“Where there’s a will, there’s a way” at East Side Charter School

There are a few things inherently unique to East Side Charter School in Wilmington, DE. For one, the poverty level in this urban setting means more than 90 percent of the K-8 student population is eligible for free and reduced lunches. In fact, a nutritious breakfast is served every morning to the entire school. Despite being in one of the poorest, most dangerous parts of the city, East Side has a low student-to-teacher ratio and runs on an 11-month schedule. They also have an operations staff working hard to improve the school building and grounds.

Since charter schools don’t receive capital funding from the state, they need to tie into local philanthropy to pay for large projects. According to Operations Specialist, Jane McGonegal, “Our 50-year-old building needed massive renovations, including a new clock system. The ancient clock system from the late 1950’s was beyond repair. For quite some time, we had a broken clock in every classroom with the wrong time. That’s worse than not having a clock at all.”

A bank headquartered in Wilmington awarded East Side Charter not only an “Orange Day of Giving” but the financial help their building desperately needed. McGonegal and school administrators had a prepared wish list in anticipation of funding. “The Technical Director and I had been discussing new clock systems for a few years. A widely understood goal was to synchronize the clocks and bells together. It’s very important for the students to move in an orderly fashion from class to class. Today, the students are growing accustomed to a proper schedule and it prepares our older students for high school.”

East Side Charter chose a local systems integrator, Future Works Enterprises, to install the wireless clock and bell system. Based on competitive bids and local recommendations, Paul Huffman and his staff worked evenings and weekends to minimize the disruption at the school. “We installed the SiteSync IQ wireless clock system manufactured in Dassel, MN by American Time. East Side is an Ethernet-based school so a wireless clock system compatible with other systems made the most sense.” The school appreciates the ability to change the bell schedules for late starts or early dismissals using the Remote Connect feature. “I set the first set of bell schedules for the school and they make changes as needed,” said Huffman.

Not only do the clocks have perfectly accurate time, they enhance the school’s image. “American Time offered to print our logo on the clocks for free. Our charter school draws children from all over the county. The logo clocks create a sense of community and school pride.”

After several years of long-term planning and renovation projects, East Side continues to chip away at their original wish list. A new roof, electrical wiring and painting have been completed. “When it comes to finding the money to create a better school for our 400 students, where there’s a will, there’s a way,” explains McGonegal.

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