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Norwin awaits liquor store action to help build new facility

| Tuesday, March 19, 2013, 7:18 a.m.

Norwin School District officials are counting on the sale of state liquor stores and a newly proposed state program to provide $2.9 million toward a state-of-the-art science, technology, engineering and mathematics facility.

District officials discussed the Passport for Learning Educational Block Grant at Monday night's meeting. The grant program, announced earlier this year by Gov. Tom Corbett, is linked to a bill that would phase out the 619 state-owned stores and create 1,200 wine and spirits licenses for private businesses.

The House Liquor Committee voted 14-10 to approve the bill. A full House vote could come as early as next week.

Corbett intends to use the revenue for education grants, and estimates $1 billion will be available.

The funds allocated for Norwin are projected to come in during a four-year period starting in the 2014-15 school year.

Norwin Superintendent William Kerr presented the concept of the Passport for Learning to the school board at last week's workshop meeting, and wrote a letter of support for the program to the governor, Rep. R. Ted Harhai, D-Monessen, Rep. George Dunbar, R-Penn Township, and state Sen. Kim Ward, R-Hempfield Township.

“I never really want to predict what might come about,” Kerr said. “I think there are obviously pros and cons to the issue that (the state's) going to debate. For us it's a funding stream that becomes important to the project that we're looking at in the future. We're hopeful that something may come through.”

Plans for the Norwin STEM Innovation Center were formally announced in January. Public-private partnership forums took place in February and this month. More forums are planned for April.

Seven architectural firms have sent the school district letters of interest indicating they would like to complete a feasibility study for the Norwin STEM Innovation Center. A committee of school board members and administrators will evaluate the letters of interest using a rating scale. Of the seven firms, a select group will be asked to submit formal proposals. The board is scheduled to interview finalists and select a firm in May.

School directors also witnessed a presentation from Hillcrest Intermediate students, who discussed science, literacy and history projects, among other school activities.

A Dining to Donate fundraiser is planned for Thursday from 11 a.m. to midnight at Applebee's, 977 Magill Drive in North Huntingdon Township. A flier about the event is posted on the district's website. Those who dine and present the flier will have 15 percent of their bill donated to Hillcrest's STEM girl club.

Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1965, or mdivittorio@tribweb.com.

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