Bethlehem-Center School District
|Bethlehem-Center School District|
|194 Crawford Road
Fredericktown, Pennsylvania, Washington County, 15333
|School board||9 locally elected members|
|Superintendent||Mrs. Linda Marcolini|
|Faculty||97 teachers (2010) |
|Pupils||1350 pupils (2010) |
|• Grade 1||100|
|• Grade 2||113|
|• Grade 3||115|
|• Grade 4||91|
|• Grade 5||110|
|• Grade 6||99|
|• Grade 7||109|
|• Grade 8||114|
|• Grade 9||100|
|• Grade 10||109|
|• Grade 11||88|
|• Grade 12||111|
|• Other||Enrollment projected to decline to 1232 pupils in 2020|
|Color(s)||Blue and Gold|
|Budget||$16,792,705 in 2012-13 |
|Tuition||for nonresident and charter school students ES - $7,802.72, HS - $9,384.49 |
|Per Pupil Spending||$13,480 in 2008|
|Per Pupil Spending||$13,259.44 in 2010|
The Bethlehem-Center School District is a small, rural, public school district located in the unincorporated Village of Fredericktown, Pennsylvania. It is one of fourteen school districts in Washington County, Pennsylvania. It encompasses approximately 55 square miles (140 km2) serving the Boroughs of Beallsville, Centerville, Deemston and Marianna and East Bethlehem Township and West Bethlehem Township. The district operates three schools. According to 2000 federal census data, it serves a resident population of 9,292. In 2009 the district residents' per capita income was $15,236, while the median family income was $37,302. According to District officials, in school year 2007-08 the Bethlehem-Center School District provided basic educational services to 1,452 pupils through the employment of 107 teachers, 57 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 8 administrators. Bethlehem-Center School District received more than $12.6 million in state funding in school year 2007-08.
- 1 Schools
- 2 Academic achievement
- 3 Special education
- 4 Bullying and school safety
- 5 Budget
- 5.1 State basic education funding
- 5.2 Federal stimulus grant
- 5.3 Common Cents state initiative
- 5.4 Enrollment and consolidation
- 5.5 Real estate taxes
- 6 Extracurriculars
- 7 References
- 8 External links
- Bethlehem-Center High School (9th-12th)
- Bethlehem-Center Middle School (6th-8th)
- Bethlehem-Center Elementary School (K-5th)
In July 2012, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) released a report identifying a Bethlehem-Center School District school as among the lowest-achieving schools for reading and mathematics in 2011. Bethlehem-Center Middle School was listed among the 15% lowest-achieving schools in the Commonwealth. Parents and students may be eligible for scholarships to transfer to another public or nonpublic school through the state's Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit Program passed in June 2012. The scholarships are limited to those students whose family's income is less than $60,000 annually, with another $12,000 allowed per dependent. Maximum scholarship award is $8,500, with special education students receiving up to $15,000 for a year's tuition. Parents pay any difference between the scholarship amount and the receiving school's tuition rate. Students may seek admission to neighboring public school districts. Each year the PDE publishes the tuition rate for each individual public school district. Bethlehem-Center MS was the only public school in Washington County on the lowest-achieving schools in 2011. According to the report, parents in 414 public schools (74 school districts) were offered access to these scholarships. For the 2012-13 school year, seven public school districts in Pennsylvania had all of their schools placed on the list, including: Sto-Rox School District, Chester Upland School District, Clairton City School District, Duquesne City School District, Farrell Area School District, Wilkinsburg Borough School District and Steelton-Highspire School District. Funding for the scholarships comes from donations by businesses which receive a state tax credit for donating
- Statewide Academic ranking
In 2011, Bethlehem-Center School District ranked 273rd out of 498 Pennsylvania districts. The ranking was based on five years of student academic achievement as demonstrated by PSSAs results in reading, writing, math and three years of science.
- 2010 - 304th 
- 2009 - 275th
- 2008 - 302nd
- 2007 - 279th of Pennsylvania's 501 school districts.
- Overachiever ranking
In 2012, the Pittsburgh Business Times also reported an Overachievers Ranking for 498 Pennsylvania school districts. Bethlehem-Center School District ranked 343rd. In 2011, the district was 317th.  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."
- Western Pennsylvania local ranking
Bethlehem-Center School District was ranked 68th out of 105 western Pennsylvania school districts, in 2012, by the Pittsburgh Business Times. The ranking was based on the last three years of student academic performance on the PSSAs on: math, reading, writing and science. (includes 105 districts in: Allegheny County, Armstrong County, Beaver County, Butler County, Fayette County, Washington County and Westmoreland County excludes Duquesne City School District & Midland Borough School District due to no high schools)
- 2011 - 64th.
- 2010 - 67th 
- 2009 - 64th
- AYP history
In 2011 and 2010, Bethlehem-Center School District achieved Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) status under No Child Left Behind. In 2011, 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.
In 2009, the academic achievement of the students of the Bethlehem-Center School District was in the bottom 25th percentile among 500 Pennsylvania school districts. Scale - (0-99; 100 is state best) 
According to traditional graduation rate calculations:
Bethlehem-Center Senior High School is located at 179 Crawford Road, Fredericktown. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, the school reported an enrollment of 407 pupils in grades 9th through 12th, with 124 pupils eligible for a federal free or reduced-price lunch. The school employed 30 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 13:1. According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.
In 2011 Bethlehem-Center Senior High School declined to Warning status under No Child Left Behind due to lagging student academic achievement in mathematics. In 2010, the school achieved AYP. In 2010 and 2009 the school achieved AYP status.
11th Grade Reading
- 2011 - 77% on grade level, (11% below basic). State - 69.1% of 11th graders are on grade level.
- 2010 - 90%, (3% below basic). State - 66%.
- 2009 - 75% (10% below basic). State - 65%.
- 2008 - 76% (11% below basic). State - 65%.
- 2007 - 68% (17% below basic). State - 65%.
11th Grade Math:
- 2011 - 56%, on grade level (20% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 60.3% of 11th graders are on grade level.
- 2010 - 68%, (17% below basic). State - 59%.
- 2009 - 55% (28% below basic). State - 56%.
- 2008 - 61% (26% below basic). State - 56% 
- 2007 - 41% (32% below basic). State - 53%
11th Grade Science:
- 2011 - 48% on grade level (7% below basic). State - 40% of 11th graders were on grade level. .
- 2010 - 51%, (3% below basic). State - 39%
- 2009 - 31%, (10% below basic). State - 40% 
- 2008 - 33%, State - 39%
College remediation: According to a Pennsylvania Department of Education study released in January 2009, 37% of the Bethlehem-Center Senior 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. 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. 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.
The Bethlehem-Center School Board requires that each student must earn twenty-six (26) planned courses in order to graduate. This includes: English 5 courses, Math 4 courses, Science 3 courses, Social Studies 4 courses, Human/Art 5 courses, Health 1 course, and Physical Education 4 courses. Additionally, all students must demonstrate their proficiency of the Pennsylvania Math and Reading Standards by achieving a Proficient or Advanced score on their 11th grade PSSA tests.
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.
By Pennsylvania State School Board regulations, beginning with the graduating class in 2016, 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.
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 high school graduation requirements and towards earning a college degree. The students continue to have full access to activities and programs 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. Under the Pennsylvania Transfer and Articulation Agreement, many Pennsylvania colleges and universities accept these credits for students who transfer to their institutions. 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. For the 2009-10 funding year, the school district received a state grant of $3,639 for the program.
From January to June 2011, 47 Bethlehem-Center High School students took the SAT exams. The district's Verbal Average Score was 471. The Math average score was 475. The Writing average score was 433. Pennsylvania ranked 40th among states with SAT scores: Verbal - 493, Math - 501, Writing - 479. 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.
Bethlehem-Center Middle School is located at 136 Crawford Road, Fredericktown. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, the school reported an enrollment of 321 pupils in grades 6th through 8th, with 125 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school employed 22 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 14:1. According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.
In 2011, the middle school declined to Warning status due to lagging student academic achievement in reading and in mathematics. In 2010, the school achieved AYP status. In 2009, the school was in Warning status due to lagging student achievement. The attendance rate was 92% in 2011 and 93% in 2010.
8th Grade Reading:
- 2011 - 65% on grade level (12% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 81.8% of 8th graders on grade level.
- 2010 - 77%, (9% below basic). State - 81%
- 2009 - 78% (10% below basic), State - 80%
- 2008 - 87% (3% below basic), State - 78% 
- 2007 - 86% (2% below basic), State - 75%
8th Grade Math:
- 2011 - 58% on grade level (21% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 76.9% of 8th graders are on grade level.
- 2010 - 55%, (20% below basic). State - 75%.
- 2009 - 61% (15% below basic). State - 71% 
- 2008 - 67% (16% below basic). State - 70%
- 2007 - 63% (16% below basic), State - 68%
8th Grade Science:
- 2011 - 43% on grade level (32% below basic). State – 58.3% of 8th graders were on grade level.
- 2010 - 42%, (34% below basic). State - 57%
- 2009 - 49%, (26% below basic). State - 55% 
- 2008 - 55%, State - 52% 
7th Grade Reading
7th Grade Math:
6th Grade Reading:
6th Grade Math:
Bethlehem-Center Elementary School is located at 194 Crawford Road, Fredericktown. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, the school reported an enrollment of 629 pupils in grades kindergarten through 5th, with 273 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. It is a Title 1 school. The school employed 44 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 14:1. According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.
In 2011, the school improved to achieving AYP status. The attendance rate was 94% in 2011. In 2010, the school was in Warningstatus due to low student academic achievement. The attendance rate declined to 93%. In 2009, the school achieved AYP status. The attendance rate was 94% in 2009. The school is located at 194 Crawford Road, Fredericktown, Pennsylvania, 15333.
5th Grade Reading:
- 2011 - 56% on grade level, Boys 55%/Girls 56%, (20% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 67.3% of 5th graders are on grade level.
- 2010 - 54%, Boys 47%/Girls 62%, (15% below basic). State - 64% 
- 2009 - 73%, Boys 67%/Girls 80%, (11% below basic), State - 64%
- 2008 - 59% (17% below basic), State - 62%
- 2007 - 42% (28% below basic), State - 60%
- 2006 - 61%, State - 66% 
5th Grade Math:
- 2011 - 51% on grade level, Boys 60%/Girls 44%, (19% below basic). State - 74%
- 2010 - 73%, Boys 76%/Girls 69%, (10% below basic). State - 74%
- 2009 - 78%, Boys 74%/Girls 83%, (7% below basic). State - 73%
- 2008 - 81% (4% below basic). State - 73%
- 2007 - 67% (12% below basic). State - 71%
- 2006 - 67%, State - 68%
- 4th Grade Science;
- 2011 - 91%, (2% below basic), State – 82.9%
- 2010 - 82%, Boys 88%/Girls 78%, (9% below basic), State - 81%
- 2009 - 87%, Boys 91%/Girls 83%, (4% below basic), State - 83%
- 2008 - 93%, (0% below basic), State - 81%
In December 2010, the district administration reported that 225 pupils or 16.6% of the district's pupils received Special Education services. In December 2009, the district administration reported that 211 pupils or 15% of the district's pupils received Special Education services.
Abiding by state and federal laws, 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 educational benefit and promote 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, visual acuity, motor, and speech/language screening. When the 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 building principal or the School Psychologist-Supervisor of Pupil Personnel. An Individual Educational Program (IEP) is developed for specialized services for an eligible student who needs these services. The district provides some special services. It also contracts with Intermediate Unit #1 and Approved Private Schools. Classes providing Learning Support, Life-Skills Support, Emotional Support, Physical Support, Multiple Disabilities Support, and Autistic Support are available for students at beginning school age through age 21.
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.
Bethlehem-Center School District received a $933,127 supplement for special education services in 2010.
For the 2011-12 school year and the 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.
The District Administration reported that 22 or 1.61% of its students were identified as gifted in 2009. By law, the district must provide mentally gifted programs at all grade levels. Students identified as gifted attending the High School have access to dual enrollment with local colleges. 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.
Bullying and school safety
The Bethlehem-Center School District administration reported there were 5 incidents of bullying in the district in 2009. The administration also reported there were 61 incidents of harassment/Intimidation and 83 arrests. One student was assigned to alternative education.
The Bethlehem-Center School Board has provided the district's antibully policy online in the student handbook which is posted online. According to the board's policy, the school district will not tolerate known acts of bullying occurring on school district property, at school-sponsored activities scheduled on or off school grounds or during the time students necessarily spend traveling to and from school or school-sponsored activities. 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. 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.
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.
The school district realizes $100,000 in royalty payments from the drilling of Marcellus shale.
In 2009, the district reports employing over 100 teachers with a starting salary of $31,650 for 183 days (180 days for pupil instruction). The average teacher salary was $56,422 while the maximum salary is $99,600. The teachers work 7 hours and 15 minutes, including a prep period and a paid lunch period. Teachers are paid 1.5 times their salary for time worked past the contracted hours. 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. Additionally, Bethlehem-Center School District teachers receive a defined benefit pension, health insurance, professional development reimbursement, 4 paid personal days, 10 sick days which accumulate, 4 paid bereavement days and other benefits. Teacher with the district for more than one year are eligible for a one year paid (50%) sabbatical leave (with insurance benefits). Teachers receive a terminal leave payment which includes payment for unused sick days. This benefit is paid to beneficiaries in the event of death. The district provides the teachers' union with 8 paid days to perform union business, including travel outside the district. The union pays for a substitute teacher. According to State Rep. Glen Grell, a trustee of the Pennsylvania Public School Employees’ Retirement System Board, a 40-year educator can retire with a pension equal to 100 percent of their final salary.
In 2007, the Bethlehem-Center School District employed 99 teachers and the average teacher salary in the district was $47,621 for 180 days worked.
The district administrative costs in 2008 were $655.09 per pupil. This ranked 377th among Pennsylvania's 501 school districts. The lowest administrative cost per pupil in Pennsylvania was $398 per pupil. In June 2010, the school board agreed to the following compensation for the Superintendent of schools: 2010-11 $110,000.00; 2011–12 $113,000.00; 2012-13 $116,000.00; 2013–14 $119,000.00. The compensation is not tied to academic performance or budget management goals.
In 2008, Bethlehem-Center School District reported spending $13,480 per pupil. This ranked 137th in the commonwealth.
The district is funded by a combination of: a local 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. Grants can provide an opportunity to supplement school funding without raising local taxes. In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, pension and Social Security income are exempted from state personal income tax and local earned income tax, regardless of the income level.
State basic education funding
In 2011-12, the district will receive $8,424,894 in state Basic Education Funding. This was a 6.94% increase in funding from the 2010-11 state BEF level. Additionally, the district will receive $104,026 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.
For the 2010-11 budget year, Bethlehem-Center School District received a 2.00% increase in state basic education funding for a total of $8,702,043. In Washington County, the highest increase went to Charleroi School District which received an 9.90% increase in state funding. Five Washington County school districts received the base 2% funding increase. One hundred fifty school districts in Pennsylvania received the 2% base increase for budget year 2010-11. The highest increase in the state was given to Kennett Consolidated School District of Chester County which was given a 23.65% increase in state funding. The amount of increase each school district receives is determined by the Governor and the Secretary of Education through the allocation set in the budget proposal made in February each year.
In the 2009-2010 budget year the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a 3.29% increase in Basic Education funding for a total of $8,702,130. The state Basic Education Funding to the Bethlehem-Center School District in 2008-09 was $8,424,894.12. Seventy school districts in Pennsylvania received the minimum base increase of 2 percent. Two school districts in Washington County received the base 2% increase. The highest increase in Washington County went to Burgettstown Area School District which received a 6.45% increase. Muhlenberg School District of Berks County received the highest Basic Education Funding increase in Pennsylvania - an increase of 22.31 percent. Sixteen Pennsylvania school districts received an increase in funding of over 10 percent in 2009. The amount of increase each school district receives is determined by the Governor and the Secretary of Education through the allocation set in the budget proposal made in February each year.
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 584 Bethlehem-Center School District students received free or reduced-price lunches due to low family income in the 2009-2010 school year. In 2007-2008 there were 548 pupils enrolled in the program.
Accountability Block Grants
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 Bethlehem-Center School District applied for and received $252,352 in addition to all other state and federal funding. The district used the funding to provide all-day kindergarten.
Classrooms for the Future grant
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 2006-2009. Bethlehem-Center School District did not apply for funding in 2006-07. In 2007-08 the district did not apply for funding. For the 2008-09, school year the district received $80,545. Of the 501 public school districts in Pennsylvania, 447 of them received Classrooms for the Future grant awards.
Federal stimulus grant
The Bethlehem-Center School District received $2,037,157 in ARRA - Federal stimulus money to be used in specific programs like special education and meeting the academic needs of low-income students. This funding was for 2009-10 and 2010-2011 school years.
Race to the Top grant
School district officials did not apply for the Race to the Top federal grant which would have brought the district hundreds of thousands of additional federal dollars for improving student academic achievement. 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. 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.
Common Cents state initiative
The Bethlehem-Center School District School Board did not choose to 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. After the review of the information, the district was not required to implement the recommended cost savings changes.
Enrollment and consolidation
In 2010 the Pennsylvania Department of Education projected that Bethlehem-Center School District enrollment will continue to decline over the next decade.
In 2007, a state funded study examined the consolidation of the district administrations of Bethlehem-Center School District with neighboring Jefferson-Morgan School District. The study found taxpayers could save $4,546,153 across both districts.
A Standard and Poors study found that an optimal Pennsylvania school district size, to conserve administrative costs, was 3000 pupils. Consolidation of administrations with an adjacent school district would achieve substantial administrative cost savings for people in both communities. According to a 2009 proposal by Governor Edward Rendell, the excessive administrative overhead dollars could be redirected to improving high school student academic achievement, enriching the curriculum programs or to reducing local property taxes.
In March 2011, the Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants Fiscal Responsibility Task Force released a report which found that consolidating school district administrations with one neighboring district would save the Commonwealth $1.2 billion without forcing the consolidation of any school buildings. The study noted that while the best school districts spent 4% of the annual budget on administration, others spend over 15% on administration.
More than 40 percent of elementary schools and more than 60 percent of secondary schools in western Pennsylvania are projected to experience significant enrollment decreases (15 percent or greater). Pennsylvania Department of Education data shows that from 1999-2000 to 2008-09 there has been a 12 percent increase in public school staff even as there was a 1 percent decline in enrollment. Pennsylvania schools added 17,345 professional employees and 15,582 support workers over this time, while enrollment declined by 26,960. Total public school enrollment in 2009 was 1,787,351 pupils.
Pennsylvania has one of the highest numbers of school districts in the nation. In Pennsylvania, 80% of the school districts serve student populations under 5,000, and 40% serve less than 2,000. This results in excessive school administration bureaucracy and not enough course diversity. In a survey of 88 superintendents of small districts, 42% of the respondents stated that they thought consolidation would save money without closing any schools.
Real estate taxes
The Bethlehem-Center School District School Board set the property taxes at 104.1400 mills for 2011-12. A mill is $1 of tax for every $1,000 of a property's assessed value. Property taxes in 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. 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. Additionally, service related, disabled US military veterans may seek an exemption from paying property taxes. 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.
Act 1 Adjusted index
The Act 1 of 2006 Index regulates the rates at which each 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 is 2.9 percent, but the Act 1 Index 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, increase in health insurance 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.
The School District Adjusted Index for the Bethlehem-Center School District 2006-2007 through 2011-2012.
- 2006-07 - 5.8%, Base 3.9%
- 2007-08 - 5.1%, Base 3.4%
- 2008-09 - 6.5%, Base 4.4%
- 2009-10 - 6.1%, Base 4.1%
- 2010-11 - 4.3%, Base 2.9%
- 2011-12 - 2.1%, Base 1.4%
- 2012-13 - 2.5%, Base 1.7% 
For the 2011-12 school year the Bethlehem-Center School Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed the Act 1 Index. Each year, the Bethlehem-Center 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.
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.
Bethlehem-Center School Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed the Act 1 index for the budgets in 2009-10 or in 2010-11. In the Spring of 2010, 135 Pennsylvania school boards asked to exceed their adjusted index. Approval was granted to 133 of them and 128 sought an exception for pension costs increases.
Property tax relief
In 2011, property tax relief for 2,789 approved residents of Bethlehem-Center School District was set at $167. In 2009, the Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief from gambling for the Bethlehem-Center School District was $167 per approved permanent primary residence. In the district, 2,793 property owners applied for the tax relief. 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 Washington County, 73% of eligible property owners applied for property tax relief in 2009.
Additionally, the Pennsylvania Property Tax/Rent Rebate program is provided for low income Pennsylvanians aged 65 and older; widows and widowers aged 50 and older; and people with disabilities age 18 and older. The income limit is $35,000 for homeowners. The maximum rebate for both homeowners and renters is $650. Applicants can exclude one-half (1/2) of their Social Security income, consequently people who have an income of substantially more than $35,000 may still qualify for a rebate. Individuals must apply annually for the rebate. This can be taken in addition to Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief.
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%).
The district offers a variety of clubs, activities and sports. Eligibility for participation is set by school board policy. If a student has fifteen applicable absences, the student loses the right to participate in all sports and activities provided by the Bethlehem-Center School District for a period of one calendar year. Bethlehem-Center Board of School District provided meals for fall sports’ camps and other student activities in 2010.
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.
The district offers students many sports, including boys' varsity football, boys' varsity basketball, baseball, boys JV football, girls varsity basketball, softball, boys' middle school football, boys' middle school basketball, middle school softball, girls' varsity volleyball, varsity wrestling, track, boys' varsity soccer, middle school wrestling, girls' varsity soccer, golf, girls' middle school basketball.
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