Big Spring School District

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Big Spring School District
Map of Cumberland County Pennsylvania School Districts.png
Address
45 Mount Rock Road
Newville, Pennsylvania, Cumberland County, 17241-9412
United States
Information
Type Public
Closed Plainfield Elementary School (2011)
School board 9 locally elected members
Superintendent Mr. Richard Fry (salary $128,570 in 2012) ($118,878 in 2009)
Specialist Temple, Jeanne, Asst Superintendent (salary $115,403 in 2012)
Administrator Kerr, Richard, Business Manager (salary $84,964 in 2012)
Principal Chavez-Wilson, Linda, (salary $105,627 in 2012)
Principal Smith, Steven, (salary $101,874 in 2012)
Principal Slusser, Linda, ES (salary $99,772 in 2012)
Principal August, William, ES (salary $85,596 in 2012)
Vice principal Boyd, Christopher, (salary $87,946 in 2012)
Head teacher Roberts, Kevin, Supervisor (salary $89,897 in 2012)
Staff 180 non teaching staff members (2011)[1]
Faculty 229 teachers (2010) [2]
Grades K-12
Age 5 years old to 21 years old special education
Pupils 2,773 pupils in 2012[3] 3,064 (2009)[4]
Kindergarten 176 (2012),[5] 183
Grade 1 184 (2012), 170
Grade 2 172 (2012), 211
Grade 3 198 (2012), 184
Grade 4 196 (2012), 187
Grade 5 203 (2012), 210
Grade 6 215 (2012), 234
Grade 7 226 (2012), 246
Grade 8 243 (2012), 274
Grade 9 219 (2012), 223
Grade 10 214 (2012), 264
Grade 11 251 (2012), 218
Grade 12 211 (2012), 222 (2010)
Other Enrollment Projected to decline to 2,461 pupils by 2020
Color(s) Marroon and Gold
Mascot Bulldogs
Newspaper The Pawprint (Now online, and no longer in a printed copy)
Budget $43,563,440 (2013-14)[6]

$41,238,893 (2012-13)[7]
$40,207,391 (2011-12)[8]
$40,946,291 (2010-11)[9]

Per pupil Spending $11,783 (2008)
Per pupil Spending $13,557.54 (2010)
Website

The Big Spring School District is a midsized, rural, public school district which serves the residents of the Borough of Newville and Cooke Township, Lower Frankford Township, Lower Mifflin Township, North Newton Township, Penn Township, South Newton Township, Upper Frankford Township, Upper Mifflin Township and West Pennsboro Township in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania. Big Spring School District encompasses approximately 198 square miles (510 km2). By 2010, the District's population increased to 19,098 people.[10] According to 2008 local census data it served a resident population of 18,665. In 2009, the resident's per capita income was $18,057, while the median family income was $47,347.[11] In the Commonwealth, the median family income was $49,501 [12] and the United States median family income was $49,445, in 2010.[13] By 2013, the median household income in the United States rose to $52,100.[14] The Big Spring School District is one of the 500 public school districts of Pennsylvania.

According to District officials, in school year 2007-08, Big Spring School District provided basic educational services to 3,082 pupils through the employment of 257 teachers, 175 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 18 administrators. In school year 2009-10, Big Spring School District provided basic educational services to 2,945 pupils. The District employed: 257 teachers, 194 full-time and part-time support personnel and 16 administrators. Big Spring School District received more than $15.9 million in state funding in school year 2009-10.

Big Spring School District operates five schools: Newville Elementary School, Oak Flat Elementary School, Mount Rock Elementary School, Big Spring MIddle School and Big Spring High School. High School students may choose to attend Cumberland Perry Area Vocational Technical School for training in the trades. The Capital Area Intermediate Unit IU15 provides the District with a wide variety of services like specialized education for disabled students and hearing, speech and visual disability services, a completely developed K-12 curriculum that is mapped and aligned with the Pennsylvania Academic Standards (available online), shared services, a group purchasing program and professional development for staff and faculty.

Big Spring School District completed construction of a new high school (grades 9-12) in 2003, a new middle school (grades 6-8) in 2005, and operates four elementary schools (grades K-5). One of these elementary schools has recently been renovated, being the middle school, now being an elementary school. Total enrollment as of 2005-06 was 3,200 students. Enrollment declined to 3,064 pupils in 2009. Enrollment is projected to further decline to 2561 by 2019.[15] In June 2011, the School Board closed Plainfield Elementary School.[16]

In 2011, Big Spring School District agreed to participate in a pilot program to develop a new way to evaluate teachers that, in part, takes into account student achievement. Several other Cumberland County school districts also participated, including Cumberland Valley School District, Carlisle Area School District, East Pennsboro Area Elementary School, Cumberland Perry AVTS, and Camp Hill School District.[17] The pilot program had 104 K-12 entities, including: nine career and technical centers, nine charter schools and nine intermediate units. Beginning in January 2012, Cumberland County schools will use the new evaluation method and provide feedback to the Department of Education. This new evaluation will not be used to determine an educator’s official 2011-12 assessment.

Governance[edit]

Big Spring 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.[18] School board members are elected from nine regions within the District. 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.[19]

The Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy Alternatives Sunshine Review gave the school board and district administration a "C-" for transparency based on a review of "What information can people find on their school district's website". It examined the school district's website for information regarding; taxes, the current budget, meetings, school board members names and terms, contracts, audits, public records information and more.[20]

Big Spring School District expends significant dollars in memberships in multiple school lobbying organizations: Pennsylvania School Board Association (PSBA) $10,000 a year, Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators (PASA), Pennsylvania Association of School Business Officials (PASBO) and Pennsylvania Association of Small and Rural Schools $965 per year.[21]

Academic achievement[edit]

The Big Spring School District was ranked 307th out of 498 Pennsylvania school districts, in 2014, by the Pittsburgh Business Times.[22] 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.[23] 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 - 325th
  • 2012 - 372nd
  • 2011 - 382nd [24]
  • 2010 - 382nd [25]
  • 2009 - 391st
  • 2008 - 380th
  • 2007 - 388th of 501 school districts.[26]

In 2012, the Pittsburgh Business Times reported an Overachievers Ranking for 498 Pennsylvania school districts. Big Spring School District ranked 477th. In 2011, the district was 489th. 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."[27]

  • 2010 - 490th
  • 2009 - 488th

District AYP status history[edit]

In 2012, Big Spring School District achieved Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) status [28] In 2011, Big Spring 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.[29] Big Spring School District achieved AYP status each year from 2006 to 2009, In 2004, the District declined to School Improvement status due to low achievement. In 2005 the district improved to Making Progress status. In 2003 (the first year AYP was reported), the District was in Warning status due to lagging student achievement.[30]

In 2013, the Pennsylvania Department of Education discontinued reporting AYP status for districts or schools. Instead they report an annual school performance profile for each school, with no district wide reports.

Graduation rate[edit]

In 2013, Big Spring School District graduation rate was 87.9%.[31] In 2012, Big Spring School District graduation rate was 85%.[32] In 2011, Big Spring High School's graduation rate was 87%.[33] In 2010, the Pennsylvania Department of Education issued a new, 4-year cohort graduation rate. Big Spring High School's graduation rate was 86% for 2010.[34]

According to traditional graduation rate calculations:

High school[edit]

Big Spring High School is located at 100 Mount Rock Road, Newville. In 2013, enrollment was reported as 895 pupils in 9th through 12th grades, with 23% of pupils eligible for a free or reduced price lunch due to family poverty. Additionally, 19.77% of pupils received special education services, with 5.36% of pupils identified as being gifted. The school employed 75 teachers.[39] Per the PA Department of Education, 2.5% of the teachers were rated "Non‐Highly Qualified" under the federal No Child Left Behind Act. In 2013, every student in ninth grade was issued a Chromebook computer for use throughout high school. The purpose of this initiative was to fully engage students and create a learning environment that fosters critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and creativity. Parents were required to sign a liability agreement.[40] As of 2014 the most notable alumni of Big Spring High school are Jinglez and Sighanide of the rap group Da Merge.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, Big Spring High School reported 989 pupils enrolled in grades 9th through 12th, with 169 pupils qualifying for a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school employed 78 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 13:1.[41] Per the PA Department of Education, 6 of the teachers were rated "Non‐Highly Qualified" under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.[42]

2013 School Performance Profile

Big Spring High School achieved 68.7 out of 100. Reflects on grade level reading, mathematics and science achievement. In reading/literature - 83% were on grade level. In Algebra 1, 68% demonstrated on grade level mathematics skills. In Biology, just 35% showed on grade level science understanding.[43] 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. Pennsylvania 11th grade students no longer take the PSSAs. Instead, beginning in 2012, they take the Keystone Exams at the end of the associated course.[44]

AYP status

In 2012, Big Spring High School declined further to School Improvement II status due to continuing low academic achievement in mathematics.[45] Under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, the school administration was required to notify parents of the school's poor achievement outcomes and to offer the parent the opportunity to transfer to a successful school within the District. Additionally the school administration was required by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, to develop a School Improvement Plan to address the school's low student achievement. Under the Pennsylvania Accountability System, the school must pay for additional tutoring for struggling students.[46] The High School is eligible for special, extra funding under School Improvement Grants which the school must apply for each year.[47]

  • 2011 - declined to School Improvement I status due to continuing lagging academic achievement.[48]
  • 2010 - Warning status for AYP due to the low achievement of the students.[49]
  • 2009 - achieved AYP status
  • 2008 - Warning AYP status
  • 2003-2007 - achieved AYP status each school year
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, in all Pennsylvania public high schools. The exams were administered in the Spring of each school year. The goal was for 100% of students to be on grade level or better in reading and mathematics, by the Spring of 2014. The tests focused on the state's Academic Standards for reading, writing, mathematics and science. The Science exam included content in science, technology, ecology and the environmental studies. The mathematics exam included: algebra I, algebra II, geometry and trigonometry. The standards were first published in 1998 and are mandated by the Pennsylvania State Board of Education.[50]

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.[51]

11th Grade Reading:
  • 2012 - 63% on grade level, (20% below basic). State - 67% of 11th graders are on grade level.[52]
  • 2011 - 59%, (20.4% below basic). 69.1% [53]
  • 2010 - 56%, State - 66% [54]
  • 2009 - 62%, State - 65% [55]
  • 2008 - 58%, State - 65%
  • 2007 - 57%, State - 65%

11th Grade Math:

  • 2012 - 58% on grade level (26% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 59% of 11th graders are on grade level.[56]
  • 2011 - 59%, (26% below basic). State - 60.3%
  • 2010 - 47.9%, State - 59% [57]
  • 2009 - 53%, State - 56% [58]
  • 2008 - 43%, State - 56%
  • 2007 - 43%, State - 53% [59]

11th Grade Science:

  • 2012 - 33% on grade level (18% below basic). State - 42% of 11th graders were on grade level.[60]
  • 2011 - 27%, (23% below basic). State - 40%
  • 2010 - 26%, State - 39% [61]
  • 2009 - 21%, State - 40%
  • 2008 - 26%, State - 39% [62]

Science in Motion Big Spring High School does not participate in 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 district nothing to participate.[63] In the District's region, Gettysburg College provides the science experiences.

College remediation[edit]

According to a Pennsylvania Department of Education study released in January 2009, 19% of Big Spring 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.[64] 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.[65] Per the Pennsylvania Department of Education, one in three recent high school graduates who attend Pennsylvania's public universities and community colleges takes at least one remedial course in math, reading or English.

SAT scores[edit]

In 2013, Big Spring School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 487. The Math average score was 495. The Writing average score was 471. 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.[66]

In 2012, 120 Big Spring School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 486. The Math average score was 495. The Writing average score was 473. 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 2011, 134 Big Spring High School students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 477. The Math average score was 481. The Writing average score was 458.[67] Pennsylvania ranked 40th among states with SAT scores: Verbal - 493, Math - 501, Writing - 479.[68] 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.[69]

Graduation requirements[edit]

The Big Spring Board of Education has determined that a student must earn 28 credits to graduate, including: English 4 credits, Social Studies 4 credits, Science 3 credits, Mathematics (1 Algebra based) 3 credits, Math 12 - 1 credit, Health & Phys. Education (.5 each) 2 credits, Freshman Seminar .5 credit, Computer Applications.5 credit, Career Project Seminar .5 credit, Personal Finance .5 credit and Electives 10 credits.[70]

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.[71]

By Pennsylvania School Board regulations, for the graduating class of 2017, students must demonstrate successful completion of secondary level course work in Algebra I, Biology, English Composition, and Literature for which the Keystone Exams serve as the final course exams. Students’ Keystone Exam scores shall count for at least one-third of the final course grade.[72][73][74] 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.[75] Individual student, school or district reports were not made public, although they were reported to district officials by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Students identified as having special needs and qualifying for an Individual Educational Program (IEP) may graduate by meeting the requirements of their IEP.

Dual enrollment[edit]

The Big Spring 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 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.[76] Under the Pennsylvania Transfer and Articulation Agreement, many Pennsylvania colleges and universities accept these credits for students who transfer to their institutions.[77] 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.[78] For the 2009-10 funding year, the school district received a state grant of $1,340 for the dual enrollment program.

According to state regulations, students that reside in the Big Spring School District, who attend a private school, a charter school, a cyber charter school or are homeschooled are eligible to participate in the District's dual enrollment program.[79]

AP Courses[edit]

In 2013, Big Spring High School offered 9 Advanced Placement (AP) courses at a higher cost than regular courses. 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 institution 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 Big Spring High School 70% of students who took an AP course earned a 3 or better on the exam.[80]

Middle school[edit]

Big Spring Middle School is located at 43 Mount Rock Road, Newville. In 2013, enrollment was 684 pupils, in grades 6th through 8th, with 28.8% of pupils eligible for a free lunch due to family poverty. Additionally, 20% of pupils received special education services, while 4% of pupils were identified as gifted.[81] According to a 2013 report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[82]

In 2010, Big Spring Middle School had 722 pupils enrolled in grades 6th through 8th, with 171 pupils qualifying for a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school employed 56 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 13:1.[83]

2013 School Performance Profile

Big Spring Middle School achieved 82.8 out of 100. Reflects on grade level reading, writing, mathematics and science achievement. In reading, just 69% of the students were on grade level. In Mathematics/Algebra 1, 75.5% of the students showed on grade level skills. In Science, only 63% of the 8th graders demonstrated on grade level understanding. In writing, 79% of the 8th grade students demonstrated on grade level writing skills.[84]

AYP history

In 2007 through 2012, Big Spring Middle School achieved AYP status.[85]

  • 2006 - Warning AYP status[86]
  • 2005 - Warning AYP status
  • 2004 - achieved AYP status
  • 2003 - Warning AYP status

The attendance rate was 96% in 2010 and declined to 95% in 2010.[87]

PSSA Results

Pennsylvania System of School Assessments (PSSA)s, are examinations given in the Spring of each school year in Pennsylvania public middle schools. 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.[88] 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 published in 1998 and are mandated by the Pennsylvania State Board of Education.[50]

8th Grade Science:
  • 2012 - 65% on grade level (14% below basic). State - 59% of 8th graders were on grade level.
  • 2011 - 66%, (16% below basic). State – 58.3%
  • 2010 - 62.7%, State - 57.2%[93]
  • 2009 - 52%, State - 55%[94]
  • 2008 - 43%, State - 52%[95]

Elementary schools[edit]

Each year, in the Spring, the 3rd graders take the PSSAs in math and reading. The fourth grade is tested in reading, math and science. The fifth grade is evaluated in reading, mathematics and writing. The PSSAs were administered beginning 2004 to all Pennsylvania public school students in grades 3rd-8th.[97] The goal was for 100% of students to be on grade level or better in reading and mathematics, by the Spring of 2014.[98][99][100] The tests focused on the state's Academic Standards for reading, writing, mathematics and science. The Science exam is given to 4th grades and includes content in science, technology, ecology and the environmental studies.[101]

Mount Rock Elementary School[edit]

Mount Rock Elementary School is located at 47 Mount Rock Road, Newville. In 2013, Mount Rock Elementary School's enrollment was 352 pupils in grades kindergarten through 5th, with 28.6% of pupils receiving federal free or reduced-price meals due to family poverty. Additionally, 11% of the pupils receive special education services, while 1.4% are identified as gifted.[102] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of the teachers were rated highly qualified under No Child Left Behind. The school provides full day kindergarten.[103] The school is a federally designated Title I school.

In 2010, Mount Rock Elementary School had 276 pupils enrolled in grades kindergarten through 5th, with 66 pupils qualifying for a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school employed 23 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 12:1.[83]

2013 School Performance Profile

Mount Rock Elementary School achieved a score of 85.3 out of 100. The score reflects on grade level: reading, science, writing and mathematics achievement. In 2012-13, only 77% of the students were reading on grade level in grades 3rd through 5th. In 3rd grade, 79% of the pupils were reading on grade level. In math, 85% were on grade level (3rd-5th grades). In 4th grade science, 95% of the pupils demonstrated on grade level understanding of science. In writing only 66.6% of 5th grade pupils demonstrated on grade level skills.[104]

AYP history

Mount Rock Elementary School achieved AYP in 2010 and 2012.[105]

In 2011, just 68% of students were reading on grade level, while 77% were on grade level in mathematics.[106] In 2012, 81% of the students in grades 3rd through 5th were reading on grade level, while 84% were on grade level in mathematics. In 4th grade science 93% were on grade level.[107]

Newville Elementary School[edit]

Newville Elementary School is located at 100 Steelton Road, Newville. In 2013, the Newville Elementary School's enrollment was351 pupils in grades kindergarten through 5th, with 41% of pupils receiving a federal free or reduced price meals due to family poverty. Additionally, 9.9% of the pupils receive special education services, while 2.3% are identified as gifted.[108] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of the teachers were rated highly qualified under No Child Left Behind. The school provides full day kindergarten.[109]

In 2010, Newville Elementary School had 340 pupils enrolled in grades kindergarten through 5th, with 104 pupils qualifying for a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school employed 25 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 13:1.[110]

2013 School Performance Profile

Newville Elementary School achieved a score of 84.9 out of 100. The score reflects on grade level: reading, science, writing and mathematics achievement. In 2012-13, only 72% of the students were reading on grade level in grades 3rd through 5th. In 3rd grade, 83.9% of the pupils were reading on grade level. In math, 82.5% were on grade level (3rd-5th grades). In 4th grade science, just 86% of the pupils demonstrated on grade level understanding. In writing, only 67% of 5th grade pupils demonstrated on grade level writing skills.[111]

AYP history

Newville Elementary School achieved AYP in 2003 and 2012.[112]

In 2011, just 65% of students were reading on grade level, while 75% were on grade level in mathematics. In fourth grade science 75% of the pupils are on grade level.[113] In 2010, 88% of the 4th graders were on grade level in science. In 2012, only 68% of students were reading on grade level, while only 75% were on grade level in mathematics. In fourth grade science 86% of the pupils are on grade level.[114]

Oak Flat Elementary School[edit]

Oak Flat Elementary School is located at 334 Centerville Road, Newville. In 2013, the Oak Flat Elementary School's enrollment was 426 pupils in grades kindergarten through 5th, with 32% of pupils receiving a federal free or reduced price meals due to family poverty. Additionally, 22% of the pupils receive special education services, while 2.35% are identified as gifted.[115] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of the teachers were rated highly qualified under No Child Left Behind. The school provides half day kindergarten and a full day program.[116]

In 2010, Oak Flat Elementary School had 416 pupils enrolled in grades kindergarten through 5th, with 125 pupils qualifying for a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school employed 34 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 12:1.[117]

2013 School Performance Profile

Oak Flat Elementary School achieved a score of 90.3 out of 100. The score reflects on grade level: reading, science, writing and mathematics achievement. In 2012-13, 82% of the students were reading on grade level in grades 3rd through 5th. In 3rd grade, 88% of the pupils were reading on grade level. In math, 87% were on grade level (3rd-5th grades). In 4th grade science, 92% of the pupils demonstrated on grade level understanding in science. In writing only 76% of 5th grade pupils demonstrated on grade level writing skills.[118]

AYP History

Achieved AYP in 2010 and 2012.[119]

In 2011, 77% of the students in grades 3rd through 5th were reading on grade level, while 87% were on grade level in mathematics.[120] In 2012, 81% of students in 3rd through 5th grades were reading on grade level, while 90% were on grade level in mathematics with 58% achieving advanced. In 4th grade science 90% were on grade level.[121]

Closed school[edit]

Plainfield Elementary School was located at 7 Springview Road, Newville. It was closed in summer 2011. In 2010, the Plainfield ES had 202 pupils enrolled in grades kindergarten through 5th, with 55 pupils qualifying for a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school employed 19 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 10:1.[122] Made AYP in 2010 and 2011 [123] In 2011, 73% of students were reading on grade level, while 77% were on grade level in mathematics.[124]

Special education[edit]

The District administration reported that 564 students or 19.7% were receiving special education services in 2010 with 45% of identified students having a specific learning disability. The Administration reported that 559 students or 18.2% were receiving special education services in 2009.[125][126]

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.[127]

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.[128] The Special Education funding structure is through the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) funds and state appropriations. IDEA funds are appropriated to the state on an annual basis and distributed through intermediate units (IUs) to school districts, while state funds are distributed directly to the districts. Total funds that are received by school districts are calculated through a formula. The Pennsylvania Department of Education oversees four appropriations used to fund students with special needs: Special Education; Approved Private Schools; Pennsylvania Chartered Schools for the Deaf and Blind; and Early Intervention. 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.[129] Over identification of students, in order to increase state funding, has been an issue in the Commonwealth. Some districts have more than 20% of its students receiving special education services while others have 10% supported through special education.[130] The state requires each public school district and charter school to have a three-year special education plan to meet the unique needs of its special education students.[131] In 2012, the Obama Administration's US Department of Education issued a directive requiring schools include students with disabilities in extracurricular activities, including sports.[132]

Big Spring School District received a $1,732,918 supplemental state funding, for special education services, in 2010-11.[133] 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 2010-11. 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.[134][135] Additionally, the state provides supplemental funding for extraordinarily impacted students. The District must apply for this added funding.

Gifted education[edit]

The District Administration reported that 93 or 3.16% of its students were gifted in 2009.[136] By law, the district must provide mentally gifted programs at all grade levels. The primary emphasis is on enrichment and acceleration of the regular education curriculum through a push in model with the gifted instructor in the classroom with the regular instructor. This approach permits such specialized instructional strategies as tiered assignments, curriculum compacting, flexible grouping, learning stations, independent projects and independent contracts. Students identified as gifted attending the High School have access to honors and advanced placement courses, and 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.[137]

Bullying policy[edit]

Big Spring School District administration reported there were no incident of bullying in the District in 2012. Additionally, 30 incidents of school safety with 5 arrests and 4 students were assigned to alternative education. The School District Administration reported there was 1 incident of bullying in the District in 2009.[138][139]

The Big Spring School Board has provided the district's antibully policy online.[140] 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.[141] 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.[142] Pennsylvania's 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.[143]

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.[144] Big Spring School District applied and was awarded $60,000.[145] ==Budget== 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.[146]

In 2012, the average teacher salary in Big Spring School District was $53,253 a year, while the cost of the benefits teachers received was $20,655 per employee, for a total annual average teacher compensation of $73,909.[147] The District reported employing 310 teachers and administrators with a top salary of $136,487.[148] According to a study conducted at the American Enterprise Institute, in 2011, public school teachers’ total compensation is roughly 50 percent higher than they would likely receive in the private sector. The study found that the most generous benefits that teachers receive are not accounted for in many studies of compensation including: pension, retiree health benefits and job security.[149]

In 2011, the average teacher salary in Big Spring School District was $51,489.37 a year, while the cost of the benefits teachers receive was $13,300 per employee, for a total annual average teacher compensation of $64,789.[150] According to a study conducted at the American Enterprise Institute, in 2011, public school teachers’ total compensation is roughly 50 percent higher than they would likely receive in the private sector. The study found that the most generous benefits that teachers receive are not accounted for in many studies of compensation, including: pension, retiree health benefits and job security.[151]

In 2009, the Big Spring School District reported employing 278 teachers and administrators with a median salary of $51,576 and a top salary of $118,878.[152] The teacher’s work day is 7.5 hours with 180 days of student instruction in the contract year. Additionally, the teachers receive a defined benefit pension, health insurance, professional development reimbursement, paid personal days, 10 paid sick days, and other benefits.[153]

In 2007, the District employed 223 teachers. The average teacher salary in the district was $44,744 for 190 days worked.[154] Teachers' contract will expire on June 30, 2011.[155]

Per pupil spending Big Spring School District administrative costs per pupil was $555.79, in 2008. The lowest administrative cost per pupil among Pennsylvania's 500 public school districts was $398 per pupil, in 2008.[156] In 2005 the school board contracted with Richard Wayne Fry as superintendent. In 2009 his salary was $112,006.[157] He also received an extensive benefits package that included: health insurance, life insurance, taxpayer funded attendance at conventions and more.[158] The Pennsylvania School Board Association tracks salaries for Pennsylvania public school employees. It reports that, in 2008, the average superintendent salary in Pennsylvania was $122,165.[159]

Reserve Funds - In 2008, Big Spring School District reported an unreserved designated fund balance of zero and an unreserved-undesignated fund balance of $1,522,894.00.[160] In 2010, Big Spring School District Administration reported an increase to $2,065,191 in the unreserved-undesignated fund balance, while the unreserved designated fund $554,000. In 2012, the District reported $5,893,014 in reserves.[161] 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.[162]

In 2008, Big Spring School District reported spending $11,783 per pupil. This ranked 298th in the Commonwealth.[163] In 2010 the per pupil spending increased to $13,557.54 which ranked 210th.[164] Among the states, Pennsylvania’s total per pupil revenue (including all sources) ranked 11th at $15,023 per student, in 2008-09.[165] In 2007, the Pennsylvania per pupil total expenditures was $12,759.[166]

Debt in 2009, the District reported having over $40 million in outstanding debt.[167]

LERTA In May 2012, the School Board voted to give “deteriorated area” to a large tract of land so that a California based developer could develop the land for a warehouse with a 65% local school taxes exemption for five years. The tax revenue lost to the District was $800,000 in taxes over five year. The costs will be passed on to the other district taxpayers.[168] The effort to block the tax breaks failed in 2013. Federal Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance Act (LERTA) zones can be created by municipalities and school districts to encourage development and redevelopment by offering businesses property tax abatement to build or expand, especially in blighted areas. Efforts to oppose the plan in Big Spring failed in 2013.[169]

Audit In November 2010, the Pennsylvania Auditor General conducted a performance audit of the Big Spring School District. Certification deficiency findings were reported to the Pennsylvania Bureau of School Leadership Teacher Certification, the school board and the school district administration.[170] In 2012, the District was audited again by Pennsylvania Auditor General. Irregularities were reported to the school board and the school district administration.[171]

Tuition Students who live in the Big Spring 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 Big Spring 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 Big Spring School District's schools. The 2012 tuition rates are Elementary School - $7,381.50, High School - $9,646.97.[172]

Big Spring School District is funded by a combination of: a local earned income tax 1.65%, a local real property tax, a real estate transfer tax 0.5%, and a per capita tax, coupled with substantial funding from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the federal government.[173] Grants can provide an opportunity to supplement school funding without raising local taxes. 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 individual's level of wealth.[174] 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.[175]

State basic education funding[edit]

According to a report from Representative Todd Stephens office, School District receives 37.6% of its annual revenue from the state.[176]

For the 2013-14 school year, the Big Spring School District received a 1.9% increase or $8,943,575 in Pennsylvania Basic Education Funding. This is $163,413 more than its 2012-13 state BEF to the District. Additionally, Big Spring School District received $171,093 in Accountability Block Grant funding to focus on academic achievement and level funding for special education services. Among the public school districts in Cumberland County, Camp Hill School District received the highest percentage increase in BEF at 4.7%. 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 increases 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.[177] The highest percent of state spending per student is in the Chester-Upland district, where roughly 78 percent comes from state coffers. In Philadelphia, it is nearly 49 percent.[178] As a part of the education budget, the state provided the PSERS (Pennsylvania school employee pension fund) with $1,017,000,000 and Social Security payments for school employees of $495 million.[179]

For the 2012-13 school year, Big Spring School District received $8,951,255 in state Basic Education Funding.[180] The Governor's Executive Budget for 2012-2013 includes $9.34 billion for kindergarten through 12th grade public education, including $5.4 billion in basic education funding, which is an increase of $49 million over the 2011-12 budget. The state also provided $100 million for the Accountability Block grant. Big Spring School District received $171,093 in ABG funds. The state will also provide $544.4 million for School Employees’ Social Security and $856 million for School Employees’ Retirement fund called PSERS.[181] This amount is a $21,823,000 increase (0.34%) over the 2011-2012 appropriations for Basic Education Funding, School Employees' Social Security, Pupil Transportation, Nonpublic and Charter School Pupil Transportation. Since taking office, Corbett’s first two budgets have restored more than $918 million in support of public schools, compensating for the $1 billion in federal stimulus dollars lost at the end of the 2010-11 school year.

For the 2011-12 school year, Big Spring School District received $8,778,945 in state Basic Education Funding.[182][183] Additionally, the district will receive $171,093 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.[184] In 2010, Big Spring School District reported that 723 pupils received a free or reduced-price lunch due to their family meeting the federal poverty level.

For the 2010-11 school year, the state basic education funding to Big Spring School District was increased by 5.16% for a total of $9,728,261. The highest BEF increase awarded among Cumberland County school districts, was awarded to Camp Hill School District at 13.99%. Sixteen Pennsylvania school districts received an increase over 10%. One hundred fifty Pennsylvania school districts received the base 2% increase. Among Pennsylvania school districts, the highest increase in 2010-11 went to Kennett Consolidated School District in Chester County which received a 23.65% increase in state funding.[185] 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, even where enrollment had significantly declined. The amount of increase each school district received was set by Governor Edward Rendell and then Secretary of Education Gerald Zahorchak, as a part of the state budget proposal given each February. This was the second year of Governor Rendell’s policy to fund some districts at a far greater rate than others.[186]

In the 2009-10 budget year, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a 5.51% increase in Basic Education Funding for a total of $9,250,656. Seven Cumberland County school districts received increases of less than 6% in Basic Education Funding in 2009-10. Shippensburg Area School District received an 8.43% increase. In Pennsylvania, over 15 school districts received Basic Education Funding increases in excess of 10% in 2009. Muhlenberg School District in Berks County received the highest with a 22.31% increase in funding.[187] 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.[188] 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.[189][190]

The state's Basic Education Funding to the Big Spring School District in 2008-09 was $8,767,245.93. In 2008, the Big Spring School District reported that 588 students received free or reduced-price lunches due to low family income.[191]

Accountability Block Grants[edit]

Beginning in 2004-2005, the state launched the Accountability Block Grant school funding. This program has provided $1.5 billion to Pennsylvania’s school districts. The Accountability Block Grant program requires that its taxpayer dollars are focused on specific interventions that are most likely to increase student academic achievement. These interventions include: teacher training, all-day kindergarten, lower class size K-3rd grade, literacy and math coaching programs that provide teachers with individualized job-embedded professional development to improve their instruction, before or after school tutoring assistance to struggling students, For 2010-11, Big Spring School District applied for and received $464,388 in addition to all other state and federal funding. The district used the funding to provide all-day kindergarten for the third year, to provide teacher training and to increase instructional time for struggling students through before and after school tutoring and more.[192][193]

Classrooms for the Future grant[edit]

The Classroom for the Future state program provided districts with hundreds of thousands of extra state funding to buy laptop computers for each core curriculum high school class (English, Science, History, Math) and paid for teacher training to optimize the computers use. The program was funded from 2006-2009. Big Spring School District applied for funding in 2006-07 receiving $395,531. In 2007-08, it received another $300,000. The Big Spring School District administration did not apply for funding in 2008-09.[194] Big Spirng SD received the highest funding in Cumberland County. 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.

Science It’s Elementary grant[edit]

Newville Elementary School successfully applied to participate and received a Science It’s Elementary grant in 2008-09. For the 2008-09 school year, the program was offered in 143 schools reaching 2,847 teachers and 66,973 students across Pennsylvania.[195] In 2007, the Pennsylvania Department of Education initiated an effort to improve science instruction in the Commonwealth’s public elementary schools. Called Science: It’s Elementary, the program is a hands on instruction approach for elementary science classes that develops problem-solving and critical thinking skills.[196] To encourage schools to adopt the program’s standards aligned curriculum, the state provided a grant to cover the costs of materials and extensive mandatory teacher training.[197] The district was required to develop a three-year implementation plan for the participating school. They had to appoint a district liaison who was paid $3000 by PDE to serve as the conduit of all information between the district and the Department and its agents along with submitting orders and distributing supplies to implementing teachers. For the 2006-07 state education budget, $10 million was allocated. The 2006-07 State Education Budget provided $635 million in new spending for pre-K through 12th grades for the 2006-07 school year. This marked an 8-percent increase over 2005-06 public school funding.[198] The grant program was expanded to $14.5 million in the 2008-09 budget. The Science: It’s Elementary Grant was discontinued by Governor Rendell due to a state budget crisis.

Education Assistance grant[edit]

The state's EAP funding provides for the continuing support of tutoring services and other programs to address the academic needs of eligible students. Funds are available to eligible school districts and full-time career and technology centers (CTC) in which one or more schools have failed to meet at least one academic performance target, as provided for in Section 1512-C of the Pennsylvania Public School Code. In 2010-11 the Big Spring School District received $66,364.[199]

Other grants[edit]

The District did not participate in: Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection's Environmental Education grants,[200][200][201] 2012 Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy grant,[202] 2012 and 2013 Pennsylvania Hybrid Learning Grants,[203] nor the federal 21st Century Learning Grants.

Federal Stimulus grant[edit]

Big Spring School District received an extra $2,023,206 in ARRA - Federal Stimulus money to be used in specific programs like special education and meeting the academic needs of low-income students.[204] The funding was limited to the 2009-10 and 2010-2011 school years.[205] Due to the temporary nature of the funding, schools were repeatedly advised to use the funds for one-time expenditures like: acquiring equipment, making repairs to buildings, training teachers to provide more effective instruction or purchasing books and software.

Race to the Top grant[edit]

Big Spring School District officials applied for the Race to the Top federal grant which would have brought the district nearly one million additional federal dollars for improving student academic achievement.[206] Participation required the administration, the school board and the local teachers' union to sign an agreement to prioritize improving student academic success.[207] In Pennsylvania, 120 public school districts and 56 charter schools agreed to participate. Big Spring was the only Cumberland County school district that applied to participate.[208] Pennsylvania was not approved in the first round of the grant. The failure of districts to agree to participate was cited as one reason that Pennsylvania was not approved. A second round of state RTTT application judging will occur in June 2010.[209]

Common Cents state initiative[edit]

The Big Spring School Board decided 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.[210] After the review of the information, the district was not required to implement the recommended cost savings changes.

Real estate taxes[edit]

A mill is $1 of tax for every $1,000 of a property's assessed value. 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. Irregular property reassessments have become a serious issue in the commonwealth as it creates a significant disparity in taxation within a community, school district 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.[211]

In 2013, Newville Borough tax collector, William Witter was charged with failure to deposit funds he had collected. He collected multiple taxes including real estate taxes for the Big Spring School District.[212] An audit found $10,952.29 was misused by the accused.

  • 2013-14 - 12.6360 mills[213]
  • 2012-13 - 12.3640 mills[214]
  • 2011-12 - 12.0980 mills
  • 2010-11 - 16.0720 mills[215]
  • 2009-10 - 15.4550 mills.[216]
  • 2008-09 - 14.7204 mills [217]
  • 2007-08 - 14.1943 mills[218]
  • 2006-07 - 13.3650 mills[219]
  • 2005-06 - 12.3750 mills[220]

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.[221] The average yearly property tax paid by Cumberland County residents amounts to about 2.8% of their yearly income. Cumberland County is ranked 724th of the 3143 United States counties for property taxes as a percentage of median income.[222]

Act 1 Adjusted index[edit]

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 2011-2012 school year is 1.4 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.[223] In June 2011, the Pennsylvania General Assembly eliminated six of the ten exceptions to the Act 1 Index.[224] Several exceptions were maintained: 1) costs to pay interest and principal on indebtedness incurred prior to September 4, 2004 for Act 72 schools and prior to June 27, 2006 for non-Act 72 schools; 2) costs to pay interest and principal on electoral debt; 3) costs incurred in providing special education programs and services (beyond what is already paid by the State); and 4) costs due to increases of more than the Index in the school’s share of payments to PSERS (PA school employees pension fund) taking into account the state mandated PSERS contribution rate.[225][226]

The School District Adjusted Index for the Big Spring School District 2006-2007 through 2011-2012.[227]

For the 2014-15 budget year, Big Spring 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.[231]

For the 2013-14 budget year, Big Spring School Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed their Act 1 Index limit. For the school budget year 2013-14, 311 Pennsylvania public school districts adopted a resolution certifying that tax rates would not be increased above their index. Another 171 school districts adopted a preliminary budget leaving open the option of exceeded the Index limit. For the pension costs exception, 169 school districts received approval to exceed the Index. For special education costs, 75 districts received approval to exceed their tax limit. Eleven Pennsylvania public school districts received an approval for grandfathered construction debts.[232]

For the 2012-13 budget year, Big Spring 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. 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.[233]

For the 2011-12 school year, Big Spring School Board applied for an exception to exceed the Act 1 Index for teacher pension costs. Each year the Big Spring 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.[234]

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.[235]

The Big Spring School Board applied for multiple exceptions to exceed the Act 1 index for the 2010-2011 budget, including one for pension obligations.[236] In the Spring of 2010, 135 of 500 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.[237] Big Spring School Board did not apply for exceptions in 2008 or 2009.[238][239]

Property tax relief[edit]

In 2013-14, the Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief from gambling for the Big Spring School District declined to $129 per approved permanent primary residence. In the Big Spring School District, 5964 property owners applied for the tax relief. The decline in amount was related to more residents applying for tax relief and a decline in table games tax revenues. The amount received by the District must be divided equally among all approved homesteads.[240]

In 2009, the Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief from gambling for the Big Spring School District was $132 per approved permanent primary residence. In the district, 5826 property owners applied for the tax relief. The highest property tax relief, among Pennsylvania school districts, went to the residents of Chester Upland School District of Delaware County who received $632 per approved homestead.[241] 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 an additional farmstead exemption on buildings 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 Cumberland County, 75.93% of eligible property owners applied for property tax relief in 2009.[242]

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, so people who make 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.[243]

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%).[244]

Wellness policy[edit]

Big Spring School Board established a district wellness policy in 2006 - Policy 246.[245] 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 and physical education that are aligned with the Pennsylvania State Academic Standards for Health, Safety and Physical Education,[246] 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.[247] The Pennsylvania Department of Education required the district to submit a copy of the policy for approval.

The Big Spring School District provides both the federal free School Breakfast and federal free School Lunch programs. 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.[248] The meals are partially funded with federal dollars through the United States Department of Agriculture.[249]

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.[250] 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.[251] In 2014, President Obama ordered a prohibition of advertisements for unhealthy foods on public school campuses during the school day.[252] The Food and Drug Administration requires that students take milk as their beverage at lunch. In accordance with this law, any student requesting water in place of milk with their lunch must present a written request, signed by a doctor, documenting the need for water instead of milk.[253]

Big Spring 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.[254][255] Nurses also monitor each child's weight.

Extracurriculars[edit]

Big Spring School District provides a wide variety of activities, clubs and an extensive, publicly funded, interscholastic athletics program.[256] Varsity and junior varsity athletic activities are under the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association. Eligibility for participation is determined by the school board policies.[257] In order to be eligible for interscholastic athletics, a pupil must have passed all but one (1) subject (major or minor) during the previous grading period.[258] The District is noncompliant with state law, due to failing to post its Interscholastic Athletic Opportunities Disclosure Form on its website.

By Pennsylvania law, all K-12 students in the Big Spring School District, including those who attend a private school, a public cyber charter school, a public charter school and those who are homeschooled, are all 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.[259]

Big Springs School District operates a natatorium with low admission fees charged to the general public for use of the facility during non school hours.[260]

Sports[edit]

The district funds:

Middle school sports

According to PIAA directory July 2012 [261]

References[edit]

  1. ^ National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data - Big Spring School District, 2014
  2. ^ National Center for Education Statistics, Common Core of Data - Big Spring School District, 2010
  3. ^ Big Spring School Administration, Big Spring School District Enrollment report, 2012
  4. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education, Enrollment Report Big Spring School District, January 2009
  5. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education, Enrollment by LEA and School, 2013
  6. ^ Big Spring School Board Secretary (June 3, 2013). "Big Spring School Board Meeting Minutes". 
  7. ^ Big Spring School Board Secretary (June 2012). "Big Spring School Board Meeting Minutes". 
  8. ^ Big Spring School Board Secretary (June 20, 2011). "Big Spring School Board Meeting Minutes". 
  9. ^ Big Spring School Board Secretary (June 21, 2010). "Big Spring School Board Meeting Minutes". 
  10. ^ US Census Bureau, 2010 Census Poverty Data by Local Education Agency, 2011
  11. ^ American Fact Finder, US Census Bureau, 2010
  12. ^ US Census Bureau (2010). "American Fact Finder, State and County quick facts". 
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External links[edit]