Architect hired for Norwin building upgrade

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Norwin Superintendent Jack Boylan put on a show for the school board Monday night -- a slide show.

He displayed photos of the inside of the administration building to show the cramped conditions under which district employees work. Dr. Boylan contended that the building is in urgent need of an upgrade, and he used the visual aid to reinforce his position.

Apparently, it worked.

The school board voted, 8-1, to authorize Axis Architecture, of North Huntingdon, to produce a schematic design for renovations to the 22-year-old building to increase space.

The firm will be paid a fee of $4,729, which is 5 percent of the estimated construction cost of $900,000. That construction cost is about $65,000 higher than the $835,000 estimate the directors favored last month.

The renovations would bring the building into compliance with the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The design, which directors will review and possibly vote on next month, could include installation of an elevator, automatic sprinkler system, backup emergency power generator and expansion of the front entrance lobby.

Dr. Boylan said the planned improvements are needed "to bring the building up to standard" in a district that has had a nearly $90 million overhaul in recent years. He noted that the administration building would be the final phase of work in the district, which has included renovations to the high school, middle school, intermediate school and Knights Stadium, and construction of four elementary buildings, a field house and district maintenance center.

"This is a district that's so pretty to look at elsewhere," Dr. Boylan told directors. "Then people walk in here into this. It's a shame."

Director Tom Sturm cast the dissenting vote.

"I'm not against the administration building renovation project," he said. "I understand the need for more space because our school district is growing every year. I voted no because I feel the board did not take time to review all of our options.

"Why do we need a conference room for meetings? Citizens hardly attend our meetings. Why not convert this large space into administrative space? It would save the taxpayers a lot of money.

"Why not move board meetings to an on-campus school auditorium? Or maybe we could consider taking our 'show' on the road and meet at one of the new elementary buildings [in the district]. That would make it easier for citizens to attend."

In an unrelated action, the board unanimously approved the sale of an undeveloped 3.4-acre parcel in North Huntingdon to Stark Property Investment Group for $40,000. The property is across Ward Drive from the Stewartsville Elementary School that is being built.


Norm Vargo, a freelance writer, can be reached at suburbanliving@post-gazette.com


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