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Student cell phone policy revised by Monessen School Board

| Thursday, March 20, 2014, 7:10 a.m.

The Monessen School Board won't ban students from bringing their cell phones next school year, but they will crack down on their usage.

Board member Roberta Bergstedt recommended revisions to the cell phone policy during Tuesday's business meeting. Director Amy Bukowski worked with Bergstedt on the policy and procedures committee charged with making the changes.

Bergstedt said students can bring their cell phones to school, but are not permitted to use them.

“If they get caught using them, they will be confiscated and must be given to a parent (or guardian),” Bergstedt said.

Acting Superintendent Dr. Leanne Spazak said the changes were necessitated after students used a mobile app to bypass the district's firewall and access the Internet connection.

Under the existing policy, students can use electronic devices during breakfast, lunch and other designated times and in specific locations.

The board decided to enact the changes for the next school year so they can be added into the student handbook.

In other business, the board approved the 2014-2015 school calendar.

The first day of school will be Aug. 27 and the final day of class and commencement will be June 5. The board previously discussed moving the calendar year up a week, but ultimately stuck with the traditional start time.

Elementary center Principal Bethanne Natali and middle school Principal Sherry Black both reported students are working diligently this week on the annual Pennsylvania System of School Assessment tests.

Natali said students took part in a motivational pep rally before the tests began. She said students took part in a “flash mob” dance performance during lunch led by Linda Popp, who spent a month rehearsing with the students.

High school Principal Brian Sutherland announced that the gifted academic team had an undefeated season in the Charleroi Area Academic League. The team has been the season champion three of the past four years.

The board approved the following business items:

• The retirement resignations of learning support teacher Marsha Foxx, learning support/social studies teacher Charles Lutz, elementary instructor Thomas Imbrescia and special education supervisor Mildred Blasko. The retirements will be effective at the end of the school year.

• Hired Susan M. Benning as a secretary for the superintendent and school board.

• Hired Laura Lopez Lorenzo as a long-term substitute teacher for the learning support/secondary English position.

• Hired Joanne K. McClellan as a business/computer/information technology long-term substitute teacher.

Stacy Wolford is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-684-2640 or at