Berwick Area School District

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Berwick Area School District
Map of Luzerne County Pennsylvania School Districts.png
Address
500 Line Street
Berwick, Pennsylvania, Columbia County, Luzerne County, 18603-3325
United States
Information
Type Public
Closed Mulberry Street Elementary School closed 08/18/2006
School board 9 locally elected members
Superintendent Mr. Wayne D. Brookhart salary $126,413 (2012)
Administrator Mrs Christina Bason - Business Manager salary $81,234 (2012)

Mr Steven Christian - IMS Director
Morrison, M Holly, Supervisor salary $102,855
Kupsky, Wendy, Supervisor salary $87,975

Principal Peters, Randy, ES, $86,809 (2012)
Principal Bulkley, Robert, ES salary $81,728 (2012)
Principal Leighow, Patricia, salary $80,000
Principal Croop, Robert, salary $79,831
Principal Definnis, Sally, salary $73,584
Vice principal Norce, Ralph, $85,207 salary $81,728 (2012)
Staff 246 non teaching staff members (2011)[1]
Faculty 230 teachers (2011-12)[2]
Grades PreS chool - 12th
Age 4 years old to 21 years old special education students
Pupils 3014 pupils 2012,[3] 3,085 in 2010
Kindergarten 242
Grade 1 237
Grade 2 213
Grade 3 192
Grade 4 239
Grade 5 210
Grade 6 251
Grade 7 275
Grade 8 287
Grade 9 259
Grade 10 263
Grade 11 196
Grade 12 221
Other Enrollment projected to decline to 2941 in 2019[4]
Medium of language English
Color(s) Blue and White
Mascot Bulldogs
Budget $40,416,234.24 (2013-14)[5]

$40,213,699.96 (2012-13)[6]
$39,739,596 (2011-12)

per pupil spending $11,004 (2008)
per pupil spending $11,209 (2010)
Website
Map of Columbia County, Pennsylvania Public School Districts

The Berwick Area School District is a midsized, rural, public school district. Berwick Area School District encompasses approximately 101 square miles (260 km2), spanning portions of two central Pennsylvania counties. In Columbia County it covers the Boroughs of Berwick and Briar Creek and Briar Creek Township. In Luzerne County it covers the Borough of Nescopeck and Hollenback Township, Nescopeck Township and Salem Township. According to 2000 federal census data, it served a resident population of 22,622. By 2010, the District's population had declined to 22,332 people.[7] The per capita income of residents was $16,041 in 2009, while the median family income was $37,684 a year.[8] In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the median family income was $49,501,[9] while the United States median family income was $49,445, in 2010.[10]

Per Berwick Area School District officials, the District provided basic educational services to 3,514 pupils in 2009-10. It employed: 252 teachers, 317 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 17 administrators. According to District officials, in school year 2007-08, Berwick Area School District provided basic educational services to 3,176 pupils. It employed: 257 teachers, 300 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 16 administrators. In 2009-10, Berwick Area School District provided basic educational services to 3,514 pupils through the employment of 252 teachers, 317 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 17 administrators. Berwick Area School District received $19.7 million in state funding in the 2009-10 school year.

Berwick Area School District operates six schools: Berwick Area Senior High School, Berwick Middle School, Salem Elementary School, Orange Street Elementary School, 14th Street Elementary School and Nescopeck Elementary School.

Governance[edit]

Berwick Area 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.[11] 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 Superintendent and Business Manager are appointed by the school board. The Superintendent is the chief administrative officer with overall responsibility for all aspects of operations, including education and finance. The Business Manager is responsible for budget and financial operations. Neither of these officials are voting members of the School Board. The School Board enters into individual employment contracts for these positions. In Pennsylvania, public school districts are required to give 150 days notice to the Superintendent regarding renewal of the employment contract.

The Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy Alternatives Sunshine Review gave the school board and district administration a "D-" 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.[12]

Academic achievement[edit]

In 2014, Berwick Area School District ranked 376th out of 496 Pennsylvania public school districts, by the Pittsburgh Business Times. The ranking is based on the last 3 years of student academic achievement as demonstrated by PSSAs results in: reading, writing, math and science and the three Keystone Exams (literature, Algebra 1, Biology I) in high school.[13] Three school districts were excluded because they do not operate high schools (Saint Clair Area School District, Midland Borough School District, Duquesne City School District). The PSSAs are given to all children in grades 3rd through 8th. Adapted PSSA examinations are given to children in the special education programs. Writing exams were given to children in 5th and 8th grades.

  • 2013 - 396th[14]
  • 2012 - 381st
  • 2011 - 394th[15]
  • 2010 - 378th [16]
  • 2009 - 349th
  • 2008 - 328th
  • 2007 - 311th out of 501 Pennsylvania school districts.[17]
Overachiever ranking

In 2013, the Pittsburgh Business Times reported an Overachievers Ranking for 498 Pennsylvania school districts. Berwick Area ranked 225th.[18] The paper 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."[19]

  • 2012 - 243rd
  • 2010 - 249th
  • 2009 -256th

In 2009, the academic achievement, of the students in the Berwick Area School District, was in the bottom 31 percentile among all 500 Pennsylvania school districts. Scale (0-99; 100 is state best) [20]

---District AYP status history=== In 2012, Berwick Area School District declined to Warning AYP status.[21] No school in the district achieved AYP status. In 2011, Berwick 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.[22] School District achieved AYP status each year from 2004 to 2009, while in 2003 the District was in Warning status due to lagging student achievement.[23]

Graduation rate[edit]

In 2013, the Berwick Area School District graduation rate was 92%.[24] In 2012, the Berwick Area School District graduation rate was 85%.[25] In 2011, the graduation rate was 83%.[26] In 2010, the Pennsylvania Department of Education issued a new, 4-year cohort graduation rate. Berwick Area High School's rate was 80% for 2010.[27]

Former graduation rate calculation

High school[edit]

Berwick Area High School is located at 1100 Fowler Avenue, Berwick. In 2013, Berwick Area High School has an enrollment of 879 pupils with 39.59% coming from low income families. The school employs 76 teachers. Ninety nine percent of the teachers were Highly Qualified.

The high school Alma Mater was written by Dr. E. A. Glenn in the year 1897. Students and Alumni rise and stand at attention with all hats removed. The Alma Mater is as follows: Berwick High School,Alma Mater Loving mother of our youth. Ever tender,ever watchful, Teaching honor,duty, truth. Loyal voices swell the chorus Alma Mater, B.H.S. Berwick High School,Alma Mater Tho' for years from thee we part Yet the mem'ry of thy guidance Will be cherished in each heart. Pennsylvania's noblest daughter, Alma Mater, B.H.S.

In 2012, enrollment had declined to 915 pupils with 301 receiving a federal lunch subsidy. The High School employed 76 teachers. In 2012, according to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 5 teachers were rated "Non‐Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[33] In 2010, the school had 969 students grades 9th through 12th, with 359 students eligible for a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. In 2010, the school employed 75 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 13:1.[34]

2013 School Performance Profile

Berwick Area Senior High School achieved a score of 77.1 out of 100. Reflects on grade level reading, mathematics and science achievement. In reading/literature - 71% were on grade level. In Algebra 1, 56% showed on grade level skills. In Biology, 33.51% showed on grade level science understanding.[35] According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 2,181 public schools (less than 73 percent of Pennsylvania public schools), achieved an academic score of 70 or higher.

Adequate Yearly Progress

In 2012, Berwick Area High School declined further to Corrective Action Level I AYP status due to persistent low academic achievement and a low graduation rate. In 2011, Berwick Area High School declined to School Improvement II status due to ongoing low student academic achievement in reading and especially in math and science.[36] Reading, math a and science scores have been below state levels for the past four years. Under the federal No Child Left Behind Law, the school notified parents they could transfer their child to an achieving high school within the district. The district operates one high school, meaning no transfer was possible. The administration was required to develop and submit a school improvement plan, to the Pennsylvania Department of Education. The School Improvement Plan was unanimously approved by the Board on June 3, 2011.[37] In 2010 and 2009, the high school was in School Improvement I status due to lagging student achievement and a low graduation rate.[38]

PSSA Results

Pennsylvania System of School Assessments, commonly called PSSAs are No Child Left Behind Act related examinations which were administered from 2003 through 2012. The exams were administered in the Spring of each school year. In 2013, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania changed its high school assessments to the Keystone Exams in Algebra 1, Reading/literature and Biology1. The exams are given at the end of the course, rather than all in the spring of the student's 11th grade year.[39]

11th Grade Reading
  • 2012 - 52% on grade level (25% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 67% of 11th graders on grade level.[40]
  • 2011 - 65% (17.9% below basic). State - 69% [41]
  • 2010 - 60% (22% below basic). State - 67% [42]
  • 2009 - 65%, State - 65% [43]
  • 2008 - 62%, State - 65%
  • 2007 - 67%, State - 65% [44]
  • 2006 - 69%, State - 65% [45]
  • 2005 - 70%, State - 65% [46]
11th Grade Math
  • 2012 - 40% on grade level, (37% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 59% of 11th graders are on grade level.
  • 2011 - 54% (22% below basic). State - 60.3%
  • 2010 - 52% (26% below basic). State - 59% [47]
  • 2009 - 54%, State - 56% [48]
  • 2008 - 48%, State - 56% [49]
  • 2007 - 44%, State - 53% [50]
  • 2006 - 54%, State - 52% [51]
  • 2005 - 50%, State - 51%
11th Grade Science
  • 2012 - 31% on grade level (24% below basic). State - 42% of 11th graders were on grade level.
  • 2011 - 34.9% (18% below basic). State - 40%
  • 2010 - 39%, (15% below basic). State - 39% [52]
  • 2009 - 33%, State - 40% [53]
  • 2008 - 39%, State - 39% [54]

Science in Motion Berwick Area Senior High School took advantage of a state program called Science in Motion which brought college professors and sophisticated science equipment to the school to raise science awareness and to provide inquiry-based experiences for the students. The Science in Motion program was funded by a state appropriation and cost the school nothing to participate.[55] The High School worked with Susquehanna University to provide the experiences.

College Remediation[edit]

According to a Pennsylvania Department of Education study released in January 2009, 25% of Berwick Area School District 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.[56] 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.[57] 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.

Dual enrollment[edit]

Berwick Area Senior 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 high school graduation requirements and towards earning a college degree. Berwick Area School District has a concurrent agreement with King's College, Luzerne County Community College, Bloomsburg University ACE program, Wilkes University and Pennsylvania State University.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.[58] Under the Pennsylvania Transfer and Articulation Agreement, many Pennsylvania colleges and universities accept these credits for students who transfer to their institutions.[59] 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.[60] For the 2009-10 funding year, the school district received a state grant of $6,779 for the program.[61] Non district students, who reside in the district and attend a private nonpublic school, charter school or are homeschooled are eligible to participate in this program. In 2010, Governor Edward G. Rendell terminated the grants as part of the state budget.

Graduation requirements[edit]

Graduation requirements include achieving a minimum of 25 credits and designing a graduation project which is based on the 21st Century Skills and the National Technology Standards. 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.[62] The class of 2012 was required to complete a graduation project which includes the creation of an electronic portfolio.[63] Effective with the graduating class of 2017, the Pennsylvania Board of Education eliminated the state mandate that students complete a culminating project in order to graduate.[64]

By Pennsylvania School Board regulations, beginning with the class of 2017, public school students must demonstrate successful completion of secondary level course work in Algebra I, Biology, and English Literature by passing the Keystone Exams.[65][66][67] For the class of 2019, a composition exam will be added. For the class of 2020, passing a civics and government exam will be added to the graduation requirements.[68] 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.[69] 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 Individual Education Plan (IEP).

AP courses College Board Award[edit]

In 2013, Berwick High School offered 9 AP courses at a higher cost than regular courses. Berwick Area High School requires students to take the AP exam if they take an AP course. The school district pays the fee for the exam which was $89 per test per pupil in 2012. Students have the option of taking College Board approved courses and then taking the College Board's examination in the Spring. Students, who achieve a 3 or better on the exam, may be awarded college credits at US universities and colleges. Each higher education sets its own standards about what level of credits are awarded to a student based on their AP exam score. Most higher education give credits for scores of 4 or 5. Some schools also give credits for scores of 3. High schools give credits towards graduation to students who take the school's AP class. At Berwick Area School District the AP courses are weighted at 1.08 credits.[70]

In 2011, the Berwick Area School District achieved the College Board's AP District of the Year Award. This honor roll consists of the 388 U.S. public school districts that simultaneously achieved increases in access to AP® courses for a broader number of students and also maintained or improved the rate at which their AP students earned scores of 3 or higher on an AP Exam.[71]

SAT scores[edit]

In 2013, Berwick Area Senior School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 468. The Math average score was 477. The Writing average score was 452. The College Board reported that statewide scores were: 494 in reading, 504 in math and 482 in writing. The nation-wide SAT results were the same as in 2012.[72]

In 2012, 151 Berwick Area School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 477. The Math average score was 488. The Writing average score was 462. The statewide Verbal SAT exams results were: Verbal 491, Math 501, Writing 480. In the USA, 1.65 million students took the exams achieving scores: Verbal 496, Math 514, Writing 488. According to the College Board the maximum score on each section was 800, and 360 students nationwide scored a perfect 2,400.

In 2010-11, 126 Berwick Area School District students took the SAT exams. The district's Verbal average Score was 470. The Math average score was 478. The Writing average score was 445.[73] Pennsylvania ranked 40th among state with SAT scores: Verbal - 493, Math - 501, Writing - 479.[74] In the United States 1.65 million students took the exam in 2011. They averaged 497 (out of 800) verbal, 514 math and 489 fin writing.[75]

According to data from the Pennsylvania Department of Education compared the SAT data of students in rural areas of Pennsylvania to students in urban areas. From 2003 to 2005, the average total SAT score for students in rural Pennsylvania was 992, while urban students averaged 1,006. During the same period, 28 percent of 11th and 12th graders in rural school districts took the exam, compared to 32 percent of urban students in the same grades. The average math and verbal scores were 495 and 497, respectively, for rural students, while urban test-takers averaged 499 and 507, respectively. Pennsylvania’s SAT composite score ranked low on the national scale in 2004. The composite SAT score of 1,003 left Pennsylvania ranking 44 out of the 50 states and Washington, DC.[76]

ACE[edit]

Berwick Area School District students have access to Bloomsburg University's Summer College and Advanced College Experience (ACE) during the summer of their sophomore, junior and senior years (after high school graduation). Tuition is deeply discounted to 75% of the regular rate.[77] Successful students earn college credits that can be transferred to other Pennsylvania public colleges and universities through the Pennsylvania Transfer and Articulation Agreement (TRAC) system.

Middle school[edit]

Berwick Area Middle School is located 1100 Evergreen Drive, Berwick. In 2010, 795 students were enrolled in grades 6th through 8th with 345 receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the school employed 61 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 13:1.[78] In 2012 the school reported 758 pupils enrolled and 55 teachers were employed by the school.[79] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[80]

2013 School Performance Profile

Berwick Area Middle School achieved 81.6 out of 100. Reflects on grade level reading, writing, mathematics and science achievement. In reading, 70.64% of the students were on grade level. In Mathematics, 81.61% of the students showed on grade level skills. In Science, 58.59% of the 8th graders demonstrated n grade level understanding. In writing, 76.92% of the 8th grade students were on grade level.[81]

AYP History

In 2012, Berwick Area Middle School declines back to Warning status due to lagging student academic achievement.[82] In 2011, the school improved to achieving AYP status.[83] In 2010, the middle school was in Making Progress: in Corrective Action I level. In 2009, the school was in Corrective Action I level due to chronic, low academic achievement. According to the federal No Child Left Behind Law, students may transfer to another middle school if one is available.[84] No other middle school is available at Berwick Area School District.

PSSA history

PSSAs are given in the Spring of each school year. Sixth and seventh grades are tested in reading and mathematics since 2006. Eighth graders are tested in: reading, writing, mathematics and Science. Beginning in the Spring of 2013, eighth graders, who are enrolled in Algebra I take the Keystone Exam for Algebra I at the end of the course. The testing of 8th grade in reading and mathematics began in 1999. Testing in science began in 2007. The goal is for 100% of students to be on grade level or better in reading and mathematics, by the Spring of 2014. The tests focus on the state's Academic Standards for reading, writing, mathematics and science. The standards were first published in 1998 and are mandated by the Pennsylvania State Board of Education.[85]

8th Grade Reading
  • 2012 - 73% on grade level (15% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 79% of 8th graders on grade level.[86]
  • 2011 - 68.6% (20% below basic). State - 81.8%. Ranked last in Reading in the CSIU 16 region middle schools.[87]
  • 2010 - 69%, (20% below basic). State - 81% [88][89]

Ranked 19th out of 19 eighth grades in the CSIU16 region.[90]

  • 2009 - 74%, State - 80.9% [91]
  • 2008 - 73%, State - 78% [92]
  • 2007 - 72%, State - 75% [93]
  • 2006 - 64%, State - 70%
8th Grade Math
  • 2012 - 73% on grade level (12% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 76% of 8th graders are on grade level.
  • 2011 - 70.8%, (16% below basic). State - 76.9%. Ranked 18th out of 19 eighth grades in the CSIU16 region.[94]
  • 2010 - 69%, (17% below basic). State - 75%. Ranked last among 19 eighth grades in the CSIU16 region.[95][96]
  • 2009 - 66%, State - 71% [97] Ranked 18th out of 19 eighth grades in the CSIU16 region.[98]
  • 2008 - 69%, State - 70%
  • 2007 - 72%, State - 67%
  • 2006 - 67%, State - 62% [99]
8th Grade Science
  • 2012 - 53% on grade level (27% below basic). State – 59%.
  • 2011 - 46.2% on grade level (33% below basic). State – 58.3%. Ranked 18th out of 19 eighth grades in CSIU16 region.
  • 2010 - 42%, (38% below basic). State - 57%
  • 2009 - 42%, State - 55%
  • 2008 - 51%, State - 50%
7th Grade Reading
  • 2012 - 78% on grade level (11% below basic). State – 76%.
  • 2011 - 65.6% on grade level (15.7% below basic). State – 76%. Ranks last in CSIU 16 region middle schools for 7th grade Reading.
  • 2010 - 62%, (17% below basic). State - 73% [100]
  • 2009 - 64%, State - 71% [101]
  • 2008 - 62%, State - 70%
  • 2007 - 62%, State - 66%
7th Grade Math:
  • 2012 - 82% on grade level (8% below basic). State - 80%.
  • 2011 - 79.1%, (7.4% below basic). State - 78.6%. Ranks 14th out of 19 middle schools in CSIU16 region.
  • 2010 - 77%, (11% below basic). State - 77% [102]
  • 2009 - 70%, State - 75%
  • 2008 - 70%, State - 70% [103]
  • 2007 - 77%, State - 67%[103]
6th Grade Reading:
  • 2012 - 65% on grade level (20% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 68% of 6th graders are on grade level.
  • 2011 - 65.7%, (18.7% below basic). State - 69.9%. Ranked 17th out of 19 6th grades in CSIU 16 region.
  • 2010 - 62%, (18% below basic). State - 68%. Ranked 15th out of 21 - 6th grades in the region.[104]
  • 2009 - 63%, State - 67%
  • 2008 - 63%, State - 67%
  • 2007 - 52%, State - 63%
6th Grade Math:
  • 2012 - 78% on grade level (5% below basic). State - 77%.
  • 2011 - 80.9%, (8% below basic). State - 78.8%. Ranks 14th out of 19 CSIU region 6th grades.[105]
  • 2010 - 81%, (9% below basic). State - 78% [102]
  • 2009 - 78%, State - 78%
  • 2008 - 76%, State - 72% [103]
  • 2007 - 71%, State - 69%

Elementary schools[edit]

All four Berwick Area School District elementary schools declined to Warning AYP status in 2012. All four elementary schools in the Berwick Area School District achieved AYP status in 2010 and 2011.[106] The attendance rate ranged from 94% to 95% in 2010. For the summer of 2011, teachers served as tutors in the elementary summer reading Programs. They were paid at the instructional rate of $21.50 an hour. Summer School Express was for students in grades K to 5th grade, and the Kindergarten readiness program was for preschoolers. Both programs were Funded through T-I stimulus funds and will ran from July 11, 2011 through August 11, 2011.

The District provided full-day kindergarten in 2008.[107] While proponents of full day kindergarten claim it will reduce special education numbers and it will raise primary student academic achievement, especially in reading and math, those outcomes have not been realized in Berwick Area School District. Reading achievement in particular has significantly declined.[108]

Salem Elementary School[edit]

Salem Elementary School is located at 810 East Tenth Street, Berwick. In 2013, enrollment was 468 pupils in grades kindergarten through 5th grades. The school provides full day kindergarten to all students. Fifty three percent of the pupils were from low income homes. In 2010, enrollment was 434 students grades kindergarten through 5th grade, with 218 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. Salem Elementary School employed 33 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 13:1.[109]

2013 School Performance Profile

Salem Elementary School achieved a score of 80.1 out of 100. The score reflects on grade level: reading, science, writing and mathematics achievement. In 2012-13, only 70% of the students were reading on grade level in grades 3rd through 5th. In 3rd grade, 75% of the pupils were reading on grade level. In math, 88% were on grade level (3rd-5th grades). In 4th grade science, 84.5% of the pupils demonstrated on grade level understanding. In writing only 46% of 5th grade pupils demonstrated on grade level skills.[110]

AYP History

In 2012, Salem Elementary School declined to Warning AYP status due to lagging student achievement. In 2011 and 2010, Salem Elementary achieved AYP status, despite declining reading achievement.[111]

In 2012, just 69% of the students in grades 3rd through 5th were reading on grade level. In Math, 86% of students in 3rd through 5th grade were on grade level, with 55% scoring advanced. In 2012, 77% of 4th graders were on grade level in science.

In 2011, 79% of students in grades 3rd through 5th were on grade level in reading. In mathematics, 92% of 3rd through 5th graders were on grade level. Fourth graders were tested in science - 90% were on grade level with 51% scoring advanced.[112]

In 2010, 77% of the students grades 3rd through 5th were on grade level in reading. In Mathematics, 88% of the students in grades 3rd through 5th were on grade level. In science 72% were on grade level with 29% scoring advanced.[113] Report Card 2009 [1]

Orange Street Elementary School[edit]

Orange Street Elementary School is located at 845 Orange Street, Berwick. In 2013, enrollment was 456 students grades kindergarten through 5th grade, with 71% of pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school provides full day kindergarten to all pupils. In 2010, enrollment was 390 students grades kindergarten through 5th grade, with 237 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school employed 29 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 13:1.[114]

2013 School Performance Profile

Orange Street Elementary School achieved a score of 69.1 out of 100. The score reflects on grade level: reading, science, writing and mathematics achievement. In 2012-13, only 51.5% of the students were reading on grade level in grades 3rd through 5th. In 3rd grade, 58% of the pupils were reading on grade level. In math, 79% were on grade level (3rd-5th grades). In 4th grade science, just 72.97% of the pupils demonstrated on grade level understanding. In writing only 49% of 5th grade pupils demonstrated on grade level skills.[115]

AYP History

In 2011 and 2010, Orange Street Elementary achieved AYP status, in spite of sharply declining reading achievement.[116]

In 2012, just 57% of students in grades 3rd through 5th were on grade level in reading. In mathematics, only 79% of 3rd through 5th graders were on grade level. Fourth graders were tested in science - 76% were on grade level with a decline to 30% scoring advanced.[117]

In 2011, 80% of students in grades 3rd through 5th were on grade level in reading. In mathematics, 93% of 3rd through 5th graders were on grade level. Fourth graders were tested in science - 85% were on grade level with 55% scoring advanced.[118]

In 2010, 77% of the students grades 3rd through 5th were on grade level in Reading. In Mathematics, 88% of the students in grades 3rd through 5th were on grade level. In science 72% were on grade level with 29% scoring advanced.[119] Report Card 2009 [2]

Nescopeck Elementary School[edit]

Nescopeck Elementary School is located in 315 Dewey Street, Nescopeck. In 2010, enrollment was 257 students grades kindergarten through 5th grade, with 87 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school employed 20 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 13:1.[120] The school provides full day kindergarten to all pupils.

2013 School Performance Profile

Nescopeck Elementary School achieved a score of 80.1 out of 100. The score reflects on grade level: reading, science, writing and mathematics achievement. In 2012-13, only 69% of the students were reading on grade level in grades 3rd through 5th. In 3rd grade, 75.67% of the pupils were reading on grade level. In math, 87.97% were on grade level (3rd-5th grades). In 4th grade science, just 78.95% of the pupils demonstrated on grade level understanding. In writing, only 73.68% of 5th grade pupils demonstrated on grade level skills.[121]

AYP History

In 2012, Nescopeck Elementary School declined to Warning AYP status due to lagging student achievement. In 2010 and 2011, the Nescopeck Elementary School achieved Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) status.[122]

In 2012, 77% of students in grades 3rd through 5th were on grade level in reading. In mathematics, 88% of pupils were on grade level with 58% achieving advanced. In 4th grade science, 81% were on grade level, with 35% achieving advanced.

In 2011, 89% of students in grades 3rd through 5th were on grade level in reading. Mathematics, 89% of 3rd through 5th graders demonstrated on grade level math skills. Fourth graders were tested in science -2012 - 81% on grade level, with 35% advanced. 2011 - 93% were on grade level with 20% scoring advanced.[123]

In 2010, 86% of the students grades 3rd through 5th were on grade level in Reading. In Mathematics, 97% of the students in grades 3-5 were on grade level with 77% achieving advanced skills. In 4th grade science, 72% were on grade level with 29% scoring advanced.[124] Report Card 2009 [3]

In July 2011, the Pennsylvania Department of Education released a report listing Nescopeck Elementary School among 89 schools with an unusually high level of changes of wrong answers to correct answers on its 2009 5th grade PSSA's.[125][126] In January 2012, the state released a list of schools that had been cleared of wrongdoing. Nescopeck was not on that list.[127]

14th Street Elementary School[edit]

Fourteenth Street Elementary School is located at 1401 North Market Street, Berwick. In 2013, enrollment was 248 students in grades kindergarten through 5th grade, with 49% of its pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school provides full day kindergarten to all its pupils. In 2010, enrollment was 239 students grades kindergarten through 5th grade, with 115 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school employed 18 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 13:1.[128]

2013 School Performance Profile

Fourteenth Street Elementary School achieved a score of 74.9 out of 100. The score reflects on grade level: reading, science, writing and mathematics achievement. In 2012-13, only 68% of the students were reading on grade level in grades 3rd through 5th. In 3rd grade, 76.9% of the pupils were reading on grade level. In math, 84.87% were on grade level (3rd-5th grades). In 4th grade science, just 82.5% of the pupils demonstrated on grade level understanding. In writing, only 53.85% of 5th grade pupils demonstrated on grade level skills.[129]

AYP History

In 2012, 14th Street Elementary School declined to Warning Adequate Yearly Progress. In 2010 and 2011, 14th Street Elementary School achieved Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) status.[130]

In 2012, only 76% of students in graders third through fifth were on grade level in reading. In mathematics, 85% of pupils in grades (3rd-5th) demonstrated on grade level mathematics skills. Science - 83% of fourth graders were on grade level in science in 2012 with 23% scoring advanced.

In 2011, 84% of students in grades 3rd through 5th were on grade level in reading. In mathematics, 96% of 3rd through 5th graders were on grade level. In 2011, 100% of fourth graders were on grade level with 45% scoring advanced.[131][132]

In 2010, 74% of the students grades 3rd through 5th were on grade level in Reading. In Mathematics, 97% of the students in grades 3-5 were on grade level with 77% achieving advanced skills. In 4th grade science, 85% were on grade level with 51% scoring advanced.[133] Report Card 2009 [4]

21st Century Community Learning Center Grant[edit]

Berwick Area School District was designated as a before and after school program provider for Columbia and Luzerne Counties in 2010. They received state funding - a grant of $142,376. CCLCs provide academic, artistic and cultural enhancement activities to students and their families when school is not in session.[134]

Wellness policy[edit]

Berwick Area School Board established a district wellness policy in 2006 - Policy 246.[135] The policy deals with nutritious meals served at school, the control of access to some foods and beverages during school hours, age appropriate nutrition education for all students, and physical education for students K-12. The policy is in response to state mandates and federal legislation (P.L. 108 - 265). The law dictates that each school district participating in a program authorized by the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act (42 U.S.C. 1751 et seq) or the Child Nutrition Act of 1966 (42 U.S.C. 1771 et seq) "shall establish a local school wellness policy by School Year 2006."

The legislation placed the responsibility of developing a wellness policy at the local level so the individual needs of each district can be addressed. According to the requirements for the Local Wellness Policy, school districts must set goals for nutrition education, physical activity, campus food provision, and other school-based activities designed to promote student wellness. Additionally, districts were required to involve a broad group of individuals in policy development and to have a plan for measuring policy implementation. Districts were offered a choice of levels of implementation for limiting or prohibiting low nutrition foods on the school campus. In final implementation these regulations prohibit some foods and beverages on the school campus.[136] The Pennsylvania Department of Education required the district to submit a copy of the policy for approval.

The District offers both a free school breakfast and a free or reduced-price lunch to children in low income families. All students attending the school can eat breakfast and lunch. Children from families with incomes at or below 130 percent of the federal poverty level are provided a breakfast and lunch at no cost to the family. Children from families with incomes between 130 and 185 percent of the federal poverty level can be charged no more than 30 cents per breakfast. A foster child whose care and placement is the responsibility of the State or who is placed by a court with a caretaker household is eligible for both a free breakfast and a free lunch. Runaway, homeless and Migrant Youth are also automatically eligible for free meals.[137] The meals are partially funded with federal dollars through the United States Department of Agriculture.[138]

In 2013, the USDA issued new restrictions to foods in public schools. The rules apply to foods and beverages sold on all public school district campuses during the day. They limit vending machine snacks to a maximum of 200 calories per item. Additionally, all snack foods sold at school must meet competitive nutrient standards, meaning they must have fruits, vegetables, dairy or protein in them or contain at least 10 percent of the daily value of fiber, calcium, potassium, and Vitamin D.[139] In order to comply with the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 all US public school districts are required to raise the price of their school lunches to $2.60 regardless of the actual cost of providing the lunch.[140] In 2014, President Obama ordered a prohibition of advertisements for unhealthy foods on public school campuses during the school day.[141]

Berwick Area School District provides health services as mandated by the Commonwealth and the federal government. Nurses are available in each building to conduct annual health screenings (data reported to the PDE and state Department of Health) and to dispense prescribed medications to students during the school day. Students can be excluded from school unless they comply with all the State Department of Health’s extensive immunization mandates. School nurses monitor each pupil for this compliance.[142] Nurses also monitor each child's weight.

Highmark Healthy High 5 grant[edit]

In 2011, the Berwick Area School District received funding through a Highmark Healthy High 5 grant. Berwick Area High School received $9,268 which was used to purchase equipment for its Get Fit Don't Quit program. Orange Street Elementary School also received a grant for $6,290 for a dance recess program.[143] Beginning in 2006, Highmark Foundation engaged in a 5 year, $100 million program to promote lifelong healthy behaviors in children and adolescents through local nonprofits and schools.

Bullying policy[edit]

Berwick Area School District administration reported there were zero incidents of bullying in the District in 2012. Additionally, there was one bomb threat and no sexual incidents involving students. The local law enforcement was involved in sixteen incidents at the schools with one arrest.[144] In 2009, the administrative reported there were 3 incidents of bullying in the district.[145][146]

The Berwick Area School Board prohibits bullying by district students and faculty. The policy defines bullying and cyberbullying.[147] The Board directs that complaints of bullying shall be investigated promptly, and corrective action shall be taken when allegations are verified. No reprisals or retaliation shall occur as a result of good faith reports of bullying. The board expects staff members to be responsible to maintain an educational environment free from all forms of bullying. All Pennsylvania schools are required to have an anti-bullying policy incorporated into their Code of Student Conduct. The policy must identify disciplinary actions for bullying and designate a school staff person to receive complaints of bullying. The policy must be available on the school's website and posted in every classroom. All Pennsylvania public schools must provide a copy of its anti-bullying policy to the Office for Safe Schools every year, and shall review their policy every three years. Additionally, the district must conduct an annual review of that policy with students.[148] The Center for Schools and Communities works in partnership with the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime & Delinquency and the Pennsylvania Department of Education to assist schools and communities as they research, select and implement bullying prevention programs and initiatives.[149]

Education standards relating to student safety and antiharassment programs are described in the 10.3. Safety and Injury Prevention in the Pennsylvania Academic Standards for Health, Safety and Physical Education.[150]

School Resource Officer and Police Officer grant[edit]

In 2014, Pennsylvania began a grant program providing funding for programs to address school violence and security. Eligible schools and municipalities could apply for up to $60,000 for a school resource officer and up to $40,000 for a school police officer.[151] Berwick Area School District applied and was awarded $38,484.[152] Berwick Area did not participate in the state's Safe Schools targeted grant.

Special education[edit]

In 2013, 19.87% of Berwick Area School District were identified as needing special education services, with 53% of the identified students having a specific learning disability.[153] In December 2010, Berwick Area School District reported that 600 pupils received special education services which was 18% of pupils enrolled. Fifty three percent of special education students had a specific learning disability. In December 2009, the district administration reported that 595 pupils or 19% of the district's pupils received Special Education services.[154]

The 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. To identify students who may be eligible for special education, 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 Instructional Support Team or Student Assistance Team. 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 Supervisor of Special Education.[155]

In 2010, the state of Pennsylvania provided $1,026,815,000 for special education services. The funds were distributed to districts based on a state policy which estimates that 16% of the district's pupils are receiving 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.[156] 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.[157] The state requires each district to have a three year special education plan to meet the unique needs of its special education students.[158] 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 less than 10% supported through special education services.[159]

The Berwick Area School District received a $2,091,063 supplement for special education services in 2010.[160] For the 2011-12, 2012–13, and 2013-14 school years, all Pennsylvania public school districts received the same level of funding for special education that they received in 2010. This level funding was 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.[161]

Gifted education[edit]

The District Administration reported that 179 or 5.52% of its students were gifted in 2009.[162] 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.[163]

Budget[edit]

Pennsylvania public school districts budget and expend funds according to procedures mandated by the General Assembly and the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE). An annual operating budget is prepared by school district administrative officials. A uniform form is furnished by the PDE and submitted to the board of school directors for approval prior to the beginning of each fiscal year on July 1.

Under Pennsylvania’s Taxpayer Relief Act, Act 1 of the Special Session of 2006, all school districts of the first class A, second class, third class and fourth class must adopt a preliminary budget proposal. The proposal must include estimated revenues and expenditures and the proposed tax rates. This proposed budget must be considered by the Board no later than 90 days prior to the date of the election immediately preceding the fiscal year. The preliminary budget proposal must also be printed and made available for public inspection at least 20 days prior to its adoption. The board of school directors may hold a public hearing on the budget, but are not required to do so. The board must give at least 10 days’ public notice of its intent to adopt the final budget according to Act 1 of 2006.[164]

In 2012, the average teacher salary in Berwick Area School District was $58,139 a year, while the cost of the benefits teachers received was $16,563 per employee, for a total annual average teacher compensation of $74,703.[165]

In 2011, the average teacher salary in Berwick Area School District was $55,386 a year, while the cost of the benefits teachers received was $14,258 per employee, for a total annual average teacher compensation of $69,645.[166]

In 2009, Berwick Area School District reported employing over 250 teachers with a salary range of $31,400 to $78,676.[167] The work year is 185 days with 5 days set aside as inservice days. Teachers work 7.5 hours with a 30-minute duty-free lunch period. Retiring teachers are eligible for an incentive payment of up to $14,500. Teacher who work with special education students receive an additional $225 per year. They are also entitled to access to health insurance through the district. Teacher receive additional compensation for appointment as Team Leader ($1,450), Head teacher ($1,325) and Department Head ($1,550). The union is given the right to conduct one meeting during inservice working hours.[168]

In 2007, Berwick Area School District employed 232 teachers. The average teacher salary in the district was $53,787 for 180 days worked. The district's average teacher salary was the highest of all the Columbia County school districts in 2007.[169] 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.[170] Additionally, the teachers receive a defined benefit pension, health insurance (teacher pays $850 per year), dental insurance, vision insurance, life insurance, professional development reimbursement, 2-3 personal days (which accumulate), 10 sick days, 2 emergency leave days, 4 bereavement days, 1 day leave to receive a college degree and other benefits. Sabbatical leave at one half of salary is available to teacher after 10 years worked.[168] According to Rep. Glen Grell, a trustee of the state teacher retirement fund, a 40-year Pennsylvania public school educator can retire with a pension equal to 100 percent of their final salary.[171]

Administrative spending The 2008, Berwick Area School District administrative costs per pupil were $455 per pupil. The lowest administrative cost per pupil in Pennsylvania was $398 per pupil.[172] In February 2010, the school board approved a five year employment contract for superintendent with Wayne D. Brookhart effective July 1, 2010 through June 30, 2015.[173] The Administrative Staff premium share for their health care insurnance was eliminated as of July 1, 2013.

In February 2010, the school board approved a plan to pay a $10,000 retirement bonus to classified staff (Secretaries, Custodial staff and/or Maintenance staff) that retired by the end of the 2009-2010 school year. Additionally, teachers who retired by June 2010 would be paid a bonus of $16,500 while administrators will receive a $10,000 bonus.[174]

Reserves In 2008, Berwick Area School District reported an unreserved designated fund balance of $4,750,000.00 and an unreserved-undesignated fund balance of $8,985,646.00.[175] In 2010, Berwick Area School District Administration reported an increase to $18,874,381 in the unreserved-undesignated fund balance.The unreserved designated fund balance was zero. In 2012, the District reports $20,726,202 in reserves. Pennsylvania 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.[176]

For the 2011-12 school year, the school board approved a $39,739,596 budget with revenues of: Local tax $18,856,800, State: $19,383,362 and Federal: $1,499,435.[177]

Per pupil spending In 2008, the Berwick Area School District administration reported that per pupil spending was $11,004 which ranked 395th among Pennsylvania's 501 school districts. In 2010, the per pupil spending had increased to $12,807.10.[178] In 2010, the per pupil spending rose to $12,807.10.[178] Among the fifty states, Pennsylvania’s total per pupil revenue (including all sources) ranked 11th at $15,023 per student, in 2008-09.[179] In 2007, the Pennsylvania per pupil total expenditures was $12,759.[180]

State Audits In October 2010, the Pennsylvania Auditor General conducted a performance audit of the Berwick Area School District. The findings were reported to the school board and administration.[181]

The District was audited by the Pennsylvania Auditor General again in 2013. Significant findings were reported to the school board and administration, including a "Lack of Adherence to the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s Requirements and Vocational Education Membership Errors" which resulted in a subsidy overpayment of $129,112. The funds will be deducted from future state subsidies.[182]

Tuition Students who live in the Berwick Area School District's attendance area may choose to attend one of Pennsylvania's 157 public charter schools. A student living in a neighboring public school district or a foreign exchange student may seek admission to Berwick Area School District. For these cases, the Pennsylvania Department of Education sets an annual tuition rate for each school district. It is the amount the public school district pays to a charter school for each resident student that attends the charter and it is the amount a nonresident student's parents must pay to attend the District's schools. The 2012 tuition rates are Elementary School - $6,683.94, High School - $9,792.91.[183]

Berwick Area School District is funded by a combination of: a local tax on income (Occupational Assessment Tax) $10, a property tax, a per capita tax $10, a real estate transfer tax 0.5%, Local Services Tax $5 coupled with substantial funding from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the federal government. Grants can provide an opportunity to supplement school funding without raising local taxes. 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.[184] The average Pennsylvania public school teacher pension in 2011 exceeds $60,000 a year plus they receive federal Social Security benefits: both are free of Pennsylvania state income tax and local income tax which funds local public schools.[185]

State basic education funding[edit]

For the 2013-14 school year, Berwick Area School District will receive a 1.6% increase or $13,908,012 in Pennsylvania Basic Education Funding. This is $224,147 more than its 2012-13 state BEF to the District. Additionally, Berwick Area School District will receive $208,925 in Accountability Block Grant funding to focus on academic achievement and level funding for special education services. Among the public school districts in Columbia County, Southern Columbia Area School District received the highest percentage increase at 2.1%. The District has the option of applying for several other state and federal grants to increase revenues. The Commonwealth’s budget increased Basic Education Funding statewide by $123 million to over $5.5 billion. Most of Pennsylvania’s 500 public school districts received an increase of Basic Education Funding in a range of 0.9% to 4%. Eight public school districts received exceptionally high funding of 10% to 16%. The highest increase in state funding was awarded to Austin Area School District which received a 22.5% increase in Basic Education Funding.[186] The state funded the PSERS (Pennsylvania school employee pension fund) with $1,017,000,000 and Social Security payments for school employees of $495 million.[187]

For the 2012-13 school year, the Berwick Area School District received $13,892,560.[188] The Governor's Executive Budget for 2012-2013 included $9.34 billion for kindergarten through 12th grade public education, including $5.4 billion in basic education funding, which was an increase of $49 million over the 2011-12 budget. In addition, the Commonwealth provided $100 million for the Accountability Block Grant (ABG) program. Berwick Area School District received $208,925 in ABG funds. The state also provided a $544.4 million payment for School Employees’ Social Security and $856 million for School Employees’ Retirement fund called PSERS.[189] 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.

In 2011-12, Berwick Area School District received a $13,681,984 allocation, of state Basic Education Funding.[190] Additionally, the Berwick Area School District received $208,925, in Accountability Block Grant funding. The enacted Pennsylvania State Education budget includes $5,354,629,000 for the 2011-2012 Basic Education Funding appropriation. This amount is a $233,290,000 increase (4.6%) over the enacted State appropriation for 2010-2011.[191] 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.[192] In 2010, the district reported that 1,389 students received free or reduced-price lunches, due to the family meeting the federal poverty level.[193]

For the 2010-11 school year, the state allocated a 4.66% increase to Berwick Area School District for a total of $15,132,433. The highest increase among Columbia County school districts was given to Southern Columbia Area School District with a 5.77% increase. One hundred fifty school districts received a base 2% increase. The highest increase in the state went to Kennett Consolidated School District located in Chester County, which received a 23.65% increase in state basic education funding.[194] The state's hold harmless policy regarding state basic education funding continued where each public school district received at least the same amount as it received the prior school year, including were pupil enrollment had significantly declined. The amount of increase each public school district received was set by then Governor Edward Rendell and his 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 public school districts at a far greater rate than others.[195]

In the 2009-10 budget year, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a 6.11% increase in Basic Education Funding for a total of $14,458,812 to Berwick Area School District. This was the highest percentage point increase, in Basic Education Funding, among the public school districts in Columbia County. In Pennsylvania, twenty school districts received basic education funding increases over 10% in 2009.[196] Across the Commonwealth ninety school districts received the base 2% increase in funding in 2009. Muhlenberg School District in Berks County received a 22.31% increase in state basic education funding in 2009.[197] The amount of increase each Pennsylvania public 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.[198] 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.[199][200]

The state Basic Education Funding to the Berwick Area School District in 2008-09 was $13,626,386.29. The amount of increase each school district receives is determined by the Governor and the Secretary of Education through the allocation set in the state budget proposal made in February each year.[201] According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 1,251 students received free or reduced-price lunches due to low family income in the 2007-2008 school year.[202]

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 the 2010-11 school year, the district applied for and received $567,074 in addition to all other state and federal funding. The district uses the funding to provide Increased Instructional Time and full-day kindergarten.[203][204]

  • 2009-10 - $567,074 for increased instructional time - tutoring and full-day kindergarten for the 5th year.[205]
  • 2008-09 - $567,074 for increased instructional time and full-day kindergarten.[206]

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 Berwick Area School District received $74,531.[207]

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, Mathematics) and funded mandatory teacher training to optimize the instructional use of the computers. The program was funded from 2006-2009. Berwick Area School District received $52,843 in 2006-07. In 2007-08 the District received $300,000 and in 2008-09 $50,603 for a total of $403,446.[208] Among the public school districts in Columbia County the highest award was given to Berwick Area School District. The highest funding statewide was awarded to Philadelphia City School District in Philadelphia County - $9,409,073. The grant program was discontinued by Governor Edward Rendell as part of the 2009-10 state budget plan.

Other grants[edit]

Berwick Area School District did not participate in: Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection's Environmental Education grants, PA Science Its Elementary grants, the 2012 Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy grant nor the 2012 and 2013 Pennsylvania Hybrid Learning Grants.[209]

Federal Stimulus grant[edit]

Berwick Area School District received an extra $2,937,591 in ARRA - Federal Stimulus money to be used in specific programs like special education and meeting the academic needs of low-income students.[210] The funding was for the 2009-10 and 2010-2011 school years.

Race to the Top grant[edit]

Berwick Area School District officials did not apply for the Race to the Top federal grant. When approved for the grant, the district would have receives over one million dollars of additional federal dollars for improving student academic achievement.[211] Participation required the administration, the school board and the local teachers' union to sign an agreement to prioritize improving student academic success.[212] In Pennsylvania, 120 public school districts and 56 charter schools agreed to participate. 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.[213]

Common Cents state initiative[edit]

The school board elected to not participate in the Pennsylvania Department of Education Common Cents program. The program called for the state to audit the district, at no cost to local taxpayers, to identify ways the district could save tax dollars.[214] After the review of the information, the district was not required to implement the recommended cost savings change

Real estate taxes[edit]

For the 2013-14 school year, the Berwick Area School Board levied property taxes at: 45.7500 mills for residents in Columbia County and 11.3000 mills for Luzerne County residents.[215] A mill is $1 of tax for every $1,000 of a property's assessed value. Irregular property reassessments have become a serious issue in the commonwealth as it creates a significant disparity in taxation within a community and across a region. On the local level, Pennsylvania district revenues are dominated by two main sources: 1) Property tax collections, which account for the vast majority (between 75-85%) of local revenues; and 2) Act 511 tax collections, which are around 15% of revenues for school districts.[216] Property taxes, in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, apply only to real estate - land and buildings. The property tax is not levied on cars, business inventory, or other personal property. Certain types of property are exempt from property taxes, including: places of worship, places of burial, private social clubs, charitable and educational institutions and government property. Additionally, service related, disabled US military veterans may seek an exemption from paying property taxes. When a Pennsylvania public school district includes municipalities in two counties, each of which has different rates of property tax assessment, a state board equalizes the tax rates between the counties.[217] In 2010, miscalculations by the State Tax Equalization Board (STEB) were widespread in the Commonwealth and adversely impacted funding for many school districts, including those that did not cross county borders.[218]

The average yearly property tax paid by Columbia County residents amounts to about 2.72% of their yearly income. Columbia County ranked 778th of the 3143 United States counties for property taxes as a percentage of median income. The average yearly property tax paid by Luzerne County residents amounts to about 3.02% of their yearly income. Luzerne County ranked 586th of the 3143 United States counties for property taxes as a percentage of median income.[225] According to a report prepared by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, the total real estate taxes collected by all school districts in Pennsylvania rose from $6,474,133,936 in 1999-00 to $10,438,463,356 in 2008-09 and to $11,153,412,490 in 2011.[226] Property taxes in Pennsylvania are relatively high on a national scale. According to the Tax Foundation, Pennsylvania ranked 11th in the U.S. in 2008 in terms of property taxes paid as a percentage of home value (1.34%) and 12th in the country in terms of property taxes as a percentage of income (3.55%).[227]

Act 1 Adjusted index[edit]

The Act 1 of 2006 Index regulates the rates at which each public school district can raise property taxes in Pennsylvania. Districts are not allowed to raise taxes above that index unless they allow voters to vote by referendum, or they seek an exception from the state Department of Education. The base index for the 2010-2011 school year was 1.4 percent, but it can be adjusted higher, depending on a number of factors, such as property values and the personal income of district residents. Act 1 included 10 exceptions, including: increasing pension costs, increases in special education costs, a catastrophe like a fire or flood, increasing rising health care costs for contracts in effect in 2006 or dwindling tax bases. The base index is the average of the percentage increase in the statewide average weekly wage, as determined by the PA Department of Labor and Industry, for the preceding calendar year and the percentage increase in the Employment Cost Index for Elementary and Secondary Schools, as determined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the U.S. Department of Labor, for the previous 12-month period ending June 30. For a school district with a market value/personal income aid ratio (MV/PI AR) greater than 0.4000, its index equals the base index multiplied by the sum of .75 and its MV/PI AR for the current year.[228]

The School District Adjusted Index for the Berwick Area School District 2006-2007 through 2010-2011.[229]

For the 2014-15 budget year, Berwick Area School Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed their Act 1 Index limit. For the school budget 2014-15, 316 Pennsylvania public school districts adopted a resolution certifying that tax rates would not be increased above its Act 1 Index limit. Another 181 school districts adopted a preliminary budget leaving open the option of exceeding the Index limit. Districts may apply for multiple exceptions each year. For the pension costs exception, 163 school districts received approval to exceed the Index in full, while others received a partial approval of their request. For special education costs, 104 districts received approval to exceed their tax limit. Seven Pennsylvania public school districts received an approval for the grandfathered construction debts exception.[233]

For the 2013-14 budget year, Berwick Area School Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed the Act 1 Index. For 2013-2014, 311 Pennsylvania public school districts adopted a resolution certifying that tax rates would not be increased above their index; 171 school districts adopted a preliminary budget leaving open the option of exceeded the Index limit. For the exception for pension costs, 89 school districts received approval to exceed the Index in full while others received a partial approval of their request. For special education costs, 75 districts received approval to exceed the tax limit. For the exception for pension costs, 169 school districts received approval to exceed the Index. Eleven districts received an approval for grandfathered construction debts.[234]

For the 2012-13 budget year, Berwick Area School Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed the Act 1 Index. For 2012-2013, 274 school districts adopted a resolution certifying that tax rates would not be increased above their index; 223 school districts adopted a preliminary budget leaving open the option of exceeded the Index limit. For the exception for pension costs, 194 school districts received approval to exceed the Index. For special education costs, 129 districts received approval to exceed the tax limit.[234]

For the 2011-12 school year, the Berwick Area School Board did not apply for an exception to exceed the Act 1 Index. Each year, the Berwick Area School Board has the option of adopting either: 1) a resolution in January certifying they will not increase taxes above their index or 2) a preliminary budget in February. A school district adopting the resolution may not apply for referendum exceptions or ask voters for a tax increase above the inflation index. A specific timeline for these decisions is published annually, by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.[235]

According to a state report, for the 2011-2012 school year budgets, 247 school districts adopted a resolution certifying that tax rates would not be increased above their index; 250 school districts adopted a preliminary budget. Of the 250 school districts that adopted a preliminary budget, 231 adopted real estate tax rates that exceeded their index. Tax rate increases in the other 19 school districts that adopted a preliminary budget did not exceed the school district’s index. Of the districts who sought exceptions: 221 used the pension costs exemption and 171 sought a Special Education costs exemption. Only 1 school district sought an exemption for Nonacademic School Construction Project, while 1 sought an exception for Electoral debt for school construction.[236]

For the 2009-10 school year budget, the Berwick Area School Board did not apply for any exceptions to exceed the District's Act 1 Index limit.[237][238] Each year, the Berwick Area School Board has the option of adopting either 1) a resolution in January certifying they will not increase taxes above their index or 2) a preliminary budget in February. A school district adopting the resolution may not apply for referendum exceptions or ask voters for a tax increase above the inflation index. A specific timeline for these decisions is publisher each year by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.[235]

In the Spring of 2010, 135 Pennsylvania school boards applied to the PDE for permission to exceed their adjusted index. Approval was granted to 133 of them and 128 sought an exception for pension costs increases.[239]

Property tax relief[edit]

In 2013, property tax relief to property owners in Columbia County was set at $181 for the 6,037 homesteads and farmsteads that applied. The Highest property tax relief in Columbia County was awarded to Benton Area School District at $227. In 2010, property tax relief was set at $180 for the 6,078 homesteads and farmsteads that applied.[240] In 2009, the Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief from gambling for Berwick Area School District was $181 per approved permanent primary residence. In the district, 6,031 property owners applied for the tax relief. The highest property tax relief, in Columbia County, was $225 given in Benton Area School District. The relief was subtracted from the total annual school property tax bill. Property owners apply for the relief through the county Treasurer's office. Farmers can qualify for a farmstead exemption on building used for agricultural purposes. The farm must be at least 10 contiguous acres (40,000 m2) and must be the primary residence of the owner. Farmers can qualify for both the homestead exemption and the farmstead exemption. In Columbia County, 71% of property owners applied for the rebate in 2009.[241] Pennsylvania awarded the highest property tax relief to residents of the Chester-Upland School District in Delaware County at $632 per homestead and farmstead in 2010.[242] Since the inception of the program CUSD has consistently been the top recipient.

Extracurriculars[edit]

Berwick Area School District offers a variety of clubs, activities and interscholastic athletics. Eligibility for participation is determined by school board policy and the regulations of the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA).[243][244] The District is compliant with state law, due to failing to post its Interscholastic Athletic Opportunities Disclosure Form on its website.[5] Berwick is the only public school district in Columbia County that does not participate in the Pennsylvania Heartland Athletic Conference.[245]

According to Pennsylvania’s Safety in Youth Sports Act, all sports coaches, paid and volunteer, are required to annually complete the Concussion Management Certification Training and present the certification before coaching.[246]

By Pennsylvania law, all K-12 students in the Berwick Area School 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.[247]

Sports[edit]

The District funds:

Middle School Sports
  • According to PIAA directory July 2012 [248]

In May 2012, the school board hired Geisinger Sports Medicine to provide athletic trainer services in a five-year contract costing $38,000 in 2012-13 and rising to $42,769 in 2016-17.[6]

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