us back up and get two other people to look at it, we can back up,” Lamb said.

Trustee Jason Dietze made a motion, which Robert Cody seconded, approving a SSHS cafeteria AV project. The motion passed on a vote of 6-0-1, with Board President Craig Roberts abstaining from voting.

Author: Faith Huffman

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