AROUND THE EAST
Schools awarded state grants
The state Department of Education has awarded $479,513 to 37 public schools through the Safe Schools Targeted Grant to establish programs to prevent and reduce incidents of violence.
Local winners include the McKeesport Area and Woodland Hills school districts; each will get $15,000. Urban Pathways Charter School, Downtown, will get $14,850.
Secretary of Education Ron Tomaliss said the funds "will provide resources for schools to put programs into place that will enhance safety in our schools."
Budget includes millage decrease
Churchill council approved a $2.3 million 2013 budget last week that decreases the tax rate from 5.75 mills to 4.23 mills.
But because some residents saw the value of their properties increase dramatically as a result of countywide property reassessments, some may see a hike in their tax bill despite a lower millage rate. Anti-windfall laws require taxing bodies to be "revenue neutral," meaning the amount of revenue generated by property tax millage can't increase more than 5 percent as a result of reassessments. As a result, municipalities where the overall assessed value of property has gone up must reduce property taxes.
Council approved the budget 4-2.
EAST ALLEGHENY SCHOOLS
Additional security measures OK'd
East Allegheny school board Monday night approved providing intruder protection locks for all high school classrooms at a cost not to exceed $24,000.
Superintendent Roger D'Emidio said the district has checked to ensure its metal detectors are functioning properly, bought additional metal detector wands and hired additional security personnel for all buildings in addition to buying new door locks for district buildings.
District business manager Toni Valicenti said maintenance workers will begin to install an additional $1,980 in new door lock parts at Green Valley Elementary School this week, and that the work to install the new interior door locks at the high school could start within the next two to three weeks.
Exterior door locks at the high school have been changed already.
Ms. Valicenti said district maintenance employees are also working on door jambs that would prevent doors from being kicked in.
She said security cameras at the administration building and high school were upgraded a year and a half ago, and that security cameras were upgraded at Green Valley Elementary School last year, before the Dec. 14 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.
Some of the recent security measures are being done in response to the shooting, Ms. Valicenti said.
Parents and students are asked to call the school safety tip line, 412-823-0394, if they know of a potential threat to students.
• Negotiations for a new teachers' contract in the East Allegheny School District are continuing.
School Director Frederick Miller said based on the outcome of meetings in September and October, one-on-one sessions were held with one representative from administration and teachers union. Mr. Miller and Lou Gerbi of the teachers union met Nov. 28 and Dec. 11, Mr. Miller said.
Another meeting was scheduled for last night. Mr. Miller said. He declined to comment on the status of the talks beforehand, saying it could complicate negotiations.
• The board also approved the calendar for the 2013-2014 school year. The first day of school will be Sept. 3, and the last day of school and graduation day will be June 6, 2014.
Program to feature train station history
A Westmoreland County Historical Society program will focus on the history of the Irwin Railroad Station.
Andy Blenko, North Huntingdon's planning director, has been researching the station since receiving a vintage postcard featuring the station, which no longer stands.
Mr. Blenko discovered information about the station as well as how the railroad's arrival in the 1850s led to the area's growth.
The program will be held at 7 p.m. on Feb. 12 at the historical society's Calvin E. Pollins Library, 362 Sand Hill Road, Suite 1, Greensburg. It is free to historical society members and $5 for nonmembers. Reservations: 724-532-1935, ext. 210; www.westmorelandhistory.org.
Hospital offers classes for adolescents
Beginning in March, Forbes Regional Hospital will offer a class to families with children entering puberty.
The two-hour class is called What's Happening to Me? and will be held at the hospital. It will provide an in-depth approach to recognizing puberty's emotional, physical and social impact on 9- to 13-year-olds. Participants will receive information on anatomy, reproduction, communication skills and the importance of a healthy lifestyle. Parents are encouraged to attend the class with their child.
Classes for girls are set for 7 p.m. March 1, May 31, Sept. 13 and Dec. 6. Classes for boys are March 19 and Oct. 1. Cost is $15. Details: 412-362-8677.
Site plan for barn delayed
The North Huntingdon commissioners last Thursday night delayed a decision to approve a site plan for a barn on Five Pines Road that is being used for graduation parties and weddings.
Andy Blenko, North Huntingdon director of planning and zoning, said a few more parking spaces are needed, and the plan does not indicate a good place for a drainage pond for the parking lot.
• Commissioners also have decided to hold a joint meeting with the North Huntingdon Planning Commission at 6 p.m. Feb. 14 to get input from members on issues, including a potential widening of the commercially zoned strip along Route 30 in the western end of the township, which is currently 325 to 350 feet wide.
Mr. Blenko said that may not be enough to allow some businesses, such as big box stores, to build along Route 30.
STEM campus proposed
Superintendent William Kerr has proposed building a Norwin STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Innovation Center on campus as part of a business-school collaboration to train more students in skills needed in those fields. He discussed the idea at Monday's school board meeting.
Only 20 percent of the current workforce possesses the skills needed for those jobs, Mr. Kerr said.
He said since the proposal relies heavily on business-education partnerships, it is believed the proposed center can be built on the Norwin campus without financial commitments from local taxpayers.
The new building would allow opportunities for STEM-related business and industry investors, nonprofit organizations, private entities and higher education agencies to offer on-campus instruction, mentorships, internships and other programs for Norwin High School students to gain real-world experiences in the workplace.
Community basketball game scheduled
The Rankin police, the Woodland Hills School District and the Rankin Christian Center are sponsoring neighborhood basketball games to bring the community together.
The games, to be held Jan. 26 and Feb. 2, will feature games between youths from the Christian center and teams made up of Rankin police officers and Woodland Hills teachers.
"We hope to build stronger relationships between our youth and local law enforcement and the schools," Ralonda Robertson, youth program director of the Rankin Christian Center, said in an email.