Clarion Area School District

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Clarion Area School District
Map of Clarion County Pennsylvania School Districts.png
Address
221 Liberty Street
Clarion, Pennsylvania, Clarion County, 16214-1809
United States
Information
Type Public
School board 9 locally elected members
Superintendent Michael Stahlman (contract 2011-2016) salary $100,558 (2012)
School number (814) 226-6110
Administrator Ms Jill Spence, Business Manager
Principal Dr. Randy Cathert 7-12 salary $87,011
Principal Mr Brad Wagner K-6 $84,116
Vice principal Brad Wagner HS Dean of Students
Staff 58 non teaching staff (2011)[1]
Faculty 57 teachers
Grades K-12
Age 5 years old to 21 years old
Pupils 859 pupils (2012),[2] 830 pupils in 2009
Kindergarten 70 (2012), 50 (2009)
Grade 1 64 (2012), 56 (2009)
Grade 2 46 (2012), 50 (2009)
Grade 3 62 (2012), 64 (2009)
Grade 4 59 (2012), 62 (2009)
Grade 5 54 (2012), 65 (2009)
Grade 6 60 (2012), 75 (2009)
Grade 7 61 (2012), 63 (2009)
Grade 8 73 (2012), 57 (2009)
Grade 9 78 (2012), 85 (2009)
Grade 10 66 (2012), 60 (2009)
Grade 11 65 (2012), 68 (2009)
Grade 12 88 (2012), 75 (2009)
Other Enrollment projected to continue to decline below 800 pupils.[3]
Language English
Mascot Bobcats
Budget $12.5 million (2014-15)
Per pupil spending $12,320 (2008)
Per pupil spending $14,350.47 (2010)
Website

The Clarion Area School District is a small, rural public school district which covers the Borough of Clarion and Highland Township, Monroe Township and Paint Township in Clarion County, Pennsylvania. It encompasses approximately 71 square miles (180 km2). According to 2000 federal census data, it serves a resident population of 10,183. By 2010, the District's population declined to 8,978 people.[4] In 2009, the District residents' per capita income was $14,302, while the median family income was $43,665.[5] In the Commonwealth, the median family income was $49,501[6] and the United States median family income was $49,445, in 2010.[7] By 2013, the median household income in the United States rose to $52,100.[8]

The Clarion Area School District operates just two schools: Clarion Area Jr/Sr High School (7th-12th) and Clarion Area Elementary School (K-6th). For students who wish to learn a vocational trade, the Clarion Area School District is associated with the Clarion County Career Center. The Riverview Intermediate Unit IU6 provides the district with a wide variety of services like specialized education for disabled students and hearing, speech and visual disability services and professional development for staff and faculty.

According to District officials, the District provided basic educational services to 838 pupils through the employment of 61 teachers, 48 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 8 administrators during the 2011-12 school year. The District received $4,138,851 million in state funding in the 2011-12 school year.

Governance[edit]

The Clarion Area School District is governed by 9 individually elected board members (serve four-year terms), the Pennsylvania State Board of Education, the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the Pennsylvania General Assembly.[9] The federal government controls programs it funds like Title I funding for low-income children in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and the No Child Left Behind Act, which mandates the district focus resources on student success in acquiring reading and math skills. The Superintendent and Business Manager are appointed by the school board. The Superintendent is the chief administrative officer with overall responsibility for all aspects of operations, including education and finance. The Business Manager is responsible for budget and financial operations. Neither of these officials are voting members of the School Board. The School Board enters into individual employment contracts for these positions. In Pennsylvania, public school districts are required to give 150 days notice to the Superintendent regarding renewal of the employment contract.

The Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy Alternatives Sunshine Review gave the Clarion Area School Board and district administration a "F" for transparency based on a review of "What information can people find on their school district's website". It examined the school district's website for information regarding; taxes, the current budget, meetings, school board members names and terms, contracts, audits, public records information and more.[10]

Academic achievement[edit]

Clarion Area School District was ranked 181st out of 498 Pennsylvania school districts by the Pittsburgh Business Times in 2014.[11] The ranking was based on student academic achievement as demonstrated on the last three years of the PSSAs for: reading, writing, math and science.[12] 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. Writing exams were given to children in 5th, 8th and 11th grades.

Overachiever statewide ranking

In 2013, the Pittsburgh Business Times also reported an Overachievers Ranking for 498 Pennsylvania school districts. Clarion Area School District ranked 239th. In 2012, the District was 251st. [18] 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."[19]

In 2009, the academic achievement of the students at Clarion Area School District fell in the 73rd percentile among Pennsylvania's 500 school districts. (Scale 0-99; 100 is state best) [20]

Graduation rate[edit]

In 2013, Clarion Area School District’s graduation rate was 90.74%. In 2012, the District’s graduation rate was 93%.[21] In 2011, Clarion Area School District's graduation rate was 88%.[22] In 2010, the Pennsylvania Department of Education issued a new, 4-year cohort graduation rate. Clarion Area High School's rate was 80% for 2010.[23]

According to traditional graduation rate calculations:

High school[edit]

Clarion Area Junior Senior High School is located at 219 Liberty Street, Clarion. In 2013, enrollment was 431 pupils in grades 7th through 12th with 27% eligible for a federal free or reduced price lunch due to the family meeting the federal poverty level. Additionally, 14% of pupils received special education services while 7% were identified as gifted. The school employed 30 teachers in 2013[27]

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2011, Clarion Area Junior Senior High School reported an enrollment of 411 pupils in grades 7th through 12th, with 93 pupils eligible for a federal free or reduced price lunch. The school employed 27 teachers yielding a student-teacher ratio of 15:1.[28] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[29]

2013 School Performance Profile

Clarion Area Junior Senior High School achieved 75.9 out of 100. Reflects on grade level reading, mathematics and science achievement. In reading/literature - 80.7% were on grade level. In Algebra 1/math, 64.65% showed on grade level mathematic skills. In Biology/8th grade science, 62.77% showed on grade level science understanding. In 8th grade writing 77% of the pupils demonstrated on grade level skills.[30] According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 2,181 public schools (less than 73 percent of Pennsylvania public schools), achieved an academic score of 70 or higher. Pennsylvania 11th grade students no longer take the PSSAs. Instead, they now take the Keystone Exams at the end of the associated course.

AYP Results[edit]

In 2013, Clarion Area Junior Senior High School declined to Warning Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) status.[31] In 2012, Clarion Area Junior Senior High School achieved AYP status 2003 to 2010.[32]

PSSA results

PSSAs are NCLB related examinations which were administered from 2003 through 2012. In 2013, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania changed its high school assessments to the Keystone Exams in Algebra 1, Reading/literature and Biology1. The exams are given at the end of the course, rather than all in the spring of the student's 11th grade year.

11th Grade Reading
  • 2012 - 76% on grade level, (13% below basic). State - 67% of 11th graders are on grade level.[33]
  • 2011 - 79% (8% below basic). State - 69.1%[34]
  • 2010 - 72%. State - 67% (61 pupils enrolled) [35]
  • 2009 - 81%. State - 65%
  • 2008 - 81%. State - 65%[36]
  • 2007 - 76%. State - 65%
11th Grade Math
  • 2012 - 59% on grade level (20% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 59% of 11th graders are on grade level.[37]
  • 2011 - 67% (17% below basic). State - 60.3% [38]
  • 2010 - 41%. State - 59%
  • 2009 - 59%, State - 56%.[39]
  • 2008 - 56%, State - 56%
  • 2007 - 57%, State - 53%
11th Grade Science
  • 2012 - 53% on grade level (4% below basic). State - 42% of 11th graders were on grade level.[40]
  • 2011 - 55% (15% below basic). State - 40%[41]
  • 2010 - 38%, State - 39%[42]
  • 2009 - 43%, State - 40% [43]
  • 2008 - 47%, State - 39%

Science in Motion High School took advantage of a state program called Science in Motion which brought college professors and sophisticated science equipment to the school to raise science awareness and to provide inquiry-based experiences for the students. The Science in Motion program was funded by a state appropriation and cost the school nothing to participate.[44] Clarion University provided the science enrichment experiences to schools in the region.

Dual enrollment[edit]

The Clarion Area Junior Senior High School does not offer the Pennsylvania dual enrollment program which permits students to earn deeply discounted college credits, while remaining enrolled in the high school. The program is offered through over 400 school districts with the assistance of a state grant.[45] Locally, Clarion University provides a dual enrollment program.

Graduation requirements[edit]

To graduate from the Clarion Area School District, the School Board requires that students earn a minimum of 24 credits, including: English 4 credits, Science 3 credits, Math 3 credits, Math or Science: 1 additional credit, Social Studies 4 credits, Physical Education 1 credit with 4 years participation, Arts & Humanities 2 credits, and Health 1 credit.[46]

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.[47] 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.[48]

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.[49] The exam is given at the end of the course. Keystone Exams replace the PSSAs for 11th grade.[50]

Students have several opportunities to pass the exam. Those who do not pass after several attempts can perform a project in order to graduate.[51][52] 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.[53] 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.[54] 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.

College remediation[edit]

According to a Pennsylvania Department of Education study released in January 2009, 30% of Clarion 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.[55] 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.[56] Per the Pennsylvania Department of Education, one in three recent high school graduates who attend Pennsylvania's public universities and community colleges takes at least one remedial course in math, reading or English.

SAT scores[edit]

In 2013, Clarion Area School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 480. The Math average score was 484. The Writing average score was 457. The College Board reported that statewide scores were: 494 in reading, 504 in math and 482 in writing. The nation-wide SAT results were the same as in 2012.[57]

In 2012, 44 Clarion Area School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 489. The Math average score was 481. The Writing average score was 468. 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, 50 Clarion Area School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 487. The Math average score was 472. The Writing average score was 451.[58] Pennsylvania ranked 40th among states with SAT scores: Verbal - 493, Math - 501, Writing - 479.[59] 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.[60]

The Pennsylvania Department of Education compared the SAT data of students in rural areas of Pennsylvania to students in urban areas. From 2003 to 2005, the average total SAT score for students in rural Pennsylvania was 992, while urban students averaged 1,006. During the same period, 28 percent of 11th and 12th graders in rural school districts took the exam, compared to 32 percent of urban students in the same grades. The average math and verbal scores were 495 and 497, respectively, for rural students, while urban test-takers averaged 499 and 507, respectively. Pennsylvania’s SAT composite score ranked low on the national scale in 2004. The composite SAT score of 1,003 left Pennsylvania ranking 44 out of the 50 states and Washington, DC.[61]

The Pennsylvania Department of Education reported that 71 percent of students in rural areas of Pennsylvania chose to continue their education after high school in 2003, whereas 79 percent of urban high school graduates opted to continue their education.

AP Courses[edit]

In 2013, Clarion Junior Senior High School offered 4 Advanced Placement (AP) courses at a higher cost than regular high school courses. Students have the option of taking College Board approved courses and then taking the College Board's examination in the Spring. Students, who achieve a 3 or better on the exam, may be awarded college credits at US universities and colleges. Each higher education institution sets its own standards about what level of credits are awarded to a student based on their AP exam score. Most higher education give credits for scores of 4 or 5. Some schools also give credits for scores of 3. High schools give credits towards graduation to students who take the school's AP class. At Clarion Area High School 28% of students who took an AP course earned a 3 or better on the exam.[62]

Junior high school[edit]

8th Grade Reading
  • 2012 - 88% on grade level (6% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 79% of 8th graders on grade level.[63]
  • 2011 - 84% (10% below basic) State - 81.8%
  • 2010 - 86%. State - 81% (53 pupils enrolled) [64]
  • 2009 - 87%, State - 80%
  • 2008 - 84%, State - 78%
  • 2007 - 81%, State - 75%[65]
8th Grade Math
  • 2012 - 69% on grade level (10% below basic). State - 76%
  • 2011 - 73% (9% below basic). State - 76.9%
  • 2010 - 69%, State - 75%
  • 2009 - 62%, State - 71%
  • 2008 - 61%, State - 70%
  • 2007 - 64%, State - 68%
8th Grade Science
  • 2012 - 62% on grade level (16% below basic). State - 59%
  • 2011 - 68% (15% below basic). State – 58.3%
  • 2010 - 57%. State - 57%
  • 2009 - 64%, State - 54%
  • 2008 - 57%, State - 52%

Clarion Area Elementary School[edit]

Clarion Area Elementary School is located at 800 Boundary Street, Clarion. In 2013, the School's enrollment was 415 pupils in grades kindergarten through 6th, with 37% of pupils receiving a federal free or reduced price meals due to family poverty. Additionally, 16.6% of the pupils receive special education services, while none of the students identified as gifted.[66] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of the teachers were rated highly qualified under No Child Left Behind. The school provides full day kindergarten.[67] The school is a federally designated Title I school.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2011, enrollment was 389 pupils in grades kindergarten through 6th, with 113 pupils receiving a free or reduced price lunch. The School employed 30 teachers yielding a student-teacher ratio of 13:1.[68]

2013 School Performance Profile

Clarion Area Elementary School achieved a score of 81.5 out of 100. The score reflects on grade level: reading, science, writing and mathematics achievement. In 2012-13, only 73% of the students were reading on grade level in grades 3rd through 6th. In 3rd grade, 88.5% of the pupils were reading on grade level. In math, 80% were on grade level (3rd-6th grades). In 4th grade science, 91% of the pupils demonstrated on grade level understanding. In writing, only 72% of 5th grade pupils demonstrated on grade level writing skills.[69]

AYP history

In 2010, 2011 and 2012, Clarion Area Elementary School achieved Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) Status.[70] In 2010, the attendance rate was 95% which was down from 96% in 2009.[71] The attendance rate was 95% in 2011 and 2012.

  • 2009 - Making Progress: in School Improvement I due to lagging student achievement.[72]
  • 2008 - School Improvement I due to lagging student achievement in reading and mathematics[73]
  • 2007 - Warning AYP status[74]
  • 2003 to 2006 - achieved AYP status each school year
PSSA result

Each year, in the Spring, the 3rd graders and sixth graders take the PSSAs in math and reading. The fourth grade is tested in reading, math and science. The fifth grade is evaluated in reading, mathematics and writing. Pennsylvania System of School Assessments, commonly called PSSAs are No Child Left Behind Act related examinations which were administered beginning 2003 to all Pennsylvania public school students in grades 3rd-8th.[75] The goal was for 100% of students to be on grade level or better in reading and mathematics, by the Spring of 2014.[76][77][78] The tests focused on the state's Academic Standards for reading, writing, mathematics and science. The Science exam is given to 4th grades and includes content in science, technology, ecology and the environmental studies.[79]

4th Grade Science
  • 2012 - 96%, (0% below basic). State - 82%
  • 2011 - 96%, (0% below basic). State - 82.9%
  • 2010 - 94%, State - 81%
  • 2009 - 98%, State - 83%
  • 2008 - 90%, State - 81%

Enrollment[edit]

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, there are fewer than 860 students enrolled in K-12. There were 92 students in the Class of 2009. The senior class of 2010 has 75 students. Enrollment in Clarion Area School District is projected to continue to decline through 2019. Clarion Area administrative costs per pupil in 2008 was $854. The lowest administrative cost per pupil in Pennsylvania was $398.[88] With limited local taxation resources, opportunities for students are limited. Consolidation of the administrations with adjacent school districts would achieve substantial administrative cost savings for people in each community.[89] These excessive administrative overhead dollars could be redirected to improve lagging mathematics and science achievement, to enrich the academic programs or to substantially reduce property taxes. Consolidation of the central administrations would not require the closing of any schools.[90][91] A new district composed of Clarion Area School District, Clarion-Limestone Area School District and North Clarion County School District would have a student population of 2500 with declining enrollment projected in all three former districts.

In 2007 a Pennsylvania Legislative Budget and Finance Committee study was conducted by Standard and Poors regarding the financial benefits of consolidating Pennsylvania's smallest public school districts. It examined Clarion Area School District consolidating with Keystone School District. It found the savings could be over $1.3 million.[92] The study also examined the Clarion Area School District consolidating with North Clarion County School District. It estimated savings would be over $796,000.

Over the next 10 years, rural Pennsylvania school enrollment is projected to decrease 8 percent. The most significant enrollment decline is projected to be in western Pennsylvania, where rural school districts may have a 16 percent decline. 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).[93] As the enrollment declines, per-pupil administrative costs of the schools will continue to rise.

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. Less than 95 of Pennsylvania's 501 school districts have enrollment below 1250 students, in 2007.[94] This results in excessive school administration bureaucracy and not enough course diversity.[95] 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.[96] In 2011, The Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants found that the state would save over $1.5 billion if school district administration where consolidated to the county level. It also found that over $613 million would be saved if school districts consolidated just their administrations with one neighboring district. This plan would not require changing the school buildings nor the classrooms, it focused on just the school administrations.[97]

Bullying policy[edit]

The Clarion Area school administration reported 5 incidents of bullying occurring in the schools in 2009.[98][99]

The Clarion Area School Board prohibits bullying by district students and faculty. A policy defines bullying and cyberbullying. 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.[100] The board expects staff members to be responsible to maintain an educational environment free from all forms of bullying. All Pennsylvania schools are required to have an anti-bullying policy incorporated into their Code of Student Conduct. The policy must identify disciplinary actions for bullying and designate a school staff person to receive complaints of bullying. The policy must be available on the school's website and posted in every classroom. All Pennsylvania public schools must provide a copy of its anti-bullying policy to the Office for Safe Schools every year, and shall review their policy every three years. Additionally, the district must conduct an annual review of that policy with students.[101] 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.[102]

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.[103]

Special education[edit]

In December 2012, Clarion Area School District administration reported that 117 pupils or 13.4% of the district's pupils received Special Education services, with 34.2% of the identified students having a specific learning disability.[104] In December 2009, the district administration reported that 105 pupils or 12% of the district's pupils received special education services.[105]

The District engages in identification procedures to ensure that eligible students receive an appropriate educational program consisting of special education and related services, individualized to meet student needs. At no cost to the parents, these services are provided in compliance with state and federal law; and are reasonably calculated to yield meaningful educational benefit and student progress. To identify students who may be eligible for special education, various screening activities are conducted on an ongoing basis. These screening activities include: review of group-based data (cumulative records, enrollment records, health records, report cards, ability and achievement test scores); hearing, vision, motor, and speech/language screening; and review by the Instructional Support Team or Student Assistance Team. When screening results suggest that the student may be eligible, the District seeks parental consent to conduct a multidisciplinary evaluation. Parents who suspect their child is eligible may verbally request a multidisciplinary evaluation from a professional employee of the District or contact the Supervisor of Special Education.

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.[106] 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.[107] 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.[108] 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.[109] In 2012, the Obama Administration's US Department of Education issued a directive requiring schools include students with disabilities in extracurricular activities, including sports.[110]

Clarion Area School District received a $444,000 supplement for special education services in 2010.[111] For the 2011-12, 2012–13 and 2013-14 school years, all Pennsylvania public school districts received the same level of funding for special education that they received in 2010-11. This level funding is provided regardless of changes in the number of pupils who need special education services and regardless of the level of services the respective students required.[112][113] For the 2014-2015 school year, Clarion Area School District will receive an increase to $450,803 from the Commonwealth for special education funding.[114]

Gifted education[edit]

The District Administration reported that 46 or 5.47% of its students were gifted in 2009.[115] 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.[116]

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.[117]

In 2013, the average teacher salary in Clarion Area School District was $61,361 a year, while the cost of the benefits teachers received was $25,734 per employee, for a total annual average teacher compensation of $87,095.[118] The District employs 101 teachers and administrators with a top salary of $108,937 in 2013.[119]

In 2011, the average teacher salary in Clarion Area School District was $59,961 a year. The District employed 74 teachers and administrators with a top salary of $106,541.[120]

In 2009, Clarion Area School District reported employing over 100 teachers with a salary range of $38,000 to $84,000.[121]

In 2007, the average teacher salary in the Clarion Area School District was $53,414 for 180 days worked. The district ranked first in Clarion County for average teacher salary in 2007.[122] In 2009 the district employs over 70 teachers with a salary range of $38,658 to $100,000.[123]

Reserves In 2008, Clarion Area School District reported an unreserved-designated fund balance of $856,638 and an unreserved-undesignated fund balance of $1,240,849.[124] In 2010, Clarion Area School District Administration reported an increase to $1,507,642.00 in the unreserved-undesignated fund balance. The District also reported $856,638 in its unreserved-designated fund in 2010. 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.[125] In 2005, the total reserve funds held by Pennsylvania public school districts was $1.9 billion.[126] By 2013, reserves held by Pennsylvania public school districts, as a whole, had increased to over $3.8 billion.[127][128] In 2014, the District reports having $2,335,060 in its reserve funds.

Per pupil spending In 2008, Clarion Area School District reported spending $12,320 per pupil. This ranked 240th in the commonwealth.[129] In 2010, the District’s per pupil spending had increased to $14,350.47.[130] In 2013, the District's per pupil spending was reported as $14,217.73.[131] In 2011, Pennsylvania’s per pupil spending was $13,467, ranking 6th in the United States.[132] In 2007, the Pennsylvania per pupil total expenditures was reported as $12,759.[133]

The U.S. Census Bureau reported that Pennsylvania spent $8,191 per pupil in school year 2000-01.[134] In 2007, the Pennsylvania per pupil total expenditures was reported as $12,759.[135] Among the fifty states, Pennsylvania’s total per pupil revenue (including all sources) ranked 11th at $15,023 per student, in 2008-09.[136] Pennsylvania’s total revenue per pupil rose to $16,186 ranking 9th in the nation in 2011.[137]

Audit In January 2010, the Pennsylvania Auditor General conducted a performance audit of the district. Findings were reported to the administration and school board.[138] In January 2010, the Pennsylvania Auditor General conducted a performance audit of the district. Findings were reported to the administration and school board.[139]

Tuition Students who live in the 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 Clarion 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 at Clarion Area were Elementary School - $9,580.96 , High School - $10,121.75.[140]

Clarion Area School District is funded by a combination of: a local earned income tax, a property tax, payments in lieu of taxes ($19,250.30 in 2012), a real estate transfer tax 0.5%, Local Services Tax - $5, coupled with substantial funding from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the federal government. Grants can provide an opportunity to supplement school funding without raising local taxes. In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, pension income and Social Security income are exempted from state personal income tax and local earned income tax, regardless the of individual's wealth.[141] Interest earnings on accounts also provide nontax income to the District. In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, pension income and Social Security income are exempted from state personal income tax and local earned income tax, regardless of the level of the individual’s personal wealth.[142] The average Pennsylvania public school teacher pension in 2011 exceeds $60,000 a year plus they receive federal Social Security benefits: both are free of Pennsylvania state income tax and local income tax which funds local public schools.[143]

State basic education funding[edit]

According to a report from Representative Todd Stephens office, Clarion Area School District receives 29.8% of its annual revenue from the state.[144]

For the 2014-15 school year, Clarion Area School District will receive $2,660,784 in State Basic Education funding. The District will also receive $76,684 in new Ready To Learn Block grant. The State’s enacted Education Budget includes $5,526,129,000 for the 2014-2015 Basic Education Funding.[145] The Education budget also includes Accountability Block Grant funding at $100 million and $241 million in new Ready to Learn funding for public schools that focus on student achievement and academic success. The State is paying $500.8 million to Social Security on the school employees behalf and another $1.16 billion to the state teachers pension system (PSERS). In total, Pennsylvania’s Education budget for K-12 public schools is $10 billion. This was a $305 million increase over 2013-2014 state spending and the greatest amount ever allotted by the Commonwealth for its public schools.[146]

In the 2013-2014 school year, the Clarion Area School District received $2,660,784 in Pennsylvania Basic Education Funding. This is $41,830 more than its 2012-2013 state BEF to the District. Of the public school districts in Clarion County, Clarion Area received the highest percentage increase - 1.9%. Additionally, Clarion Area School District received $34,862 in Accountability Block Grant funding to focus on academic achievement and level funding for special education services. 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.[147] The highest percent of state spending per student is in the Chester-Upland School District, where roughly 78 percent comes from state coffers. In Philadelphia, it is nearly 49 percent.[148] As a part of the education budget, the state provided the PSERS (Pennsylvania school employee pension fund) with $1,017,000,000 and Social Security payments for school employees of $495 million.[149]

For the 2012-13 school year, the District received $2,651,322.[150] 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. Clarion Area School District received $34,862 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.[151] 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 2011-2012 school year, Clarion Area School District received a $2,616,459 allocation, of state Basic Education Funding a 6.79% increase.[152][153] Additionally, the Clarion Area School District received $34,862 in Accountability Block Grant funding. The enacted Pennsylvania state Education budget included $5,354,629,000 for the 2011-2012 Basic Education Funding appropriation. This amount was a $233,290,000 increase (4.6%) over the enacted State appropriation for 2010-2011.[154] The highest increase in state basic education funding was awarded to Duquesne City School District of Allegheny County, which got a 49% increase in state funding for 2011-12.[155] In 2010, the district reported that 882 students received free or reduced price lunches, due to the family meeting the federal poverty level.[156] Some public school Districts experienced a reduction in funding due to the loss of federal stimulus funding which ended in 2011.

For the 2010–11 school year, the state provided the District with a 2% increase in basic education funding for a total of $2,763,318. Among Clarion County districts, the highest percentage increase went to Clarion-Limestone Area School District at 3.92%. One hundred fifty school districts received the base 2% increase in state funding. Fifteen school districts received an increase above 10% with Kennett Consolidated School District of Chester County receiving the highest at 23.65%.[157] The amount each school district receives is determined by the Secretary of Education and the Governor in the annual general fund budget.[158]

In the 2009–2010 budget year, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a 3.54% increase in Basic Education funding for a total of $2,709,135. This was full percentage point higher increase, in Basic Education Funding, than most other school districts in Clarion County received. The District also received supplemental funding for English language learners, Title 1 federal funding for low-income students, for district size, a poverty supplement from the commonwealth and more.[159] Clarion-Limestone Area School District received a 4.86% increase, the highest increase in Clarion County for the 2009–10 school year. Among the 500 school districts in Pennsylvania, Muhlenberg School District in Berks County received the highest with a 22.31% increase in funding.[160]

The state Basic Education funding to the district in 2008–09 was $2,616,459.63. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 230 students received free or reduced-price lunches due to low family income in the 2007–2008 school year.[161]

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 skills training; All Day Kindergarten; lower class size in Kindergarten through 3rd grade; literacy and math coaching programs (provides teachers with individualized job-embedded professional development to improve their instruction); before or after school tutoring assistance to struggling students. For 2010-11, the Clarion Area School District applied for and received $94,624 in addition to all other state and federal funding. The District used the funding to provide Full Day kindergarten.[162][163] In 2009, 100% of the kindergarteners in Area School District attended full-day kindergarten.[164]

Ready to Learn grant[edit]

Beginning in the 2014-2015 budget, the State funded a new Ready to Learn Grant for public schools. A total of $100 million is allocated through a formula to districts based on the numer of students, level of poverty of community as calculated by its market value/personal income aid ratio (MV/PI AR) and the number of English language learners. Ready to Learn Block Grant funds may be used by the Districts for: school safety; Ready by 3 early childhood intervention programs; individualized learning programs; and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs.[165]

Clarion Area School District received $76,684 in Ready to Learn Grant dollars in addition to State Basic Education funding, Special Education funding, Accountability Block Grant funding, PreK Counts funding, reimbursement for Social Security payments for employees and other state grants which the district must apply to receive.

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), along with other specialized equipment and provided funding for teacher training to optimize the use of the computers. The program was funded from 2006–2009. Clarion Area School District did not apply to participate and did not receive any funding.[166] The highest funding statewide was awarded to Philadelphia City School District in Philadelphia County - $9,409,073. The grant program was discontinued by Governor Edward Rendell as part of the 2009-2010 state budget.

Science It’s Elementary grant[edit]

Clarion Elementary School successfully applied to participate and received a Science It’s Elementary grant in 2008-2009.[167] For the 2008-09 school year, the program was offered in 143 schools reaching 66,973 students across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.[168] 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.[169] 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.[170] Clarion Area School District was required to develop a three-year implementation plan for the participating school. The school district administration was required to appoint a district liaison who was paid $3,000 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 for the program.[171] The grant program was expanded to $14.5 million in the 2008-2009 budget. The grant was discontinued in the state’s 2011 budget by Governor Edward G. Rendell.

Other grants[edit]

The Clarion Area School District did not participate in: Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection's Environmental Education annual grants;[172][173] Education Assistance Grants; 2012 Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy grant;[174] 2013 Safe Schools and Resource Officer grants; 2012 and 2013 Pennsylvania Hybrid Learning Grants[175] nor the federal 21st Century Learning grants.

Common Cents state initiative[edit]

Clarion Area School Board elected to not participate in the Pennsylvania Department of Education Common Cents program. The program called for the state to audit the district, at no cost to local taxpayers, to identify ways the district could save tax dollars.[176] After the review of the information, the district was not required to implement the recommended cost savings changes.

Federal Stimulus funding[edit]

The Clarion Area School District received an extra $520,761 in ARRA - Federal Stimulus money, in 2009–2010, to be used in specific programs like special education and meeting the academic needs of low-income students. This money was in additional to all regular federal funding.[177] The funding was limited to the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 school years.[178] Due to the temporary nature of the funding, schools were repeatedly advised by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, the Pennsylvania Senate Education Committee, the Governor and the Pennsylvania School Board Association, 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]

Clarion Area School District officials did not apply for the Race to the Top federal grant which would have brought the district over one million dollars of additional federal funding for improving student academic achievement.[179] Participation required the administration, the school board and the local teachers' union to sign an agreement to prioritize improving student academic success. In Pennsylvania, 120 public school districts and 56 charter schools agreed to participate.[180] 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.[181]

Real estate taxes[edit]

Property tax rates in 2014-2015 were set by the school board at 58.5400 mills.[182] 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.[183] 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 all government property (local, state and federal). 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.[184] When a Pennsylvania public school district includes municipalities in two counties, each of which has different rates of property tax assessment, a state board equalizes the tax rates between the counties.[185] 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.[186]

The average yearly property tax paid by Clarion County residents amounts to about 2.2% of their yearly income. Clarion County ranked 1252nd out of the 3143 United States counties for property taxes as a percentage of median income.[195] 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.[196] 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%).[197]

Act 1 Adjusted index[edit]

The Act 1 of 2006 Index regulates the rates at which each school district can raise property taxes in Pennsylvania. Districts are not allowed to raise taxes above that index unless they allow voters to vote by referendum, or they seek an exception from the state Department of Education. The base index for the 2010–2011 school year is 2.9 percent, but it can be adjusted higher, depending on a number of factors, such as property values and the personal income of district residents. Act 1 included 10 exceptions, including: increasing pension costs, increases in special education costs, a catastrophe like a fire or flood, increasing rising health care costs for contracts in effect in 2006 or dwindling tax bases. The base index is the average of the percentage increase in the statewide average weekly wage, as determined by the PA Department of Labor and Industry, for the preceding calendar year and the percentage increase in the Employment Cost Index for Elementary and Secondary Schools, as determined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the U.S. Department of Labor, for the previous 12-month period ending June 30. For a school district with a market value/personal income aid ratio (MV/PI AR) greater than 0.4000, its index equals the base index multiplied by the sum of .75 and its MV/PI AR for the current year.[198]

In June 2011, the Pennsylvania General Assembly passed legislation eliminating six of the exceptions to the Act 1 Index.[199] Several exceptions were maintained: 1) costs to pay interest and principal on indebtedness incurred prior to September 4, 2004 for Act 72 schools and prior to June 27, 2006 for non-Act 72 schools; 2) costs to pay interest and principal on electoral debt; 3) costs incurred in providing special education programs and services (beyond what is already paid by the State); and 4) costs due to increases of more than the Index in the school’s share of payments to PSERS (PA school employees pension fund) taking into account the state mandated PSERS contribution rate.[200][201] The legislature also froze the payroll amount public school districts use to calculate the pension-plan exception at the 2012 payroll levels. Further increases in payroll cannot be used to raise the district’s exception for pension payments.

The School District Adjusted Index for the Clarion Area School District 2006–2007 through 2010–2012.[202]

For the 2014-2015 budget year, Clarion Area School Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed their Act 1 Index limit. In 2014-15, all Pennsylvania school districts were required to make a 21.4% of payroll payment to the teacher’s pension fund (PSERS).[207] For the school budget 2014-15, 316 Pennsylvania public school districts adopted a resolution certifying that tax rates would not be increased above its Act 1 Index limit. Another 181 school districts adopted a preliminary budget leaving open the option of exceeding the Index limit. Districts may apply for multiple exceptions each year. For the pension costs exception, 163 school districts received approval to exceed the Index in full, while others received a partial approval of their request. For special education costs, 104 districts received approval to exceed their tax limit. Seven Pennsylvania public school districts received an approval for the grandfathered construction debts exception.[208]

For the 2013-2014 budget year, Clarion Area School Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed their Act 1 Index limit. In 2013-14, all Pennsylvania school districts were required to make a 16.93% of payroll payment to the teacher’s pension fund (PSERS). For the school budget year 2013-14, 311 Pennsylvania public school districts adopted a resolution certifying that tax rates would not be increased above their index. Another 171 school districts adopted a preliminary budget leaving open the option of exceeded the Index limit. For the pension costs exception, 169 school districts received approval to exceed the Index. For special education costs, 75 districts received approval to exceed their tax limit. Eleven Pennsylvania public school districts received an approval for grandfathered construction debts.[209]

For the 2012-2013 budget year, Clarion Area School Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed the Act 1 Index. In 2012-13, all Pennsylvania school districts were required to make a 12.36% of payroll payment to the teacher’s pension fund (PSERS). For 2012-2013 budget year, 274 school districts adopted a resolution certifying that tax rates would not be increased above their index; while 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.[210]

For the 2011-2012 school year, Clarion Area School Board did not apply for an exception to exceed the Act 1 Index. In 2011-12, all Pennsylvania school districts were required to make a 8.65% of payroll payment to the teacher’s pension fund. 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.

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.[211]

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.[212]

Property tax relief[edit]

In 2009, the Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief from gambling for the Clarion Area School District was $129 per approved permanent primary residence. In the district, 1633 property owners applied for the tax relief. The highest amount of property tax relief in Clarion County was allotted to Clarion-Limestone at $183 in 2009. Chester Upland School District of Delaware County was allotted the highest tax relief at $632 in 2009 and $641 in 2010.[213] 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. The Pennsylvania Auditor General's office reported that 47% of eligible property owners, in Clarion County, applied for the property tax relief.[214]

Wellness policy[edit]

Clarion Area School Board established a district wellness policy in 2006 - Policy 246.[215] The policy deals with nutritious meals served at school, the control of access to some foods and beverages during school hours, age appropriate nutrition education for all students, and physical education for students K-12. The policy is in response to state mandates and federal legislation (P.L. 108 - 265). The law dictates that each school district participating in a program authorized by the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act (42 U.S.C. 1751 et seq) or the Child Nutrition Act of 1966 (42 U.S.C. 1771 et seq) "shall establish a local school wellness policy by School Year 2006."

The legislation placed the responsibility of developing a wellness policy at the local level so the individual needs of each district can be addressed. According to the requirements for the Local Wellness Policy, school districts must set goals for nutrition education, physical activity hat are aligned with the Pennsylvania State Academic Standards for Health, Safety and Physical Education, campus food provision, and other school-based activities designed to promote student wellness. Additionally, districts were required to involve a broad group of individuals in policy development and to have a plan for measuring policy implementation. Districts were offered a choice of levels of implementation for limiting or prohibiting low nutrition foods on the school campus. In final implementation these regulations prohibit some foods and beverages on the school campus.[216]

The Pennsylvania Department of Education required the district to submit a copy of the policy for its approval.

Extracurriculars[edit]

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.[217]

The district offers a wide variety of clubs, activities and sports. Eligibility to participate is determined by school board policy.[218]

According to Pennsylvania’s Safety in Youth Sports Act, all sports coaches, paid and volunteer, are required to annually complete the Concussion Management Certification Training and present the certification before coaching.[219][220]

Sports[edit]

Coaches receive compensation as outlined in the teachers' union contract. When athletic competition exceeds the regular season, additional compensation is paid.[221]

The District funds:

Varsity
Junior High Middle School Sports

According to PIAA directory July 2013 [222]

References[edit]

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