Altoona Area School District

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Altoona Area School District
Map of Blair County Pennsylvania School Districts.png
Address
1415 Sixth Avenue
Altoona, Pennsylvania, Blair County, 16602
United States
Information
Type Public
School board 9 locally elected members
Superintendent Thomas B. Otto (salary $141,000 in 2013)
Faculty 527.97 teachers
Grades PreK-12
Age 3 years old (Pre School) to 21 years old Special education
Pupils 7995 (2009-10) [1]
 • Kindergarten 630
 • Grade 1 604
 • Grade 2 619
 • Grade 3 583
 • Grade 4 648
 • Grade 5 647
 • Grade 6 578
 • Grade 7 610
 • Grade 8 600
 • Grade 9 603
 • Grade 10 695
 • Grade 11 602
 • Grade 12 504
 • Other Enrollment project to decline to 7760 by 2020 [2]
Budget $94 million (2013-14) $88 million (2012-13)
$89,315,534 (2010-11)
Tuition for nonresident and charter school students ES - $6,198.89, HS - $8,068.45 [3]
Per pupil spending $10,148 (2008)
Per pupil spending $10,414.36 (2010)
Per pupil spending $12,051 (2013)
Website

The Altoona Area School District is a large, urban, public school district based in Altoona, Pennsylvania. The school district encompasses 59.6 square miles (154 km2) which includes all of Altoona, Logan Township and a small portion of Tyrone Township. According to 2000 federal census data, it serves a resident population of 63,248. Per District officials, in school year 2007-08 the Altoona Area School District provided basic educational services to 7,946 pupils. The District employed 569 teachers, 557 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 36 administrators. Altoona Area School District had a student body of approximately 8,000 in 2000, it was the 18th largest school district in Pennsylvania. It is one of the largest employers in Blair County with a staff of over 1,500. In 2002, the Altoona Area School District achieved its long-term goal of becoming ISO 9001 certified. It was the fifth school district in the United States to achieve this designation. AASD received more than $51.7 million in state funding in school year 2007-08.

Schools[edit]

The Altoona Area School District operates fifteen campuses, including one senior high, one junior high, and eight elementary schools. There are also several support locations.

Secondary schools[edit]

  • Altoona Area High School
  • Altoona Area Junior High School
  • William P. Kimmel Alternative School
  • Greater Altoona Career and Technology Center

Elementary schools[edit]

  • McAuliffe Heights Program at Irving
  • Juniata Elementary
  • Juniata Gap Elementary
  • Logan Elementary
  • Baker Elementary
  • Ebner Elementary
  • Penn-Lincoln Elementary
  • Pleasant Valley Elementary
  • The Learning Express at WJ - preschool

Governance[edit]

The school district is governed by 9 individually elected board members (serve four-year terms), the Pennsylvania State Board of Education, the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the Pennsylvania General Assembly.[4] The federal government controls programs it funds like Title I funding for low-income children in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and the No Child Left Behind Act, which mandates the district focus resources on student success in acquiring reading and math skills.

The Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy Alternatives Sunshine Review gave the school board and district administration a "C-" for transparency based on a review of "What information can people find on their school district's website". It examined the school district's website for information regarding; taxes, the current budget, meetings, school board members names and terms, contracts, audits, public records information and more.[5]

The school district operates two television channels for the community on the Atlantic Broadband cable system. Both Educational Access Channel 13 and Public Access Channel 14 provide taped and live programs daily from studios located in Altoona Area High School.

Academic achievement[edit]

In 2012, the Altoona Area School District ranked 208th out of 498 Pennsylvania districts. The ranking is based on the last three years of student academic achievement as demonstrated by PSSAs results in reading, writing, math and science.[6] The PSSAs are given to all children in grades 3rd through 8th and the 11th grade in high school. Adapted examinations are given to children in the special education programs.

  • 2011 - 208th [7]
  • 2010 - 249th [8]
  • 2009 - 225th
  • 2008 - 187th
  • 2007 - 168th out of 501 districts [9]
Overachiever statewide ranking

In 2012, the Pittsburgh Business Times also reported an Overachievers Ranking for 498 Pennsylvania school districts. Altoona Area School District ranked 12. In 2011, the district was 9th. [10] The editor describes the ranking as: "a ranking answers the question - which school districts do better than expectations based upon economics? This rank takes the Honor Roll rank and adds the percentage of students in the district eligible for free and reduced-price lunch into the formula. A district finishing high on this rank is smashing expectations, and any district above the median point is exceeding expectations."[11]

In 2009, the academic achievement of the students of the Altoona Area School District was in the 35th percentile of Pennsylvania's 500 school districts. Scale (0-99; 100 is state best) [12]

In 2010 and 2011 Altoona area School District achieved Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). In 2011, 94 percent of the 500 Pennsylvania public school districts achieved the No Child Left Behind Act progress level of 72% of students reading on grade level and 67% of students demonstrating on grade level math. In 2011, 46.9 percent of Pennsylvania school districts achieved Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) based on student performance. An additional 37.8 percent of school districts made AYP based on a calculated method called safe harbor, 8.2 percent on the growth model and 0.8 percent on a two-year average performance.[13]

  • 2009 - Making Progress - School Improvement 1[14]
  • 2008 - School Improvement 1
  • 2007 - Warning
  • 2006 - Achieved AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress)
  • 2005 - Making Progress - School Improvement 1
  • 2004 - School Improvement 1
  • 2003 - Warning status

Graduation rate[edit]

In 2011, the Altoona Area School District's graduation rate was 86.75%.[15] In 2010, the Pennsylvania Department of Education issued a new, 4-year cohort graduation rate. Altoona Area School District's rate was 80% for 2010.[16]

According to traditional graduation rate calculations:

High school[edit]

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, the school reported an enrollment of 1,789 pupils in grades 10th through 12th, with 787 pupils eligible for a federal free or reduced-price lunch. The school employed 117 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 15:1.[21] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[22]

In 2011, Altoona High School declined to School Improvement I level due to lagging student achievement.[23] In 2010 the high school achieved Making Progress: in School Improvement I status. In 2009, the school was in School Improvement I status due to chronically low student achievement.[24] Under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, the school administration was required to notify parents of the school's poor achievement outcomes and to offer the parent the opportunity to transfer to a successful school within the District. Additionally the school administration was required by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, to develop a School Improvement Plan to address the school's low student achievement. Under the Pennsylvania Accountability System, the school must pay for additional tutoring for struggling students.[25]

11th Grade Reading:
  • 2011 - 77% on grade level, (8% below basic). State - 69.1% of 11th graders are on grade level.[26]
  • 2010 - 77% (13% below basic). State - 66% [27]
  • 2009 - 76% (14% below basic), State - 65% [28]
  • 2008 - 72% (13% below basic), State - 65% [29]
  • 2007 - 72% (16% below basic), State - 65% [30]
11th Grade Math:
  • 2011 - 72% on grade level (13% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 60.3% of 11th graders are on grade level.[31]
  • 2010 - 75%, (12% below basic). State - 59% [32]
  • 2009 - 66% (20% below basic). State - 56%.
  • 2008 - 58% (24% below basic), State - 56%
  • 2007 - 59% (21% below basic), State - 53%
11th Grade Science:
  • 2011 - 49% on grade level (9% below basic). State - 40% of 11th graders were on grade level.[33]
  • 2010 - 51% (11% below basic). State - 39%
  • 2009 - 44% (14% below basic). State - 40% [34]
  • 2008 - 46% (14% below basic), State - 39%

College Remediation: According to a Pennsylvania Department of Education study released in January 2009, 17% of Altoona Area High School graduates required remediation in mathematics and or reading before they were prepared to take college level courses in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education or community colleges.[35] Less than 66% of Pennsylvania high school graduates, who enroll in a four-year college in Pennsylvania, will earn a bachelor's degree within six years. Among Pennsylvania high school graduates pursuing an associate degree, only one in three graduate in three years.[36] Per the Pennsylvania Department of Education, one in three recent high school graduates who attend Pennsylvania's public universities and community colleges takes at least one remedial course in math, reading or English.

SAT scores[edit]

From January to June 2011, 307 Altoona Area students took the SAT exams. The district's Verbal Average Score was 489. The Math average score was 493. The Writing average score was 475.[37] Pennsylvania ranked 40th among states with SAT scores: Verbal - 493, Math - 501, Writing - 479.[38] In the United States, 1.65 million students took the exam in 2011. They averaged 497 (out of 800) verbal, 514 math and 489 in writing.[39]

Dual enrollment[edit]

The high school offers a dual enrollment program. This state program permits high school students to take courses, at local higher education institutions, to earn college credits. Students remain enrolled at their high school. The courses count towards both high school graduation requirements and towards earning a college degree. The students continue to have full access to activities at their high school. The college credits are offered at a deeply discounted rate. The state offers a small grant to assist students in costs for tuition, fees and books.[40] Under the Pennsylvania Transfer and Articulation Agreement, many Pennsylvania colleges and universities accept these credits for students who transfer to their institutions.[41] The Pennsylvania College Credit Transfer System reported in 2009, that students saved nearly $35.4 million by having their transferred credits count towards a degree under the new system.[42]

For the 2009-10 funding year, the school district received a state grant of $20,759 for the program.[43]

Graduation requirements[edit]

The Altoona Area School Board has determined that a high school student must earn 24 credits in order to graduate, including: English 4 credits, Social Studies 4 credits, Mathematics 4 credits, Science 3 credits, Physical Education 1 credits, Health 0.5 credit, Arts/humanities 2 credit and 6.5 elective credits.[44]

By law, all Pennsylvania secondary school students must complete a project as a part of their eligibility to graduate from high school. The type of project, its rigor and its expectations are set by the individual school district.[45] At Altoona High School the Graduation Project is a research project that is accomplished in Senior English classes. Students must make a presentation of their project. They can give a speech, complete a PowerPoint presentation, create a visual, produce videotape, or complete a role-play or demonstration.

By Pennsylvania School Board regulations, for the graduating class of 2017, students must demonstrate successful completion of secondary level course work in Algebra I, Biology, English Composition, and Literature for which the Keystone Exams serve as the final course exams. Students’ Keystone Exam scores shall count for at least one-third of the final course grade.[46][47][48] In 2011, Pennsylvania high school students field tested the Algebra 1, Biology and English Lit exams. The statewide results were: Algebra 1 38% on grade level, Biology 35% on grade level and English Lit - 49% on grade level.[49] Individual student, school or district reports were not made public, although they were reported to district officials by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Students identified as having special needs and qualifying for an Individual Educational Program (IEP) may graduate by meeting the requirements of their IEP.

Junior high school[edit]

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, the Altoona Area Junior High School reported an enrollment of 1,806 pupils in grades 7th through 9th, with 969 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school employed 130 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 14:1.[50] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[51]

After years of planning and preparation, the Altoona Area School District broke ground for the new Altoona Area Junior High School on Friday, April 28, 2006. This school also broke judicial grounds. The new school replaced Keith, which opened in 1930 and Roosevelt, which opened in 1924. The new junior high school was opened for the 2008-2009 school year. An estimated 1,800 students attended grades 7-9.

In 2011, Altoona Area Junior High School declined to Warning AYP status due to lagging student achievement. In 2010, the school achieved AYP status.[52]

PSSA Results:

8th Grade Science:

  • 2011 - 61% on grade level (17% below basic). State – 58.3% of 8th graders were on grade level.
  • 2010 - 57% (25% below basic). State – 57% [55]
  • 2009 - 52% (24% below basic). State - 55% [56]

William P. Kimmel Alternative School[edit]

The District offers this secondary school for students who are not successful at or are disruptive in the traditional public school setting. The school focuses on dropout prevention, improving student's reading and math skills and assisting the student to successfully graduate. The school was named for a former school board president.

Elementary schools[edit]

‘’’Baker Elementary School is located at 108 West Ward Avenue, Altoona. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, the school reported an enrollment of 305 pupils in grades kindergarten through 6th, with 141 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. Baker ES is a Title I school.The school employed 18 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 17:1.[57] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[58] In 2010 and 2011, Baker Elementary School achieved AYP status.[59] In 2011, only 71% of the students were reading on grade level in grades 3rd through 6th. In math, 77% of the students in 3rd through 6th grades were on grade level and 39% scored advanced. In 4th grade science, 85% of the pupils were on grade level, with 53% achieving Advanced.[60]

Irving Elementary School is located at 110 Cherry Avenue, Altoona. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, the school reported an enrollment of 326 pupils in grades kindergarten through 6th, with 130 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school employed 16 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 20:1. Irving ES is not a Title I school.[61] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[62] In 2010 and 2011, Irving Elementary School achieved AYP status.[63] In 2011, 84% of the students were reading on grade level in grades 3rd through 6th. In math, 92% of the students in 3rd through 6th grades were on grade level and 65% scored advanced. In 4th grade science, 87% of the pupils were on grade level with 32% advanced.[64]

Juniata Elementary School is located at 418 N 8th Ave Juniata, Altoona. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, the school reported an enrollment of 400 pupils in grades kindergarten through 6th, with 239 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school employed 36teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 11:1.[65] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[66] In 2010 and 2011, Juniata Elementary School achieved AYP status.[67] In 2011, 81% of the students were reading on grade level in grades 3rd through 6th. In math, 95% of the students in 3rd through 6th grades were on grade level and 70% scored advanced. In 4th grade science, 87% of the pupils were on grade level with 37% advanced.[68]

Juniata Gap Elementary School Rr 4 Juniata Gap Rd, Altoona. In 2010, the school reported an enrollment of 596 pupils in grades kindergarten through 6th, with 315 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school is a Title I school. The school employed 31.5 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 19:1.[69] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[70] In 2011, Juniata Gap Elementary School achieved Making Progress: in School Improvement I AYP status. In 2010, the school declined to School Improvement I AYP status.[71] The school was mandated by No Child Left Behind to offer children to opportunity to transfer to a successful school in the district. Additionally, the PDE required the administration to write a school improvement plan to address low student achievement and to submit the plan for approval. In 2011, only 76% of the students were reading on grade level in grades 3rd through 6th. In math, 83% of the students in 3rd through 6th grades were on grade level and 50% scored advanced. In 4th grade science, 82% of the pupils were on grade level.[72]

Logan Elementary School is located at 301 Sycamore Street Greenwood. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, the school reported an enrollment of 591 pupils in grades kindergarten through 6th, with 304 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The Logan ES is a Title I school. The school employed 31 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 19:1.[73] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[74] In 2011, Logan Elementary School declined further to School Improvement IIAYp status due to continuing low student achievement in reading and math. In 2010, Logan Elementary School was in School Improvement I AYP status.[75] Logan Elementary School was mandated by the federal No Child Left Behind Act to offer children to opportunity to transfer to a successful elementary school in the district. Additionally, the PDE required the administration to write a school improvement plan to address low student achievement and to submit the plan for approval. In 2011, only 68% of the students were reading on grade level in grades 3rd through 6th. In math, 75% of the students in 3rd through 6th grades were on grade level and 43% scored advanced. In 4th grade science, 82% of the pupils were on grade level.[76]

Mowrie Ebner Elementary School is located at 910 Poland Avenue. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, the school reported an enrollment of 549 pupils in grades kindergarten through 6th, with 325 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school is a Title I school. The school employed 31 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 17:1.[77] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[78] In 2010 and 2011, Mowrie Ebner Elementary School was in Warning AYP status due to lagging student achievement.[79] In 2011, only 73% of the students were reading on grade level in grades 3rd through 6th. In math, 82% of the students in 3rd through 6th grades were on grade level and 49% scored advanced. In 4th grade science, 74% of the pupils were on grade level.[80]

Penn-Lincoln Elementary School is located at 411 12th Street, Altoona. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, the school reported an enrollment of pupils in grades kindergarten through 6th, with pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school employed teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of :1.[81] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[82] In 2011, Penn-Lincoln Elementary School was in Making Progress: in School Improvement II AYP status. In 2010, the Penn-Lincoln declined to School Improvement II status due to persistent low student achievement.[83] Logan Elementary School was mandated by the federal No Child Left Behind Act to offer children to opportunity to transfer to a successful elementary school in the district. Additionally, the PDE required the administration to write a school improvement plan to address low student achievement and to submit the plan for approval. In 2011, only 71% of the students were reading on grade level in grades 3rd through 6th. In math, 79% of the students in 3rd through 6th grades were on grade level and 47% scored advanced. In 4th grade science, 83% of the pupils were on grade level.[84]

Pleasant Valley Elementary School According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, the school reported an enrollment of 565 pupils in grades kindergarten through 6th, with 279 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school employed 31 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 18:1.[85] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of it teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[86] In 2010 and 2011, Pleasant Valley Elementary School achieved AYP status.[87] In 2011, only 78% of the students were reading on grade level in grades 3rd through 6th. In math, 91% of the students in 3rd through 6th grades were on grade level and 62% scored advanced. In 4th grade science, 83% of the pupils were on grade level.[88]

Washington-Jefferson Elementary School According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, the school reported an enrollment of 319 pupils in grades kindergarten through 6th, with 262 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school is a Title I school. The school employed 23 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 14:1.[89] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[90] In 2010 and 2011, Washington-Jefferson Elementary School declined to School Improvement I AYP status due to recurrent low student achievement.. In 2010, the school was in Making Progress: in School Improvement I AYP status.[91] In 2010, Washington-Jefferson Elementary School was mandated by the federal No Child Left Behind Act to offer children to opportunity to transfer to a successful elementary school in the district. Additionally, the PDE required the administration to write a school improvement plan to address low student achievement and to submit the plan for approval. In 2011, only 57% of the students were reading on grade level in grades 3rd through 6th. In math, 70% of the students in 3rd through 6th grades were on grade level and 35% scored advanced. In 4th grade science, 81% of the pupils were on grade level.[92]

Wright Elementary School is located at. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, the school reported an enrollment of pupils in grades kindergarten through 6th, with pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school employed teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of :1.[93] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[94] In 2011, Wright Elementary School achieved AYP status. In 2010, the school was in Making Progress: in School Improvement I AYP status.[95] In 2009, Wright Elementary School was mandated by the federal No Child Left Behind Act to offer children to opportunity to transfer to a successful elementary school in the district. Additionally, the PDE required the administration to develop a school improvement plan to address low student achievement and to submit that plan for state approval. In 2011, just 60% of the students were reading on grade level in grades 3rd through 6th. In math, 64% of the students in 3rd through 6th grades were on grade level and 30% scored advanced. In 4th grade science, 89% of the pupils were on grade level.[96]

Special education[edit]

In December 2010, the district administration reported that 1,523 pupils or 19% of the district's pupils received Special Education services, with 42% of identified students having a specific learning need.[97] In December 2009, the district administration reported that 1,519 pupils or 19% of the district's pupils received Special Education services.

In order to comply with state and federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act rules and regulations, the school district engages in identification procedures to ensure that eligible students receive an appropriate educational program consisting of special education and related services, individualized to meet student needs. At no cost to the parents, these services are provided in compliance with state and federal law; and are reasonably calculated to yield meaningful educational benefit and student progress .[98] To identify students who may be eligible for special education services, various screening activities are conducted on an ongoing basis. These screening activities include: review of group-based data (cumulative records, enrollment records, health records, report cards, ability and achievement test scores); hearing, vision, motor, and speech/language screening; and review by the Special Education administration. When screening results suggest that the student may be eligible, the District seeks parental consent to conduct a multidisciplinary evaluation. Parents who suspect their child is eligible may verbally request a multidisciplinary evaluation from a professional employee of the District or contact the district's Special Education Department.[99][100]

In 2010, the state of Pennsylvania provided $1,026,815,000 for Special Education services. This funding is in addition to the state's basic education per pupil funding, as well as, all other state and federal funding.[101] The Pennsylvania Special Education funding system assumes that 16% of the district’s students receive special education services. It also assumes that each student’s needs accrue the same level of costs.[102] The state requires each district to have a three-year special education plan to meet the unique needs of its special education students.[103] Overidentification of students, in order to increase state funding, has been an issue in the Commonwealth. Some districts have more than 20% of its students receiving special education services while others have 10% supported through special education.[104]

Altoona Area School District received a $5,026,788 supplement for special education services in 2010.[105] For the 2011-12 and 2012-13 school year, all Pennsylvania public school districts received the same level of funding for special education that they received in 2010-11. This level funding is provided regardless of changes in the number of pupils who need special education services and regardless of the level of services the respective students required.[106][107]

Gifted education[edit]

The District Administration reported that 250 or 3.05% of its students were gifted in 2009. The highest percentage of gifted students reported among all 500 school districts and 100 public charter schools in Pennsylvania was North Allegheny School District with 15.5% of its students identified as gifted.[108] By law, the district must provide mentally gifted programs at all grade levels. The referral process for a gifted evaluation can be initiated by teachers or parents by contacting the student’s building principal and requesting an evaluation. All requests must be made in writing. To be eligible for mentally gifted programs in Pennsylvania, a student must have a cognitive ability of at least 130 as measured on a standardized ability test by a certified school psychologist. Other factors that indicate giftedness will also be considered for eligibility.[109][110]

Budget[edit]

In 2011, the average teacher salary in Altoona Area School District was $51,631.82 a year, while the cost of the benefits teachers receive was $12,470.59 per employee, for a total annual average teacher compensation of $64,102.41.[111] According to a study conducted at the American Enterprise Institute, in 2011, public school teachers’ total compensation is roughly 50 percent higher than they would likely receive in the private sector. The study found that the most generous benefits that teachers receive are not accounted for in many studies of compensation, including: pension, retiree health benefits and job security.[112]

In 2009, the district reported employing 564 teachers and administrators with a median salary of $53,867 and a top salary of $179,026.[113] The teachers work a 7.5-hour day (30-minute duty-free lunch included) with 190 days in the contract year (180 teaching days). Additionally, the teachers receive a defined benefit pension, health insurance, dental insurance, 2 emergency leave days, 3–5 days bereavement leave, professional development reimbursement (75% of costs), paid personal days, 10 paid sick days, and other benefits.[114] A teacher with ten (10) or more years service, at least five (5) in the District is eligible for a sabbatical leave subject to the conditions of the School Code.

In 2007, the Altoona Area School District employed 515 teachers working 180 days of pupil instruction. The average teacher salary in the district was $50,134. This was the highest average teacher salary in Blair County.[115] As of 2007, Pennsylvania ranked in the top 10 states in average teacher salaries. When adjusted for cost of living Pennsylvania ranked fourth in the nation for teacher compensation.[116] Employee benefits are rising by $800,000 to $10 million in 2012-13,

In 2008, per pupil spending at Altoona Area School District was $10,148 for each child. This ranked 467th among Pennsylvania's 500 school districts.[117] n 2010 the per pupil spending had increased to $10,414.36 [118] Among the states, Pennsylvania’s total per pupil revenue (including all sources) ranked 11th at $15,023 per student, in 2008-09.[119] In 2007, the Pennsylvania per pupil total expenditures was $12,759.[120] The U.S. Census Bureau reports that Pennsylvania spent $8,191 per pupil in school year 2000-01.[121]

Altoona Area School District administrative costs per pupil in 2008 was $684.14 per pupil. This is ranked 337th among in the 500 school districts in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The lowest administrative cost per pupil in Pennsylvania was $398 per pupil.[122] The Pennsylvania School Boards Association collects and maintains statistics on salaries of public school district employees in Pennsylvania. According to the association's report, the average salary for a superintendent, for the 2007-08 school year, was $122,165. Superintendents and administrators receive a benefit package commensurate with that offered to the district's teachers' union.[123]

Reserves In 2008, Altoona Area School District reported a balance of $17,817,294 in an unreserved-designated fund. The unreserved-undesignated fund balance was reported as $8,044,875. For a total of $25,862,169 in reserves. [124] In 2010, Altoona Area Administration reported an increase to $14,577,049 in the unreserved-undesignated fund balance. The unreserved-designated fund was $22,133,736. The total reserves was $36,710,785. Pennsylvania public school district reserve funds are divided into two categories – designated and undesignated. The undesignated funds are not committed to any planned project. Designated funds and any other funds, such as capital reserves, are allocated to specific projects. School districts are required by state law to keep 5 percent of their annual spending in the undesignated reserve funds to preserve bond ratings. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, from 2003 to 2010, as a whole, Pennsylvania school districts amassed nearly $3 billion in reserved funds.[125]

In May 2011, the Pennsylvania Auditor General conducted a performance audit of the District. The findings were reported to the School Board and the District’s administration.[126]

The district is funded by a combination of: a local earned income tax, a property tax, a real estate transfer tax 0.5%, coupled with substantial funding from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the federal government.[127] Interest earnings on accounts also provide nontax income to the district. In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, pension income and Social Security income are exempted from state personal income tax and local earned income tax, regardless of the level of the individual’s personal wealth.[128]

State basic education funding[edit]

For the 2012-13 school year, Altoona Area School District received $37,385,979.[129] The Governor's Executive Budget for 2012-2013 includes $9.34 billion for kindergarten through 12th grade public education, including $5.4 billion in basic education funding, which is an increase of $49 million over the 2011-12 budget. The state also provides $100 million for the Accountability Block grant. The state will also provide $544.4 million for School Employees’ Social Security and $856 million for School Employees’ Retirement fund called PSERS.[130] This amount is a $21,823,000 increase (0.34%) over the 2011-2012 appropriations for Basic Education Funding, School Employees' Social Security, Pupil Transportation, Nonpublic and Charter School Pupil Transportation. Since taking office, Corbett’s first two budgets have restored more than $918 million in support of public schools, compensating for the $1 billion in federal stimulus dollars lost at the end of the 2010-11 school year.

In 2011-12, Altoona Area School District received a $36,820,004 allocation of state Basic Education Funding.[131][132] Additionally, the School District received $566,066 in Accountability Block Grant funding. The enacted Pennsylvania state Education budget included $5,354,629,000 for the 2011-2012 Basic Education Funding appropriation. This amount was a $233,290,000 increase (4.6%) over the enacted State appropriation for 2010-2011.[133] The highest increase in state basic education funding was awarded to Duquesne City School District, which got a 49% increase in state funding for 2011-12.[134] In 2010, Altoona Area School District reported that 4,379 students received free or reduced-price lunches, due to the family meeting the federal poverty level.[135]

In the 2010-2011 budget year, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a 3.28% increase in Basic Education Funding for a total of $39,275,861. Among the districts in Blair County, the highest increase went to Hollidaysburg Area School District which got a 4.26% increase. One hundred fifty Pennsylvania school districts received the base 2% increase. The highest increase in 2010-11 went to Kennett Consolidated School District in Chester County which received a 23.65% increase in state funding.[136] The state's hold harmless policy regarding state basic education funding continued where each district received at least the same amount as it received the prior school year, even where enrollment had significantly declined. The amount of increase each school district received was set by Governor Edward Rendell and then Secretary of Education Gerald Zahorchak, as a part of the state budget proposal given each February. This was the second year of Governor Rendell’s policy to fund some districts at a far greater rate than others.

In the 2009-2010 budget year, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a 3.28% increase in Basic Education Funding for a total of $38,028,040. Among the districts in Blair County, the highest increase went to Spring Cove School District which got a 4.68%. The state Basic Education Funding to the Altoona Area School District in 2008-09 was $36,030,466.71. Ninety Pennsylvania public school districts received a 2% increase. Muhlenberg School District in Berks County received a 22.31% increase in state basic education funding in 2009.[137] The amount of increase each school district received was set by Governor Edward G. Rendell and the Secretary of Education Gerald Zahorchak, as a part of the state budget proposal.[138] According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Pennsylvania spent $7,824 Per Pupil in the year 2000. This amount increased up to $12,085 by the year 2008.[139][140] According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 4,186 district students received free or reduced-price lunches due to low family income in the 2007–2008 school year.[141]

Accountability Block Grants[edit]

Beginning in 2004-2005, the state launched the Accountability Block Grant school funding. This program has provided $1.5 billion to Pennsylvania’s school districts. The Accountability Block Grant program requires that its taxpayer dollars are focused on specific interventions that are most likely to increase student academic achievement. These interventions include: teacher training, all-day kindergarten, lower class size K-3rd grade, literacy and math coaching programs that provide teachers with individualized job-embedded professional development to improve their instruction, before or after school tutoring assistance to struggling students. For 2010-11, the district applied for and received $1,536,444 in addition to all other state and federal funding. The Altoona Area School District uses the funding to provide full-day kindergarten and to pay teachers to write new curriculum and course offerings.[142][143]

Classrooms for the Future grant[edit]

The Classroom for the Future state program provided districts with hundreds of thousands of extra state funding to buy laptop computers for each core curriculum high school class (English, Science, History, Math) and paid for teacher training to optimize the computers use. The program was funded from 2006 to 2009. The School District was denied funding by the state in 2006-07. In 2007-08, the district received $476,297. The district received $121,509 in 2008-09. The total funding to the district was $597,806.[144] In Blair County the highest award was given to Altoona Area School District. The highest funding state wide was awarded to Philadelphia City School District in Philadelphia County - $9,409,073. In 2010, Classrooms for the Future funding was curtailed statewide due to a massive state financial crisis.

Education Assistance grant[edit]

The state's EAP funding provides for the continuing support of tutoring services and other programs to address the academic needs of eligible students. Funds are available to eligible school districts and full-time career and technology centers (CTC) in which one or more schools have failed to meet at least one academic performance target, as provided for in Section 1512-C of the Pennsylvania Public School Code. In 2010-11 the Altoona Area School District received $399,822.[145]

Literacy grant[edit]

Altoona Area School District was awarded a $1.5 million competitive literacy grant. It is to be used to improve reading skills birth through 12th grade. The district was required to develop a lengthly literacy plan, which included outreach into the community. The funds come from a Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy grant, also referred to as the Keystones to Opportunity grant It is a five-year, competitive federal grant program designed to assist local education agencies in developing and implementing local comprehensive literacy plans. Of the 329 pre-applications by school districts reviewed by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, School District was one of only 148 entities that were invited to submit a full application. In County 5 school districts and one charter school were awarded funding for one year.[146] The funds must be used for teacher training, student screening and assessment, targeted interventions for students reading below grade level and research-based methods of improving classroom instruction and practice. Districts must hire literacy coaches. The coaches work with classroom teachers to enhance their literacy teaching skills. Pennsylvania was among six other states, out of the 35 that applied, to be awarded funding. Pennsylvania received $38 million through the federal program. The Department of Education reserved 5% of the grant for administration costs at the state level.

School Improvement Grant[edit]

In the summer of 2011, the district administration did not apply for School Improvement Grant funding, from the federal government (over $9.9 million available). The grant stipulates the funds be used for improving student achievement using one of four federally dictated strategies. The strategies are: transformation, turnaround, restart with new faculty and administration or closure of failing schools. The Pennsylvania Education Secretary awarded $66 Million to reform Pennsylvania's lowest-achieving schools in August 2011. The funding is for three years.[147]

For the 2010-11 school year, Altoona Area School District administration did not apply for a School Improvement Grant. It was eligible for funding due to the chronic, low achievement at five schools, including Juniata Gap Elementary School, Logan Elementary School, Penn-Lincoln Elementary School, Washington-Jefferson Elementary School, and Wright Elementary School.[148]

In 2010, Pennsylvania received $141 million from the federal department of education, to turn around its worst-performing schools. The funds were disbursed via a competitive grant program. Four schools in the Altoona Area School District were eligible for funding, however they did not apply.[149] The Pennsylvania Department of Education has identified 200 Pennsylvania schools as "persistently lowest-achieving," making them eligible for this special funding.[150] Pennsylvania required low performing schools to apply or provide documentation about why they had not applied. The funds must be used, by the district, to turn around schools in one of four ways: school closure, restart - close the school and reopen it as a charter school. The other two options involve firing the principal. One would require at least half the faculty in a chronically poor performing school be dismissed. The second involves intensive teacher training coupled with strong curriculum revision or a longer school day.[151]

Federal Stimulus grant[edit]

The district received an extra $13,808,577 in ARRA - Federal Stimulus money to be used in specific programs like special education and meeting the academic needs of low-income students.[152][153] The funding was limited to the 2009-10 and 2010-2011 school years.[154] Due to the temporary nature of the funding, schools were repeatedly advised to use the funds for one-time expenditures like acquiring equipment, making repairs to buildings, training teachers to provide more effective instruction or purchasing books and software.

Race to the Top grant[edit]

District officials did not apply for the federal Race to the Top grant which would have provided several million dollars in additional federal funding to improve student academic achievement.[155] Participation required the administration, the school board and the local teachers' union to sign an agreement to prioritize improving student academic success. In Pennsylvania, 120 public school districts and 56 charter schools agreed to participate.[156] Pennsylvania was not approved for the grant. The failure of districts to agree to participate was cited as one reason that Pennsylvania was not approved.[157][158][159]

21st Century learning grant[edit]

In July 2012, Altoona Area School District did not apply for this federal grant which is run by the PDE. The grant calls for the establishment and sustainability of community learning centers that provide additional educational services to students in high-poverty and low-performing schools. The grant was competitive. Applications for the grants were reviewed and scored by a panel of representatives from the educational field and professional grant writers. The school received $114,061. While 101 entities applied for the funding, only 66 were approved, including eight charter schools. The funding is for the 2012-13 fiscal year.[160]

Extracurriculars[edit]

The district offers a variety of clubs, activities and sports. Eligibility to participate is determined by school board policies. The district owns three fields with artificial turfs enhance physical education, intramural and interscholastic athletic opportunities.

By Pennsylvania law, all K-12 students in the district, including those who attend a private nonpublic school, cyber charter school, charter school and those homeschooled, are eligible to participate in the extracurricular programs, including all athletics. They must meet the same eligibility rules as the students enrolled in the district's schools.[161]

Old / no longer used elementary schools and former address[edit]

  • Wilson Elementary (4th Ave. and 2nd Street)
  • Lowell Elementary (1601 5th Ave., Juniata)
  • Wehnwood Elementary (320 E. Wopsononock Ave.)
        • Still standing as Blair-Bedford Central Labor Council
  • Keystone Elementary (1601 5th Ave., Juniata)
  • Jefferson Elementary(Eveningtide Avenue and Hemlock Street)

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  147. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (August 23, 2011). "Education Secretary Announces $66 Million Awarded to Reform Pennsylvania Lowest-Achieving Schools". 
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  154. ^ "School stimulus money". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. March 12, 2009. 
  155. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (December 9, 2009). "Race To The Top Webinar powerpoint for districts December 2009" (PDF). 
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  159. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (January 19, 2009). "Pennsylvania Race to the Top -School Districts Title I Allocations 2009-10". 
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External links[edit]