Huntingdon Area School District

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Huntingdon Area School District
Map of Huntingdon County Pennsylvania School Districts.png
Address
2400 Cassady Ave Ste 2
Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, Huntingdon County, 16652-2618
United States
Information
Type Public
School board 9 locally elected members
Superintendent Fred Foster
Faculty 178 teachers (2010)
Grades K-12
Enrollment (2010-11) [1]
Kindergarten 136
Grade 1 161
Grade 2 131
Grade 3 147
Grade 4 177
Grade 5 161
Grade 6 155
Grade 7 172
Grade 8 150
Grade 9 157
Grade 10 159
Grade 11 177
Grade 12 183
Other Enrollment projected to be 2124 pupils in 2020[2]
Tuition for nonresident and charter school students ES, HS [3]
Per pupil spending $10,067 (2008)
Per pupil spending $10,984.69 (2010)
Website
Huntingdon Area High School
Address
2400 Cassady Ave. Ste. 1
Huntingdon, Pennsylvania 16652
Information
School type Public high school
Opened 1960
School district Huntingdon Area School District
Superintendent Mr. Fred Foster
Principal Mr. Jeffrey D. Miles
Assistant principals Mr. Brian J. Pelka
Grades 9–12
Enrollment 732 (2010-2011)
Language English
Hours in school day 7:50 AM-2:45 PM
Campus Rural
Color(s) Red and Blue
Mascot Bearcat
Rival Schools Mount Union Area High School
Tyrone Area High School
Website
Huntingdon Area Middle School
Address
2500 Cassady Ave.
Huntingdon, Pennsylvania 16652
Information
School type Public middle school
Opened 2012
School district Huntingdon Area School District
Superintendent Mr. Fred Foster
Principal Mrs. Patricia Wargo
Assistant principals Mrs. Sommer Garman
Grades 6–8
Enrollment 484 (2010-2011)
Language English
Hours in school day 7:50 AM-2:45 PM
Campus Rural
Color(s) Red, White, and Blue
Mascot Bearcat
Website
Standing Stone Elementary School
Address
10 W 29th St.
Huntingdon, Pennsylvania 16652
Information
School type Public elementary school
Opened 1999
Superintendent Mr. Fred Foster
Principal Mrs. Jennifer Mitchell
Grades K–5
Enrollment 448 (2010-2011)
Language English
Campus Rural
Color(s) Red and Blue
Mascot Bearcat
Website
Southside Elementary School
Address
10906 Station Rd.
Huntingdon (McConnellstown), Pennsylvania 16652
Information
School type Public elementary school
Opened 1997
Superintendent Mr. Fred Foster
Principal Mr. Sean Powers
Grades K–5
Enrollment 329 (2010-2011)
Language English
Campus Rural
Color(s) Red and Blue
Mascot Bearcat
Website

The Huntingdon Area School District, commonly abbreviated HASD, is a midsized rural public school district based in the borough of Huntingdon, Pennsylvania. The school district includes all of Huntingdon borough, Brady Township, Smithfield Township, Henderson Township, Juniata Township, Walker Township, Oneida Township, Penn Township, Marklesburg borough, Jackson Township, Mill Creek borough, Miller Township, and Lincoln Township. The district encompasses approximately 286 square miles (740 km2). According to 2000 federal census data, it serves a resident population of 20,156. According to District officials, in school year 2007-08 the Huntingdon Area School District provided basic educational services to 2,199 pupils through the employment of 190 teachers, 113 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 12 administrators. The majority race of the student body is white, Non-Hispanic. The vast majority of the students speak English at home. The school's mascot is the bearcat. The school's official colors are red and blue.

Schools[edit]

The Huntingdon Area School District operates one high school, one middle school, and two elementary schools. The district office is located at 2400 Cassady Avenue, Suite 2, Huntingdon, PA 16652.

  • Huntingdon Area High School - Huntingdon - Grades 9-12
2400 Cassady Avenue, Suite 1, Huntingdon, PA 16652
Opened in 1960, renovated/expanded in 2004
  • Huntingdon Area Middle School - Huntingdon - Grades 6-8
2500 Cassady Avenue, Huntingdon, PA 16652
Opened in 2012, former school opened in 1971
  • Standing Stone Elementary School - Huntingdon - Grades K-5
10 29th Street, Huntingdon, PA 16652
Opened in 1999 from the combined Alfarata Elementary and William Smith Elementary
  • Southside Elementary School - McConnellstown - Grades K-5
10906 Station Road, Huntingdon, PA 16652
Opened in 1997 from the combined Smithfield Elementary and Woodcock Valley Elementary

Governance[edit]

The 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.[4] 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.[5]

Academic achievement[edit]

The Huntingdon Area School District was ranked 368th out of 498 Pennsylvania school districts, in 2012, by the Pittsburgh Business Times. The ranking was based on student academic performance on the last three years of PSSA results in: reading, writing, mathematics and science.[6] The PSSAs are given to all children in grades 3rd through 8th and the 11th grade in high school. Adapted examinations are given to children in the special education programs.

  • 2011 - 281st [7]
  • 2010 - 233rd [8]
  • 2009 - 217th
  • 2008 - 242nd
  • 2007 - 292nd of 501 school districts by the Pittsburgh Business Times.[9]
Overachiever statewide ranking

In 2012, the Pittsburgh Business Times also reported an Overachievers Ranking for 498 Pennsylvania school districts. Huntingdon Area School District ranked 167th. In 2011, the district was 146th. [10] 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."[11]

In 2009, the academic achievement, of the students in the Huntingdon Area School District, was in the 48th percentile among all 500 Pennsylvania school districts Scale (0-99; 100 is state best) [12]

District AYP status history

In 2011, Huntingdon Area School District achieved Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP).[13] In 2011, 94 percent of the 500 Pennsylvania public school districts achieved the No Child Left Behind Act progress level of 72% of students reading on grade level and 67% of students demonstrating on grade level math. In 2011, 46.9 percent of Pennsylvania school districts achieved Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) based on student performance. An additional 37.8 percent of school districts made AYP based on a calculated method called safe harbor, 8.2 percent on the growth model and 0.8 percent on a two-year average performance.[14] Huntingdon Area School District has achieved AYP status each year from 2003 to 2010.[15]

Graduation rate[edit]

In 2011, the graduation rate At Huntingdon Area School District was 93%.[16] In 2010, the Pennsylvania Department of Education issued a new, 4-year cohort graduation rate. Huntingdon Area High School's rate was 84% for 2010.[17]

According to traditional graduation rate calculations

Senior high school[edit]

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, the school reported an enrollment of 712 pupils in grades 9th through 12th, with 229 pupils eligible for a federal free or reduced-price lunch. The school employed 51 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 14:1.[21] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 3 teachers were rated "Non‐Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind and 3 teachers had emergency certifications.[22]

In 2011, Huntingdon Area Senior High School declined to Warning AYP Status due to seriously lagging student achievement. In 2010 the High School achieved AYP status.[23]

PSSA Results
11th Grade Reading
  • 2011 - 58% on grade level (27% below basic). State - 69% of 11th graders on grade level.[24]
  • 2010 - 66% (19% below basic) State - 66% [25]
  • 2009 - 62%, State - 65% [26]
  • 2008 - 70%, State - 65%[27]
  • 2007 - 66%, State - 65% [28]
11th Grade Math
  • 2011 - 53% on grade level (23% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 60.3% of 11th graders are on grade level.[29]
  • 2010 - 63% (23% below basic). State - 59% [30]
  • 2009 - 55%, State - 56% [31]
  • 2008 - 61%, State - 56% [32]
  • 2007 - 57%, State - 53% [33]
11th Grade Science
  • 2011 - 28% on grade level (30% below basic). State - 40% of 11th graders were on grade level.[34]
  • 2010 - 36% (16% below basic). State - 39%
  • 2009 - 34%, State - 40%
  • 2008 - 37%, State - 39%
College remediation

According to a Pennsylvania Department of Education study released in January 2009, 19% of Huntingdon Senior 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.[35] 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.[36] Per the Pennsylvania Department of Education, one in three recent high school graduates who attend Pennsylvania's public universities and community colleges takes at least one remedial course in math, reading or English.

Dual enrollment[edit]

The high school offers the Pennsylvania dual enrollment program. This state program permits high school students to take courses, at local higher education institutions, to earn college credits. HASHS may take college classes at Juniata College (on the college campus), DuBois Business College (on the college campus), Pennsylvania Highlands Community College (at the high school), and Central Pennsylvania College (online). Students remain enrolled at their high school. The courses count towards high school graduation requirements and towards earning a college degree. The students continue to have full access to activities and programs at their high school. The college credits are offered at a deeply discounted rate. The state offers a small grant to assist students in costs for tuition, fees and books.[37] Under the Pennsylvania Transfer and Articulation Agreement, many Pennsylvania colleges and universities accept these credits for students who transfer to their institutions.[38] The Pennsylvania College Credit Transfer System reported in 2009, that students saved nearly $35.4 million by having their transferred credits count towards a degree under the new system.[39] In 2010 the district received $13,345.00 in a state grant to be used assist students with tuition, fees and books.

SAT scores[edit]

From January to June 2011, 100 Huntingdon Area students took the SAT exams. The district's Verbal Average Score was 492. The Math average score was 517. The Writing average score was 473.[40] Pennsylvania ranked 40th among states with SAT scores: Verbal - 493, Math - 501, Writing - 479.[41] 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.[42]

Graduation requirements[edit]

The Huntingdon Area School Board has determined that students must earn 26 credits to graduate, including: 5 credits of English, 3.75 credits of Social Studies, 3.75 credits of Mathematics, 3.75 credits of Science, 2.5 credits of Physical Education/Health, 0.2 credits Driver Education, 0.313 credits Design Fundamentals, 0.313 credits Music, 0.313 credits Family and Consumer Science and 0.625 credits Business Information Processing.[43]

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.[44] At Huntingdon Area High School students select a project that either performs community service or explores a possible career choice. A research paper is completed during the junior year in English class under the guidance and direction of the English teacher. A hands on project is done the senior year which requires a minimum of 25 hours of the student’s time outside of the school day.[45]

By Pennsylvania School Board regulations, for the graduating class of 2017, students must demonstrate successful completion of secondary level course work in Algebra I, Biology, English Composition, and Literature for which the Keystone Exams serve as the final course exams. Students’ Keystone Exam scores shall count for at least one-third of the final course grade.[46][47][48] 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.[49] 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.

Middle school[edit]

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, the school reported an enrollment of 460 pupils in grades 6th through 8th, with 211 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school is a Title I school. The school employed 45 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 10:1.[50] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.[51] In 2010 and 2011, Huntingdon Area Middle School Achieved AYP status.[52]

PSSA Results:

8th Grade Science:

  • 2011 - 50% on grade level (34% below basic). State – 58.3% of 8th graders were on grade level.
  • 2010 - 57% (27% below basic). State - 57%.
  • 2009 - 70%, State: - 54% [59]
  • 2008 - 55%, State - 52% [60]

Special education[edit]

In December 2009, the district administration reported that 368 pupils or 17.7% of the district's pupils received Special Education services, with 41% of identified students having a specific learning disability. In December 2009, the district administration reported that 369 pupils or 16.7% of the district's pupils received Special Education services.[61]

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.[62]

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.[63]

Huntingdon Area School District received a $1,377,297 supplement for special education services in 2010.[64] For the 2011-12 and 2012-13 school year, all Pennsylvania public school districts received the same level of funding for special education that they received in 2010-11. This level funding is provided regardless of changes in the number of pupils who need special education services and regardless of the level of services the respective students required.[65][66]

Gifted education[edit]

The District Administration reported that 82 or 3.86% of its students were gifted in 2009.[67] 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.[68]

Bullying policy[edit]

The Huntingdon Area School District administration reported there were 4 incidents of bullying in the district in 2009.[69][70]

The Huntingdon Area School Board has not provided the district's antibully policy online. 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.[71] 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.[72]

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.[73]

Budget[edit]

In 2011, the average teacher salary in Huntingdon Area School District was $43,330.54 a year, while the cost of the benefits teachers receive was $14,392.63 per employee, for a total annual average teacher compensation of $57, 23.17.[74] According to a study conducted at the American Enterprise Institute, in 2011, public school teachers’ total compensation is roughly 50 percent higher than they would likely receive in the private sector. The study found that the most generous benefits that teachers receive are not accounted for in many studies of compensation, including: pension, retiree health benefits and job security.[75]

In 2009, the district reports employing over 200 teachers with a starting salary of $32,856 for 185 days work.[76] The average teacher salary was $45,743 while the maximum salary is $102,484.[77] In Pennsylvania, the average teacher salary for Pennsylvania's 124,100 public school teachers was $54,977 in 2008.[78] 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.[79] Additionally, Huntingdon Area School District teachers receive a defined benefit pension, health insurance, a $5000 retirement bonus, 3 days bereavement leave, 2 religious holidays leave, professional development reimbursement, income protection insurance, several paid personal days, and 10 sick days, life insurance and other benefits.[80] According to State Rep. Glen Grell, a trustee of the Pennsylvania Public School Employees’ Retirement System Board, a 40-year educator can retire with a pension equal to 100 percent of their final salary.[81]

In 2007, the district employed 171 teachers. The average teacher salary in the district was $42,795 for 180 school days worked.[82]

Huntingdon Area School District administrative costs per pupil in 2008 was $753.32 per pupil. The district is ranked 248th out of 500 in Pennsylvania for administrative spending. The lowest administrative cost per pupil in Pennsylvania was $398 per pupil.[83]

In 2008, Huntingdon Area School District reported spending $10,067 per pupil. This ranked 473rd in the commonwealth.[84]

Reserves

In 2009, the district reported a $1,901,218 in an unreserved-undesignated fund balance. The designated fund balance was reported as $1,581,605.[85] In 2010, Huntingdon Area Administration reported an increase to $1,907,823 in the unreserved-undesignated fund balance. The designated fund balance was $1,575,928. 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.[86]

In July 2010, the Pennsylvania Auditor General conducted a performance audit of the district. Findings were reported to the administration and school board.[87]

In 2010, the Board was accused of violating the Pennsylvania Sunshine Act for public meetings with regard to discussion about closing two elementary schools.[88]

The district is funded by a combination of: a local income tax, a property tax, a real estate transfer tax, coupled with substantial funding from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the federal government. Grants can provide an opportunity to supplement school funding without raising local taxes. In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, pension and Social Security income are exempted from state personal income tax and local earned income tax regardless of the individual's wealth.[89]

State basic education funding[edit]

For the 2012-13 school year, Huntingdon Area School District will receive $7,609,271.[90] The Governor's Executive Budget for 2012-2013 includes $9.34 billion for kindergarten through 12th grade public education, including $5.4 billion in basic education funding, which is an increase of $49 million over the 2011-12 budget. The state also provides $100 million for the Accountability Block grant. The state will also provide $544.4 million for School Employees’ Social Security and $856 million for School Employees’ Retirement fund called PSERS.[91] This amount is a $21,823,000 increase (0.34%) over the 2011-2012 appropriations for Basic Education Funding, School Employees' Social Security, Pupil Transportation, Nonpublic and Charter School Pupil Transportation. Since taking office, Corbett’s first two budgets have restored more than $918 million in support of public schools, compensating for the $1 billion in federal stimulus dollars lost at the end of the 2010-11 school year.

In 2011-12, Huntingdon Area School District received a $7,472,012 allocation, of state Basic Education Funding.[92][93] Additionally, the School District received $136,282 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.[94] The highest increase in state basic education funding was awarded to Duquesne City School District, which got a 49% increase in state funding for 2011-12.[95] In 2010, the district reported that 871 students received free or reduced-price lunches, due to the family meeting the federal poverty level.[96]

For 2010-11 the Huntingdon Area School District received a 5.49% increase in state Basic Education Funding resulting in a $8,205,664 payment.[97] This was the highest increase in BEF in Huntingdon County. Kennett Consolidated School District in Chester County received the highest increase in the state at 23.65% increase in funding for the 2010-11 school year. One hundred fifty school districts received the base 2% increase in 2010-11. The amount of increase each school district receives is determined by then Governor Edward Rendell and the Secretary of Education Gerald Zahorchak through the allocation set in the state budget proposal made in February each year.[98] This was the second year of Governor Rendell’s policy to fund some districts at a far greater rate than others.

In the 2009-2010 budget year the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a 5.95% increase in Basic Education funding for a total of $7,778,468. The state Basic Education funding to the district in 2008-09 was $7,341,466.56. 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.[99] Huntingdon Area School District received the highest increase in Huntingdon 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.[100] 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.[101] 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.[102][103]

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 904 district students received free or reduced-price lunches due to low family income in the 2007-2008 school year.[104]

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 Huntingdon Area School District applied for and received $369,905 in addition to all other state and federal funding. The district used the funding to provide prekindergarten and full-day kindergarten.[105][106]

Classrooms for the Future grant[edit]

The Classroom for the Future state program provided districts with hundreds of thousands of extra state funding to buy laptop computers for each core curriculum high school class (English, Science, History, Math) and paid for teacher training to optimize the computers use. The program was funded from 2006-2009. Huntingdon Area School District did not apply for funding in 2006-07 nor in 2007-08. For the 2008-09, school year the district received $130,482. Of the 501 public school districts in Pennsylvania, 447 of them received Classrooms for the Future grant awards.[107] In Huntingdon County the highest award was given to Huntingdon Area School District. The highest funding state wide was awarded to Philadelphia City School District in Philadelphia County - $9,409,073. In 2010, Classrooms for the Future funding was curtailed statewide due to a massive state financial crisis.

Literacy grant[edit]

Huntingdon Area School District did not participate in a statewide competitive literacy grant. It is to be used to improve reading skills birth through 12th grade. The district was required to develop a lengthly literacy plan, which included outreach into the community. The funds come from a Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy grant, also referred to as the Keystones to Opportunity grant It is a five-year, competitive federal grant program designed to assist local education agencies in developing and implementing local comprehensive literacy plans. Of the 329 pre-applications by school districts reviewed by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, two Huntingdon County School Districts were part of only 148 entities that were invited to submit a full application.[108] The funds must be used for teacher training, student screening and assessment, targeted interventions for students reading below grade level and research-based methods of improving classroom instruction and practice. Districts must hire literacy coaches. The coaches work with classroom teachers to enhance their literacy teaching skills. Pennsylvania was among six other states, out of the 35 that applied, to be awarded funding. Pennsylvania received $38 million through the federal program. The Department of Education reserved 5% of the grant for administration costs at the state level.

Science It’s Elementary grant[edit]

No elementary School In HASD applied to participate and in the Science It’s Elementary state grant. For the 2008-09 school year, the program was offered in 143 schools reaching 2,847 teachers and 66,973 students across Pennsylvania.[109] In 2007, the Pennsylvania Department of Education initiated an effort to improve science instruction in the Commonwealth’s public elementary schools. Called Science: It’s Elementary, the program is a hands on instruction approach for elementary science classes that develops problem-solving and critical thinking skills.[110] 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.[111] Districts were required to develop a three-year implementation plan for the participating school. They had to appoint a district liaison who was paid $3000 by PDE to serve as the conduit of all information between the district and the Department and its agents along with submitting orders and distributing supplies to implementing teachers. For the 2006-07 state education budget, $10 million was allocated. The 2006-07 State Education Budget provided $635 million in new spending for pre-K through 12th grades for the 2006-07 school year. This marks an 8-percent increase over 2005-06 public school funding.[112] The grant program was expanded to $14.5 million in the 2008-09 budget. The grant was discontinued in 2010 by Governor Rendell due to a massive state budget.

21st Century learning grant[edit]

In July 2012, Huntingdon Area School District did not apply for a 21st Century Learning federal grant which is run by the PDE. The grant calls for the establishment and sustainability of community learning centers that provide additional educational services to students in high-poverty and low-performing schools. The grant was competitive. Applications for the grants were reviewed and scored by a panel of representatives from the educational field and professional grant writers. The school received $114,061. While 101 entities applied for the funding, only 66 were approved, including eight charter schools. The funding is for the 2012-13 fiscal year.[113]

Education Assistance grant[edit]

The state's EAP funding provides for the continuing support of tutoring services and other programs to address the academic needs of eligible students. Funds are available to eligible school districts and full-time career and technology centers (CTC) in which one or more schools have failed to meet at least one academic performance target, as provided for in Section 1512-C of the Pennsylvania Public School Code. In 2010-11 the Administration did not apply for funding for the high school.[114]

Federal Stimulus grant[edit]

The district received an extra $1,140,363 in ARRA - Federal Stimulus money to be used in specific programs like special education and meeting the academic needs of low-income students.[115][116] The funding was limited to the 2009-10 and 2010-2011 school years.[117] 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]

Huntingdon Area School District officials did not apply for the Race to the Top federal grant which would have brought the district nearly one million additional federal dollars for improving student academic achievement.[118] 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.[119] 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.[120]

Common Cents state initiative[edit]

The Huntingdon Area School Board did 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.[121] After the review of the information, the district was not required to implement the recommended cost savings changes.

Real estate taxes[edit]

The school board set property tax rates in 2011-12 at 76.3000 mills.[122] 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.[123] Property taxes, in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, apply only to real estate - land and buildings. The property tax is not levied on cars, business inventory, or other personal property. Certain types of property are exempt from property taxes, including: places of worship, places of burial, private social clubs, charitable and educational institutions and government property. 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.[124] When the 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.[125] 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.[126]

  • 2010-11 - 74.8800 mills.[127]
  • 2009-10 - 72.0000 mills.[128]
  • 2008-09 - 72.0000 mills.[129]
  • 2007-08 - 68.8000 mills.[130]
  • 2006-07 - 67.3000 mills.[131]
  • 2005-06 - 67.3000 mills.[132]

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.[133] The average yearly property tax paid by Huntingdon County residents amounts to about 2.25% of their yearly income. Huntingdon County is ranked 1206th of the 3143 United States counties for property taxes as a percentage of median income.[134]

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 authorized to raise taxes above that index unless they allow voters to vote by referendum, or they seek an exception from the state Department of Education. The base index for the 2011-2012 school year is 1.4 percent, but the Act 1 Index can be adjusted higher, depending on a number of factors, such as property values and the personal income of district residents. Act 1 included 10 exceptions, including: increasing pension costs, increases in special education costs, a catastrophe like a fire or flood, increase in health insurance costs for contracts in effect in 2006 or dwindling tax bases. The base index is the average of the percentage increase in the statewide average weekly wage, as determined by the PA Department of Labor and Industry, for the preceding calendar year and the percentage increase in the Employment Cost Index for Elementary and Secondary Schools, as determined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the U.S. Department of Labor, for the previous 12-month period ending June 30. For a school district with a market value/personal income aid ratio (MV/PI AR) greater than 0.4000, its index equals the base index multiplied by the sum of .75 and its MV/PI AR for the current year.[135] In June 2011, the Pennsylvania General Assembly eliminated six of the ten exceptions to the Act 1 Index.[136] 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.[137][138]

The School District Adjusted Index for the Huntingdon Area School District 2006-2007 through 2010-2011.[139]

  • 2006-07 - 5.3%, Base 3.9%
  • 2007-08 - 4.6%, Base 3.4%
  • 2008-09 - 6.0%, Base 4.4%
  • 2009-10 - 5.6%, Base 4.1%
  • 2010-11 - 4.0%, Base 2.9%
  • 2011-12 - 1.9%, Base 1.4%
  • 2012-13 - 2.3%, Base 1.7% [140]

For the 2012-13 budget year, Huntingdon Area School Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed the Act 1 Index. For 2012-2013, 274 school districts adopted a resolution certifying that tax rates would not be increased above their index; 223 school districts adopted a preliminary budget leaving open the option of exceeded the Index limit. For the exception for pension costs, 194 school districts received approval to exceed the Index. For special education costs, 129 districts received approval to exceed the tax limit. For the exception for pension costs, 194 school districts received approval to exceed the Index. For special education costs, 129 districts received approval to exceed the tax limit.[141]

For the 2011-12 school year, Huntingdon Area School Board applied for several exception to exceed the Act 1 Index: Maintenance of Selected Revenue, teacher pension costs and Maintenance of Local Tax Revenue. 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.[142]

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.[143]

The Huntingdon Area School Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed the Act 1 index for the budgets in 2009-10 and 2010-11.[144] 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.[145]

Property tax relief[edit]

In 2009, the Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief from gambling for the Huntingdon Area School District was $144 per approved permanent primary residence. In the district, 4,660 property owners applied for the tax relief. This was the highest property tax relief allotted in Huntingdon County for 2009.[146] The tax relief was subtracted from the total annual school property on the individual's 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.[147] Pennsylvania awarded the highest property tax relief to residents of the Chester-Upland School District in Delaware County at $632 per homestead and farmstead in 2010.[148] This was the second year they were the top recipient.

Additionally, the Pennsylvania Property Tax/Rent Rebate program is provided for low income Pennsylvanians aged 65 and older; widows and widowers aged 50 and older; and people with disabilities age 18 and older. The income limit is $35,000 for homeowners. The maximum rebate for both homeowners and renters is $650. Applicants can exclude one-half (1/2) of their Social Security income, consequently individuals who have income substantially more than $35,000, may still qualify for a rebate. Individuals must apply annually for the rebate. This can be taken in addition to Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief.[149]

Property taxes in Pennsylvania are relatively high on a national scale. According to the Tax Foundation, Pennsylvania ranked 11th in the U.S. in 2008 in terms of property taxes paid as a percentage of home value (1.34%) and 12th in the country in terms of property taxes as a percentage of income (3.55%).[150]

Extracurriculars[edit]

The district offers a variety of clubs, activities and sports. Eligibility to participate is set by school board policies.

By Pennsylvania law, all K-12 students in the district, including those who attend a private nonpublic school, cyber charter school, charter school and those homeschooled, are eligible to participate in the extracurricular programs, including all athletics. They must meet the same eligibility rules as the students enrolled in the district's schools.[151]

Athletics[edit]

Below is a list of all sports offered at Huntingdon and their head coaches.

Fall Sports
  • Football: Michael Hudy
  • Boy's Soccer: John Miller
  • Girl's Soccer: Betsy Mason
  • Girl's Volleyball: Regina Sellers
  • Field Hockey: Kathy Quinn
  • Golf: Scott Eichelberger
  • Marching Band: Jordan Canner
Winter Sports
  • Boy's Basketball: Nick Payne
  • Girl's Basketball: Craig Sellers
  • Wrestling: Jon Mykut
  • Swimming: Melanie Varner
  • Indoor Percussion: Mark A Morningstar
Spring Sports
  • Baseball: Brian Pelka
  • Softball: Christopher Patrick
  • Track & Field: Nathan Freitag
  • Boy's Volleyball

The high school has a long history of athletics. One of the school's most well known sports team is its volleyball team, which has enjoyed much success over the years, winning the PIAA state championship in 2003. Other school sports include basketball, swimming, baseball, softball, field hockey, soccer, wrestling, tennis, track & field, football and golf. The baseball team has also won a state championship.

Last Marching Band Season was also a great one for Huntingdon! They were proudly invited to compete in ACC's in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Huntingdon's indoor percussion ensemble has also soared to great heights in Wildwood, New Jersey, for the past 20+ years. These two sports are offered to students in grades 7-12.

War Veterans' Field[edit]

This field is located in downtown Huntingdon. It is the home of the Huntingdon Bearcats football team.

Career and technology centers[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°30′11″N 78°00′42″W / 40.50304°N 78.01162°W / 40.50304; -78.01162