Muhlenberg School District

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Muhlenberg School District
Map of Berks County Pennsylvania School Districts.png
Address
801 Bellevue Avenue
Laureldale, Pennsylvania, Berks County, 19605-1799
United States
Information
School board 9 locally elected members
Superintendent Dr. Joseph Macharola, Superintendent[1] Contract through August 2018, salary $142,000[2]
Administrator Mrs Diane E Lucchese, CPA, Business Manager

Shane M. Mathias, CPA, Supervisor of Accounts
Beverly Gallagher, Supervisor of Special Education
Carey C. Kline, Food Services Coordinator
Gregory G. Schneider, Buildings/Grounds/Transportation Coordinator

Director Daniel R. Houck, Director of Technology
Principal Steven Baylor, MEC
Principal Ryan R. Giffing, Principal, CIS
Principal Kevin J. Vanino, MS
Principal Michael Mish, HS
Vice principal Timothy M. Moyer, , EC
Vice principal Travis Bloom, MS
Vice principal Kevin Vanino, HS
Staff 246 non teaching staff
Faculty 230.50 teachers (2011)[3]
Grades K-12
Gender Coed
Pupils 3,512 pupils (2013)[4] 3,551 students (2010-11), 3,528 pupils (2009-2010)[5]
Kindergarten 207
Grade 1 242
Grade 2 232
Grade 3 238
Grade 4 235
Grade 5 268
Grade 6 307
Grade 7 263
Grade 8 275
Grade 9 330
Grade 10 326
Grade 11 291
Grade 12 314
Budget $49,654,258 (2013-14)

$47.6 million (2012-13)
$47.157 million (2011-12)

Phone Number 610-921-8000
Per pupil spending $12,358 (2008)
Per pupil spending $12,537.71 (2010)
Website

The Muhlenberg Area School District is a midsized, suburban, public school district serving parts of Berks County, Pennsylvania, USA. It encompasses the borough of Laureldale and the Muhlenberg Township. The district encompasses approximately 13 square miles (34 km2). Per the 2000 federal census data it served a resident population of 20,064. By 2010, the district's population declined to 23,562 people.[6] In 2009, the District residents’ per capita income was $21,417, while the median family income was $51,356.[7] In the Commonwealth, the median family income was $49,501 [8] and the United States median family income was $49,445, in 2010.[9]

According to District officials, in school year 2007-08 the Muhlenberg School District provided basic educational services to 3,434 pupils. The District employed: 245 teachers, 184 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 17 administrators.

The District operates four schools: Muhlenberg Elementary Center (K-4), C.E. Cole Intermediate School (5-6), Muhlenberg Middle School (7-9), and Muhlenberg High School (10-12) school. The 9th grade moved from the high school to the middle school in the 2010-2011 school year. All four of the schools share the same campus and are separated by athletic fields. The District is one of the 500 public school districts of Pennsylvania.

High school students may choose to attend Reading Muhlenberg Career and Technology Centers [1] for training in the trades. The Berks County Intermediate Unit IU14 [2] provides the district with a wide variety of services like specialized education for disabled students and hearing, speech and visual disability services and professional development for staff and faculty.

Governance[edit]

Mulenberg School District is governed by 9 individually elected board members (serve without compensation for a term of four years), the Pennsylvania State Board of Education, the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the Pennsylvania General Assembly.[10] 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 "C" 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.[11]

Academic achievement[edit]

In 2013, Muhlenberg School District was ranked 407th out of 498 Pennsylvania school districts by the Pittsburgh Business Times. The ranking was based on student academic achievement as demonstrated on the last three years of the PSSAs for: reading, writing, math and science.[12] The PSSAs are given to all children in grades 3rd through 8th and the 11th grade in high school. Adapted examinations are given to children in the special education programs.

  • 2012 - 411th [13]
  • 2011 - 361st[14]
  • 2010 - 319th [15]
  • 2009 - 302th of 498 districts
  • 2008 - 293rd [16]
  • 2007 - 255th of 501 school districts [17]
Overachievers ranking

In 2013, the Pittsburgh Business Times reported an Overachievers Ranking for 498 Pennsylvania school districts. Muhlenberg ranked 395th. The paper 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."[18]

  • 2012 - 408th
  • 2010 - 357th
  • 2009 - 370th

In 2009, the academic achievement of the students at the district ranked 30th percentile among Pennsylvania's 500 school districts. Scale (0-99; 100 is state best) [19]

District AYP history[edit]

In 2012, Muhlenberg School District declined to Warning Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) status, due to lagging student achievement in both reading and mathematics.[20] In 2011, Muhlenberg School District achieved Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). In 2011, 94 percent of the 500 Pennsylvania public school districts achieved the No Child Left Behind Act progress level of 72% of students reading on grade level and 67% of students demonstrating on grade level math. In 2011, 46.9 percent of Pennsylvania school districts achieved Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) based on student performance. An additional 37.8 percent of 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.[21] Muhlenberg School District achieved AYP status each year from 2005 to 2010, while in 2004 the Muhlenberg District had declined to Warning status due to lagging student achievement.[22]

Graduation rate[edit]

In 2013, Muhlenberg School District’s graduation rate rose to 91%.[23] In 2012, Muhlenberg School District’s graduation rate was 84%.[24] In 2011, Muhlenberg School District's graduation rate was 89%.[25] In 2010, the Pennsylvania Department of Education issued a new, 4-year cohort graduation rate. Muhlenberg High School's rate was 88% for 2010.[26]

Former AYP graduation rate:

High school[edit]

Muhlenberg High School is located at 400 Sharp Avenue, Laureldale. In 2013, Muhlenberg High School's enrollment was 868 pupils (10-12th), with 41% eligible for a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to the family poverty. Additionally, 16% of pupils received special education services, while 3.5% were identified as gifted.[30] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teacher were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[31]

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, the school reported an enrollment of 950 pupils in grades 10th through 12th, with 342 pupils eligible for a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to the family meeting the federal poverty level. The school is a federally designated Title I school. The school employed 61 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 15:1.[32] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, one teacher was rated "Non‐Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[33]

2013 School Performance Profile

Muhlenberg High School achieved 79.1 out of 100. Reflects on grade level reading, mathematics and science achievement. In reading/literature - 80.87% were on grade level. In Algebra 1, 60.65% showed on grade level skills. In Biology, 42% showed on grade level science understanding.[34] According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 2,181 public schools (less than 73 percent of Pennsylvania public schools), achieved an academic score of 70 or higher. Pennsylvania 11th grade students no longer take the PSSAs. Instead, they now take the Keystone Exams at the end of the associated course.[35]

AYP history

In 2012, Muhlenberg High School declined to School Improvement II AYP status, due to chronic, low student achievement in both reading and mathematics.[36] Under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, the school administration was required to notify parents of the school's poor achievement outcomes and to offer the parent the opportunity to transfer to a successful school within the District. Additionally the school administration was required by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, to develop a School Improvement Plan to address the school's low student achievement. Under the Pennsylvania Accountability System, the school district must pay for additional tutoring for struggling students.[37] The High School is eligible for special, extra funding under School Improvement Grants which the school must apply for each year.[38]

  • 2011 - declined to School Improvement I due to lagging student achievement in reading and math.
  • 2010 - Warning AYP status
  • 2009 - declined to Warning AYP status.
PSSA Results

Pennsylvania System of School Assessments, commonly called PSSAs are No Child Left Behind Act related examinations which were administered from 2003 through 2012. The exams were administered in the Spring of each school year. In 2013, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania changed its high school assessments to the Keystone Exams in Algebra 1, Reading/literature and Biology1. The exams are given at the end of the course, rather than all in the spring of the student's 11th grade year.[39]

11th Grade Reading
  • 2012 - 67% on grade level, (17% below basic). State - 67% of 11th graders are on grade level.[40]
  • 2011 - 65% (18% below basic). State - 69.1% [41]
  • 2010 - 66% (15% below basic). State - 67%[42]
  • 2009 - 64%, State - 65%[43]
  • 2008 - 74%, State - 65%
  • 2007 - 69%, State - 65% [44]
11th Grade Math
  • 2012 - 56 on grade level (23% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 59% of 11th graders are on grade level.[45]
  • 2011 - 47% (30% below basic). State - 60.3% [46]
  • 2010 - 48% (36.2% below basic). State - 56% [47]
  • 2009 - 55%, State - 56% [48]
  • 2008 - 53%, State - 56% [49]
  • 2007 - 50%, State - 53% [50]
11th Grade Science
  • 2012 - 31% on grade level (18% below basic). State - 42% of 11th graders were on grade level.[51]
  • 2011 - 28% (26% below basic). State - 40%[52]
  • 2010 - 30% (22% below basic). State - 39%
  • 2009 - 33%, State - 40%[53]
  • 2008 - 32%, State - 39%[54]

Science in Motion Muhlenberg High School did not take advantage of a state program called Science in Motion which brought college professors and sophisticated science equipment to the school to raise science awareness and to provide inquiry-based experiences for the students. The Science in Motion program was funded by a state appropriation and cost the school nothing to participate.[55] Muhlenberg Middle School worked with Elizabethtown College to provide the enrichment experiences to its students.

College remediation[edit]

According to a Pennsylvania Department of Education study released in January 2009, 38% of Muhlenberg School District 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.[56] 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.[57] 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]

Muhlenberg High School offers a dual enrollment program. This state program permits high school students to take courses, at local higher education institutions, to earn college credits. Students remain enrolled at their high school. The courses count towards high school graduation requirements and towards earning a college degree. The students continue to have full access to activities and programs at their high school. The college credits are offered at a deeply discounted rate. The state offers a small grant to assist students in costs for tuition, fees and books.[58] Under the Pennsylvania Transfer and Articulation Agreement, many Pennsylvania colleges and universities accept these credits for students who transfer to their institutions.[59] 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.[60]

For the 2009-10 funding year, the school district received a state grant of $9,380 for the program.[61] In 2010, Governor Edward Rendell eliminated the grants to students, from the Commonwealth, due to a state budget crisis.

Graduation requirements[edit]

Among Pennsylvania's 500 public school districts, graduation requirements widely vary. The Muhlenberg School Board has determined that a pupil must earn 23.82 credits to graduate, including: Science 4 credits (1 in Physical Sciences and 1 in Life Sciences), mathematics 4 credits, English 4 credits, social studies 4 credits (1 in Economics Government), Arts/Humanities - 2 credits, Health - 0.75 credit, Driver Educations - 0.25 credits, Family & Consumer Science 0.25 credits, Career Explorations - 0.25 credits, Physical Education - 1.32 credits and electives 3 credits. Mandated courses vary for Career & Technology students.[62]

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.[63] Effective with the graduating class of 2017, the Pennsylvania State Board of Education eliminated the state mandate that students complete a culminating project in order to graduate.[64]

By Pennsylvania School Board regulations, beginning with the class of 2017, public school students must demonstrate successful completion of secondary level course work in Algebra I, Biology, and English Literature by passing the Keystone Exams.[65] The exam is given at the end of the course. Keystone Exams replace the PSSAs for 11th grade. Students have several opportunities to pass the exam, with those who do not able to perform a project in order to graduate.[66][67] For the class of 2019, a Composition exam will be added. For the class of 2020, passing a civics and government exam will be added to the graduation requirements.[68] 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.[69] Individual student, school or district reports were not made public, although they were reported to district officials by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Students identified as having special needs and qualifying for an Individual Educational Program (IEP) may graduate by meeting the requirements of their IEP.

SAT scores[edit]

In 2013, Muhlenberg School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 477. The Math average score was 486. The Writing average score was 454. The College Board reported that statewide scores were: 494 in reading, 504 in math and 482 in writing. The nation-wide SAT results were the same as in 2012.[70]

In 2012, 178 Muhlenberg School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 475. The Math average score was 482. The Writing average score was 454. 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, 173 Muhlenberg School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 476. The Math average score was 474. The Writing average score was 447.[71] Pennsylvania ranked 40th among states with SAT scores: Verbal - 493, Math - 501, Writing - 479.[72] 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.[73]

Muhlenberg Middle School[edit]

Muhlenberg Middle School is located at 801 East Bellevue Avenue, Laureldale. In 2013, Muhlenberg Middle School reported an enrollment of 893 pupils (7th-9th), with 45% eligible for a federal free lunch due to family poverty. Additionally, 19% of pupils received special education services, while 3.7% were identified as gifted.[74]

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2011, the school reported an enrollment of 897 pupils in grades 7th through 9th, with 360 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school is not a federally designated Title I school. The school employed 61 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 14:1.[75] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[76]

2013 School Performance Profile

Muhlenberg Middle School achieved 84.1 out of 100. Reflects on grade level reading, writing, mathematics and science achievement. In reading, 75% of the students were on grade level. In Mathematics/Algebra I, 78.4% of the students showed on grade level math skills. In Science, 51.7% of the 8th graders demonstrated on grade level understanding. In writing, 83% of the 8th grade students were on grade level.[77]

AYP status

In 2011 and 2012, Muhlenberg Middle School achieved AYP status, through Safe Harbor, while PSSA scores remained low.[78]

  • 2010 - Making Progress: in School Improvement II
  • 2009 - declined to School Improvement Level II due to chronic, low student academic achievement.[79] Under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, the school administration was required to notify parents of the school's poor achievement outcomes and to offer the parent the opportunity to transfer to a successful school within the District. Additionally, Muhlenberg Middle School administration was required by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, to develop a School Improvement Plan to address the school's low student achievement. Under the Pennsylvania Accountability System, the school district must pay for additional tutoring for the school's struggling students.[80]
  • 2008 - declined to School Improvement Level I[81]
PSSA results

PSSAs are given in the Spring of each school year. Sixth and seventh grades are tested in reading and mathematics since 2006. Eighth graders are tested in: reading, writing, mathematics and science. Beginning in the Spring of 2013, eighth graders, who are enrolled in Algebra I take the Keystone Exam for Algebra I at the end of the course. The testing of 8th grade in reading and mathematics began in 1999. Testing in science began in 2007. The goal is for 100% of students to be on grade level or better in reading and mathematics, by the Spring of 2014. The tests focus on the state's Academic Standards for reading, writing, mathematics and science. The standards were first published in 1998 and are mandated by the Pennsylvania State Board of Education.[82]

8th Grade Reading
  • 2012 - 80% on grade level (7% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 79% of 8th graders on grade level.[83]
  • 2011 - 77% (8% below basic) State - 81.8%[84]
  • 2010 - 78% (13% below basic). State - 81%[85]
  • 2009 - 81%, State - 80.9%[86]
  • 2008 - 77%, State - 78%[87]
8th Grade Math
  • 2012 - 81% on grade level (7% below basic). State - 76% [88]
  • 2011 - 77% (11% below basic). State - 76.9%
  • 2010 - 76% (12% below basic). State - 75%
  • 2009 - 75%, State - 71%
  • 2008 - 73%, State - 70%
8th Grade Science
  • 2012 - 44% on grade level (27% below basic). State - 59%
  • 2011 - 47% (25% below basic). State – 58.3%
  • 2010 - 52% (25% below basic). State - 57%
  • 2009 - 49%, State - 55%
  • 2008 - 43%, State - 50%

Intermediate school[edit]

C E Cole Intermediate School is located at 3630 Kutztown Road, Laureldale. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2011, the school reported an enrollment of 530 pupils in grades 5th and 6th, with 210 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school is a federally designated Title I school. The school employed 33.5 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 16:1.[89] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[90]

AYP status In 2012, C E Cole Intermediate School declined to Warning AYP status, due to lagging student achievement in both reading and mathematics.[91] In 2011, C E Cole Intermediate School achieved AYP status, despite low student reading and math skills.

Muhlenberg Elementary Center[edit]

Muhlenberg Elementary Center is located at 610 Sharp Avenue, Laureldale. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2011, the school reported an enrollment of 1,167 pupils in grades kindergarten through 4th, with 495 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school is a federally designated Title I school. The school employed 75 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 15:1.[96] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[97] In the 2009-10 school year, the District initiated full-day kindergarten.[98] While proponents of full day kindergarten claim it will reduce special education numbers and it will raise primary student academic achievement especially in reading and math, those outcomes have not been realized in Muhlenberg School District. Reading achievement in particular has significantly declined.[99]

AYP status In 2012, Muhlenberg Elementary Center declined to School Improvement I AYP status, due to chronic low student achievement in both reading and mathematics.[100] In 2011, the School remained to Warning AYP status due to lagging student achievement.[101] In 2010, the School declined to Warning AYP status due to lagging student achievement.[102] Under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, the school administration was required to notify parents of the school's poor achievement outcomes and to offer the parent the opportunity to transfer to a successful school within the District. Additionally, Muhlenberg Elementary Center administration was required by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, to develop a School Improvement Plan to address the school's low student achievement. Under the Pennsylvania Accountability System, the school district must pay for additional tutoring for the school's struggling students.[103]

PSSA Results
4th Grade Science
  • 2012 - 77% (4% below basic). State - 82%
  • 2011 - 80% (7% below basic). State - 82.9%
  • 2010 - 85% (4% below basic). State - 81%
  • 2009 - 83% (3% below basic). State - 83%

Special education[edit]

In December 2011, Muhlenberg School District administration reported that 590 pupils or 16.5% of the district's pupils received Special education services, 48% of identified students having a specific learning disability.[109] In December 2009, the District administration reported that 556 pupils or 15.9% of the district's pupils received Special Education services.[110]

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.[111]

In 2010, the state of Pennsylvania provided $1,026,815 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.[112] 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.[113] Over identification of students, in order to increase state funding, has been an issue in the Commonwealth. Some districts have more than 20% of its students receiving special education services while others have 10% supported through special education.[114] 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.[115] In 2012, the Obama Administration's US Department of Education issued a directive that schools include students with disabilities in extracurricular activities including sports.[116]

Muhlenberg School District received a $1,323,903 supplement for special education services in 2010-11.[117] 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.[118][119] Additionally, the state provides supplemental funding for extraordinarily impacted students. The District must apply for this added funding.

Bullying policy and school safety[edit]

The Muhlenberg School District administration reported there were two incidents of bullying in the district in 2012. There were also 17 incidents of assaults on students and 2 episodes of aggravated assault on students. There were 19 incidents of thefts.[120] The Muhlenberg School District administration reported there were zero incidents of bullying in the district in 2009.[121][122]

The Muhlenberg School Board has provided the District's antibully policy online.[123] 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.[124] 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.[125]

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.[126]

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.[127]

In 2011, the average teacher salary in Muhlenberg School District was $61,578 a year, while the cost of the benefits teachers received was $18,248 per employee, for a total annual average teacher compensation of $79,826.[128]

In 2009, the Muhlenberg School District reported employing 275 teachers and administrators with a median salary of $62,381 and a top salary of 134,408.[129] The teachers work 187 days with 180 student days. In addition to salary, Muhlenberg School District teachers receive a defined benefit pension, health insurance, dental insurance, vision insurance, professional development reimbursement, 5 paid personal days for first 5 years and 6 paid days after that(do not accumulate); 10 paid sick days which infinitely accumulate, paid bereavement leave, life insurance, 2 religious leave days, and many other benefits. Retiring teachers receive payment for unused sick leave and a cash bonus.[130] 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.[131][132]

In 2007, the Muhlenberg School District employed 210 teachers. The average teacher salary in the district was $55,904 for 187 days worked. In Pennsylvania the average teacher salary for Pennsylvania's 124,100 public school teachers was $54,977[133] 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.[134]

Muhlenberg School District administrative costs per pupil in 2008 were $646.87 per pupil. The lowest administrative cost per pupil in Pennsylvania was $398 per pupil.[135]

In October 2009, Dr. Theresa D. Haught, Superintendent, resigned her position effective immediately.[136] On October 7, 2009, the school board voted 5-4 to extend a new 5 year contract to Dr. Haught with an initial salary of $134,408 and an additional $100,000 in benefits over her previous contract.[137] 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 receive a benefit package commensurate with that offered to the district's teachers' union.[138] In 2013, Dr Vlacia Z Campbell was appointed the acting superintendent of the district, when Dr Haught retired a year early.

Reserves In 2008, the Muhlenberg School District reported an unreserved designated fund balance of zero and an unreserved-undesignated fund balance of $3,611,300.00.[139] By 2012, Muhlenberg School District's reserves had increased to $13,158,806.[140]

The district reported spending $12,358 per pupil in 2008.[141] In 2010, the District’s per pupil spending had increased to $12,537.71.[142] In 2011, Pennsylvania’s per pupil spending was $13,467, ranking 6th in the United States.[143] In 2007, the Pennsylvania per pupil total expenditures was reported as $12,759.[144] The U.S. Census Bureau reported that Pennsylvania spent $8,191 per pupil in school year 2000-01.[145]

Among the fifty states, Pennsylvania’s total per pupil revenue (including all sources) ranked 11th at $15,023 per student, in 2008-09.[146] Pennsylvania’s total revenue per pupil rose to $16,186 ranking 9th in the nation in 2011.[147]

Audit In December 2010, the Pennsylvania Auditor General conducted a performance audit of the District. The findings were reported to the Muhlenberg School Board and the District’s administration.[148]

Tuition Students who live in the Muhlenberg 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 Muhlenberg School District. For these cases, the Pennsylvania Department of Education sets an annual tuition rate for each school district. It is the amount the public school district pays to a charter school for each resident student that attends the charter and it is the amount a nonresident student's parents must pay to attend the District's schools. The 2012 tuition rates are Elementary School - $8,154.75, High School - $9,286.83.[149]

Muhlenberg School District is funded by a combination of: a local earned 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.[150][151] Grants can provide an opportunity to supplement school funding without raising local taxes. Interest earnings on accounts also provide nontax income to the District. In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, pension income and Social Security income are exempted from state personal income tax and local earned income tax, regardless of the level of the individual’s personal wealth.[152] The average Pennsylvania public school teacher pension in 2011 exceeds $60,000 a year plus they receive federal Social Security benefits: both are free of Pennsylvania state income tax and local income tax which funds local public schools.[153]

State basic education funding[edit]

For the 2013-14 school year, Muhlenberg School District will receive a 5.2% increase or $4,623,010 in Pennsylvania Basic Education Funding. This is $227,371 more than its 2012-13 state BEF to the District. Additionally, Muhlenberg School District will receive $113,455 in Accountability Block Grant funding to focus on academic achievement and level funding for special education services. Among the public school districts in County, School District received the highest percentage increase at 3.2%. 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.[154] 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.[155]

For the 2012-13 school year, Muhlenberg School District received $4,509,067.[156] The Governor's Executive Budget for 2012-2013 included $9.34 billion for kindergarten through 12th grade public education including $5.4 billion in basic education funding, which was an increase of $49 million over the 2011-12 budget. In addition, the Commonwealth provided $100 million for the Accountability Block Grant (ABG) program. Muhlenberg School District $113,455 in ABG funds. The state also provided a $544.4 million payment for School Employees’ Social Security and $856 million for School Employees’ Retirement fund called PSERS.[157] This amount was a $21,823,000 increase (0.34%) over the 2011-2012 appropriations for Basic Education Funding, School Employees' Social Security, Pupil Transportation, Nonpublic and Charter School Pupil Transportation. Since taking office, Corbett’s first two budgets have restored more than $918 million in support of public schools, compensating for the $1 billion in federal stimulus dollars lost at the end of the 2010-11 school year.

In 2011-12, Muhlenberg School District received a $4,393,900 allocation, of state Basic Education Funding.[158][159] Additionally, the School District received $113,456 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.[160] The highest increase in state basic education funding was awarded to Duquesne City School District of Allegheny County, which got a 49% increase in state funding for 2011-12.[161] In 2010, the district reported that 1,279 students received free or reduced price lunches, due to the family meeting the federal poverty level.[162]

For the 2010-11 school year, the state gave an 8.17% increase in Basic Education Funding (BEF) to Muhlenberg School District for $4,722,903. This was the highest increase in BEF allotted to schools in Berks County. In the commonwealth, the highest increase in state funding went to Kennett Consolidated School District which received a 23.65% increase. Among the 500 Pennsylvania public school district, 150 received the base 2% increase in 2010.[163] The highest increase BEF for 2010-11 went to Kennett Consolidated School District in Chester County, which received a 23.65% increase in state funding.[164] Fifteen (15) Pennsylvania public school districts received a BEF increase of greater than 10%. The state's hold harmless policy regarding state basic education funding continued where each district received at least the same amount as it received the prior school year, even when enrollment had significantly declined. The amount of increase each school district received was set by Governor Edward Rendell and then Secretary of Education Gerald Zahorchak, as a part of the state budget proposal given each February. This was the second year of Governor Rendell’s policy to fund some public school districts at a far greater rate than others.[165]

For the 2009-2010 budget year, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a 22.31% increase in Basic Education Funding to Muhlenberg School District, for a total of $4,366,206. This was the highest percentage of increase in state funding awarded to one of the 500 school districts of the Commonwealth. Nine (9) Berks County school districts received increases of less than 6% in Basic Education Funding in 2009-10. Reading School District received an 13.29% increase. In Pennsylvania, 15 school districts received Basic Education Funding increases in excess of 10% in 2009. Ninety Pennsylvania school districts received a base increase of 2% including two districts in Berks County.[166] The amount of increase each school district received was determined by then Governor Edward G. Rendell and the Secretary of Education Gerald Zahorchak through the allocation set in the budget proposal made in February each year.[167]

The state's Basic Education Funding to the Muhlenberg School District in 2008-09 was $3,569,899.42. In 2008, the District reported that 887 students participated in the federal free and reduced-price lunch program due to low family income.[168]

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,[169] For the 2010-11 school year, the Muhlenberg School District applied for and received $307,946 in addition to all other state and federal funding. The district used the funding to reduce class size K-3rd grade.[170][171]

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. Muhlenberg School District did not apply for funding in 2006-07 nor in 2007-08. In 2008-09 it received $158,935. Of the 501 public school districts in Pennsylvania, 447 of them received Classrooms for the Future grant awards [172] Among the public school districts in Berks County the highest award was given to Reading School District which received $1,294,497. The highest funding statewide was awarded to Philadelphia City School District in Philadelphia County - $9,409,073. The grant program was discontinued by Governor Edward Rendell as part of the 2009-10 state budget.

Other grants[edit]

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

Federal Stimulus funding[edit]

Muhlenberg School District received an extra $1,452,152 in ARRA - Federal Stimulus money to be used in specific programs like special education and meeting the academic needs of low-income students.[173] The funding was limited to the 2009-10 and 2010-2011 school years.[174] 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]

Muhlenberg School District officials applied for the Race to the Top federal grant. When approved for the grant, the District will receive hundreds of thousands of additional federal dollars for improving student academic achievement.[175] 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.[176] 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.[177]

Common Cents state initiative[edit]

The Muhlenberg 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.[178] After the review of the information, the district was not required to implement the recommended cost savings changes.

Real estate taxes[edit]

Muhlenberg School Board set property tax rates in 2013-14 at 26.81 mills.[179] 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. 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.[180] Property taxes, in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, apply only to real estate - land and buildings. The property tax is not levied on cars, business inventory, or other personal property. Certain types of property are exempt from property taxes, including: places of worship, places of burial, private social clubs, charitable and educational institutions and all government property (local, state and federal). Additionally, service related, disabled US military veterans may seek an exemption from paying property taxes. Pennsylvania school district revenues are dominated by two main sources: 1) Property tax collections, which account for the vast majority (between 75-85%) of local revenues; and 2) Act 511 tax collections, which are around 15% of revenues for school districts.[181] When a Pennsylvania public school district includes municipalities in two counties, each of which has different rates of property tax assessment, a state board equalizes the tax rates between the counties.[182] 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.[183]

  • 2012-13 - 26.3100 mills [184]
  • 2011-12 - 26.3100 mills.[185]
  • 2010-11 - 25.5600 mills [186]
  • 2009-10 - 25.0600 mills.[187]
  • 2008-09 - 24.3100 mills.[188]
  • 2007-08 - 23.8100 mills.[189]
  • 2006-07 - 23.3100 mills.[190]
  • 2005-06 - 21.8100 mills.[191]

The average yearly property tax paid by Berks County residents amounts to about 4.66% of their yearly income. Berks County ranked 112th out of the 3143 United States counties for property taxes as a percentage of median income.[192] 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.[193] 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%).[194]

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 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 flood, increase in health insurance costs for contracts in effect on or before 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.[195] In June 2011, the Pennsylvania General Assembly passed legislation eliminating six of the exceptions to the Act 1 Index.[196] 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.[197][198] The legislature also froze the payroll amount public school districts use to calculate the pension-plan exception at the 2012 payroll levels. Further increases in payroll cannot be used to raise the district’s exception for pension payments.

The School District Adjusted Index for the Muhenberg School District 2006-2007 through 2011-2012.[199]

For the 2013-14 budget year, Muhlenberg School Board applied for one exception to exceed their Act 1 Index limit due to the escalating costs of teachers' pensions. For the school budget year 2013-14, 311 Pennsylvania public school districts adopted a resolution certifying that tax rates would not be increased above their index. Another 171 school districts adopted a preliminary budget leaving open the option of exceeded the Index limit. For the exception for pension costs, 89 school districts received approval to exceed the Index in full while others received a partial approval of their request. For special education costs, 75 districts received approval to exceed their tax limit. For the pension costs exception, 169 school districts received approval to exceed the Index. Eleven Pennsylvania public school districts received an approval for grandfathered construction debts.[204]

For the 2012-13 budget year, Muhlenberg 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.[205]

For the 2011-12 school year, the Muhlenberg School Board applied for two exceptions to exceed the Act 1 Index: high teacher pension costs and increasing special education costs. Each year, the Muhlenberg School Board has the option of adopting either: 1) a resolution in January certifying they will not increase taxes above their index or 2) a preliminary budget in February. A school district adopting the resolution may not apply for referendum exceptions or ask voters for a tax increase above the inflation index.

According to a state report, for the 2011-2012 school year budgets, 247 school districts adopted a resolution certifying that tax rates would not be increased above their index; 250 school districts adopted a preliminary budget. Of the 250 school districts that adopted a preliminary budget, 231 adopted real estate tax rates that exceeded their index. Tax rate increases in the other 19 school districts that adopted a preliminary budget did not exceed the school district’s index. Of the districts who sought exceptions: 221 used the pension costs exemption and 171 sought a Special Education costs exemption. Only 1 school district sought an exemption for Nonacademic School Construction Project, while 1 sought an exception for Electoral debt for school construction.[206]

The Muhlenberg School Board did not apply for any exceptions to exceed the Act 1 index for the budget in 2010-11.[207] 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.[208]

Property tax relief[edit]

In 2013, property tax relief for Muhlenberg School District was set at $189 for 6,341 approved properties. In 2010, property tax relief for Muhlenberg School District was set at $186 for 6,441 approved properties.[209] In 2009, the Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief from gambling for the Muhlenberg School District was $187 per approved permanent primary residence. In the district, 6,422 property owners applied for the tax relief in 2009. In Pennsylvania the highest 2010 property tax relief was for Chester Upland School District of Delaware County which was given $632 per homestead. This was the second year Chester Upland School District got the highest amount. 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 Berks County, 65% of eligible property owners applied for property tax relief in 2009.[210]

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.

Wellness policy[edit]

Muhlenberg School Board established a district wellness policy in 2012.[211] 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." Most districts identified the superintendent and school foodservice director as responsible for ensuring local wellness policy implementation.[212] At Muhlenberg School District, the Assistant Superintendent is responsible for ensuring implementation and compliance with the wellness policy.

The legislation placed the responsibility of developing a wellness policy at the local level so the individual needs of each district can be addressed. According to the requirements for the Local Wellness Policy, school districts must set goals for nutrition education, physical activity, 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.[213] The Pennsylvania Department of Education required the district to submit a copy of the policy for approval.

Muhlenberg School District provides health services as mandated by the Commonwealth and the federal government. Nurses are available in each building to conduct annual health screenings (data reported to the PDE and state Department of Health) and to dispense medications to students during the school day.

Muhlenberg School District offers both a free school breakfast and free or reduced-price lunch to children in low income families. All students attending the school can eat breakfast and lunch. Children from families with incomes at or below 130 percent of the federal poverty level are provided a breakfast and lunch at no cost to the family. Children from families with incomes between 130 and 185 percent of the federal poverty level can be charged no more than 30 cents per breakfast. A foster child whose care and placement is the responsibility of the State or who is placed by a court with a caretaker household is eligible for both a free breakfast and a free lunch. Runaway, homeless and Migrant Youth are also automatically eligible for free meals.[214] The meals are partially funded with federal dollars through the United States Department of Agriculture.[215]

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.[216]

Extracurriculars[edit]

Muhlenberg School District offers a variety of clubs, activities and an extensive, costly sports program. Eligibility for participation is set by school board policy [217] and the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association.

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.[218]

Sports[edit]

The District funds:

Middle School Sports

According to PIAA directory July 2013 [219]

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