MONESSEN – Officials from the Monessen and Belle Vernon Area school districts met to discuss ways to work together, said Monessen School Board President Roberta Bergstedt. But while Monessen City School District does not currently have plans to merge with BVA or any other school district, it is open to sharing resources or exploring a barter system.

“I want the public to know that we aren’t sitting here wondering what the future may hold for us,” said Bergstedt, during the school board’s monthly meeting this week. “We have an ongoing responsibility to be fiscally responsible as well as provide the most for our kids. We have to look at all of our options. That’s why we met with Belle Vernon Area School District. We wanted to see what we can do for each other.”

The meeting last month included Bergstedt, Monessen Superintendent Dr. Leanne Spazak, BVA School Board President Lou Rood and BVA Superintendent Dr. Michele Dowell.

Bergstedt added that both districts have key assets that could be shared with each other.

“They talked about our track and how wonderful our high school could be as a middle school option for them,” she said. “And maybe it’s time for us to look at coops down the road with athletics. Those were just a few of the ideas we kicked around. Our greatest hope is to remain autonomous. Can we do it? It remains to be seen. But we can’t close our eyes to this, given the situation with enrollments.”

Early in 2017, members of the Monessen Education Reform Group urged the Monessen school board to look into a merger. Several parents have also asked the district to consider merging with another one to improve educational opportunities for students.

Bergstedt said both districts may hold future discussions following the upcoming general election.

In other business, Randy E. Shelton Sr., plant manager for ArcelorMittal Monessen, presented the district with a $25,000 check that will be used for “Lead the Way” — a program that provides transformative learning experiences for PreK-12 students and teachers across the United States.

The board also approved the 2019-2020 IDEA B and IDEA 619 sub-grant agreement between the district and Westmoreland Intermediate Unit.

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