Belle Vernon Area School Board

During the Belle Vernon Area School Board meeting, three juniors (from left to right) Danielle Engstrom, Autumn Forte and Vienna Bertram, were recognized by Superintendent Dr. Michele Dowell (far right) for winning a regional awards competition. Robert Spekis (seated), senior class president, was also present for the meeting.

The Belle Vernon Area School Board voted Monday to move forward with a two-part grant application for increased school security.

By a 8-1 vote, the board gave their approval to submit a $25,000 Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) grant application for a school resource officer (SRO) and security cameras.

The district intends to use the money to offset the cost of a SRO and $347,758 to purchase security video surveillance equipment, licensing fees and required installation expenses for the district’s seven buildings.

Director John Nusser, who was the only board member to vote against the measure, asked the board why he wasn’t included in the process of drafting the application.

“I do this for a living, and I’d like to at least take a look at what we’re spending $347,000 for, what we are specifying, why we are specifying it and where that number came from,” said Nusser.

Acting Superintendent Dr. Michele Dowell told Nusser the board must respond quickly to meet PCCD’s deadline for applications.

“This isn’t committing our district to anything just yet,” said Dowell. “We can revise our bid, change it or update it based on what is in there. We will be glad to include you in the revision process.”

Earlier in the meeting, the board recognized three BVA students who attended the AdCap Innovation Challenge at the Energy Innovation Center in Pittsburgh.

Danielle Engstrom, Autumn Forte and Vienna Bertram — all juniors at Belle Vernon High School who are also members of the Future Business Leaders of America — participated in a day-long workshop where they met with mentors to brainstorm and design an actionable solution for health and wellness challenges in Belle Vernon schools.

Dowell said that the students developed an idea called “Produce Put to Good Use.”

“These three students suggested that our school could partner with local farms in our community to provide fresh produce for a mobile juice bar,” said Dowell. “That would give students a healthy alternative to the sugary drinks in the vending machines.”

BVA’s team was chosen as a winner and the district was awarded a $1,000 grant to implement the idea at Belle Vernon Area High School.

In other business, the board approved:

n A microbial evaluation proposal for Rostraver Middle School for a direct microscopy evaluation analysis, sample technician time and report preparation with recommendations at a cost of $1,250.

n Authorized repayment of the outstanding balance of the 2018-19 Tax Anticipation Note in the amount of $543,000 plus accrued interest of $4,205.

n An Optimum Wellness Counseling contract that provides new school-based counseling resources for the district.

n Wage increases for security guards, head cooks and three confidential secretaries.

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