Conrad Weiser Area School District

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Conrad Area School District
Map of Berks County Pennsylvania School Districts.png
Map of Berks County, Pennsylvania Public School Districts: Conrad Weiser Area School District is in pink in the western part of the county.
Address
44 Big Spring Road
Robesonia, Pennsylvania, Berks County and Lancaster County, 19551-8948
United States
Information
Type Public
School board 9 locally elected members
Superintendent Dr. Randall Grove, contract expires June 30, 2015[1]
Administrator Dr. Dennis T Roule - Assistant Superintendent Salary $123,210 in 2012

Mrs Robin L Robertson - Business Manager, $89,778
Stacy Miller, Comptroller
Jennifer Wilinsky, Director Food Service
Edward Skoczen, Director of Special Education salary $91,863
Eric Lutz, Director of Facilities, $69,253
Maggie Schearer, Transportation Coordinator
Russ Kline, Athletic Director $70,382

Principal Dr. Betsy Adams salary $112,237 in 2012
Principal Peter Aiken, HS $91,228
Principal Janet Heilman
Principal Jennifer M. Hassler, salary $85,263
Vice principal Ashley Smith, $71,376
Assistant principals Robert Galtere $80,625, Bo Rogers $71,000
Staff 231 staff members
Teaching staff 212 teachers[2]
Grades K-12
Age 5 years old to 21 years old special education
Pupils 2,851 pupils in 2011, 2965 pupils in 2010 [3]
Kindergarten 232
Grade 1 193
Grade 2 204
Grade 3 192
Grade 4 212
Grade 5 222
Grade 6 235
Grade 7 200
Grade 8 223
Grade 9 261
Grade 10 265
Grade 11 266
Grade 12 260
Language English
Colour(s) Blue and White
Slogan Home of the Scouts
Mascot Scout
Budget $42.6 million 2013-14[4]

$41.7 million (2012-13)[5]
$40.9 million (2011-12)[6]
$39.72 million (2010-11)[7]
$38.6 million 2009-10[8]
$38.9 million (2008- 09)[9]

Per pupil spending $11,875 (2008)
Per pupil spending $13,901.90 (2010)
Website

The Conrad Weiser Area School District is located in western Berks County in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. This district serves South Heidelberg Township, Heidelberg Township, North Heidelberg Township and Marion Township and the Boroughs of Wernersville, Robesonia and Womelsdorf.[10] Eight properties in a housing development in West Cocalico in Lancaster County also attend the District's schools. The District encompasses approximately 100 square miles (260 km2). According to 2000 federal census data, it serves a resident population of 23,777. By 2010, the District's population declined to 19,303 people.[11] In 2009, Conrad Weiser Area School District residents’ per capita income was $22,732, while the median family income was $57,488.[12] In the Commonwealth, the median family income was $49,501 [13] and the United States median family income was $49,445, in 2010.[14] According to Conrad Weiser Area School District officials, in school year 2007-08 the Conrad Weiser Area School District provided basic educational services to 3,026 pupils through the employment of 237 teachers, 176 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 18 administrators. Conrad Weiser Area School District received more than $10.4 million in state funding in school year 2007-08.

In the 1980s, a small group of Lancaster County property owners in the Cocalico School District were successful in seceding from the district. They formed a small district called Squire Hill Independent School District. The new District was short lived merging with Conrad Weiser Area School District.

Conrad Weiser Area School District operates four schools: Conrad Weiser High School (9th–12th), Conrad Weiser Middle School (5th–8th), Conrad Weiser East Elementary School (K-4th) and Conrad Weiser West Elementary School (K-4th).

The District is named for Conrad Weiser, an important Pennsylvanian in colonial days, especially known as an interpreter and emissary in councils between Native Americans and the colonies, especially Pennsylvania.

Conrad Weiser

Governance[edit]

Conrad Weiser Area School District is governed by 9 individually elected board members (serves without compensation for a term of four years.), the Pennsylvania State Board of Education, the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the Pennsylvania General Assembly.[15] 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 Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy Alternatives Sunshine Review gave the school board and district administration a "D" 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.[16]

Academic achievement[edit]

Conrad Weiser Area School District was ranked 321st out of 498 Pennsylvania school districts in 2013 by the Pittsburgh Business Times. The ranking was based on the last three years of student academic achievement on the PSSAs for: reading, writing, math and science.[17] 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.

  • 2012 - 334th [18]
  • 2010 - 294th[19]
  • 2009 - 288th
  • 2008 - 273rd
  • 2007 - 277th out of 501 Pennsylvania school districts.[20]

In 2009, the academic achievement, of the students in the Conrad Weiser Area School District, was in the 36th percentile among all 500 Pennsylvania school districts Scale (0-99; 100 is state best) [21]

District AYP History[edit]

In 2012, Conrad Weiser Area School District declined to Warning AYP status, due to a low graduation rate and lagging achievement in reading and mathematics. Two of the Districts's schools also did not achieve AYP status. In 2011, the District achieved AYP status.[22] 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 Pennsylvania public 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.[23] Conrad Weiser Area School District achieved AYP status each year in 2009 and 2010.[24]

  • 2008 - Warning AYP status[25]
  • 2004 through 2007 - achieved AYP status
  • 2003 - Warning AYP status

Graduation rate[edit]

In 2012, the graduation rate at Conrad Weiser Area School District declined to 86%.[26] In 2011, the District's graduation rate was 88%. In 2010, the Pennsylvania Department of Education issued a new, 4-year cohort graduation rate. Conrad Weiser High School's rate was 88% for 2010.[27]

According to traditional graduation rate calculations:

High school[edit]

Conrad Weiser High School is located at 44 Big Spring Road, Robesonia. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, the High School reported an enrollment of 971 pupils in grades 9th through 12th, with 257 pupils eligible for a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to the family meeting the federal poverty level. The school is not a federally designated Title I school. Conrad Weiser High School employed 69 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 14:1.[32] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 12 classes were taught by teachers who were rated "Non‐Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[33]

In 2012, Conrad Weiser High School declined to Corrective Action Level I due to chronic, low student achievement in reading and mathematics.[34] In 2011, Conrad Weiser High School was in Making Progress in School Improvement Level II with lagging student achievement in reading and math. The High School was in School Improvement Level II due to chronic, low student achievement. Students may transfer to another high school where available.[35] The Pennsylvania Department of Education required the high school's administration to develop a School Improvement Plan to raise student academic achievement and to submit it for approval. Conrad Weiser High School offers a summer SAT Prep Course for a small fee.

PSSA Results
11th Grade Reading
  • 2012 - 67% on grade level (15% below basic). State - 67% of 11th graders are on grade level.[36]
  • 2011 - 68% (18% below basic). State - 69.1%[37]
  • 2010 - 69% (19% below basic). State - 66%[38]
  • 2009 - 68% (17% below basic), State - 65% [39]
  • 2008 - 70% (14% below basic), State - 65%[40]
  • 2007 - 73% (13% below basic), State - 65% [41]
11th Grade Math
  • 2012 - 64% on grade level (20% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 59% of 11th graders are on grade level.[42]
  • 2011 - 63% (21% below basic). State - 60.3% [43]
  • 2010 - 60% (24% below basic). State - 59%
  • 2009 - 53% (27% below basic). State - 56%
  • 2008 - 55% (22% below basic). State - 56% [44]
  • 2007 - 62% (18% below basic). State - 53%
11th Grade Science
  • 2012 - 47% on grade level (13% below basic). State - 42% of 11th graders were on grade level.[45]
  • 2011 - 39% (20% below basic). State - 40% [46]
  • 2010 - 41% (18% below basic), State - 39%
  • 2009 - 41% (18% below basic). State - 40%
  • 2008 - 40% (12% below basic). State - 39%

Science in Motion Conrad Weiser High School does 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.[47] Ursinus College provides the experiences to schools in t he region.

College remediation rate[edit]

According to a Pennsylvania Department of Education study released in January 2009, 38% of Conrad Weiser 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.[48] 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.[49] 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.

Graduation requirements[edit]

The Conrad Weiser Area School Board has determined that students must earn 27 credits to graduate, including: English 4 credits, Social Studies 4 credits, Math and Science a total of 3 per subject and 1 additional credit is either one, Gym 2 credits, Health 1 credit, Arts and Humanities 2 credits and 7 elective credits.[50]

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.[51] Conrad Weiser High School requires students to complete a research paper, an oral presentation and a Portfolio/Product.[52] Additionally, students are required to have a minimum of twenty hours of community service to receive a diploma, and awards are given to students who complete over 100 hours of community service.[53]

By Pennsylvania State School Board regulations, for the graduating classes of 2016, students must demonstrate successful completion of secondary level course work in Algebra I, Biology, English Composition, and Literature for which the Keystone Exams serve as the final course exams. Students’ Keystone Exam scores shall count for at least one-third of the final course grade.[54]

Agriculture Sciences[edit]

The Agriculture Science Department at Conrad Weiser High School is recognized nationally as both a progressive agriculture program and a model for science instruction.[55] The department has a modern laboratory, a tissue culture area complete with grow room, an animal science room, a small greenhouse, a vineyard, a landscape laboratory, a barn that houses chickens and other hardware supplies, and its own library.

The curriculum includes microbiology, environmental science, tissue culture, food science, animal science and entomology, with a focus on performance in the laboratory, independent reading and technical writing, professional communication, and self-directed study.[56]

The department is organized in layers of support. Crews are small, semi-autonomous groups that study one particular problem or conduct one particular task. For example, the tissue culture crew meets daily after school and organizes and maintains the area. The second layer of organization are the Teaching Lab Assistants. These are upperclassmen who interview for the position, serve for one year, and are each assigned an area of responsibility. The Teaching Lab Assistants teach lessons, mentor underclassmen, oversee crews, maintain inventories and order materials and host tours.[57]

Dual enrollment[edit]

Conrad Weiser 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 local 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. In 2010, the state offered a small grant to assist students in costs for tuition, fees and books. Conrad Weiser School District received 3,920.[58] Under the Pennsylvania Transfer and Articulation Agreement, many Pennsylvania colleges and universities accept these credits for students who transfer to their institutions.[59] In 2010, Governor Edward Rendell eliminated the grants to students, from the Commonwealth, due to a state budget crisis.

SAT scores[edit]

In 2012, 169 Conrad Weiser Area School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 473. The Math average score was 492. The Writing average score was 456. 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, 164 Conrad Weiser Area School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 490. The Math average score was 491. The Writing average score was 476.[60] Pennsylvania ranked 40th among states with SAT scores: Verbal - 493, Math - 501, Writing - 479.[61] 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.[62]

Cyber School[edit]

The District offers a cyber school program. The District uses its own teachers and serves only its own students. Teachers will meet in person with students who are struggling in their work. In 2013, the Superintendent testified before the Pennsylvania Senate Education Committee seeking to limit public school students' ability to choose cyber schools other than the one operated by the school district.[63]

Middle school[edit]

Conrad Weiser Middle School is located at 347 East Penn Avenue, Robesonia. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2011, the school reported an enrollment of 890 pupils in grades 5th through 8th, with 238 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school is a federally designated Title I school. The school employed 64 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 13:1.[64] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 13 classes are taught by teachers who were rated "Non‐Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[65] In 2010 and 2012, the attendance rate was reported as 96%. Five of the teachers are by the district as being not highly qualified in 2010.

In 2012, Conrad Weisere Middle School declined to Warning AYP status due to lagging student achievement in both reading and mathematics.[66] In 2011, Conrad Weiser Middle School achieved AYP status.

PSSA Results
8th Grade Science
  • 2012 - 53% on grade level (20% below basic). State - 59%
  • 2011 - 45% (35% below basic). State – 58.3%
  • 2010 - 61%, State - 57%.
  • 2009 - 61%, State - 54% [73]
  • 2008 - 58%, State - 52% [74]

Conrad Weiser East Elementary[edit]

Conrad Weiser East Elementary School is located at 200 Lincoln Drive, Wernersville. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2011, the school reported an enrollment of 545 pupils in grades kindergarten through 4th, with 91 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school is not a federally designated Title I school. The school employed 39 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 14:1.[75] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[76] In 2011 and 2012, Elementary School achieved AYP status.[77][78] In 2009-10, the attendance rate was 95%. All of the teachers are highly qualified.

PSSAs:

4th Grade Science
  • 2012 - 91%, (1% below basic). State - 82%
  • 2011 - 89%, (2% below basic). State - 82.9%
  • 2010 - 80%, 33% advanced, State - 81%
  • 2009 - 88%, 30% advanced, State - 83%
  • 2008 - 88%, 31% advanced, State - 81%

Conrad Weiser West Elementary[edit]

Conrad Weiser West Elementary School is located at 102 South 3rd Street, Womelsdorf. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2011, the school reported an enrollment of 474 pupils in grades kindergarten through 4th, with 126 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school is not a federally designated Title I school. The school employed 34 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of :121.[85] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[86] In 2011 and 2012, Conrad Weiser West Elementary School achieved AYP status.[87] In 2010 and 2012, the attendance rate was 96%. All of the teachers are highly qualified in 2010.

4th Grade Science
  • 2012 - 83%, (1% below basic). State - 82%
  • 2011 - 82%, (5% below basic). State - 83%
  • 2010 - 85%, 44% advanced, State - 81%
  • 2009 - 79%, 24% advanced, State - 83%
  • 2008 - 77%, 31% advanced, State - 81%

Special education[edit]

In December 2011, the District administration reported that 575 pupils or 20.2% of the district's pupils received Special Education services, with 53% of the identified students having a specific learning disability.[94] In December 2009, the District administration reported that 516 pupils or 17.6% of the district's pupils received Special Education services, with 63.2% of the identified students having a specific learning disability. Special education services in the Commonwealth are provided to students from ages three years to 21 years old. In the 2010-11 school year, the total student enrollment was more than 1.78 million students with approximately 275,000 students eligible for special education services. Among these students 18,959 were identified with mental retardation and 21,245 students with autism.[95] The largest group of students are identified as Specific Learning Disabilities 126,026 students (46.9 percent) and Speech or Language Impairments with 43,542 students (16.2 percent).

In 2010, the state of Pennsylvania provided $1,026,815,000 for 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.[96] 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.[97] 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.[98] 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.[99] In 2012, the Obama Administration's US Department of Education issued a directive that schools include students with disabilities in extracurricular activities, including sports.[100]

Conrad Weiser Area School District received a $1,481,784 supplement for special education services in 2010.[101] 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.[102][103] Additionally, the state provides supplemental funding for extraordinarily impacted students. The District must apply for this added funding.

Gifted education[edit]

The District Administration reported that 173 or 5.91% of its students were gifted in 2009. The highest percentage of gifted students reported among all 500 school districts and 100 public charter schools in Pennsylvania was North Allegheny School District with 15.5% of its students identified as gifted.[104] In 2008, Conrad Weiser Area School District reported that 182 or 6.04% of its students were gifted. 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.[105][106]

Wellness policy[edit]

Conrad Weiser Area School Board has established a district wellness policy.[107] 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." [108]

The legislation placed the responsibility of developing a wellness policy at the local level. According to the requirements for the Local Wellness Policy, school districts must set goals for nutrition education, physical activity, 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.[109] The Pennsylvania Department of Education required the district to submit a copy of the policy for approval.

The District offers a free school breakfast and free or reduced-price lunch to children in low income families. All students attending the school can eat breakfast and lunch. Children from families with incomes at or below 130 percent of the federal poverty level are provided a breakfast and lunch at no cost to the family. Children from families with incomes between 130 and 185 percent of the federal poverty level can be charged no more than 30 cents per breakfast. A foster child whose care and placement is the responsibility of the State or who is placed by a court with a caretaker household is eligible for both a free breakfast and a free lunch. Runaway, homeless and Migrant Youth are also automatically eligible for free meals.[110] The meals are partially funded with federal dollars through the United States Department of Agriculture.[111]

In 2013, the USDA issued new restrictions to foods in public schools. The rules apply to foods and beverages sold on all public school district campuses during the school day. They limit vending machine snacks to a maximum of 200 calories per item. Additionally, all snack foods sold at school must meet competitive nutrient standards, meaning they must have fruits, vegetables, dairy or protein in them or contain at least 10 percent of the daily value of fiber, calcium, potassium, and Vitamin D. The rules do not apply to fundraisers or foods sold to the public at school events.[112]

Conrad Weiser Area School District participated in Highmark Healthy High 5 Health eTools for Schools which enabled mobile data collection of pertinent health and physical fitness screening data on students K-12 in a database held by InnerLink, Inc. in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Health eTools for Schools also provided interdisciplinary research-based curriculum in nutrition, physical education and physical activity to participating districts. The program was discontinued in 2013 by Highmark.[113]

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.[114]

In 2011, the average teacher salary in Conrad Weiser Area School District was $59,002 a year, while the cost of the benefits teachers received was $19,045 per employee, for a total annual average teacher compensation of $748,048.[115] In 2013, Conrad Weiser Area School Board offered employees an early retirement bonus. The incentive was provided to both teachers and support staff. Eight teachers and five support staff members took the offer in December. Teachers received $30,000 while other employees received $8,000 to $10,000.[116]

In 2009, the District reported employing 256 teachers and administrators with a median salary of $56,466 and a top salary of $123,809.[117] The teacher’s work day is 7 hours 30 minutes with a 30-minute duty-free lunch and a daily preparation period. There are 187 days in the teacher contract year. Additionally, Conrad Weiser ASD teachers receive a defined benefit pension, health insurance, vision insurance, dental insurance, life insurance, professional development reimbursement, 2 paid personal days, 10 paid sick days, and a plethora of other benefits. Teachers have the option of allowing their unused sick days to accumulate towards a retirement bonus or contributing them to a group sick bank. Part Time teachers receive pro-rata sick days and other benefits. Some faculty members are required to work extra days and are compensated at an hourly rate for that extra work time.[118] 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.[119]

Conrad Weiser Area School District administrative costs per pupil in 2008 was $645.51 per pupil. The lowest administrative cost per pupil in Pennsylvania was $398 per pupil.[120] The Pennsylvania School Boards Association collects and maintains statistics on salaries of public school district employees in Pennsylvania. According to the association's report, the average salary for a superintendent, for the 2007-08 school year, was $122,165. Superintendents and administrators receive a benefit package commensurate with that offered to the district's teachers' union.[121] According to PSBA, the median Superintendent salary rose to over $130,000 in 2011.[122]

In 2008, the Conrad Weiser Area School District administration reported that per pupil spending was $11,875 which ranked 287th among Pennsylvania's then 501 public school districts. In 2010, the District’s per pupil spending had increased to $13,901.90 ranking 212th.[123] In 2011, Pennsylvania’s per pupil spending was $13,467, ranking 6th in the United States.[124] In 2007, the Pennsylvania per pupil total expenditures was reported as $12,759.[125] The U.S. Census Bureau reported that Pennsylvania spent $8,191 per pupil in school year year 2000-01.[126]

Among the fifty states, Pennsylvania’s total per pupil revenue (including all sources) ranked 11th at $15,023 per student, in 2008-09.[127] Pennsylvania’s total revenue per pupil rose to $16,186 ranking 9th in the nation in 2011.[128]

Reserves In 2008, Conrad Weiser Area School District reported a balance of $845,000 in its unreserved-designated fund. The unreserved-undesignated fund balance was reported as $3,110,086.[129] In 2010, Conrad Weiser Area School District Administration reported an increase to $3,590,789 in the unreserved-undesignated fund balance. The District also reported $2,935,338 in its unreserved-designated fund, for a total of 6,526,127 in reserves, 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. Pennsylvania public school districts are required by state law to keep 5 percent of their annual spending in the undesignated reserve funds to preserve bond ratings. By law the state limits the total unreserved-undesignated fund balance at 8% of the annual budget for school districts that have budgets over $19 million a year. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, from 2003 to 2010, as a whole, Pennsylvania school districts amassed nearly $3 billion in reserved funds.[130] By 2013, reserves held by Pennsylvania public school districts, as a whole, had increased to over $3.8 billion.[131]

In June 2010, the Pennsylvania Auditor General conducted a performance audit of the District. The findings were reported to the Conrad Weiser Area School Board and the District’s administration.[132]

Tuition Students who live in the Conrad Weiser 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 Conrad Weiser 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 Conrad Weiser Area School District's schools. The 2012 tuition rates are Elementary School - $9,018, High School - $10,526.[133]

In 2007, Conrad Weiser Area School District conducted a voter referendum, during the spring primary, seeking to shift taxes from property to income. The proposal was to raise earned income tax another 0.8% and lower the local property tax so that the District's revenues were neutral. The referendum plan failed: Yes - 797; No: 1289. The Earned income tax remained unchanged.[134]

Conrad Weiser Area School District is funded by a combination of: a local earned income tax 0.5%,[135] a property tax, a real estate transfer tax 0.5%, coupled with substantial funding from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the federal government.[136] Grants can provide an opportunity to supplement school funding without raising local taxes. 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.[137] 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.[138]

State basic education funding[edit]

For the 2013-14 school year, Conrad Weiser Area School District will receive $5,925,044 in Pennsylvania Basic Education Funding, which is $169,744 more than its 2012-13 state BEF to the District. Additionally, the District will receive $132,024 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 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.[139] 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.[140]

For the 2012-13 school year, Conrad Weiser Area School District received $5,887,226.[141] 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. Conrad Weiser Area School District received $132,024 in ABG 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.[142] 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 2011-12, Conrad Weiser Area School District received a $5,752,462 allocation, of state Basic Education Funding.[143][144] Additionally, the School District received $132,024 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.[145] 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.[146] In 2010, Conrad Weiser Area School District reported that 782 students received free or reduced-price lunches, due to the family meeting the federal poverty level.[147]

In the 2010-11 budget year, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a 4.97% increase in Basic Education Funding for a total of $6,313,429 . Among the districts in Berks County, the highest increase went to Muhlenberg School District which got an 8.17% increase. One hundred fifty Pennsylvania school districts received the base 2% increase. The highest increase in 2010-11 went to Kennett Consolidated School District in Chester County which received a 23.65% increase in state funding.[148] 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.[149]

In the 2009-10 budget year, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a 6.31% increase in Basic Education Funding for a total of $$6,014,365. Ninety (90) Pennsylvania public school districts received the base 2% increase. Muhlenberg School District in Berks County received a 22.31% increase in state basic education funding in 2009.[150] 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.[151] Conrad Weiser Area School District also received $712,600 in federal funding. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Pennsylvania spent $7,824 Per Pupil in the year 2000. This amount increased up to $12,085 by the year 2008.[152][153]

The state Basic Education Funding to the District in 2008-09 was $5,657,199.38. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 606 district students received free or reduced-price lunches due to low family income in the 2007–2008 school year.[154]

Accountability Block Grants[edit]

Beginning in 2004-2005, the state launched the Accountability Block Grant school funding. This program has provided $1.5 billion to Pennsylvania’s school districts. The Accountability Block Grant program requires that its taxpayer dollars are focused on specific interventions that are most likely to increase student academic achievement. These interventions include: teacher training, all-day kindergarten, lower class size K-3rd grade, literacy and math coaching programs that provide teachers with individualized job-embedded professional development to improve their instruction, before or after school tutoring assistance to struggling students. For 2010-11, the district applied for and received $358,346 in addition to all other state and federal funding. The Conrad Weiser Area School District uses the funding to provide full-day kindergarten since 2004 and to assist academically struggling children.[155][156]

Classrooms for the Future grant[edit]

The Classroom for the Future state program provided districts with hundreds of thousands of extra state funding to buy laptop computers for each core curriculum high school class (English, Science, History, Math) and paid for teacher training to optimize the computers use. The program was funded from 2006 to 2009. Conrad Weiser Area School District did not apply to participate in 2006-07. In 2007-08, the District received $304,902. The District received $55,416 in 2008-09 for a total funding of $360,318.[157] In Berks County the highest award was given to Reading School District which received $1,294,497. The highest funding statewide was awarded to Philadelphia City School District in Philadelphia County - $9,409,073. The grant program was discontinued by Governor Edward Rendell as part of the 2009-10 state budget.

Other grants[edit]

The District did not participate in: Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection's Environmental Education annual grants, PA Science Its Elementary grants (discontinued effective with 2009-10 budget by Governor Rendell), Education Assistance Grants, 2012 Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy grant, nor the federal 21st Century Learning grants.

Federal Stimulus grant[edit]

The district received an extra $2,103,465 in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) - Federal Stimulus money to be used in specific programs like special education and meeting the academic needs of low-income students.[158][159] The funding was limited to the 2009-10 and 2010-2011 school years.[160] 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]

Conrad Weiser Area School District officials did not apply for the federal Race to the Top grant which would have provided nearly one million dollars, in additional federal funding, to improve student academic achievement.[161] 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.[162] 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.[163][164][165]

Real estate taxes[edit]

Property tax rates in 2013-14 were set by the Conrad Weiser Area School Board at 25.71 mills for resident in Berks County and 22.50 mills for residents in Lancaster County. 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.[166] 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.[167] 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.[168] 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.[169]

  • 2012-13 - 25.2700 mills for Berks County and 22.2300 mills for Lancaster County
  • 2011-12 - 24.6100 mills.for Berks County and 21.9100 mills for Lancaster County[170]
  • 2010-11 - 24.3200 mills for Berks County and 24.3200 mills for Lancaster County[171]
  • 2009-10 - 24.3200 mills for Berks County and Lancaster County [172]
  • 2008-09 - 24.3200 mills for Berks County and Lancaster County [173]
  • 2007-08 - 23.4000 mills for Berks County and Lancaster County [174]
  • 2006-07 - 23.0300 mills for Berks County and Lancaster County[175]
  • 2005-06 - 21.7600 mills.[176]

The average yearly property tax paid by Berks County residents amounts to about 4.66% of their yearly income. Berks County ranked 112th out of the 3143 United States counties for property taxes as a percentage of median income.[177] 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.[178] 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%).[179]

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 property taxes above their annual Index unless they either: allow voters to vote by referendum or they receive an exception from the Pennsylvania Department of Education. The base index for the school year is published by the PDE in the fall of each year. Each individual school district’s Act 1 Index can be adjusted higher, depending on a number of factors, such as local property values and the personal income of district residents. Originally, Act 1 or 2006 included 10 exceptions: 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.[180] In June 2011, the Pennsylvania General Assembly eliminated six exceptions to the Act 1 Index.[181] 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.[182][183]

The School District Adjusted Index for the Conrad Weiser Area School District 2006-2007 through 2011-2012.[184]

For the 2013-14 budget year, Conrad Weiser Area School Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed the Act 1 Index. For 2013-2014, 311 Pennsylvania public school districts adopted a resolution certifying that tax rates would not be increased above their index; 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 the tax limit. For the exception for pension costs, 169 school districts received approval to exceed the Index. Eleven districts received an approval for grandfathered construction debts.[187]

For the 2012-13 budget year, Conrad Weiser Area School Board applied for two exceptions to exceed the Act 1 Index: teachers pension cots and special education services costs. 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.[188]

For the 2011-12 school year, the Conrad Weiser Area School Board applied for four exceptions to exceed the Act 1 Index: teacher pension costs, special education costs, employee health insurance costs and to Maintain Selected Revenues. Each year, the School Board has the option of adopting either: 1) a resolution in January certifying they will not increase taxes above their index or 2) a preliminary budget in February. A school district adopting the resolution may not apply for referendum exceptions or ask voters for a tax increase above the inflation index. A specific timeline for these decisions is published annually, by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.[189]

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.[190]

Conrad Weiser Area School Board applied for three exceptions to exceed the Act 1 index for its annual budget in 2010-11. It was approved for special education and pension costs. It was denied, by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, an additional increase for Maintenance of Selected Revenues.[191] 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.[192]

For the 2009-10 school district budget, Conrad Weiser Area School Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed the Index.[193]

Property tax relief[edit]

In 2012, 5,191 Conrad Weiser Area School District approved homestead residents received $196.[194] The relief was subtracted from the total annual school property tax bill. Property owners apply for the relief through the county Treasurer's office. Pennsylvania farmers can qualify for a farmstead exemption on buildings used for agricultural purposes. The farm must be at least 10 contiguous acres (40,000 m2) and must be the primary residence of the owner. Farmers can qualify for both the homestead exemption and the farmstead exemption. The amount of property tax relief each school district receives is announced by the PDE in May each year. It is dependent on the amount of tax revenue collected on the casino slots in the previous year. In 2010, property tax relief for 5,140 approved residents of Conrad Weiser Area School District was set at $198.[195]

In 2009, the Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief from gambling for the Conrad Weiser Area School District was $201 per approved permanent primary residence. In the district, 5,071 property owners applied for the tax relief. In Berks County, the highest tax relief went to Reading School District which was set at $382.[196] The highest property tax relief, among Pennsylvania school districts, went to the homesteads of Chester Upland School District of Delaware County which received $632 per approved homestead in 2010. Chester-Upland School District has consistently been the top recipient since the programs inception.[197] In Berks County, 65% of eligible property owners applied for property tax relief in 2009.[198]

In Pennsylvania, the homestead exclusion reduces the assessed values of homestead properties, reducing the property tax on these homes. The homestead exclusion allows homeowners real property tax relief of up to one half of the median assessed value of homesteads in the taxing jurisdiction (county, school district, city, borough, or township).[199]

Additionally, the Pennsylvania Property Tax/Rent Rebate program is provided for low income Pennsylvanians aged 65 and older; widows and widowers aged 50 and older; and people with disabilities age 18 and older. The income limit is $35,000 for homeowners. The maximum rebate for both homeowners and renters is $650. Applicants can exclude one-half (1/2) of their Social Security income, consequently people who have an income of substantially more than $35,000 still qualify for a rebate. Individuals must apply annually for the rebate. This tax rebate can be taken in addition to Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief. In 2012, the Pennsylvania Secretary of the Treasury reported issuing more than half a million property tax rebates totaling $238 million.[200] The Property tax/rent rebate program is funded by revenues from the Pennsylvania Lottery. In 2012, these property tax rebates were increased by an additional 50 percent for senior households in the state, so long as those households have incomes under $30,000 and pay more than 15% of their income in property taxes.[201]

Extracurriculars[edit]

The District offers a wide variety of clubs, activities and an extensive, costly sports program. Eligibility for participation is determined by school board policy and in compliance with standards set by the Pennsylvania interscholastic Athletics Association (PIAA). The District is part of the Berks County Interscholastic Athletic Association. The District does not charge a participation fee for extracurricular activities.

By Pennsylvania law, all K-12 students residing 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.[202]

Sports[edit]

The District funds:

Middle School Sports

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