The natural response to residential development is the building of new schools. However, new school builds take time, planning and capital, leaving districts struggling to find solutions for immediate enrollment needs. Due to the time restraints and limited, pre-defined budgets, school districts often turn to portable, modular buildings for additional instructional space. Equipped with their own electricity and climate control, many portable classrooms lack an important staple of education: the school bell.

School bells notify everyone on campus when it’s time to start and end the day, change classes or go to lunch. By facilitating simultaneous class changes, school personnel can more easily keep order by being available when students move between classes – and buildings. Bell systems can also signal emergency notifications and announcements to protect the safety and well-being of everyone on campus. Portable classrooms, separated from the traditional brick and mortar buildings, traditionally required costly infrastructure changes to connect with older, existing bell systems, leaving them disconnected from the main building.

School Bell Technology for Today’s Needs

With advances in IoT technology, schools now have innovative and cost-effective options to keep expansion classrooms connected with the rest of campus. Self-contained, easy-to-use systems complete with built-in web servers and specially designed bell scheduling software give schools the flexibility to access bell schedules remotely from any standard web browser. For spaces without speakers, all-in-one systems incorporate speakers into tone and message generating technology that don’t require connection with existing bell systems.

Expansion is Inevitable

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), total enrollment in public schools continues to increase. Between 2000 and 2016, K-12 school enrollment increased by 7 percent. Total enrollment is projected to increase for the foreseeable future, with the study providing projections through 2028. Roughly one-third of schools in the United States currently have portable classrooms to handle population spikes, with the growing trend that more schools will exceed their existing building’s capacity.

Recently, Ripon Christian Schools (RCS) in California addressed an enrollment spike in their elementary school. Instead of turning to portable buildings, the school opted to place the additional elementary classrooms in a wing of the middle school building. This created a similar dynamic as portable classrooms. Since the middle school worked on a different class and lunch schedule, the added elementary classrooms would hear a different bell schedule from the rest of the elementary classes. The school’s older, existing bell system could not accommodate the change.  

RCS turned to the Linortek Netbell® Timed Alert System because the technology was easy to install and did not require any significant infrastructure changes. The web-based system plugged right into the school’s network and functioned alongside the existing system, allowing the additional classrooms to remain on the established elementary schedule without causing confusion or disruption for any classes.

The web-based bell system allows RCS to manage multiple devices, whether in a single building, multiple building or multiple locations from one easy-to-use interface. Not only did RCS find an immediate solution for the new school year, they also have flexibility for their planned, future expansion.

Gary S. Nalven is the founder and CEO of Linortek