Mechanicsburg Area School District

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Mechanicsburg Area School District
Map of Cumberland County Pennsylvania School Districts.png
Tradition, Pride, Excellence
Address
100 E. Elmwood Ave, 2nd floor
SouthCentral Pennsylvania
Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, Cumberland County, 17013-4101
United States
Information
School board 9 locally elected members
Superintendent Dr. Mark K. Leidy effective July 1, 2010 (salary $136,360 in 2012)
Specialist Vandrew, Alan, Business Manager (salary $119,848 in 2012)
Dean Mark Krempa Dean of students HS
Administrator Huff, Julia, Asst Super (salary $104,919 in 2012)
Director Kauffman, Robert (salary $101,213 in 2012)
Principal Ference, Leonard, MS (salary $118,962 in 2012)
Principal Harris, David, HS (salary $104,568 in 2012)
Principal Mcintosh, John, ES (salary $100,146 in 2012)
Principal Benner, Laurie, ES ($92,703 in 2012)
Principal Archibald, Krista, ES ($85,066 in 2012)
Vice principal Freeland, Jeremy, HS ( $88,767 in 2012)
Vice principal Bitz, Andrew, HS ($77,757 in 2012)
Vice principal Yohn, Joel, MS ($74,828 in 2012)
Vice principal Frey, David, MS Dean of students
Head teacher Bigham, Paul, (salary $93,345 in 2012)
Staff 283 staff
Faculty 271 teachers 2011[1]
Grades K-12
Age 4 years old preschool to 21 years special education students
Pupils 3731 (2010)[2]
Kindergarten 270
Grade 1 316
Grade 2 268
Grade 3 252
Grade 4 267
Grade 5 305
Grade 6 280
Grade 7 290
Grade 8 299
Grade 9 312
Grade 10 283
Grade 11 310
Grade 12 279
Mascot Wildcats
Budget $55 million for 2013-14[3]

$53.6 million budget for 2012-13[4] $51,924,860 (2011-12)[5]
$51,875,625 (2010-11)

per pupil spending $13,304 in 2008
Per pupil spending $13,040.75 2010
Website

The Mechanicsburg Area School District is a midsized, suburban, public school district serving the Harrisburg suburbs of Mechanicsburg and Upper Allen Township in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania. The Mechanicsburg Area School District encompasses approximately 16 square miles (41 km2). According to the 2000 federal census data, it served a resident population of 25,901. In 2010, the population had grown to 28,664 people.[6] The US Census Bureau reported that district residents' per capita income was $23,507 while the median family income was $60,722 a year.[7] In school year 2007-08, Mechanicsburg Area School District provided basic educational services to 3,687 pupils through the employment of 297 teachers, 208 full-time and part-time support personnel and 25 administrators. In school year 2009-10, the Mechanicsburg Area School District provided basic educational services to 3,703 pupils and employed: 314 teachers, 217 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 35 administrators. Mechanicsburg Area School District received more than $9.9 million in state funding in school year 2007-08.

Mechanicburg Area School District operates: Mechanicsburg Kindergarten Academy, Broad Street Elementary School, Elmwood Elementary School, Northside Elementary School, Shepherdstown Elementary School, Upper Allen Elementary School, Mechanicsburg Area Middle School and Mechanicsburg Area Senior High School. In addition, the District owns the award-winning Trails & Trees Environmental Center,[8] 30-acre (120,000 m2) education area behind the middle school.

Governance[edit]

Mechanicburg Area School District is governed by 9 individually elected board members (serve four-year terms), the Pennsylvania State Board of Education, the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the Pennsylvania General Assembly.[9] The federal government controls programs it funds like Title I funding for low-income children in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and the No Child Left Behind Act, which mandates the district focus resources on student success in acquiring reading and math skills.

The 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.[10]

Mechanicsburg Area School District is served by the Capital Area Intermediate Unit 15 which offers a variety of services, including a completely developed K-12 curriculum that is mapped and aligned with the Pennsylvania Academic Standards (available online), shared services, a group purchasing program and a wide variety of special education and special needs services.

Academic achievement[edit]

Mechanicsburg Area School District was ranked 79th out of 500 Pennsylvania school districts, in 2013, by the Pittsburgh Business Times. The ranking was based on the last three years of student academic performance on the PSSAs for: math, reading, writing and science.[11] 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 - 77th [12]
  • 2011 - 91st [13]
  • 2010 - 90th[14]
  • 2009 - 103rd
  • 2008 - 96th
  • 2007 - 113th out of 501 Pennsylvania school districts[15]
Overachiever statewide ranking

In 2012, the Pittsburgh Business Times also reported an Overachievers Ranking for 498 Pennsylvania school districts. Mechanicsburg Area School District ranked 172nd. In 2011, the District was ranked 214th. [16] 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."[17]

District AYP status history[edit]

In 2012, Mechanicsburg Area School District declined to Warning AYP status. In 2011, Mechanicsburg Area School District achieved Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). In 2011, 94 percent of the 500 Pennsylvania public school districts achieved the No Child Left Behind Act progress level of 72% of students reading on grade level and 67% of students demonstrating on grade level math. In 2011, 46.9 percent of Pennsylvania school districts achieved Adequate Yearly Progress 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.[18] Mechanicsburg Area School District achieved AYP status each year from 2003, when AYP was first measured.[19]

Graduation rate[edit]

In 2012, the graduation rate at Mechanicsburg Area School District was 86%.[20] In 2011, the District's graduation rate was 92%.[21] In 2010, the Pennsylvania Department of Education issued a new, 4-year cohort graduation rate. Mechanicsburg Area School District's rate was 89% for 2010.[22]

Former calculation graduation rate

2010 - 88% [23] 2009 - 89%[24] 2008 - 90% [25] 2007 - 90%[26]

High school[edit]

Mechanisburg Area Senior High School is located at 500 South Broad Street, Mechanicsburg. According to the National Center for Education Statistics in 2010 the school had 1,193 students enrolled in grades 9th through 12th grades, with 177 students receiving a free or reduce priced lunch due to family poverty. The school employed 85 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 14:1.[27] In 2012, Mechanisburg Area Senior High School again declined to Warning AYP status. In 2011, the high school achieved AYP status. In 2010, the school was in Warning status.[28]

PSSA Results
11th Grade Reading
  • 2012 - 85% on grade level, 54% advanced. State - 67% [29]
  • 2011 - 78%, (7% below basic). State - 69.1% [30]
  • 2010 - 73%, (12% below basic). State - 67% [31]
  • 2009 - 76%, State - 65%[32]
  • 2008 - 67%, State - 64%
  • 2007 - 74%, State - 65% [33]
11th Grade Math:
  • 2012 - 84%, on grade level (6% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 59% of 11th graders are on grade level.[34]
  • 2011 - 81%, (9% below basic). State - 60.3%
  • 2010 - 76% (11% below basic). State - 59%[35]
  • 2009 - 73%, State - 56%[36]
  • 2008 - 68%, State - 56%
  • 2007 - 65%, State - 53%
11th Grade Science:
  • 2012 - 62% on grade level (6% below basic). State - 42% of 11th graders were on grade level.[37]
  • 2011 - 56% (13% below basic). State - 40% [38]
  • 2010 - 53% (13% below basic). State - 39%[39]
  • 2009 - 58%, State - 40%[40]
  • 2008 - 46%, State - 39%[41]

College remediation[edit]

According to a Pennsylvania Department of Education study released in January 2009, 33% of the Mechanicsburg Area High School graduates required remediation in mathematics and or reading before they were prepared to take college level courses in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education or community colleges.[42] 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.[43] Per the Pennsylvania Department of Education, one in three recent high school graduates who attend Pennsylvania's public universities and community colleges takes at least one remedial course in math, reading or English.

SAT scores[edit]

In 2012, 192 Mechanicsburg Area School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 527. The Math average score was 540. The Writing average score was 514. 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, 218 Mechanicsburg ASD students took the SAT exams. The district's Verbal Average Score was 527. The Math average score was 539. The Writing average score was 511.[44] Pennsylvania ranked 40th among states with SAT scores: Verbal - 493, Math - 501, Writing - 479.[45] 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.[46]

Dual enrollment[edit]

The high school does not offer the Pennsylvania dual enrollment program which permits students to earn deeply discounted college credits while still enrolled in high school. Over 400 school districts in Pennsylvania offer this state-funded program.[47][48]

Graduation requirements[edit]

The Mechanicsburg Area School Board has determined that students must earn 22 credits to graduate, including: English 4 credits, 3 credits Math, 3 credits Science, 3 credits Social Studies, 2 credits in arts, 1.5 PE/health credits, and 5 electives. One half of one credit is awarded upon completion of the graduation project.[49] Additionally, achieving proficiency on the 11th Grade PSSA in reading and math is a graduation requirement effective with the class of 2012.

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.[50] Students who complete the project in their junior year, may make use of the student commons area.

By Pennsylvania School Board regulations, for the graduating classes 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.[51][52][53] In 2011, Pennsylvania high school students field tested the Algebra 1, Biology and English Lit exams. The statewide results were: Algebra 1 38% on grade level, Biology 35% on grade level and English Lit - 49% on grade level.[54] Individual student, school or district reports were not made public, although they were reported to district officials by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Students identified as having special needs and qualifying for an Individual Educational Program (IEP) may graduate by meeting the requirements of their IEP.

Middle school[edit]

Mechanicsburg Middle School is located at 1750 South Market Street, Mechanicsburg. The school had 853 students enrolled in grades 6th through 8th, with 209 pupils receiving a free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. In 2010 the school employed 72 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 11:1.[55] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of the teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[56]

In 2011 and 2012, Mechanicsburg Area Middle School declined to Warning AYP status due to lagging achievement of low income and minority students.[57] In 2010, Mechanicsburg Area Middle School achieved AYP status.[58] The attendance rate was 96% in 2011 and 95% in 2010.[59]

PSSA Results:
8th Grade Reading:
  • 2012 - 87% on grade level, 69% advanced. In Pennsylvania, 79% of 8th graders on grade level.[60]
  • 2011 - 87% (3% below basic). State - 81.8% [61]
  • 2010 - 90%, State - 81%
  • 2009 - 89%, State - 80%[62]
  • 2008 - 81%, State - 78%
8th Grade Math:
  • 2012 - 80% on grade level (4% below basic). State - 76% [63]
  • 2011 - 87%, (5% below basic). State - 76.9%
  • 2010 - 86%, State - 75%
  • 2009 - 84%, State - 71%
  • 2008 - 75%, State - 70%
8th Grade Science:
  • 2012 - 67% on grade level (15% below basic). State - 59% of 8th graders were on grade level.
  • 2011 - 71%, (15% below basic). State – 58.3%
  • 2010 - 74%, State - 55%
  • 2009 - 70%, State - 55%
  • 2008 - 60%, State - 52%

Science in Motion Mechanicsburg Area Middle School took advantage of a state program called Science in Motion which brought college professors and sophisticated science equipment to the school to raise science awareness and to provide inquiry-based experiences for the students. The Science in Motion program was funded by a state appropriation and cost the school nothing to participate.[67] The school worked with Gettysburg College to provide the experiences.

Elementary schools[edit]

Broad Street Elementary School[edit]

Broad Street Elementary School is located at 200 South Broad Street, Mechanicsburg. The school had 241 students enrolled in grades first through fifth, with 64 pupils receiving a free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. In 2010, the school employed 15 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 15:1.[68] In 2011 and 2010, Broad Street Elementary School achieved AYP status.[69] The attendance rate was 95% in both 2010 and 2011.[70] Report Card 2009 [1]

4th Grade Science
  • 2012 - 91%, 65% advanced. State - 82%
  • 2011 - 91%, 65% advanced. State – 82.9%
  • 2010 - 90%, 50% advanced. State - 81%

Shepherdstown Elementary School[edit]

Shepherdstown Elementary School is located at 1849 South York Street, Mechanicsburg. The school had 222 students enrolled in grades first and second, with 45 pupils receiving a free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. In 2010, the school employed 15 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 14:1.[73]

In 2011, the school achieved AYP status.[74] Since it provides grades under 3rd grade, it does not report test scores under NCLB. Report Card 2009 [2]

Elmwood Elementary School[edit]

Elmwood Elementary School is located at 100 East Elmwood Avenue, Mechanicsburg. The school had 379 students enrolled in grades first through fifth, with 137 pupils receiving a free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. In 2010, the school employed 30 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 12:1.[75]

In 2010 through 2012, Elmwood Elementary School achieved AYP status.[76] The attendance rate was 95% in both 2010 and 2011.[77] Report Card 2009 [3]

4th Grade Science
  • 2012 - 85%, (2% below basic). State - 82%
  • 2011 - 80%, (5% below basic), State – 82.9%
  • 2010 - 81%, (7% below basic), State - 81%

Northside Elementary School[edit]

Northside Elementary School is located at 411 North Walnut Street, Mechanicsburg. In 2010, the school had 213 students enrolled in grades first through fifth, with 55 pupils receiving a free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. In 2010, the school employed 14 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 15:1.[80]

In 2012, Northside Elementary School declined to Warning AYP status due to missing all reading metrics.[81] In 2010 and 2011, the school achieved AYP status.[82] The attendance rate was 96% in both 2010 and 2011.[83] Report Card 2009 [4]

4th Grade Science
  • 2012 - 83%, (9% below basic). State - 82%
  • 2011 - 86%, (2% below basic), State – 82.9%

Upper Allen Elementary School[edit]

Upper Allen Elementary School is located at 1790 South Market Street, Mechanicsburg. In 2010, the school had 351 students enrolled in grades third through fifth, with 62 pupils receiving a free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. In 2010, the school employed 25 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 14:1.[85]

In 2010 through 2012, Upper Allen Elementary School achieved AYP status.[86] The attendance rate was 96% in both 2010 and 2011.[87] Report Card 2009 [5]

4th Grade Science
  • 2012 - 79%, (6% below basic). State - 82%
  • 2011 - 91%, (5% below basic), State – 82.9%

Special education[edit]

In December 2011, Mechanisburg Area School District administration reported that 447 pupils or 12.2% of the District's pupils received Special Education services, with 41% of the identified students having a specific learning disability.[89] In December 2010, the district administration reported that 443 pupils or 11.9% of the district's pupils received Special Education services.[90][91]

In order to comply with state and federal laws, the school district engages in identification procedures to ensure that eligible students receive an appropriate educational program consisting of special education and related services, individualized to meet student needs. At no cost to the parents, these services are provided in compliance with state and federal law; and are reasonably calculated to yield meaningful educational benefit and student progress.[92] 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 Special Education administration. 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 Coordinator of Special Education.[93] 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.[94] In 2012, the Obama Administration's US Department of Education issued a directive that schools include students with disabilities in extracurricular activities, including sports.[95]

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.[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]

Mechanicsburg Area School District received a $1,579,920 supplement for special education services in 2010.[98] For the 2011-12, 2012–13 and 2013-14 school years, all Pennsylvania public school districts received the same level of funding for special education that they received in 2010-11. This level funding is provided regardless of changes in the number of pupils who need special education services and regardless of the level of services the respective students required.[99]

In 2009, Mechanicsburg Area School District was identified by the Pennsylvania Department of Education for Least Restrictive Environment monitoring. One hundred ninety six schools districts were selected in 2008-09. The District received an alert letter from the PDE - Bureau of Special Education.[100] School districts were placed in one of three categories: Tier 1, Tier 2, and Tier 3. The district was placed in Tier Three with students spending more than 60% of the school day, outside of regular education. The monitoring is a product of the PDE addressing its voluntary settlement in Gaskin V. Pennsylvania which ordered that special education students spend most of their school day (80%) in regular education classrooms with supplementary aids and services to assist.[101][102][103] In 2010, the district was removed from the monitoring list.[104]

Gifted education[edit]

The District Administration reported that 148 or 4% of its students were gifted in 2009.[105] 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 must also be considered for eligibility.[106]

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.[107]

In 2011, the average teacher salary in Mechanisburg Area School District was $54,109.53 a year, while the cost of the benefits teachers receive was $15,076 per employee, for a total annual average teacher compensation of $69,186.[108]

In 2009, the District reported employing 343 teachers and administrators with a median salary of $55,467 and a top salary of $146,250.[109] The teacher’s work day is 7 hours, which includes a daily preparation period and a 30-minute duty-free lunch, with 190 days in the contract year. Additionally, the teachers receive a defined benefit pension, health insurance, professional development reimbursement, 2 paid family illness days, 3 paid personal days, 5 paid days bereavement leave, 10 paid sick days, and other benefits.[110]

In 2007, Mehanicsburg Area School District employed 250 teachers. The average teacher salary in the district was $49,809 for 181 days worked.[111] 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.[112] Additionally, the teachers receive a defined benefit pension, health insurance (teacher contributes $552.87/year),[113] professional development reimbursement, paid personal days, paid sick days, a retirement bonus and other benefits.[114] A year before the current contract expired, the school board and teachers union approved a new four year contract which expires in 2013.[115] According to Rep. Glen Grell, a trustee of the state teacher retirement fund, a 40-year educator can retire with a pension equal to 100 percent of their final salary.[116] 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.[117] 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.[118]

Reserves - In 2011, Mechanicsburg Area School Board reported that the District had $11,648,207.00 in reserves: $6,012,829.00 was in unreserved undesignated. In 2008, the District reported an unreserved designated fund balance of $1,785,378.00 and an unreserved-undesignated fund balance of $6,413,871.00.[119] 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.[120]

Per pupil spending In 2008, Mechanisburg Area School District per pupil spending was $13,304. This ranked 150th among 500 Pennsylvania public school districts.[121] In 2010, the per pupil spending had decreased to $13,040.75 which ranked 264th statewide.[122] Among the states, Pennsylvania’s total per pupil revenue (including all sources) ranked 11th at $15,023 per student, in 2008-09.[123] In 2007, the Pennsylvania per pupil total expenditures was $12,759.[124]

Mechanicsburg Area School District administrative costs in 2008 were $664.36 per pupil. The lowest administrative cost per pupil in Pennsylvania was $398, in 2008.[125] The district provides an extensive benefit package to all administrators.[126] In July 2010, the school board awarded a four year contract to Mark K. Leidy as superintendent, with an initial salary of $136,000 plus an extensive benefits package.[127] In 2008-09, the school board renewed Superintendent Joseph Hood's contract with a salary of $142,405.[128] The Pennsylvania School Boards Association keeps 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 typically receive a benefit package commensurate with that offered to the district's teachers' union.[129]

Audit In November 2011, the Pennsylvania Auditor General conducted a performance audit of the Mechanicsburg Area School District. The findings were reported to the School Board and the District’s administration.[130]

Tuition Students who live in the Mechanicsburg 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 Area School District. For these cases, the Pennsylvania Department of Education sets an annual tuition rate for each individual 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 Mechanicsburg Area District's schools. The 2012 tuition rates are Elementary School - $8,796.79, High School - $9,992.61.[131]

2011-12 budget In May 2011, the Mechanisburg Area School Board approved a preliminary budget for 2011-12 that had a decrease in spending of $143,073 and a decrease in revenue of $470,785 from the 2010-11 budget. The budget also calls for eliminating 2 administration positions, 2.5 professional positions and five support staff jobs.[132]

Mechanicburg Area School District is funded by a combination of: a local earned income tax - 1.20%, Local Service Tax - $5, a property tax, a real estate transfer tax -0.5%, coupled with substantial funding from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the federal government. Grants can provide an opportunity to supplement school funding without raising local taxes. In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, pension income and Social Security income are exempted from state personal income tax and local earned income tax, regardless the of income level.[133]

State basic education grants[edit]

For the 2013-14 school year, Mechanicsburg Area School District received a 3.0% increase or $5,861,829 in Pennsylvania Basic Education Funding. This is $169,800 more than its 2012-13 state BEF to the District. Additionally, Mechanicburg Area School District received $90,966 in Accountability Block Grant funding to focus on academic achievement and level funding for special education services. Among the public school districts in Cumberland County, Camp Hill School District received the highest percentage increase in BEF at 4.7%. The District has the option of applying for several other state and federal grants to increase revenues. The Commonwealth’s budget increased Basic Education Funding statewide by $123 million to over $5.5 billion. Most of Pennsylvania’s 500 public school districts received an increase of Basic Education Funding in a range of 0.9% to 4%. Eight public school districts received exceptionally high funding increases of 10% to 16%. The highest increase in state funding was awarded to Austin Area School District which received a 22.5% increase in Basic Education Funding.[134] 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.[135]

For the 2012-13 school year, Mechanicsburg Area School District received $5,782,904 in state Basic Education Funding (BEF).[136] 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. Mechanicsburg Area School District received $90,966 in ABG funds. The state provided $544.4 million for School Employees’ Social Security and $856 million for School Employees’ Retirement fund called PSERS. [137] 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 school year, the Mechanicsburg Area School District received $5,683,798 in state Basic Education Funding.[138] Additionally, the district received $90,966 in Accountability Block Grant funding.[139] 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.[140] The Pennsylvania Department of Education reports that 894 pupils received a federal free and reduced-price lunch, due to the family meeting the federal poverty level.

In the 2010-11 school year, Mechanicsburg Area School District's state Basic Education Funding increased by 8.03% for an additional $464,182 and a total of $6,246,956. The greatest increase, in state Basic education funding, in Cumberland County was a 13.99% increase awarded to Camp Hill School District.[141] 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 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 where enrollment had significantly declined. The amount of increase each public 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 districts at a far greater rate than others.[142]

In the 2009-2010 budget year', the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided Mechanicsburg Area School District a 6.01% increase in BEF, for a total of $5,782,775. Seven Cumberland County school districts received increases of less than 6.1%, in Basic Education Funding for 2009-10. Shippensburg Area School District received an 8.43% increase. In Pennsylvania, over 15 school districts received Basic Education Funding increases in excess of 10% in 2009. Muhlenberg School District in Berks County received the highest with a 22.31% increase in basic education funding from the Commonwealth. Ninety school districts received the base 2% increase in 2009.[143] 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.[144] 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.[145][146]

The state's Basic Education Funding to the Mechanicsburg Area School District in 2008-09 was $5,454,950.85. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 697 students qualified for free or reduced-price lunch due to low family income in 2008.[147]

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 Mechanicsburg Area School District applied for and received $246,904 in addition to all other state and federal funding. The district used the funding to provide intensive assistance to struggling students, to provide teacher training through teacher coaches and to pay for professional development.[148][149]

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. Mechanicsburg Area School District never applied for funding. Of the 501 public school districts in Pennsylvania, 447 of them received Classrooms for the Future state grant awards.[150] Among Cumberland County public school districts, the highest award was given to Big Spring School District which received $695,531. 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.

Environmental Education Grant[edit]

The Environmental Education Grant Program was established by the Environmental Education Act of 1993, which mandates that 5 percent of all pollution fines and penalties collected annually by the Department of Environmental Protection be set aside for environmental education. In 2010, Mechanicsburg School District was awarded $7,500 for the district's Trails and Trees Environmental Center to develop a small batch biodiesel production operation and coordinate accompanying educational programs.[151]

PreK Counts grant[edit]

Mechanicsburg Area School District receives state funding to provide preschool. For the 2011 school year, Pre-K Counts was funded at the 2010 levels of $83.6 million statewide in Gov. Tom Corbett`s proposed budget,. The state also supplements the federal Head Start preschool program with an additional $37.6 million. Pre-K Counts funding was initiated during the Rendell administration. In 2007-08 the state funded Pre-K Counts at $75 million. Mechanicsburg Area School District received funding in 2007-08.[152] In 2009-10 the District received $79,000 to provide free preschool to 12 children.[153][154]

Other grants[edit]

The District did not participate in: Pennsylvania Science Its Elementary grants, Education Assistance Grants, 2012 Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy grant, nor the 21st Century learning grants.

Common Cents state initiative[edit]

The Mechanicsburg Area School Board chose to not permit the Pennsylvania Department of Education Common Cents program access to the district records. 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.[155] After the review of the information, the district was not required to implement the recommended cost savings changes.

Federal Stimulus funding[edit]

The Mechanicsburg Area School District received an extra $1,410,087 in ARRA - Federal Stimulus money to be used in specific programs like special education and meeting the academic needs of low-income students.[156] This funding was for 2009-10 to 2010-2011 school years. 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]

Mechanicsburg Area School District officials did not apply for the Race to the Top federal grant which would have brought the district millions of additional federal dollars for improving student academic achievement.[157] 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.[158] Pennsylvania was not approved in the first round of the grant. The failure of districts to agree to participate was cited as one reason that Pennsylvania was not approved. A second round of state Race to the Top application judging will occur in June 2010.[159]

Real estate taxes[edit]

The Mechanicsburg Area School Board set the 2013-14 property taxes at 12.2890 mills.[160] A mill is $1 of tax for every $1,000 of a property's assessed value. Property taxes, in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, apply only to real estate - land and buildings. The property tax is not levied on cars, business inventory, or other personal property. Certain types of property are exempt from property taxes, including: places of worship, places of burial, private social clubs, charitable and educational institutions and government property. Irregular property reassessments have become a serious issue in the commonwealth as it creates a significant disparity in taxation within a community and across a region. 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 (Local Tax Enabling Act), which are around 15% of revenues for school districts.[161]

  • 2012-13 - 12.2890 mills
  • 2011-12 - 12.1680 mills.[162]
  • 2010-11 - 14.7000 mills.[163]
  • 2009-10 - 14.2900 mills.[164]
  • 2008-09 - 13.7300 mills.[165]
  • 2007-08 - 13.2600 mills.[166]
  • 2006-07 - 12.8300 mills.[167]
  • 2005-06 - 12.8300 mills.[168]

The average yearly property tax paid by Cumberland County residents amounts to about 2.8% of their yearly income. Cumberland County ranked 724th of the 3143 United States counties for property taxes as a percentage of median income.[169] 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.[170] Property taxes in Pennsylvania are relatively high on a national scale. According to the Tax Foundation, Pennsylvania ranked 11th among the 50 states in the United States. 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%).[171]

Property tax relief[edit]

In 2011, the Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief from gambling for the Mechanicsburg Area School District was $121 per approved permanent primary residence. Within the district, 7,339 property owners applied for the tax relief. In Cumberland County, the highest amount of tax relief in 2011, went to Shippensburg Area School District at $153.[172] The relief was subtracted from the total annual school property tax bill. Property owners apply for the relief through the county Treasurer's office. Farmers can qualify for a farmstead exemption on building used for agricultural purposes. The farm must be at least 10 contiguous acres and must be the primary residence of the owner. Farmers can qualify for both the homestead exemption and the farmstead exemption.

In 2010, approved residents received $126 for 7,199 properties[173]

In 2009, the Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief from gambling for the Mechanicsburg Area School District was $140 per approved permanent primary residence. In the district, 7,071 property owners applied for the tax relief. In Cumberland County, the highest amount of tax relief in 2009, went to Mechanicsburg Area School District at $140. The highest property tax relief, among Pennsylvania school districts, went to the residents of Chester Upland School District of Delaware County who received $632 per approved homestead.[174] In Cumberland County, 75.93% of eligible property owners applied for property tax relief in 2009.[175]

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, so people who make 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.[176]

Act 1 Adjusted index[edit]

The Act 1 of 2006 Index regulates the rates at which each school district can raise property taxes in Pennsylvania. Districts are not allowed to raise taxes above that index unless they allow voters to vote by referendum, or they seek an exception from the state Department of Education. The base index for the 2010-2011 school year is 1.4 percent, but it can be adjusted higher, depending on a number of factors, such as property values and the personal income of district residents. Act 1 included 10 exceptions, including: increasing pension costs, increases in special education costs, a catastrophe like a fire or flood, increasing rising health care costs for contracts in effect in 2006 or dwindling tax bases. The base index is the average of the percentage increase in the statewide average weekly wage, as determined by the PA Department of Labor and Industry, for the preceding calendar year and the percentage increase in the Employment Cost Index for Elementary and Secondary Schools, as determined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the U.S. Department of Labor, for the previous 12-month period ending June 30. For a school district with a market value/personal income aid ratio (MV/PI AR) greater than 0.4000, its index equals the base index multiplied by the sum of .75 and its MV/PI AR for the current year.[177] In June 2011, the Pennsylvania General Assembly eliminated six of the ten exceptions to the Act 1 Index.[178] 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.[179][180]

The School District Adjusted Index for the Mechanicsburg Area School District 2006-2007 through 2011-2012.[181]

For the 2012-13 budget year, the Mechanicsburg 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.[185]

For the 2011-12 school year, the Mechanicsburg Area School Board also did not apply for exceptions to exceed the Act 1 Index. Each year the Mechanicsburg Area School Board has the option of adopting either 1) a resolution in January certifying they will not increase taxes above their index or 2) a preliminary budget in February. A school district adopting the resolution may not apply for referendum exceptions or ask voters for a tax increase above the inflation index. A specific timeline for these decisions is publisher each year by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.[186]

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.[187]

Mechanicsburg Area School Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed the Act 1 index for the budget in 2010-11.[188] Mechanicsburg Area School Board also did not apply for exceptions to exceed the Act 1 index for the budget in 2009-10.[189] 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.[190]

Wellness policy[edit]

Mechanicsburg Area School Board established a district wellness policy in 2006 - Policy 246.[191] The policy deals with nutritious meals served at school, the control of access to some foods and beverages during school hours, age appropriate nutrition education for all students, and physical education for students K-12. The policy is in response to state mandates and federal legislation (P.L. 108 - 265). The law dictates that each school district participating in a program authorized by the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act (42 U.S.C. 1751 et seq) or the Child Nutrition Act of 1966 (42 U.S.C. 1771 et seq) "shall establish a local school wellness policy by School Year 2006."

The legislation placed the responsibility of developing a wellness policy at the local level so the individual needs of each district can be addressed. According to the requirements for the Local Wellness Policy, school districts must set goals for nutrition education and physical education that are aligned with the Pennsylvania State Academic Standards for Health, Safety and Physical Education, campus food provision, and other school-based activities designed to promote student wellness. Additionally, districts were required to involve a broad group of individuals in policy development and to have a plan for measuring policy implementation. Districts were offered a choice of levels of implementation for limiting or prohibiting low nutrition foods on the school campus. In final implementation these regulations prohibit some foods and beverages on the school campus.[192] The Pennsylvania Department of Education required the district to submit a copy of the policy for approval.

Mechanicsburg Area School District provides both the federal free or reduced price breakfast program and the free lunch program. 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.[193] The meals are partially funded with federal dollars through the United States Department of Agriculture.[194]

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 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.[195]

The 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.[196]

Highmark Healthy High 5 grant[edit]

In 2011, 2 schools in Mechanicsburg Area School District received funding through a Highmark Healthy High 5 grant. Mechanicsburg Area High School received $8,962 which was used to implement a heart monitor cardio-respiratory endurance program. Upper Allen Elementary School also received a $5,012 grant which was used to implement a climbing wall in physical education classes.[197] Beginning in 2006, Highmark Foundation engaged in a 5 year, $100 million program to promote lifelong healthy behaviors in children and adolescents through local nonprofits and schools.

Extracurriculars[edit]

Mechanicsburg Area School District offers a wide variety of clubs, activities and an extensive costly sports program. Eligibility is determined by school board policy.[198] Effective with the 2012-13 school year, students who participate in: sports, activities, and clubs, that receive $1,000 or more of their operating costs from the district, must pay 10 percent of their costs.

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.[199][200]

In April 2010, the school board chose to add 25% funding for water polo and boys lacrosse at the same time they cut five teacher positions.[201]

Sports[edit]

The District funds:

Middle School Sports

According to PIAA directory July 2012 [202]

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