Carbondale Area School District

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Carbondale Area School District
Map of Lackawanna County Pennsylvania School Districts.PNG
Address
Business Route 6/101 Brooklyn Street
Carbondale, Pennsylvania, Lackawanna County, 18407-2207
United States
Information
School board 9 elected members serve 4 year terms
Superintendent Mr. Joseph Gorham (2013) salary $110,000

Dr. Dominick Famularo (salary $158,313 in 2011) retired 6/2012

Administrator Ann Boyle $87,976

Cerra, David, Business Manager, $83,106
Borick, Timothy, Psychologist, $71,219
Ms. Angela Geyer, Special Education Supervisor
Paul Daniels, Director of Food Service
Mrs. Lisa Emmett, Reading First Coordinator
Mrs. Stephanie Miller, Truant Officer
Erik Larson, Athletic Director

Principal Mr. William Vaverchak
Principal Farrell, Joseph, salary $106,139 (2012)
Vice principal Golecki, Joseph, salary $100,376 (2012)
Staff 121 nonteaching staff members
Faculty 108.20 teachers
Grades preschool-12
Age 4 years old preschool to 21 years old for special education students
Pupils 1,613 students (2012), 1478 pupils in 2010[1]
Kindergarten 104
Grade 1 108
Grade 2 106
Grade 3 114
Grade 4 127
Grade 5 118
Grade 6 105
Grade 7 129
Grade 8 120
Grade 9 117
Grade 10 111
Grade 11 107
Grade 12 112
Other Enrollment projected to increase to 1818 pupils in 2020
Mascot Chargers
Budget $22.02 million (2013-14)[2]

$21 million (2012-13)
$20,623,457 (2011-12)
$16,546,000 (2010-11)
$15,830,000 (2009-10)
$14,384,000 (2008-09)
$13,551,000 (2007-08)

Per pupil spending $10,873 (2008)
Website

The Carbondale Area School District is a small, suburban school district that provides education services to the children residing in the City of Carbondale and Fell Township in Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania. The district encompasses an area of 18.6 square miles. The school district has a population of 11,641, according to the 2000 federal census. In 2009, the district residents' per capita income was $15,174, while the median family income was $35,833.[3] Per school district administrative officials, during the 2005-06 school year, the district provided basic educational services to 1,458 pupils. The district students are 95% white, 1% Asian, 2% black and 3% Hispanic.[4] In 2006, the district employed of 6 administrators, 103 teachers, and 46 full-time and part-time support personnel. Special education is provided by the district and the Northeastern Educational Intermediate Unit #19. Occupational training and adult education in various vocational and technical fields were provided by the district and the Career Technology Center of Lackawanna County.

The district operates Carbondale Area Jr/Sr High School (7th-12th) and Carbondale Area Elementary School (K-6th).

Academic achievement[edit]

Carbondale Area School District was ranked 215th out of 498 Pennsylvania school districts in 2012, by the Pittsburgh Business Times. The ranking was based on the last three years of student academic performance on the PSSA's for: reading, mathematics and writing, as well as science.[5] The PSSAs are given to all children in grades 3rd through 8th and the 11th grade in high school. Adapted examinations are given to children in the special education programs.

  • 2011 - 217th [6]
  • 2010 - 196th
  • 2009 - 234th
  • 2008 - 364th
  • 2007 - 422nd
Overachiever statewide ranking

In 2012, the Pittsburgh Business Times also reported an Overachievers Ranking for 498 Pennsylvania school districts. Carbondale Area School District ranked 3rd. In 2011, the District was ranked 2nd. [7] The editor describes the ranking as: "a ranking answers the question - which school districts do better than expectations based upon economics? This rank takes the Honor Roll rank and adds the percentage of students in the district eligible for free and reduced-price lunch into the formula. A district finishing high on this rank is smashing expectations, and any district above the median point is exceeding expectations."[8]

In 2009, the academic achievement of the students of Carbondale Area School District was in the 67th percentile of Pennsylvania's 500 school districts. Scale (0-99; 100 is state best).[9]

In 2008, students in Carbondale Area School District demonstrated the highest achievement on the state's annual math test, among all ten Lackawanna County school districts.[10] Additionally, the Institute for Public Policy and Economic Development found that Carbondale 5th grade writing achievement is low 20% on grade level, which is below the county's average score and has declined from a high f 40% in 2006. The district's 8th has declined in writing achievement from 2007-2009 achieving 65% on grade level in 2009. Eleventh grade students at 09% on grade level, has shown strong writing skills acquisition from 2006-2009.[11]

District AYP status history[edit]

In 2012, Carbondale Area School District declined to Warning AYP status due to lagging student achievement at both schools and a low graduation rate.[12] In 2011, Carbondale Area School District achieved Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). In 2011, 94 percent of the 500 Pennsylvania public school districts achieved the No Child Left Behind Act progress level of 72% of students reading on grade level and 67% of students demonstrating on grade level math. In 2011, 46.9 percent of Pennsylvania school districts achieved Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) based on student performance. An additional 37.8 percent of school districts made AYP based on a calculated method called safe harbor, 8.2 percent on the growth model and 0.8 percent on a two-year average performance.[13] School District achieved AYP status each year from 2004 to 2009, while in 2003 the District was in Warning status due to lagging student achievement.[14]

Graduation rate[edit]

In 2012, Carbondale Area School District's graduation rate was 88%. In 2011, the District's graduation rate was 89%. In 2010, the Pennsylvania Department of Education issued a new, 4-year cohort graduation rate. Carbondale Area Junior Senior High School's rate was 88% for 2010.[15]

Junior Senior High School[edit]

Carbondale Area junior Senior High School is located at 101 Brooklyn Street, Carbondale. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, the school reported an enrollment of 628 pupils in grades 7th through 12th, with 312 pupils eligible for a federal free or reduced-price lunch. The school employed 51 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 12:1.[20]

In 2012, Carbondale Area Junior Senior High School declined to School Improvement II AYP status due to continuing low student achievement and low graduation rates.[21] In 2011, the school had been in Making Progress: in School Improvement I due to lagging student achievement. In 2010, Carbondale Area Junior Senior High School is in School Improvement I AYP status. In 2009, the school was in Warning status.[22] 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 fro additional tutoring for struggling students.[23]

PSSA Results
11th Grade Reading:
  • 2012 - 66% on grade level (18% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 67% of 11th graders on grade level.[24]
  • 2011 - 84%, (11% below basic). State - 69%
  • 2010 - 65%, (24% below basic). State - 66% [25]
  • 2009 - 73% (12% below basic), State - 65%
  • 2008 - 81% (4% below basic), State - 65% [26]
  • 2007 - 77% (10% below basic), State - 65% [27]
11th Grade Math:
  • 2012 - 56% on grade level (27% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 59% of 11th graders are on grade level.[28]
  • 2011 - 65%, (16% below basic). State - 60%
  • 2010 - 56%. (32% below basic). State - 59%
  • 2009 - 62%, (25% below basic), State - 56% [29]
  • 2008 - 64% (18% below basic), State - 56%
  • 2007 - 51% (18% below basic), State - 53%
11th Grade Science:
  • 2012 - 38% on grade level (23% below basic). State - 42% of 11th graders were on grade level.
  • 2011 - 39%, (29% below basic). State - 40%
  • 2010 - 30%, (32% below basic). State - 39% [30]
  • 2009 - 36% (26% below basic), State - 40%
  • 2008 - 25% (30% below basic), State - 39% [31]

Science in Motion Carbondale Area High School did not take advantage of a state program called Science in Motion which brought college professors and sophisticated science equipment to the school to raise science awareness and to provide inquiry-based experiences for the students. The Science in Motion program was funded by a state appropriation and cost the school nothing to participate.[32] Schools in the area worked with Cedar Crest College to provide the enrichment experiences.

College remediation[edit]

According to a Pennsylvania Department of Education study released in January 2009, 16% of Carbondale Area High School graduates required remediation in mathematics and or reading before they were prepared to take college level courses in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education or community colleges.[33] 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.[34] 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.[35] Under the Pennsylvania Transfer and Articulation Agreement, many Pennsylvania colleges and universities accept these credits for students who transfer to their institutions.[36] For the 2009-10 funding year, the school district received a state grant of $1,005 for the program.[37]

Graduation requirements[edit]

The Carbondale Area School Board has determined that students must earn 23 credits to graduate, including: English 4 credits, Social Studies 3 credits, Mathematics 3 credits, Science 3 credits, Physical Education 2 credits, Arts or Humanities 2 credits, Health 0.5 credits, and Electives 5.5 credits.[38]

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.[39] At Carbondale Area School District the project is a three year process which includes a research paper and oral presentation. Effective with the graduating class of 2017, the Pennsylvania State Board of Education eliminated the state mandate that students complete a culminating project in order to graduate.[40]

By Pennsylvania School Board regulations, beginning with the class of 2017, public school students must demonstrate successful completion of secondary level course work in Algebra I, Biology, and English Literature by passing the Keystone Exams.[41] The exam is given at the end of the course. Keystone Exams replace the PSSAs for 11th grade. Students have several opportunities to pass the exam, with those who do not able to perform a project in order to graduate.[42][43] For the class of 2019, a Composition exam will be added. For the class of 2020, passing a civics and government exam will be added to the graduation requirements.[44] 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.[45] 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.

SAT scores[edit]

In 2012, 71 Carbondale Area School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 462. The Math average score was 470. The Writing average score was 446. 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, 59 Carbondale Area students took the SAT exams. The district's Verbal Average Score was 460. The Math average score was 487. The Writing average score was 453.[46] Pennsylvania ranked 40th among states with SAT scores: Verbal - 493, Math - 501, Writing - 479.[47] 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.[48]

Junior high school[edit]

8th Grade Reading
  • 2012 - 76% on grade level, 46% advanced (12% below basic) State - 79% [49]
  • 2011 - 87%, 65% advanced (7% below basic) State - 81%
  • 2010 - 91%, 82% advanced (3% below basic) State - 81%
  • 2009 - 87%, 68% advanced (4% below basic), State - 80%
  • 2008 - 94%, 79% advanced (2% below basic), State - 78%
  • 2007 - 85%, 53% advanced (6% below basic), State - 75%[50]
8th Grade Math
  • 2012 - 77% on grade level. 55% advanced (13% below basic) State - 76%
  • 2011 - 84%, 68% advanced (7% below basic) State - 76%
  • 2010 - 85%, 71% advanced (8% below basic) State - 75%
  • 2009 - 80%, 66% advanced (11% below basic), State - 71%
  • 2008 - 88%, 66% advanced (3% below basic), State - 70% [51]
  • 2007 - 85%, 65% advanced (4% below basic), State - 67%
8th Grade Science
  • 2012 - 50% on grade level. (32% below basic). State - 59%.
  • 2011 - 38%, (46% below basic). State - 58%.
  • 2010 - 44% on grade level. State - 57%.
  • 2009 - 43%, State - 54% [52]
  • 2008 - 58%, State - 52% [53]

Elementary school[edit]

Carbondale Area Elementary School is located at 103 Brooklyn Street, Carbondale. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, the school reported an enrollment of 933 pupils in grades kindergarten through 6th, with 634 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school is a federally designated Title I school. Carbondale Area Elementary School employed 56 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 16.5:1.[54] Carbondale Area Elementary School reported a 94% attendance rate in 2010 and 2009.[55] Carbondale Elementary School provides full-day kindergarten since 2004. The school also provides taxpayer funded preschool.[56]

Carbondale Area Elementary School declined to Warning AYP status in 2012 due to lagging student academic achievement in both reading and mathematics. The School achieved AYP in both 2004 through 2011.[57] In 2011, the school was named a Blue Ribbon School by the United States Department of Education.[58]

PSSA results
4th Grade Science;
  • 2012 - 84%, (3% below basic), State - 82%
  • 2011 - 92%, (1% below basic), State - 83%
  • 2010 - 96%, (1% below basic), State - 81%
  • 2009 - 90%, (1% below basic), State - 83%
  • 2008 - 83%, (4% below basic), State - 81%

Special education[edit]

In December 2010, Carbondale Area School District Administration reported that 302 pupils or 19% of the district's pupils received Special Education services, with 48% of those identified having a specific learning disability. In December 2009, the District administration reported that 314 pupils or 19.9% of the district's pupils received Special Education services.[64]

Carbondale Area School District engages in identification procedures to ensure that eligible students receive an appropriate educational program consisting of special education and related services, individualized to meet student needs. At no cost to the parents, these services are provided in compliance with state and federal law; and are reasonably calculated to yield meaningful educational benefit and student progress. 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.[65][66]

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.[67] 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.[68] 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.[69] 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.[70] In 2012, the Obama Administration's US Department of Education issued a directive that schools include students with disabilities in extracurricular activities, including sports.[71]

Carbondale Area School District received a $1,015,364 supplement for special education services in 2010.[72] For the 2011-12, 2012–13, 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.[73][74]

Gifted education[edit]

Carbondale Area School District Administration reported that 33 or 2.18% of its students were gifted in 2009.[75] By law, the district must provide mentally gifted programs at all grade levels. The referral process for a gifted evaluation can be initiated by teachers or parents by contacting the student’s building principal and requesting an evaluation. All requests must be made in writing. To be eligible for mentally gifted programs in Pennsylvania, a student must have a cognitive ability of at least 130 as measured on a standardized ability test by a certified school psychologist. Other factors that indicate giftedness will also be considered for eligibility.[76] Through the strategic planning process, the Superintendent must ensure that Carbondale Area School District provides a continuum of program and service options to meet the needs of all mentally gifted students for enrichment, acceleration, or both. The Carbondale Area School District gifted curriculum focuses on complex and in-depth study of major ideas, key concepts and themes that integrate knowledge within and across disciplines.[38]

Bullying Policy[edit]

The Carbondale Area School Administration reported three incidents of bullying occurring in the schools in 2009.[77][78]

The school board prohibits bullying by district students and employees.[79] The Board directs that complaints of bullying shall be investigated promptly, and corrective action shall be taken when allegations are verified. No reprisals or retaliation shall occur as a result of good faith reports of bullying. 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.[80] District administration are required to annually provide the following information with the district's Safe School Report: the board’s bullying policy, a report of bullying incidents in the school district, and information on the development and implementation of any bullying prevention, intervention or education programs. 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.[81]

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.[82]

Budget[edit]

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

Under Pennsylvania’s Taxpayer Relief Act, Act 1 of the Special Session of 2006, all school districts of the first class A, second class, third class and fourth class must adopt a preliminary budget proposal. The proposal must include estimated revenues and expenditures and the proposed tax rates. This proposed budget must be considered by the Board no later than 90 days prior to the date of the election immediately preceding the fiscal year. The preliminary budget proposal must also be printed and made available for public inspection at least 20 days prior to its adoption. The board of school directors may hold a public hearing on the budget, but are not required to do so. The board must give at least 10 days’ public notice of its intent to adopt the final budget according to Act 1 of 2006.[83]

In 2011, the average teacher salary in Carbondale Area School District was $55,599.90 a year, while the cost of the benefits teachers receive was $16,388 per employee, for a total annual average teacher compensation of $67,429.[84] 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.[85]

In 2009, the District reported employing 128 teachers and administrators with a median salary of $52,333 and a top salary of $140,898.[86] The teacher’s work day is 7 hours with 180 student instruction days 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.[87]

In 2007, the Carbondale Area School District employed 89 teachers working 180 days of pupil instruction. The average teacher salary in the district was $46,528.[88] District officials reported that Famularo, the superintendent earns $169,000 plus benefits, which makes him the highest-paid school superintendent in the county. By renewing Famularo’s contract as currently written, it would end up costing the district over $1 million.[89] 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.[90]

Per pupil spending In 2008, per pupil spending at Carbondale Area School District was $10,837 for each child. This ranked 403rd among Pennsylvania's 500 school districts.[91] In 2010, the District’s per pupil spending had increased to $11,511.14.[92] In 2011, Pennsylvania’s per pupil spending was $13,467, ranking 6th in the United States.[93] In 2007, the Pennsylvania per pupil total expenditures was reported as $12,759.[94]

The U.S. Census Bureau reported that Pennsylvania spent $8,191 per pupil in school year 2000-01.[95] In 2007, the Pennsylvania per pupil total expenditures was reported as $12,759.[94] Among the fifty states, Pennsylvania’s total per pupil revenue (including all sources) ranked 11th at $15,023 per student, in 2008-09.[96] Pennsylvania’s total revenue per pupil rose to $16,186 ranking 9th in the nation in 2011.[97]

Administration costs Carbondale Area School District administrative costs per pupil in 2008 was $638.79 per pupil. This is ranked 400th among in the 500 school districts in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The lowest administrative cost per pupil in Pennsylvania was $398 per pupil.[98] In 2011 it was revealed that administrative costs had risen dramatically in recent years. The principal of the elementary school is the highest paid in the region at $155,000 which $12,000 more than the next highest-paid elementary principal in the county. He received a 6 percent raise and a $2,400 annuity in 2011-12. The principal's wife is a member of the Carbondale Area School Board.[99] For the 2011-12 school year, Superintendent received a base salary and annuity of $158,000. He also receives a comprehensive benefits package, which brings his total pay to $189,000. In 2011, the school board notified the superintendent they would not renew his current contract. The Pennsylvania School Board Association tracks salaries for Pennsylvania public school employees. It reports that the average superintendent salary in Pennsylvania was $122,165, in 2008.[100] In 2012 Dr. Dominick Famularo retired, receiving $320,000 in retirement incentives and a PSERS pension of $140,722 a year.[101] Additionally, elementary principal Paul Kaczmarcik, Ed.D. salary $126,220 (2012), and elementary Vice Principal Joseph Golecki also retired to take advantage of the incentive offered by the Board. These benefits included the former employees receiving nine percent of their final year's salary each year until they are 65 as well as the district paying for their health insurance.

For the 2011-12 school year, the board made significant cuts due to a loss of federal funding. The final budget was $20,623,457. It eliminated out of state travel, closed the pool and eliminated 2 teaching position, as well as, various staff positions. A $25 yearly fee will be charged to students who plan on driving to school and parking their cars in the student parking lot.[102]

Reserves In 2008, the Carbondale Area School District reported an unreserved designated fund balance of zero and an unreserved-undesignated fund balance of $3,119,237.[103] In 2010, Carbondale Area School District Administration reported an increase to $6,129,811.00 in its reserves. By 2012, the Districts's reserves were $5,421,000. Pennsylvania public school district reserve funds are divided into two categories – designated and undesignated. The undesignated funds are not committed to any planned project. Designated funds and any other funds, such as capital reserves, are allocated to specific projects. School districts are required by state law to keep 5 percent of their annual spending in the undesignated reserve funds to preserve bond ratings. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, from 2003 to 2010, as a whole, Pennsylvania school districts amassed nearly $3 billion in reserved funds.[104] By 2013, reserves held by Pennsylvania public school districts, as a whole, had increased to over $3.8 billion.[105]

Audit In January 2009, the Pennsylvania Auditor General conducted a performance audit on the district. Several findings were reported to the school board and administration. The auditors noted that Board members had failed to file Statements of Financial Interests in violation of the Pennsylvania Public Official and Ethics Act.[106]

Tuition Students who live in the Carbondale Area School District's attendance area may choose to attend one of Pennsylvania's 157 public charter schools. A student living in a neighboring public school district or a foreign exchange student may seek admission to Carbondale Area School District. For these cases, the Pennsylvania Department of Education sets an annual tuition rate for each school district. It is the amount the public school district pays to a charter school for each resident student that attends the charter and it is the amount a nonresident student's parents must pay to attend the District's schools. The 2012 tuition rates are Elementary School - $7,749, High School - $9,720[107]

Carbondale Area School District is funded by a combination of: a local tax on income, a property tax, a real estate transfer tax 0.5%, coupled with substantial funding from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the federal government. Grants have provided an opportunity to supplement school funding without raising local taxes. In Pennsylvania, pension income and Social Security income are exempted from state personal income tax and local earned income tax, regardless of the level of wealth.[108]

State basic education funding[edit]

For the 2013-14 school year, the Carbondale Area School District will receive a 1.9% increase or $7,803,609 in Pennsylvania Basic Education Funding. This is 41,973$1 more than its 2012-13 state BEF to the District. Additionally, Carbondale Area School District will receive $115,012 in Accountability Block Grant funding to focus on academic achievement and level funding for special education services. Among the public school districts in Lackawanna County, Mid Valley School District received the highest percentage increase at 2.4%. 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.[109] The state funded the PSERS (Pennsylvania school employee pension fund) with $1,017,000,000 and Social Security payments for school employees of $495 million.[110]

For the 2012-13 school year, Carbondale Area School District received $7,661,636.[111] The Governor's Executive Budget for 2012-2013 included $9.34 billion for kindergarten through 12th grade public education, including $5.4 billion in basic education funding, which was an increase of $49 million over the 2011-12 budget. In addition, the Commonwealth provided $100 million for the Accountability Block Grant (ABG) program. Carbondale Area School District received $115,012 in Accountability Block Grant funding. The state also provided a $544.4 million payment for School Employees’ Social Security and $856 million for School Employees’ Retirement fund called PSERS.[112] This amount was a $21,823,000 increase (0.34%) over the 2011-2012 appropriations for Basic Education Funding, School Employees' Social Security, Pupil Transportation, Nonpublic and Charter School Pupil Transportation. Since taking office, Corbett’s first two budgets have restored more than $918 million in support of public schools, compensating for the $1 billion in federal stimulus dollars lost at the end of the 2010-11 school year.

In the 2011-12 school year, Carbondale Area School District received $7,661,220 in state Basic Education Funding.[113][114] Additionally, the District received $115,012 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. The highest increase in state basic education funding was awarded to Duquesne City School District, which got a 49% increase in state funding for 2011-12.[115] Districts experienced a reduction in funding due to the loss of federal stimulus funding which ended in 2011.

For the 2010-11 budget year, the Carbondale Area School District received a 6.24% increase in state basic education funding for a total of $8,467,455. The highest increase in state funding, among Lackawanna County school districts, was awarded to Dunmore School District at 11.88% increase. One hundred fifty school districts in Pennsylvania received the 2% base increase for budget year 2010-11. The highest increase in the state was given to Kennett Consolidated School District of Chester County which was awarded a 23.65% increase in state basic education funding.[116] Fifteen (15) Pennsylvania public school districts received a BEF increase of greater than 10%. The state's hold harmless policy regarding state basic education funding continued where each district received at least the same amount as it received the prior school year, even when 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 public school districts at a far greater rate than others.[117] In 2010, the District reported that 950 pupils received a free or reduced-price lunch due to the family meeting the federal poverty level.

In the 2009-2010 budget year, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a 5.13% increase in Basic Education funding for a total of $7,966,172. The highest increase in state funding, to Lackawanna County school districts, was 9.46% increase which was awarded to Scranton School District. In Pennsylvania, 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. 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.[118] The amount of increase each school district received was set by Governor Edward G. Rendell and the Secretary of Education Gerald Zahorchak, as a part of the state budget proposal.[119]

The state's Basic Education Funding to the Carbondale Area School District in 2008-09 was $6,999,344.06.[120] In 2008, the district reported that 717 pupils received a free or reduced-price lunch due to their family meeting the federal poverty threshold of $22,050 for a family of four. Many state and federal programs use the threshold to calculate benefits.

Accountability Block Grant[edit]

The state provides additional education funding to schools in the form of Accountability Block Grants. The use of these funds is strictly focused on specific state approved uses designed to improve student academic achievement. Carbondale Area School District uses its $312,172 to fund all day kindergarten for the sixth year. These annual funds are in addition to the state's basic education funding and all federal funding.[121] School Districts apply each year for Accountability Block Grants.[122] In 2009-10, the state provided $271.4 million in Accountability Block grants $199.5 million went to providing all-day kindergartens.[123]

Classrooms for the Future grant[edit]

The Classroom for the Future state program provided districts with hundreds of thousands of extra state funding to buy laptop computers for each core curriculum high school class (English, Science, History, Mathematics) and paid for mandatory teacher training to optimize the computers' use in the classroom for improving instruction. The program was funded from 2006-2009. Carbondale Area School District administration did not apply for the grant in 2006-07. In 2007-08, the district received $162,577 in funding. For the 2008-09, school year the District received a final $45,413 for a total funding of $207,990. Of the 501 public school districts in Pennsylvania, 447 of them received Classrooms for the Future grant awards.[124]

Science It’s Elementary grant[edit]

Carbondale Area 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.[125] 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 was a hands on instruction approach for elementary science classes that develops problem-solving and critical thinking skills.[126] 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.[127] 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 marks an 8-percent increase over 2005-06 public school funding.[128] The grant program was expanded to $14.5 million in the 2008-09 budget. The grant was discontinued in 2010 by Governor Rendell due to a massive state budget.

Literacy grant[edit]

Carbondale Area School District was awarded a $749,003 competitive literacy grant. It is to be used to improve reading skills birth through 12th grade. The district was required to develop a lengthly literacy plan, which included outreach into the community. The funds come from a Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy grant, also referred to as the Keystones to Opportunity grant It is a five-year, competitive federal grant program designed to assist local education agencies in developing and implementing local comprehensive literacy plans. Of the 329 pre-applications by school districts reviewed by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, School District was one of only 148 entities that were invited to submit a full application. In County 5 school districts and one charter school were awarded funding for one year.[129] The funds must be used for teacher training, student screening and assessment, targeted interventions for students reading below grade level and research-based methods of improving classroom instruction and practice. Districts must hire literacy coaches. The coaches work with classroom teachers to improve the teacher's literacy teaching skills. Pennsylvania was among six other states, out of the 35 that applied, to be awarded funding. Pennsylvania received $38 million through the federal program. The Department of Education reserved 5% of the grant for administration costs at the state level.

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 Carbondale Area School District received $36,519.[130]

Federal stimulus grant[edit]

The Carbondale Area School District received $2.1 million in ARRA - Federal stimulus money to be used in specific programs like special education and meeting the academic needs of low-income students.[131] The funding was limited to the 2009-10 and 2010-2011 school years.[132] 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]

Carbondale Area School District officials did not apply for the Race to the Top federal grant which would have brought the district up to million additional federal dollars for improving student academic achievement.[133] Several Lackawanna County school districts applied for funding. Participation required the administration, the school board and the local teachers' union to sign an agreement to prioritize improving student academic success.[134] In Pennsylvania, 120 public school districts and 56 charter schools agreed to participate.[135] Pennsylvania was not approved for the grant. According to then Governor Rendell, failure of districts to agree to participate was cited as one reason that Pennsylvania was not approved.[136]

Common Cents state initiative[edit]

The Carbondale Area School District School Board chose 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.[137] After the review of the information, the district was not required to implement the recommended cost savings changes.

Real estate taxes[edit]

In July 2013, the Carbondale Area School Board set the property taxes rate at 107.6000 mills for the 2013-14 school year. 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 and across a region. Additionally, service related, disabled US military veterans may seek an exemption from paying property taxes. Pennsylvania school 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.[138] 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. When a school district includes municipalities in two counties, each of which has different rates of property tax assessment, a state board equalizes the tax rates between the counties.[139] In 2010, miscalculations by the State Tax Equalization Board (STEB) were widespread in the Commonwealth and adversely impacted funding for many school districts, including those that did not cross county borders.[140]

  • 2012-13 - 107.6000 mills
  • 2011-12 - 107.6000 mills[141]
  • 2010-11 - 107.6000 mills.[142]
  • 2009-10 - 107.6000 mills.[143]
  • 2008-09 - 107.6000 mills.[144]
  • 2007-08 - 107.6000 mills.[145]
  • 2006-07 - 107.6000 mills.[146]
  • 2005-06 - 107.6000 mills.[147]

The average yearly property tax paid by Lackawanna County residents amounts to about 3.4% of their yearly income. Lackawanna County ranked 413th out of the 3143 United States counties for property taxes as a percentage of median income.[148] According to a report prepared by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, the total real estate taxes collected by all school districts in Pennsylvania rose from $6,474,133,936 in 1999-00 to $10,438,463,356 in 2008-09 and to $11,153,412,490 in 2011.[149] 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%).[150]

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 permitted to raise taxes above that index, unless they allow voters to vote by referendum, or they seek an exception from the Pennsylvania 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.[151] With the 2011 state education budget, the General Assembly voted to end most of the Act 1 exceptions leaving only special education costs and pension costs. The cost of construction projects will go to the voters for approval via ballot referendum.[152] A specific timeline for Act I Index decisions is published annually, by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.[153]

The School District Adjusted Index for the Carbondale Area School District 2006-2007 through 2011-2012.[154]

For the 2013-14 budget year, Carbondale Area 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 exception for pension costs, 89 school districts received approval to exceed the Index in full while others received a partial approval of their request. For special education costs, 75 districts received approval to exceed their tax limit. For the pension costs exception, 169 school districts received approval to exceed the Index. Eleven Pennsylvania public school districts received an approval for grandfathered construction debts.[157]

For the 2012-13 budget year, Carbondale Area School Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed the Act 1 Index. For 2012-2013, 274 school districts adopted a resolution certifying that tax rates would not be increased above their index; 223 school districts adopted a preliminary budget leaving open the option of exceeded the Index limit. For the exception for pension costs, 194 school districts received approval to exceed the Index. For special education costs, 129 districts received approval to exceed the tax limit. 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.[158]

For the 2011-12 school year, the Carbondale Area School Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed the Act 1 Index. Each year the Carbondale Area School Board has the option of adopting either 1) a resolution in January certifying they will not increase taxes above their index or 2) a preliminary budget in February. A school district adopting the resolution may not apply for referendum exceptions or ask voters for a tax increase above the inflation index. A specific timeline for these decisions is publisher each year by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.[153]

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.[159]

Carbondale Area School Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed the Act 1 index for the budgets in 2009-10 nor in 2010-11.[160][161] 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.[162]

Property tax relief[edit]

In 2011, property tax relief for 2,631 approved residents of Carbondale Area School District was set at $237.[163] In 2009, the Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief from gambling for the Carbondale Area School District was $247 per approved permanent primary residence. In the district, 2,532 property owners applied for the tax relief.[164] 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 and must be the primary residence of the owner. Farmers can qualify for both the homestead exemption and the farmstead exemption.[165]

Additionally, the Pennsylvania Property Tax/Rent Rebate program is provided for low income Pennsylvanians aged 65 and older; widows and widowers aged 50 and older; and people with disabilities age 18 and older. The income limit is $35,000 for homeowners. The maximum rebate for both homeowners and renters is $650. Applicants can exclude one-half (1/2) of their Social Security income, consequently individuals who have income 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.[166]

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%).[167]

Enrollment and Consolidation[edit]

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, there are fewer than 1469 students enrolled in Carbondale Area SD, K-12, in 2010. There were 111 students in the Class of 2010. The district's class of 2009 had 116 students. Enrollment in the Carbondale Area School District is projected, by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, to continue to increase to 1818 pupils K-12 total enrollment, by 2020.[168]

A Standard and Poors study found that an optimal school district size, to conserve administrative costs, was at least 3000 pupils.[169] Consolidation of the administration with an adjacent school district would achieve substantial administrative cost savings for people in both communities.[170] According to a proposal made in 2009, by Governor Edward G. Rendell, the excessive administrative overhead dollars could be redirected to improve lagging academic achievement, to enrich the academic programs or to substantially reduce property taxes.[171] Consolidation of two districts' central administrations into one would not require the closing of any local schools.

In March 2011, the Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants Fiscal Responsibility Task Force released a report which found that consolidating school district administrations with one neighboring district would save the Commonwealth $1.2 billion without forcing the consolidation of any school buildings.[172] The study noted that while the best school districts spent 4% of the annual budget on administration, others spend over 15% on administration.[173]

More than 40 percent of elementary schools and more than 60 percent of secondary schools in western Pennsylvania have been experiencing significant enrollment decreases (15 percent or greater).[174]

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.[175] In a survey of 88 superintendents of small districts, 42% of the 49 respondents stated that they thought consolidation would save money without closing any schools.[176]

Fell Charter Elementary School[edit]

The charter school provides a free, public education to children in the area since 2002. The school has an enrollment of 157 for the 2011-12 school year. The school offers full-day kindergarten through 8th grade. It employees 24 teachers, including art, music and physical education. Fell Charter Elementary School has a longer school day; class begins at 7:45 am and ends at 3:15 pm. It has moved into a former elementary school in August 2011. Six area school districts provide bussing to the school, including Carbondale Area School District. The school made AYP in 2009 and 2010. The attendance rate in 2010 was 94%.[177][178] The U.S. Department of Agriculture approved the charter school's grant and loan application in January 2010. The school will receive a $5 million loan to build a new school facility.[179]

Extracurriculars[edit]

Carbondale Area School District offers a variety of clubs, activities and sports. Eligibility to participate is determined by school board policies.

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.[180]

Sports[edit]

The District funds:

Junior High School Sports

According to PIAA directory July 2013[181]

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