Neshaminy School District

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Neshaminy School District
Map of Bucks County Pennsylvania School Districts.png
Address
2001 Old Lincoln Highway
Langhorne, Pennsylvania, United States
Information
Type Public
Superintendent Dr. Louis T. Muenker
Number of students 8,666 (2010) [1]
Kindergarten 499
Grade 1 726
Grade 2 592
Grade 3 605
Grade 4 671
Grade 5 639
Grade 6 698
Grade 7 666
Grade 8 735
Grade 9 688
Grade 10 740
Grade 11 673
Grade 12 649
Other 8,581 (2011-12) [2]
Tuition for nonresident and charter school students ES - 11,169.72, HS - $14,327 [3]
Website

Neshaminy School District is a large suburban public school district located in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Neshaminy School District serves the municipalities of Middletown Township, Langhorne, Langhorne Manor, Penndel, Hulmeville, and Lower Southampton Township in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Students from the Middletown divisions of Levittown also attend these schools. Neshaminy School District encompasses approximately 28 square miles (73 km2). According to 2000 federal census data, it serves a resident population of 69,638. Per Neshaminy School District officials, in school year 2007-08, the Neshaminy School District provided basic educational services to 8,963 pupils through the employment of 723 teachers, 521 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 52 administrators. In 2010, enrollment in the district's schools had declined to 8,712 pupils. According to Pennsylvania Department of Education, the enrollment is projected to decline by several hundred children to 8,394 pupils by 2019.[4][5]

More than 1000 students, who live in the district, attend private elementary schools, not including day care centers, and about 1500 students attend private high schools in various other areas. These students are bused by the Neshaminy School District.[citation needed]

The Neshaminy School District serves a large and diverse student population. Students comprise many different racial, ethnic, and economic backgrounds. The municipalities that are served range from having lower-middle-class families to highly affluent families. The school district is also a Blue-Ribbon awarding school district, with Maple Point Middle School having received the award, as well as Neshaminy High School.

In June 2006, the Neshaminy School District began a massive $82 million renovation of Neshaminy High School, which was originally constructed as a combination high school and junior high school in the 1950s. Most of the original structure had been demolished and was completely rebuilt. All that remained were two gymnasiums and the circular library, however all three received extensive renovations. The construction was mostly complete for the 2009-2010 school year, with a few remaining projects to be complete. [17]

Neshaminy School District like many school districts across the country has been experiencing the troubles of decreasing enrollment, even though the surrounding areas continue to grow. Most of Neshaminy facilities were constructed during the 1950s and 1960s after the construction of Levittown and its ensuing development. Families then usually had five or more children, compared to the two child average now. The school district has thus been combining schools, and shutting others down. The first significant example was the merger of Neshaminy Middle with Maple Point Middle. Maple Point was the larger and more efficient facility than Neshaminy. Maple Point was constructed in the late 1970s and has been routinely maintained. It contains air-conditioning, a very modern look, a larger structure, and large expanses of land, and thus was chosen as the school to keep. Neshaminy Middle School which was constructed in the 1960s and in dire need of renovations was shut down, with the land possibly being sold to the ever-growing needs of St. Mary's hospital across the street. The only asset to Neshaminy was its swimming pool, which Maple Point lacks. Now only two other schools in the district have a pool, and those are Carl Sandburg Middle, which serves the Levittown sections, and Poquessing Middle School. The same process is projected for the elementary schools.

[18]

Schools[edit]

Middle schools[edit]

  • Maple Point Middle- Pop.-1723
  • Poquessing Middle- Pop.-672
  • Carl Sandburg Middle- Pop.-686

Elementary schools[edit]

  • Pearl S. Buck- Pop.-438 Report Card 2010 [19]
  • Samuel Everitt- Pop.-368 Report Card 2010 [20]
  • Joseph E. Ferderbar- Pop.-514 Report Card 2010 [21]
  • Oliver Heckman- Pop.-533
  • Herbert Hoover- Pop.-640 Report Card 2010 [22]
  • Lower Southampton- Pop.-451
  • Walter Miller- Pop.-450
  • Albert Schweitzer- Pop.-327 report card 2010 [23]

Academic achievement[edit]

Neshaminy School District was ranked 211th out of 498 Pennsylvania school districts in 2012, by the Pittsburgh Business Times. The ranking was based on student academic performance over five years of the PSSAs for: reading, writing, mathematics and science. .[6]

  • 2011 - 184th [7]
  • 2010 - 166th [8]
  • 2009 - 171st
  • 2008 - 174th
  • 2007 - 189th out of 501 Pennsylvania school districts.[9]

In 2012, the Pittsburgh Business Times also reported an Overachievers Ranking for 498 Pennsylvania school districts. Neshaminy School District ranked 468th. In 2011, the district was 452nd. [10] The editor describes the ranking as: "a ranking answers the question - which school districts do better than expectations based upon economics? This rank takes the Honor Roll rank and adds the percentage of students in the district eligible for free and reduced-price lunch into the formula. A district finishing high on this rank is smashing expectations, and any district above the median point is exceeding expectations."[11]

In 2009, the academic achievement, of the students in the Neshaminy School District, was in the 74th percentile among all 500 Pennsylvania school districts Scale (0-99; 100 is state best) [12]

District AYP history

In 2012, Neshaminy School District achieved AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) status under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.[13] In 2011, Neshaminy School District also achieved AYP status. In 2011, 94 percent of the 500 Pennsylvania public school districts achieved the No Child Left Behind Act progress level of 72% of students reading on grade level and 67% of students demonstrating on grade level math. In 2011, 46.9 percent of Pennsylvania school districts achieved Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) based on student performance. An additional 37.8 percent of school districts made AYP based on a calculated method called safe harbor, 8.2 percent on the growth model and 0.8 percent on a two-year average performance.[14]

  • 2010 and 2009 - Achieved AYP[15]
  • 2008 - Warning AYP status.
  • 2007 and 2006 - Achieved AYP
  • 2005 - Making Progress - School Improvement Level I
  • 2004 - School Improvement Level I
  • 2003 - Warning AYP status.

Graduation rate[edit]

In 2012, Neshaminy School District's graduation rate was 94%.[16] In 2011, Neshaminy School District's graduation rate was 91%.[17] In 2010, the Pennsylvania Department of Education issued a new, 4-year cohort graduation rate. Neshaminy High School's rate was 90% for 2010.[18]

According to traditional graduation rate calculations:

Neshaminy High School[edit]

In 2012, Neshaminy High School remained in "Making Progress - Corrective Action II AYP status.[22] Neshaminy High School's academic achievement declined to Corrective Action II 4th Year AYP status due to chronically low student achievement, in several sub groups, in 2011.[23] In 2010, the high school's achievement declined to Corrective Action II 3rd Year. The district administration was required to draft a school improvement plan which it submitted to the Pennsylvania Department of Education. A school or district is categorized in Corrective Action I when it does not meet its AYP for four consecutive years. At this level, schools are eligible for various levels of technical assistance and are subject to escalating consequences (e.g., changes in curriculum, leadership, professional development).

PSSA Results
11th Grade Reading
  • 2012 - 81% on grade level (7% below basic). State - 67% of 11th graders are on grade level.[24]
  • 2011 - 74% (9% below basic). State - 69.1% [25]
  • 2010 - 73% (13% below basic). State - 66% [26][27]
  • 2009 - 67% (15% below basic), State - 65% [28]
  • 2008 - 74% (8% below basic), State - 65% [29]
11th Grade Math
  • 2012 - 75% on grade level 10 (% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 59% of 11th graders are on grade level.[30]
  • 2011 - 66% (14% below basic). State - 60.3% [31]
  • 2010 - 69% (14% below basic). State - 59% [32]
  • 2009 - 75% (11% below basic). State - 56% [33]
  • 2008 - 65% (16% below basic), State - 56%
11th Grade Science
  • 2012 - 39% on grade level (18% below basic). State - 42% of 11th graders were on grade level.[34]
  • 2011 - 39% (15% below basic). State - 40% [35]
  • 2010 - 37% (15% below basic), State - 39%
  • 2009 - 41% (14% below basic). State - 40%
  • 2008 - 35%. State - 39%

College remediation[edit]

According to a Pennsylvania Department of Education study released in January 2009, 41% of Neshaminy 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.[36] 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.[37] 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]

From January to June 2011, 499 students took the SAT exams. The district's Verbal Average Score was 492. The Math average score was 519. The Writing average score was 481.[38] Pennsylvania ranked 40th among states with SAT scores: Verbal - 493, Math - 501, Writing - 479.[39] 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.[40]

Neshaminy School Paper Controversy[edit]

On October 23, 2013, the editors of the Neshaminy High School student newspaper, the Playwickian, published an editorial [24] announcing that the paper would no longer use the name of all the school’s teams, the Redskins, in the newspaper.[41] The decision to abandon the use of the name in the paper was not unanimous and an editorial representing the view that the use of the name should continue was published at the same time.[42]

On October 28, Principal McGee sent an email to the paper’s advisor, Tara Huber, claiming that the editors of the paper lacked the prerogative to enforce the measure without the permission of the school’s administrators and the school district.[43] The student editors were caught by surprise by the principal’s directive, but insisted that they were well within their rights, citing Pennsylvania Administrative Code: Student Rights and Responsibilities Citation: 22 Pa. Code Section 12.9 [44] a position backed by Robert Hankes, then the president of the Pennsylvania School Press Association.[45] At that time, Playwickian editor-in-chief, Gillian McGoldrick, said she expected the matter to be settled after a meeting on November 19.

As the November 19th date approached, more and more news outlets picked up and reported on the story.,[46][47] However at the conclusion of a contentious two-and-a-half hour meeting there was still no resolution, the principal insisting that the paper must use the word and the editors of the paper insisting that it was their right as editors of the paper to make that call.[48]

In the face of continued resistance on the part of the school administration, the editors secured legal representation and said they would enforce their ban, taking the matter to the courts if need be. Meanwhile, the local paper, the Bucks County Courier Times, adopted the policy proposed by the Playwickian editors and urged the school administration to accede to the school paper’s position. The school principal, McGee, expressed no concern about settling the matter in court.[49]

Through April and into May 2014, the editors continued to enforce the policy, avoiding the use of the word, Redskins, while the local school board worked to develop a new policy concerning student publications. Early response to the proposal was not positive, with the students’ legal representative, Gayle Sproul calling it “overreaching,” and saying that it was in violation of both Pennsylvania state law as well as federal law. Others who weighed in against the proposed policy included those affiliated with the Center for Scholastic Journalism at Kent State University, the Columbia Scholastic Press Advisers Association, the Journalism Education Association, the National Scholastic Press Association and the Quill and School International Honor Society.[50] The Executive Director of the Student Press Law Center called it an attack on children. The lawyer hired by the school district, Mike Levin, claimed that the district was merely asserting its rights. The school board delayed the vote more than once, prolonging uncertainty over the matter.[51]

As the matter continued, the school paper’s advisor for 14 years, Tara Huber, was honored with the award for Journalism Teacher Of The Year by the Pennsylvania School Press Association.,[52][53] (subscription required)

One day after news of Huber’s award was published, the school administrators confiscated about half of the last issue of the year, an action considered ill-advised by the students’ attorney, Gayle Sproul,[54][55] (subscription required) However, the paper’s staff followed through on a pledge to distribute the paper at the high school graduation.[56]

The Learning Center[edit]

Previously the Tawanka Learning Center, the renamed The Learning Center is an alternative middle school/high school. Concerns have arisen regarding the prohibitive costs of running the school. In 2008, 54 students were enrolled in Tawanka. The budget was approximately $1.6M. The total staff was over 17 which equates to approximately 1 staff per every 3 students. This amounts to approximately $29,600 per year, per student compared to $14,000 per student in the regular Neshaminy schools. The program at Tawanka incorporates social development activities, educational support groups, counseling and a modified core academic program. Student participate in school-to-work and community service learning activities. Also housed in the same building facility is the Alternative to Suspension Program (ATS) an individually run program, which provides an alternative to out-of-school suspension to Neshaminy School District’s Elementary and Secondary students.

Maple Point Middle School[edit]

Maple Point Middle School is located at 2250 Langhorne-Yardley Road, Langhorne. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, the school reported an enrollment of 961 pupils in grades 6th through 8th, with 138 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school employed 77 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 12:1.[57] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[58]

In 2012, Maple Point Middle School remained in Warning Status under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.[59] In 2011, Maple Point Middle School declined to Warning Status under No Child Left Behind.[60] In 2009 and 2010 the school achieved AYP status. The attendance rate was 95% in 2010 and 96% in 2009.[61]

PSSA Results:

Poquessing Middle School[edit]

Poquessing Middle School is located at 300 Heights Lane, Feasterville Trevose. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, the school reported an enrollment of 553 pupils in grades 6th through 8th, with 111 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school employed 41 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 13:1.[70] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 4 teachers were rated "Non‐Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[71]

In 2009 through 2012 Poquessing Middle School achieved AYP status each year.[72][73] The attendance rate was 95% in both 2010 and 2009.[74]

PSSA Results:

8th Grade Science:
  • 2012 - 74% on grade level (7% below basic). State - 59% of 8th graders were on grade level.
  • 2011 - 66% (15% below basic). State – 58.3%
  • 2010 - 60% (21% below basic). State - 57%[80]
  • 2009 - 70% (12% below basic), State - 55% [81]
  • 2008 - 60%, State - 52% [82]

Carl Sandburg Middle School[edit]

Carl Sandburg Middle School is located at 30 Harmony Road, Levittown. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, the school reported an enrollment of 602 pupils in grades 6th through 8th, with 116 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school employed 46 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 12:1.[83] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[84]

In 2010 through 2012, Carl Sandburg Middle School achieved AYP status.[85][86] In 2009, Carl Sandburg Middle School was in Making Progress: in School Improvement I due to chronic, low student achievement.[87] The attendance rate was 95% in both 2010 and 2009.[88]

PSSA Results
8th Grade Science
  • 2012 - 71% on grade level (10% below basic). State - 59% of 8th graders were on grade level.
  • 2011 - 63% (17% below basic). State – 58.3%
  • 2010 - 62% (18% below basic). State - 57%
  • 2009 - 63% (16% below basic), State - 55%
  • 2008 - 61%, State - 52%

Elementary schools[edit]

Pearl S. Buck Elementary School is located at 143 Top Road, Levittown. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, the school reported an enrollment of 449 pupils in grades kindergarten through 5th, with 39 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch. The school employed 24 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 19:1.[92] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[93] In 2010 through 2012, Pearl S. Buck Elementary School achieved AYP status.[94]

Reading in grades 3rd through 5th
  • 2012 - 87% on grade level [95]
  • 2011 - 87% on grade level
Math in grades 3rd through 5th
  • 2012 - 91% on grade level and 72% scored advanced
  • 2011 - 94% on grade level and 63% scored advanced.
4th grade science
  • 2012 - 95% on grade level and 60% advanced
  • 2011 - 91% on grade level and 51% advanced [96]

Samuel Everitt Elementary School is located at Forsythia Drive South, Levittown. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, the school reported an enrollment of 390 pupils in grades kindergarten through 5th, with 137 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch. The school employed 27 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 14:1.[97] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of the teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[98] In 2010 through 2012, Samuel Everitt Elementary School achieved AYP status even though the students' reading scores were below state levels.[99]

Reading grades 3rd through 5th
  • 2012 - 76% on grade level, missed AYP on 8 out of 9 sub groups [100]
  • 2011 - 69% on grade level.
Math grades 3rd through 5th
  • 2012 - 78% on grade level and 47% advanced.
  • 2011 - 77% on grade level and 46% scored advanced.
4th grade science
  • 2012 - 88% on grade level
  • 2011 - 80% on grade level.[101]

Oliver Heckman Elementary School is located at Maple Avenue At Cherry Street, Langhorne. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, the school reported an enrollment of 533 pupils in grades kindergarten through 5th, with 49 pupils receive a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school employed 31 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 17:1.[102] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[103] In 2010 and 2011, Oliver Heckman Elementary School achieved AYP status.[104] In 2011, 80% of the students were reading on grade level in grades 3rd through 5th. In math, 90% of the students in 3rd through 5th grades were on grade level and 52% scored advanced. In 4th grade science, 92% of the pupils were on grade level.[105]

Herbert Hoover Elementary School is located at 500 Trenton Road, Langhorne. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, the school reported an enrollment of 607 pupils in grades kindergarten through 5th, with 103 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch. The school employed 34 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 17:1.[106] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[107] In 2010 and 2011, Herbert Hoover Elementary School achieved AYP status.[108] In 2011, only 77% of the students were reading on grade level in grades 3rd through 5th. In math, 88% of the students in 3rd through 5th grades were on grade level and 51% scored advanced. In 4th grade science, 85% of the pupils were on grade level.[109]

Joseph E Ferderbar Elementary School is located at 300 Heights Lane, Feasterville. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, the school reported an enrollment of 523 pupils in grades kindergarten through 5th, with 124 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school employed 32 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 16:1.[110] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, teachers were rated "Non‐Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[111] In 2011, the school declined to Warning status due to lagging reading skills. In 2010, Joseph E Ferderbar Elementary School achieved AYP status.[112] In 2011, 81% of the students were reading on grade level in grades 3rd through 5th. In math, 87% of the students in 3rd through 5th grades were on grade level and 56% scored advanced. In 4th grade science, 91% of the pupils were on grade level.[113]

Lower Southampton Elementary School is located at 7 School Lane, Feasterville Trevose. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, the school reported an enrollment of 434 pupils in grades kindergarten through 5th, with 80 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school employed 26 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 16:1.[114] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, teachers were rated "Non‐Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[115] In 2011, the school declined to Warning status due to lagging reading skills. In 2010, Lower Southampton Elementary School achieved AYP status.[116] In 2011, only 79% of the students were reading on grade level in grades 3rd through 5th. Just 69% of boys reading on grade level in 3rd through 5th grades. In math, 87% of the students in 3rd through 5th grades were on grade level and 46% scored advanced. In 4th grade science, 90% of the pupils were on grade level.[117]

Special education[edit]

In December 2010, the district administration reported that 1,730 pupils or 19.5% of the district's pupils received Special Education services with 57% having a specific learning disability.[118] In December 2009, the district administration reported that 1,708 pupils or 19% of the district's pupils received Special Education services.[119][120]

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.[121] 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.

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.[122]

Neshaminy School District received a $5,975,986 supplement for special education services in 2010.[123]

For the 2011-12 school year, all Pennsylvania public school districts received the same level of funding for special education that they received in 2010. 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.[124]

Gifted education[edit]

The District Administration reported that 519 or 5.62% of its students were gifted in 2009.[125] By law, the district must provide mentally gifted programs at all grade levels. The referral process for a gifted evaluation can be initiated by teachers or parents by contacting the student’s building principal and requesting an evaluation. All requests must be made in writing. To be eligible for mentally gifted programs in Pennsylvania, a student must have a cognitive ability of at least 130 as measured on a standardized ability test by a certified school psychologist. Other factors that indicate giftedness will also be considered for eligibility.[126]

Budget[edit]

In 2009, the district employed 741 teachers. The average teacher salary in the district was $80,142 for 180 days worked. The beginning salary was $40,950, while the highest salary was $144,572.[127] In addition to salary the teachers receive taxpayer funded health insurance, vision insurance, dental insurance, life insurance, paid personal days, 10 paid sick days which accumulate, paid leave for death in the family and many other benefits. Retiring teachers receive a bonus. According to Rep. Glen Grell, a trustee of the Public School Employees’ Retirement System Board of Trustees, a 40-year educator can retire with a pension equal to 100 percent of their final salary.[128][129] In 2011, the average teacher salary in NSD was $77,320.79 a year, while the cost of the benefits teachers receive was $25,595.03 per employee, for a total annual average teacher compensation of $102,915.00.[130] 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.[81] 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.

In June 2012, the Neshaminy Teachers' Union announced the intent to strike for the second time in 2012. State law permits them to strike for 10 days. In January 2012, the teachers walked out for 8 days. By state law, the 180-day school year must be completed by June 30 without weekend classes. A state mandated (due to strike) nonbinding arbitration report issued in May 2012 was rejected by the school board, but approved by the union. The cost of the proposal was over $20 million and included continued retirement bonuses. The teachers have been working without a contract since July 2008.[131] In May, the school board served notice on the teachers' union that there would be 15 teacher layoffs for the 2012-13 school year.[132]

In 2007, the Neshaminy School District employed 620 teachers working 180 days of pupil instruction. The average teacher salary in the district was $81,816. This was second only to Council Rock School District.[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]

In 2008, per pupil spending at Neshaminy School District was $16,947 for each child. This ranked 31st among Pennsylvania's 500 school districts.[135] In 2010 the per pupil spending had decreased to $16,092.16 [136] Among the states, Pennsylvania’s total per pupil revenue (including all sources) ranked 11th at $15,023 per student, in 2008-09.[137] In 2007, the Pennsylvania per pupil total expenditures was $12,759.[138]

Neshaminy School District administrative costs per pupil in 2008 was $933.60 per pupil. This is ranked 85th among in the 500 school districts in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The lowest administrative cost per pupil in Pennsylvania was $398 per pupil.[139]

In 2008, the Neshaminy School District reported an unreserved designated fund balance of zero and an unreserved-undesignated fund balance of $4,128,618.[140] In 2010, Neshaminy School District Administration reported an increase to $12,249,567 in the unreserved-undesignated fund balance. The Pennsylvania 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.[141]

In December 2010, the Pennsylvania Auditor General conducted a performance audit on the district. Several findings were reported to the school board and administration.[142]

The district is funded by a combination of: a local tax on income, a property tax, a real estate transfer tax 0.5%, coupled with substantial funding from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the federal government. Grants have provided an opportunity to supplement school funding without raising local taxes. In Pennsylvania, pension income and Social Security income are exempted from state personal income tax and local earned income tax, regardless of the level of wealth.[143]

State basic education funding[edit]

In 2011-12, the district received $12,188,271 in state Basic Education Funding.[144][145] Additionally, the district received $286,334 in Accountability Block Grant funding. The enacted Pennsylvania state Education budget includes $5,354,629,000 for the 2011-2012 Basic Education Funding appropriation. This amount is a $233,290,000 increase (4.6%) over the enacted State appropriation for 2010-2011. 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.[146] In 2010, the district reported that 1,277 pupils received a free or reduced-price lunch due to their family meeting the federal poverty level.

For the 2010-11 budget year, Neshaminy School District received a 2% increase in state Basic Education Funding for a total of $12,680,677. Central Bucks School District received 3.36% which was the highest increase, in state funding, among Bucks County public school districts. One hundred fifty school districts in Pennsylvania received the 2% base increase for budget year 2010-11. The highest increase in the state was awarded to Kennett Consolidated School District of Chester County which was given a 23.65% increase in state basic education funding.[147] The state's hold harmless policy regarding state basic education funding continued where a district received at least the same amount as the year before, even where 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 districts at a far greater rate than others.

In the 2009-2010 budget year, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a 2% increase in Basic Education Funding for a total of $12,432,036. Nearly all county school districts received increases of the base 2% in Basic Education Funding in 2009-10. Bristol Borough School District received an 4.25% increase. In Pennsylvania, 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 funding. The state's Basic Education Funding to the Neshaminy School District in 2008-09 was $12,188,270.61.[148] The amount of increase each school district receives is determined by the Governor and the Secretary of Education through the allocation set in the state budget proposal made in February each year.[149] 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.[150] In 2008, the district reported that 1,174 pupils received a free or reduced-price lunch due to their family meeting the federal poverty level.

Accountability Block Grant[edit]

The state provides additional education funding to schools in the form of Accountability Block Grants. The use of these funds is strictly focused on specific state approved uses designed to improve student academic achievement. Neshaminy School District uses its $777,181 to increase instructional time for struggling students, and to provide services to students. These annual funds are in addition to the state's basic education funding.[151] Schools Districts apply each year for Accountability Block Grants.[152] In 2009-10, the state provided $271.4 million in Accountability Block grants $199.5 million went to providing all-day kindergartens.[153]

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, Mathematics) and paid for teacher training to optimize the computers use. The program was funded from 2006-2009. Neshaminy School District did not apply in 2006-07. In 2007-08 the district received $501,051 in funding. For the 2008-09, school year the district received a final $88,225 for a total funding of $589,276. Of the 501 public school districts in Pennsylvania, 447 of them received Classrooms for the Future grant awards.[154] 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.

Federal stimulus grant[edit]

The Neshaminy School District received over $2,394,000 in ARRA - Federal stimulus money to be used in specific programs like special education and meeting the academic needs of low-income students. The funding was limited to the 2009-10 and 2010-2011 school years.[155] 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]

Neshaminy School District officials did not apply for the Race to the Top federal grant which would have brought the district up to million additional federal dollars for improving student academic achievement.[156] Several Mercer County school districts applied for funding.[157] Participation required the administration, the school board and the local teachers' union to sign an agreement to prioritize improving student academic success.[158] In Pennsylvania, 120 public school districts and 56 charter schools agreed to participate.[159] 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.[160]

Common Cents state initiative[edit]

The Neshaminy School District School Board chose to not participate in the Pennsylvania Department of Education Common Cents program. The program called for the state to audit the district, at no cost to local taxpayers, to identify ways the district could save tax dollars.[161] After the review of the information, the district was not required to implement the recommended cost savings changes. The report found multiple opportunities for savings.

Current Teacher Contract Negotiations[edit]

Starting in 2008, the Neshaminy teachers (as well as any other "certified staff"), as represented by the Neshaminy Federation of Teachers (NFT), had begun negotiating with the Neshaminy School Board for a new contract. In 2011, the school board and teachers union are engaged in the 4th year of a contract negotiation. The Pennsylvania House of Representatives Education Committee conducted a hearing at the Neshaminy High School to discuss the impasses in the district's contract negotiations and issues surrounding teacher union strikes.[162] Under the current contract, the teachers have the earnings level in the top 5% of all individual American wage earners, pay nothing for their health care, have equal say in the curriculum, and can retire after 10 years, which includes free health care and a retirement bonus.[163] After the teacher strike in January 2012 (lasting from 1/9/2012 to 1/19/2012, a total of 8 days of the 10 day limit), as stated by Act 88,[164] the NFT and NSB must commit to non-binding arbitration. The arbitrator proposed a new contract on May 3, 2012, which the NSB did not accept. The report requested "he report suggested teachers get between 0-2.25 percent salary increases, pay between 10-12 percent towards health care, and get 50 percent of back pay."[165] The school board claims that the district cannot afford that offer, and proposed the closing of The Learning Center in order to stay fiscally sound.

Real estate taxes[edit]

In 2011, the Neshaminy School Board set the property taxes rate at 152.0000 mills for the 2011-12 school year.[166] 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. Additionally, service related, disabled US military veterans may seek an exemption from paying property taxes. Pennsylvania school district revenues are dominated by two main sources: 1) Property tax collections, which account for the vast majority (between 75-85%) of local revenues; and 2) Act 511 tax collections, which are around 15% of revenues for school districts.[167]

  • 2010-11 - 152.0000 mills [168]
  • 2009-10 - 152.0000 mills.[169]
  • 2008-09 - 148.6000 mills.[170]
  • 2007-08 - 142.3000 mills.[171]

Act 1 Adjusted index[edit]

The Act 1 of 2006 Index regulates the rates at which each school district can raise property taxes in Pennsylvania. Districts are not permitted to raise taxes above that index, unless they allow voters to vote by referendum, or they seek an exception from the Pennsylvania Department of Education. The base index for the 2011-2012 school year is 1.4 percent, but the Act 1 Index can be adjusted higher, depending on a number of factors, such as property values and the personal income of district residents. Act 1 included 10 exceptions, including: increasing pension costs, increases in special education costs, a catastrophe like a fire or flood, increase in health insurance costs for contracts in effect in 2006 or dwindling tax bases. The base index is the average of the percentage increase in the statewide average weekly wage, as determined by the PA Department of Labor and Industry, for the preceding calendar year and the percentage increase in the Employment Cost Index for Elementary and Secondary Schools, as determined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the U.S. Department of Labor, for the previous 12-month period ending June 30. For a school district with a market value/personal income aid ratio (MV/PI AR) greater than 0.4000, its index equals the base index multiplied by the sum of .75 and its MV/PI AR for the current year.[172] With the 2011 state education budget, the General Assembly voted to end most of the Act 1 exceptions leaving only special education costs and pension costs. The cost of construction projects will go to the voters for approval via ballot referendum.[173]

The School District Adjusted Index for the Neshaminy School District 2006-2007 through 2011-2012.[174]

  • 2006-07 - 3.9%, Base 3.9%
  • 2007-08 - 3.4%, Base 3.4%
  • 2008-09 - 4.4%, Base 4.4%
  • 2009-10 - 4.1%, Base 4.1%
  • 2010-11 - 2.9%, Base 2.9%
  • 2011-12 - 1.4%, Base 1.4%

For the 2011-12 school year, the Neshaminy School Board applied for several exceptions to exceed the Act 1 Index including: Maintenance of Local Tax Revenue, Health Care-Related Benefits costs, and future teacher pension obligations. Each year the Neshaminy 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.[175]

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.[176]

Neshaminy School Board also applied for exceptions to exceed the Act 1 index for the budget in 2010-11. Specifically they sought pension costs and maintenance of local revenue exceptions.[177] In 2009, the board applied for two exceptions: special education costs and maintenance of selected revenue sources.[178] 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.[179]

Property tax relief[edit]

In 2011, property tax relief for 17,209 approved residents of Neshaminy School District was set at $209.[180] 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.[181]

Additionally, the Pennsylvania Property Tax/Rent Rebate program is provided for low income Pennsylvanians aged 65 and older; widows and widowers aged 50 and older; and people with disabilities age 18 and older. The income limit is $35,000 for homeowners. The maximum rebate for both homeowners and renters is $650. Applicants can exclude one-half (1/2) of their Social Security income, consequently individuals who have income substantially more than $35,000, may still qualify for a rebate. Individuals must apply annually for the rebate. This can be taken in addition to Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief.[182]

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%).[183]

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External links[edit]