Technology upgrades on North Allegheny's agenda

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North Allegheny school directors have approved $5.8 million worth of repairs to facilities and another $1 million to upgrade wiring in the schools.

Board members on April 23 also heard an interim curriculum report from the technology education department, now renamed “technology and engineering education.”

Upgrading data cabling will allow access points for wireless Internet to be installed. Only Marshall Middle School is capable of supporting wireless, said Bill Phillips, senior manager of information services.

“For us to advance North Allegheny, we are going to have to have technology,” said board member Libby Blackburn.

Tara Fisher and Scott Russell voted against the wiring upgrades. Ralph Pagone was absent.

Some  maintenance items approved were typical summer repairs, such as repaving parking lots, but others fixed problems in the facilities. Among the big-ticket items, all of which were included in the 2014 capital funding plan, are:

• Replacing rubber portions of the roofs at Bradford Woods Elementary, Marshall Elementary and Marshall Middle School, $2.097 million to Miller Thomas Gyekis Inc. The roofs were installed in 1992 and 1993.

• Repaving parking lots at McKnight Elementary and at the intermediate high school, $1 million to A. Liberoni Inc., and the parking lots on the Marshall campus, $650,451 to Murin and Murin Inc.

• Replacing fire alarms and public address systems in Bradford Woods and Marshall elementary and middle schools, $478,300 to Facilities Support Services.

• Improvements to the multipurpose room at Bradford Woods, including replacing the floor and bleachers, $333,500 to R.A. Glancy and Sons.

• Replacing exterior lights at Ingomar Elementary School, $137,000 to Westmoreland Electric. The district will replace lights with LED lights for energy efficiency.

• Repairing and replacing the indoor track and trainers’ room flooring at Baierl Center, $111,900 to Tom Brown Performance Floors Inc.

• Installing panic alarms in all facilities, $89,000 to Accent Electronic Systems Innovators.

The maintenance items were approved 8-0 after a lengthy discussion and numerous questions to administrators.

In other business, teachers of technology and engineering education presented their recommendations for the department.

In addition to the name change, members also recommended adding courses in robotics, game development, application development, advanced game development and stage technology and production at the high school level between the 2014-15 and 2016-17 school years.

Also, each middle school student, where technology education is a mandatory class, will receive instruction in robotics, and the district will partner with Carnegie Mellon University Robotics Academy.

Maureen Grosheider asked whether the robotics classes would duplicate classes already offered at the A.W. Beattie Career Center.

“We want to reach students who have interest, but don’t want to commit themselves to a half-day of going to Beattie,” said Ellen Green, department chairperson.

The department also wants to add three-dimensional printers, a three-dimensional scanner and a plasma cutter for the robotics 3 class.

“This kind of technology is being used in real life every day,” said board member Thomas Schwartzmier, who gave an example from his own job. “It’s pretty exciting stuff to think that they are going to walk out of here and have a real heads-up on schools that don’t offer this.”

Sandy Trozzo, freelance writer:

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