California Area School District

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California Area School District
Map of Washington County Pennsylvania School Districts.png
11 Trojan Way
Coal Center, Pennsylvania, 15423
United States
Superintendent Brian Jackson
Grades K-12
Enrollment 995 in 2009[1]
Kindergarten 72
Grade 1 80
Grade 2 68
Grade 3 59
Grade 4 103
Grade 5 78
Grade 6 56
Grade 7 79
Grade 8 71
Grade 9 86
Grade 10 76
Grade 11 79
Grade 12 88
Other Enrollment is projected by the state to continue to decline to just 700 pupils by 2020.[2]
Color(s) Burgandy and Gold
Athletics conference WPIAL, PIAA
Mascot Trojans

The California Area School District is a diminutive, public school district serving the boroughs of Allenport, California, Coal Center, Elco, Long Branch, Roscoe and most of West Brownsville and West Pike Run Township in Washington County, Pennsylvania. California Area School District encompasses approximately 35 square miles. It is among the smallest districts in Pennsylvania. According to the 2000 federal census, it serves a resident population of 10,705. In 2009, the district residents' per capita income was $15,577, while the median family income was just $39,225.[3] Per school district officials, in school year 2007-08 the California Area School District provided basic educational services to 1,031 pupils through the employment of 75 teachers, 40 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 9 administrators. California Area School District received more than $7.9 million in state funding in school year 2007-08 school year. The district maintains a strong affiliation with California University of PA which includes a professional development program, as well as counselor and principle internships.

The district operates one high school (9th-12th) and one elementary/intermediate/middle school (K-8th).

Through PowerSchool, a new system integrated into the school students' grades can be viewed on the internet using the student's username and password.

Mission statement[edit]

Prepare California Area School District students to become informed, responsible, and productive individuals. Motivate students to pursue learning as a lifelong endeavor to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

Academic achievement[edit]

In 2011, the school district ranked 141st of 498 Pennsylvania school district. The ranking was based on five years of student academic performance on the PSSAs for math, reading, writing and three years of science.[4]

  • 2010 - 200th
  • 2009 - 222nd [5]
  • 2008 - 319th out of 498 ranked Pennsylvania school districts.
  • 2007 - 370th out of 501 Pennsylvania school districts.[6]

In 2010, California Area School District ranked 52nd in student achievement among western Pennsylvania schools.[7] The district was ranked 55th out of 105 western Pennsylvania school districts in 2009 by the Pittsburgh Business Times. The PBT ranking was based on three years of student academic achievement on the PSSAs for: math, reading, writing and one year of science.

In 2009, the academic achievement of the students of the California Area School District was in the 48th percentile among 500 Pennsylvania school districts. Scale - (0-99; 100 is state best) [8]

Graduation rate[edit]

In 2011, the graduation rate was reported as 97%.[9] In 2010, the Pennsylvania Department of Education issued a new, 4-year cohort graduation rate. California Area Senior High School's rate was 92% for 2010.[10]

Former graduation calculation rate:

  • 2010 - 100% [11]
  • 2009 - 100% [12]
  • 2008 - 97%
  • 2007 - 97%[13]

High school[edit]

In 2010, the high school ranked 34th out of 123 western Pennsylvania high schools for student academic achievement on the PSSAs for: reading, writing, math and two years of science by the Pittsburgh Business Times. In 2009 the high school ranked 41st of western Pennsylvania 11th grades.[14]

In 2011 and 2010, the school achieved Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) status.[15]

PSSA results
11th-grade Reading:
  • 2011 - 77% on grade level, (10% below basic). State - 69.1% of 11th graders are on grade level.[16]
  • 2010 - 79%, Boys - 73%/Girls-87% (14% below basic). State - 66% [17]
  • 2009 - 64%, Boys - 58%/Girls-71% (24% below basic). State - 65% [18]
  • 2008 - 81%, State - 65%
  • 2007 - 65%, State - 65% [19]
11th-grade Math:
  • 2011 - 67%, on grade level (13% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 60.3% of 11th graders are on grade level.
  • 2010 - 74%, Boys - 70%/Girls-83% (12% below basic). State - 59% [20]
  • 2009 - 63%, Boys - 60%/Girls-66% (26% below basic). State - 56% [21]
  • 2008 - 54%, State - 56% [22]
  • 2007 - 48%, State - 53%
11th-grade Science:
  • 2011 - 42% on grade level (15% below basic). State - 40% of 11th graders were on grade level. .[23]
  • 2010 - 64%, State - 39%
  • 2009 - 33%, State - 40%
  • 2008 - 38%, State - 39% [24]
College remediation

According to a Pennsylvania Department of Education study released in January 2009, 28% of California Area School District graduates required remediation in mathematics and or reading before they were prepared to take college level courses in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education or community colleges.[25] 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.[26] Per the Pennsylvania Department of Education, one in three recent high school graduates who attend Pennsylvania's public universities and community colleges takes at least one remedial course in math, reading or English.

Dual enrollment[edit]

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.[27] Under the Pennsylvania Transfer and Articulation Agreement, many Pennsylvania colleges and universities accept these credits for students who transfer to their institutions.[28] 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.[29] For the 2009-10 funding year, the school district received a state grant of $5,101 for the program.[30]

Graduation requirements[edit]

The California Area School Board has determined that a student must earn 26 credits in order to graduate, including: English 4 credits, Math 3 credits, Science 3 credits, Social Science 3 credits, Wellness /First Aid (Health) 0.5 credits, Family & Consumer Science 0.5 credits, Physical Education 1.5 credits, Electives 10.5 credits.[31]

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.[32]

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.[33]

Middle school[edit]

In 2009 and 2010 the middle school achieved AYP status. The attendance rate was 92% in 2009 while in 2010 it increased to 93%.[34]

In 2011 and 2010, the middle school achieved AYP status.[35] The attendance rate was 92% in 2011 and 93% in 2010.[36]

8th Grade Reading:
  • 2011 - 85% on grade level (8% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 81.8% of 8th graders on grade level.
  • 2010 - 84%, Boys 79%/Girls 91% (5% below basic). State - 81%.[37]
  • 2009 - 80%, Boys 79%/Girls 81% (6% below basic). State - 80%
  • 2008 - 78% (13% below basic). State - 78% [38]
  • 2007 - 70%, (10% below basic). State - 75%
8th Grade Math:
  • 2011 - 87% on grade level (8% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 76.9% of 8th graders are on grade level
  • 2010 - 88%, Boys 88%/Girls 88% (5% below basic). State - 75%.[39]
  • 2009 - 89%, Boys 90%/Girls 86% (3% below basic). State - 71% [40]
  • 2008 - 80% (8% below basic). State - 70%
  • 2007 - 85% (3% below basic). State - 68%
8th Grade Science:
  • 2011 - 54% on grade level (19% below basic). State – 58.3% of 8th graders were on grade level.
  • 2010 - 53%, (22% below basic). State - 57%
  • 2009 - 61%, (15% below basic), State - 55% [41]
  • 2008 - 48%, (20% below basic), State - 52% [42]
7th Grade Reading:
  • 2011 - 68% on grade level, Boys 63%/Girls 73% (11% below basic). State – 76%
  • 2010 - 75%, Boys 61%/Girls 88% (9% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 73% of 7th graders on grade level.
  • 2009 - 74%, Boys 73%/Girls 74% (11% below basic), State - 71%
  • 2008 - 78% (10% below basic), State - 70%
  • 2007 - 69% (10% below basic), State - 67%
7th Grade Math:
  • 2011 - 77% on grade level Boys 81%/Girls 73% (11% below basic). State - 78.6%
  • 2010 - 74%, Boys 66%/Girls 80% (14% below basic). State - 77%
  • 2009 - 72%, Boys 78%/Girls 65% (10% below basic). State - 75%
  • 2008 - 78% (8% below basic), State - 71%
  • 2007 - 81% (4% below basic), State - 67%

Intermediate School[edit]

In 2011 and 2010, the intermediate school achieved AYP status.[43] The attendance rate was 94% in 2011.[44]

6th Grade Reading:

  • 2011 - 78% on grade level Boys 83%/Girls 74% (6% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 69.9% of 6th graders are on grade level.[45]
  • 2010 - 67%, Boys 67%/Girls 70% (20% below basic). State - 68%.
  • 2009 - 75%, Boys 70%/Girls 80% (7% below basic). State - 67%
  • 2008 - 66% (20% below basic), State - 67%
  • 2007 - 74% (9% below basic), State - 63%

6th Grade Math:

  • 2011 - 77% on grade level Boys 86%/Girls 68% (16% below basic). State - 78.8%.
  • 2010 - 73%, Boys 75%/Girls 70% (15% below basic). State - 78%.
  • 2009 - 77%, Boys 70%/Girls 82% (9% below basic). State - 75%.
  • 2008 - 69%, (18% below basic), State - 72%.
  • 2007 - 73%, (11% below basic), State - 69%.
5th Grade Reading:
  • 2011 - 72% on grade level (6% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 67.3% of 5th graders are on grade level.[46]
  • 2010 - 67%, (21% below basic). State - 64% [47]
  • 2009 - 64% (20% below basic), State - 64%
  • 2008 - 56% (19% below basic), State - 62%
  • 2007 - 56% (14% below basic), State - 60%

5th Grade Math:

  • 2011 - 68% on grade level (7% below basic). State - 74%
  • 2010 - 65% (15% below basic). State - 74%
  • 2009 - 82% (4% below basic). State - 73%
  • 2008 - 57% (22% below basic). State - 73%
  • 2007 - 59% (17% below basic). State - 71%

Elementary School[edit]

In 2011 and 2010, the elementary school achieved AYP status.[48] The attendance rate was 93% in2010 and 2011.[49]

4th Grade Reading:
  • 2011 - 65% on grade level Boys 61%/Girls 69%, (17% below basic), State – 73.3% [50]
  • 2010 - 77% Boys 71%/Girls 82%, (10% below basic). State - 73%
  • 2009 - 73% (7% below basic). State - 72%
  • 2008 - 66% (18% below basic). State - 70%
4th Grade Math:
  • 2011 - 80% on grade level, Boys 75%/Girls 85%, (11% below basic), State – 85.3% of 4th graders are on grade level.
  • 2010 - 86%, Boys 86%/Girls 86%, (5% below basic). State - 84%
  • 2009 - 84%, (7% below basic). State - 81%
  • 2008 - 75%, (15% below basic). State - 80%
4th Grade Science:
  • 2011 - 88% on grade level Boys 90%/Girls 85%, (4% below basic). State – 82.9%
  • 2010 - 95%, Boys 95%/Girls 95% (2% below basic). State - 81%
  • 2009 - 93%, (0% below basic). State - 83%
  • 2008 - 83%, (0% below basic). State - 81%
3rd Grade Reading:
  • 2011 - 68%, Boys 63%/Girls 75%, (15% below basic), State – 77.2%
  • 2010 - 63%, Boys 52%/Girls 74%, (27% below basic). State - 75%
  • 2009 - 80%, Boys 74%/Girls 84% (13% below basic). State - 78%
  • 2008 - 74%, (17% below basic). State - 70%
3rd Grade Math:
  • 2011 - 79%, Boys 82%/Girls 68%, (3% below basic). State – 83.5%
  • 2010 - 68%, Boys 66%/Girls 70%, (13% below basic). State - 84%
  • 2009 - 78%, (8% below basic). State - 81%
  • 2008 - 78%, (10% below basic). State - 80%

Special education[edit]

In December 2009, the district administration reported that 149 pupils or 15% of the district's pupils received Special Education services.[51]

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 Special Education Department.[52]

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.[53]

California Area School District received a $608,708 supplement for special education services in 2010.[54] For the 2011-12 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.[55]

Gifted education[edit]

The District Administration reported that 19 or 2.03% of its students were gifted in 2009.[56] 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.[57]

Bullying policy and school safety[edit]

The California Area School District administration reported there were no incidents of bullying, in the district, in 2009-2010.[58][59]

The California Area School Board has provided the district's antibully policy online.[60] 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.[61] 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.[62]

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.[63]


In 2009, the district reports employing over 80 teachers with a starting salary of $$35,475 for 180 days for pupil instruction and 186 days total.[64] The average teacher salary was $52,148 while the maximum salary is $111,885.[65] 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.[66] Additionally, California Area School District teachers receive a defined benefit pension, health insurance, professional development reimbursement, paid personal days, 11 sick days, 4 paid bereavement days, 3 personal days and many other benefits. Teachers work 7 hours and 15 minutes. Teachers are guaranteed daily prep periods. Teachers are paid extra if they are required to work outside of the regular school day [67] Teachers receive a severance bonus the amount of which depends on length of service. 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.[68]

In 2007, the district employed 66 teachers and the average teacher salary in the district was $44,790 for 180 days worked.[69] As of 2007, Pennsylvania ranked fourth in the nation for teacher compensation.[66]

The district administrative costs were $1,012.30 per pupil in 2008. This ranked 58th among Pennsylvania school districts for administrative spending. The lowest administrative cost per pupil in Pennsylvania was $398 per pupil.[70]

In 2008, California Area School District reported spending $13,676 per pupil. This ranked 124th in the commonwealth.[71]


In 2009, the district reported $1,473,485 in an unreserved-undesignated fund balance. The designated fund balance was reported as $1,248,983.[72]

In January 2010, the Pennsylvania Auditor General conducted a performance audit of the district. Findings were reported to the administration and school board.[73]

The district is funded by a combination of: a local income tax, a property tax, a real estate transfer tax, coupled with substantial funding from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the federal government.[74] 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.[75]

State basic education funding[edit]

In 2011–12, the district will receive $5,607,648 in state Basic Education Funding.[76] Additionally, the district will receive $69,287 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.[77] In 2010 the district reported that 331 pupils received a free or reduced-price lunch due to the family meeting the federal poverty levels.

For 2010-11 the California Area School District received a 3.38% increase in state Basic Education Funding resulting in a $5,912,968 payment.[78] Charleroi School District received a 9.90% increase, which was the highest increase in BEF in Washington County. Kennett Consolidated School District in Chester County received the highest increase in the state at 23.65% increase in funding for the 2010-11 school year. One hundred fifty school districts received the base 2% increase in 2010-11. 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.[79]

In the 2009-2010 budget year the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a 2% increase in Basic Education funding for a total of $5,719,802. The state Basic Education funding to the California Area School District in 2008-09 was $5,607,648.41. The highest increase in Washington County went to Burgettstown Area School District which received a 6.45% increase. Eleven Washington County school districts received an increase of less than 5% in 2009-10. Muhlenberg School District of Berks County received an increase of 22.31 percent. Sixteen school districts received an increase in funding of over 10 percent in 2009. Ninety Pennsylvania school district received the base increase of 2%.[80]

In 2008, the district reported that 386 pupils were receiving a free or reduced cost lunch due to family income meeting federal poverty guidelines.

For the 2009-10 school year, CASD total state funding was 59.98% of the district's revenue, while federal funding amounted to 10.14% of revenues. Local taxes provided 29.88% of revenues.[81]

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 teacher coaching programs that provide teachers with individualized job-embedded professional development to improve their instruction, before or after school tutoring assistance to struggling students. For 2010-11 the district applied for and received $188,062 in addition to all other state and federal funding. The California Area School District uses the funding to provide extensive teacher training, reduced class size in K-3rd, to improve instruction based on research and other uses.[82][83]

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. California Area School District was denied funding in 2006-07. In 2007-08 the district received $108,865. In 2008-09, the district received 45,413 for a total funding of $154,278.[84] All but 50 school district participated in the program.

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, California Area School District applied for and received $21,696 in funding.[85]

Federal Stimulus funding[edit]

The district received an extra $1,454,096 in ARRA - Federal Stimulus money to be used in specific programs like special education and meeting the academic needs of low-income students.[86] The funding was for the 2009-10 and 2010-11 school years.

Race to the Top grant[edit]

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.[87] Participation required the administration, the school board and the local teachers' union to sign an agreement to prioritize improving student academic success.[88] 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.[89]

Common Cents state initiative[edit]

The California Area 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.[90] After the review of the information, the district was not required to implement the recommended cost savings changes.

Real estate taxes[edit]

California Area School District School Board set property tax rates in 2011 at 91.0700 mills.[91] School year 2010-11 was the 12th year in a row that the California Area School Board had not raised taxes. Board member George Safin credited a generous state subsidy funding. The district also receives 10 mills payment in lieu of taxes paid by California University of Pennsylvania for dormitory property in the district.[92] A mill is $1 of tax for every $1,000 of a property's assessed value. Irregular property reassessments have become a serious issue in the commonwealth as it creates a significant disparity in taxation within a community and across a region. On the local level, Pennsylvania district revenues are dominated by two main sources: 1) Property tax collections, which account for the vast majority (between 75-85%) of local revenues; and 2) Act 511 tax collections, which are around 15% of revenues for school districts.[93]

  • 2010 - 91.0700 mills.[94]
  • 2009 - 91.0700 mills.[95]
  • 2008 - 91.0700 mills.[96]
  • 2007 - 91.0700 mills.[97]

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 and the adjusted index for each district are publicly announced by the Pennsylvania Department of Education In September each year.[98] 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.[99]

The School District Adjusted Index for the California Area School District 2006-2007 through 2010-2011.[100]

  • 2006-07 - 5.6%, Base 3.9%
  • 2007-08 - 4.9%, Base 3.4%
  • 2008-09 - 6.3%, Base 4.4%
  • 2009-10 - 5.8%, Base 4.1%
  • 2010-11 - 4.1%, Base 2.9%
  • 2011-12 - 2.0%, Base 1.4%
  • 2012-13 - 2.4%, Base 1.7% [101]

For the 2011-12 school year the California Area School Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed the Act 1 Index.[102] Each year, the 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.[103]

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.[104]

The California Area School Board also did not apply for exceptions to exceed the Act 1 Index for the budget year 2010-2011, nor for 2009-10.[105][106] 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.[107]

Property tax relief[edit]

In 2010, property tax relief for 2,428 approved residents of California Area School District was set at $179 for 2,271 approved homesteads.[108] In 2009, the Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief from gambling for the California Area School District was $179 per approved permanent primary residence.[109] In the district, 1,311 property owners applied for the tax relief. In Washington County, the highest tax relief went to Washington School District at $407 in 2009 and $414 in 2010. The greatest tax relief in Pennsylvania went to the Chester Upland School District of Delaware County set at $632 in 2009 and $641 in 2010.[110] 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.[111]

Enrollment and Consolidation[edit]

The enrollment at California Area School District is among the lowest 8% in Pennsylvania. Department of Education enrollment projections do not anticipate a growth in enrollment for the next decade. A Standard and Poors study found that an optimal school district size, to conserve administrative costs, was 3000 pupils.[112] Consolidation of administrations with an adjacent school district would achieve substantial administrative cost savings for people in both communities.[113] 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.[114]

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).[115] 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.[116] Total public school enrollment in 2009 was 1,787,351 pupils. In March 2011, the Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants released a report finding that the state would save hundreds of million by cutting the number of school administrations in half through consolidation, with no impact on programs offered to students.[117]

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.[118] 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.[119]


The district offers a variety of clubs, activities and sports. California competes in single A WPIAL sports which include baseball, basketball, football, soccer, tennis and volleyball. The school board sets policies regarding eligibility to participate in these activities.[120]

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.[121][122][123]

As a part of constraints imposed by the 2011-2012 budget, the board eliminated nine assistant coaching positions and afterschool weightlifting and fitness programs. The high school boys' tennis program was eliminated because only one student was on the team. The program costs about $7,000 a year.[92]


  1. ^ Enrollment and Projections by LEA, Pennsylvania Department of Education, January 2009
  2. ^ Enrollment and Projections by LEA, Pennsylvania Department of Education, July 2010
  3. ^ American Fact Finder, US Census Bureau, 2009
  4. ^ Pittsburgh Business Times (April 11, 2011). "Statewide Ranking Information Pennsylvania Schools,". 
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External links[edit]