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Norwin School District to form committee focused on STEM center

| Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2013, 7:45 a.m.

The first steering committee meeting for a proposed STEM Innovation Center in Norwin School District is being planned for Sept. 20.

District administrators have invited several parents and business representatives to be part of the committee that will provide input for a feasibility study for the center.

“We're really excited about this because it's an opportunity to bring a diverse group of people together that have a definite interest in STEM education,” said district Superintendent William Kerr during the school board's monthly agenda meeting Monday.

School directors last month selected Hayes Large Architects to complete a feasibility study for possible construction of the center, which will focus on the disciplines of science, technology, engineering and math. Administrators hope the center will allow district students to partner with experts.

Officials are investigating funding for the project. A formal grant application for $2.5 million has been submitted to an unnamed foundation in partnership with Penn State Greater Allegheny. That grant would serve as matching funds for a state Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program request for the same amount.

Steering committee members — which include school administrators, students, agency heads and county workforce development professionals — were invited last week to the inaugural meeting. Kerr said he hopes to gather input through several other committee meetings on how to attract businesses to the center and where the proposed building should be located on district ground.

Additional sessions are being planned for October, and Hayes Large is planning to present the study in January, Kerr said.

“I look forward to the process,” he said.

District administrators first proposed the state-of-the-art learning center in January 2013. The center would complement a student's traditional work, officials have said.

In other business:

• Handicapped access to the football field at Knight Stadium could be addressed at the board's next meeting. The cost for adding a ramp to the field level could cost between $40,000 and $50,000, said John Wilson, director of business affairs.

• Administrators are using this school year as an indicator of any needed fee changes at the district's fitness center, Kerr said. Students pay $25 monthly, and for a couple, the cost is $40. Athletic teams use the facility for free, Kerr said. Summer hours were recently eliminated as a cost-saving measure.

Renatta Signorini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-837-5374 or rsignorini@tribweb.com.

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