New Kensington–Arnold School District

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New Kensignton-Arnold School District
Map of Westmoreland County Pennsylvania School Districts.png
Map of Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania school districts with New Kensington–Arnold School District in green in northwest Westmoreland County
Address
701 Stevenson Blvd
New Kensington, Pennsylvania, Westmoreland County, United States
Information
School board 9 locally elected members
Superintendent Mr. John Pallone (contract 2012 - 9/30/2015)

Thomas J. Rocchi, Asst Superintendent

Administrator Jeffrey McVey, Administrative Financial Services

Richard Nealer, Assistant Business Manager
Phillip Brautigam, Director Educational Technology
Mike Orr, Director Transportation, Building & Grounds
Shaun Sperl, Director Pupil Services

Principal Rocchi, Thomas, BIS & FCES, salary $106,270 in 2012
Principal Banko, Jon, VHS, salary $97,567 in 2012
Principal Holtzman, Donna GES & MES, salary $91,997 in 2012
Principal Buczynski, Lynn, ES, salary $88,366 in 2012
Principal Patrick Nee, VMS, salary $91,469
Vice principal Jeff Thimons, VHS
Vice principal Todd Kutchak, VMS
Faculty 134 teachers 2012[1]
Grades K-12
Age 5 years old to 21 years old special education
Enrollment 2104 pupils (2011-12) [2]
Kindergarten 173
Grade 1 166
Grade 2 160
Grade 3 157
Grade 4 160
Grade 5 159
Grade 6 157
Grade 7 171
Grade 8 146
Grade 9 176
Grade 10 169
Grade 11 149
Grade 12 159
Other Enrollment projected to be 2316 in 2020[3]
Color(s) black and gold.
Budget $33.7 million 2012-13[4]

$30.5 million 2011-12 [5]

Per pupil spending $12,031 (2008)
Per pupil spending $14,272.81 (2010)
Website

The New Kensington–Arnold School District is a small, suburban, public school district serving the cities of Arnold and New Kensington, located in northern Westmoreland County in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. The New Kensington–Arnold School District encompasses approximately 5 square miles (13 km2). According to 2000 federal census data, it serves a resident population of 20,400. By 2010, the District's population declined to 18,265 people.[6] In 2009, the District residents’ per capita income was $16,285, while the median family income was $36,720.[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, New Kensington–Arnold School District provided basic educational services to 2,142 pupils. It employed: 204 teachers, 88 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 13 administrators. New Kensington–Arnold School District received more than $15.5 million in state funding in school year 2007-08.

New Kensington–Arnold School District operates 6 schools:

  • Greenwald Memorial School (grades K–3)
  • Fort Crawford School (grades K–3)
  • Martin School (grades K–3)
  • H.D. Berkey School (grades 4–5)
  • Valley Middle School (grades 6–8)
  • Valley High School (grades 9–12)

National Sunny Day Award[edit]

In 2012, the school district's website won the National Sunny Day Award for Transparency.[citation needed]

Governance[edit]

New Kensington–Arnold School District is governed by 9 individually elected board members (serves without compensation for a term of four years.), the Pennsylvania State Board of Education, the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the Pennsylvania General Assembly.[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 " A+" 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]

New Kensington–Arnold School District was ranked 439th out of 500 Pennsylvania school districts by the Pittsburgh Business Times in 2013.[12] The ranking was based on student academic achievement as demonstrated on the last three years of the PSSAs for: reading, writing, math and science.[13] 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 - 420th [14]
  • 2010 - 431st [15]
  • 2009 - 429th [16]
  • 2008 - 418th
  • 2007 - 360th out of 501 school districts.[17]
Overachiever statewide ranking

In 2013, the Pittsburgh Business Times also reported an Overachievers Ranking for 498 Pennsylvania school districts. New Kensington–Arnold School District ranked 64th. In 2012, the district was 72nd. [18] 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."[19]

District AYP status history[edit]

In 2012, New Kensington–Arnold School District declined to Warning Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) status.[20] In 2011, New Kensington–Arnold School District achieved 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] New Kensington–Arnold School District achieved AYP status each year from 2008 to 2010.

  • 2007 - Warning status
  • 2006 - Warning status[22]
  • 2003-2005 - achieved Adequate Yearly Progress status for student achievement in reading and mathematics.

New Kensington–Arnold School District's Fort Crawford School was cited in a state report regarding irregularities in the PSSA testing.[23] After an investigation, the District was required by the Pennsylvania Department of Education to develop a plan to remediate the issues involved. Statewide 48 school districts or charter programs had suspicious results in the exams administered in 2009, 2010, or 2011.[24][25] The scandal calls into question much of the student academic growth touted by the Rendell Administration which conspicuously ignored the Data Recognition Corp. forensic erasure analysis.[26][27]

Graduation rate[edit]

In 2012, New Kensington–Arnold School District’s graduation rate was 80%.[28] In 2011, the graduation rate was 77%.[29] In 2010, the Pennsylvania Department of Education issued a new, 4-year cohort graduation rate. Valley High School's rate was 53.75% for 2010.[30]

According to traditional graduation rate calculations

Valley High School[edit]

Valley High School is located at 703 Stevenson Blvd, New Kensington. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2011, the School reported an enrollment of 652 pupils in grades 9th through 12th, with 344 pupils eligible for a federal free or reduced-price lunch. The school employed 35 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 18:1.[35] Valley High School is a federal Title I school. According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 61 courses are taught by teachers who are rated "Non‐Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[36]

In 2013, Valley High School's 11th grade ranked 63rd out of 104 western Pennsylvania high schools based on the last three years of student academic achievement in Pennsylvania System of School Assessments (PSSA) in: reading, math, writing and science.[37] (Ranking includes schools in: Allegheny County, Beaver County, Butler County, Fayette County, Westmoreland County, and Washington County) In 2012, Valley High School ranked 86th out of 104 Western Pennsylvania public high schools.

In 2012, Valley High School declined again to Corrective Action Level I AYP status. In 2011, Valley High School was in School Improvement Level II AYP status.[38] 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.[39] Valley High School is eligible for extra funding under School Improvement Grants which the school must apply to the Pennsylvania Department of Education for each year.[40]

PSSA results

11th Grade Reading:

  • 2012 - 61% on grade level, (23% below basic). State - 67% of 11th graders are on grade level.[41]
  • 2011 - 62% (22% below basic). State - 69.1% [42]
  • 2010 - 70% (14% below basic). State - 66% [43]
  • 2009 - 62% (24% below basic). State - 65% [44]
  • 2008 - 58% (28% below basic). State - 65% [45]
  • 2007 - 59% (21% below basic). State - 65% [46]

11th Grade Math:

  • 2012 - 52% on grade level (26% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 59% of 11th graders are on grade level.[47]
  • 2011 - 55% (22% below basic). State - 60.3% [48]
  • 2010 - 68% (14% below basic). State - 59% [49]
  • 2009 - 43% (32% below basic). State - 56% [50]
  • 2008 - 47% (33% below basic). State - 56% [51]
  • 2007 - 54% (25% below basic). State - 53% [52]

11th Grade Science:

  • 2012 - 25% on grade level (30% below basic). State - 42% of 11th graders were on grade level.[53]
  • 2011 - 22% (31% below basic). State - 40% [54]
  • 2010 - 33% (24% below basic). State - 39%
  • 2009 - 30% (21% below basic). State - 40% [55]
  • 2008 - 28% (21% below basic). State - 39% [56]

College remediation rate[edit]

According to a Pennsylvania Department of Education study released in January 2009, 29% of the Valley 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.[57] 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.[58] 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]

Valley 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 offered a small grant to assist students in costs for tuition, fees and books.[59] Under the Pennsylvania Transfer and Articulation Agreement, many Pennsylvania colleges and universities accept these credits for students who transfer to their institutions.[60] In 2010, Governor Edward Rendell eliminated the grants to students, from the Commonwealth, due to a state budget crisis.

For the 2009-10 funding year, Valley School District received a state grant of $10,897 for the program.[61]

Graduation requirements[edit]

Among Pennsylvania's 500 public school districts, graduation requirements widely vary. The New Kensington-Arnold School Board has determined that a pupil must earn 24 credits to graduate, including: Math 3 credits, English 4 years, social studies 4 credits, science 3 credits, Physical Education and health 2.5 credits, Micro-Applications 0.5 credit and electives 6 credits. Students enrolled in Northern Westmoreland Career Center are exempt from Micro-Applications, and one (1) credit of Physical Education.[62] Students must earn 5.5 credits for promotion to 10th Grade. Students must earn 10.5 credits for promotion to 11th Grade. All students are required attend an exit interview prior to graduation.

By law, all Pennsylvania secondary school students were required to 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][64] Effective with the graduating class of 2017, the Pennsylvania Board of Education eliminated the state mandate that students complete a culminating project in order to graduate.[65]

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.[66][67][68] 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.[69] 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.[70] 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.

AP courses[edit]

Valley High School offers several AP Courses where a successful student can earn college credits for the cost of the AP exams administered by the College Board. The amount of credits a student will be awarded is based on the score achieved on the end of course exam and is at the discretion of the individual college or university. Valley High School students have a low success rate on the annual AP exams. The AP courses offered are: AP Calculus AB, AP American History, AP English 11, AP English 12, AP Physics, AP Chemistry.

SAT scores[edit]

In 2012, 104 New Kensington–Arnold School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 432. The Math average score was 444. The Writing average score was 416. 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, 88 New Kensington–Arnold School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 478. The Math average score was 482. The Writing average score was 453.[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]

Valley Middle School[edit]

Valley Middle School is located at1701 Alcoa Dr, Arnold. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2011, Valley Middle School reported an enrollment of 496 pupils in grades 6th through 8th, with 303 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school employed 26 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 19:1.[74] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 1 teacher is rated "Non‐Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[75]

In 2013, Valley Middle School's eighth grade ranked 126 out of 149 ranked local schools.[76] In 2009, the 8th grade was ranked 121st out of 141 western Pennsylvania middle schools based on the last three years of student academic achievement in PSSAs in: reading, math writing and science.[77] (local ranking includes schools in: Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Westmoreland, and Washington counties).

  • 7th grade local ranking: 115th out of 150 (2013) and 110th (2012)
  • 6th grade local ranking: 155th out of 198 (2013) and 148th (2012)

In 2012, Valley Middle School declined to Warning AYP status due to low student achievement in reading and mathematics.[78] The school missed all metrics measured for all three tests.

PSSA Results:

8th Grade Science:

  • 2012 - 40% on grade level (33% below basic). State - 59%
  • 2011 - 42% (34% below basic). State – 58.3%
  • 2010 - 31% (46% below basic). State – 57% [88]
  • 2009 - 38% (35% below basic). State - 55% [89]
  • 2008 - 29% (40% below basic). State - 52% [90]
  • 2007 - tested, but results not made public.

Berkey School[edit]

Berkey School is located at 1739 Victoria Avenue, Arnold. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2011, Berkey School reported an enrollment of 320 pupils in 4th and 5th grades, with 216 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 25.66 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 12:1.[91] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[92] In 2012, Berkey School declined to Warning AYP status. In 2011, Berkey School achieved Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) status[93]

4th Grade Science
  • 2012 - 68% (8% below basic). State - 82%
  • 2011 - 76% (5% below basic). State - 82.9%
  • 2010 - 77% (10% below basic). State - 81%

Fort Crawford School[edit]

Fort Crawford School is located at 255 Third Street, New Kensington. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2011, the school reported an enrollment of 204 pupils in grades kindergarten through 3rd, with 174 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 14 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 14:1.[97] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 1 of its teachers was rated "Non‐Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[98]

In 2011 and 2012, Fort Crawford School achieved AYP status.[99]

Greenwald Memorial School[edit]

Greenwald Memorial School is located at. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2011, the school reported an enrollment of 216 pupils in grades kindergarten through 3rd, with 124 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 17 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 12:1.[103] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[104] In 2011 and 2012, Greenwald Memorial School achieved AYP status.[105]

Martin School[edit]

Martin School is located at 1800 7th Street, New Kensington. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2011, the school reported an enrollment of 228 pupils in grades kindergarten through 3rd, with 153 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 15 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 15:1.[108] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[109] In 2011 and 2012, Martin School achieved AYP status.[110]

Special education[edit]

In December 2010, the District administration reported that 486 pupils or 22% of the district's pupils received Special Education services, with 50% of the identified students having a specific learning disability.[113] In December 2009, the District administration reported that 479 pupils or 21% of the district's pupils received Special Education services, with 50.9% of the identified students having a specific learning disability. Special education services in the Commonwealth are provided to students from ages three years to 21 years old. In the 2010-11 school year, the total student enrollment In Pennsylvania public schools was more than 1.78 million students with approximately 275,000 students eligible for special education services. Among these students 18,959 were identified with mental retardation and 21,245 students with autism.[114] The largest group of Pennsylvania's special needs students are identified as having Specific Learning Disabilities 126,026 students (46.9 percent) and Speech or Language Impairments with 43,542 students (16.2 percent).

In order to comply with state and federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act rules and regulations, 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 .[115] In order to identify the students who may be eligible for special education services, various screening activities are conducted by the District 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 for services may verbally request a multidisciplinary evaluation from a professional employee of the District or contact the district's Special Education Department.[116][117] The IDEA 2004 requires each school entity to publish a notice to parents, in newspapers or other media, including the student handbook and website regarding the availability of screening and intervention services and how to access them.

In 2010, the state of Pennsylvania provided $1,026,815,000 for special education services. This funding is in addition to the state's basic education per pupil funding, as well as, all other state and federal funding.[118] 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.[119] 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.[120] 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.[121] In 2012, the Obama Administration's US Department of Education issued a directive that schools include students with disabilities in extracurricular activities, including sports.[122]

The New Kensington–Arnold School District received a $1,777,531 supplement for special education services in 2010.[123] For the 2011-12 and 2012-13 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.[124][125] Additionally, the state provides supplemental funding for extraordinarily impacted students. The District must apply for this added funding.

LRE Monitoring In 2009, New Kensington–Arnold School District was identified by the Pennsylvania Department of Education for Least Restrictive Environment monitoring. One hundred ninety six schools districts were selected in 2008-09. The district received an alert letter from the PDE - Bureau of Special Education.[126] School districts were placed in one of three categories: Tier 1, Tier 2 or Tier 3. New Kensington–Arnold School District was placed in Tier 3. The monitoring is a product of the PDE addressing its voluntary settlement in Gaskin V. Pennsylvania which ordered that special education students spend most of their school day (80%) in regular education classrooms with supplementary aids and services to assist funded by the taxpayers.[127][128][129] In 2010, New Kensington-Arnold District was assigned to the Tier 1 monitoring list, due to students spending more than 80% of their day in a regular education classroom. The District was subject to on-site LRE monitoring by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Twenty public school districts in Pennsylvania were placed on Tier 1 status.[130]

Gifted education[edit]

The District Administration reported that 61 or 2.75% of its students were gifted in 2009. The highest percentage of gifted students reported among all 500 public school districts and 100 public charter schools in Pennsylvania was North Allegheny School District with 15.5% of its students identified as gifted.[131] 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.[132][133]

Wellness policy[edit]

New Kensington-Arnold School Board established a district wellness policy in 2006.[134] 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.[135]

The legislation placed the responsibility of developing a wellness policy at the local level. According to the requirements for the Local Wellness Policy, school districts must set goals for nutrition education, physical activity, campus food provision, and other school-based activities designed to promote student wellness. Additionally, districts were required to involve a broad group of individuals in policy development and to have a plan for measuring policy implementation. Districts were offered a choice of levels of implementation for limiting or prohibiting low nutrition foods on the school campus. In final implementation these regulations prohibit some foods and beverages on the school campus.[136] The Pennsylvania Department of Education required the New Kensington–Arnold School District to submit a copy of its policy for state approval.

New Kensington–Arnold School District offers both a free school breakfast and free or reduced-price lunch to low-income children. The program is funded with federal dollars through the United States Department of Agriculture.[137]

Highmark Healthy High 5 grant[edit]

In 2009, New Kensington–Arnold School District received funding through a Highmark Healthy High 5 grant. Martin School received $9,180 which was used to purchase DDR/Wii system utilized during physical education and music classes for grades K-3rd.[138] Beginning in 2006, Highmark Foundation engaged in a 5 year, $100 million program to promote lifelong healthy behaviors in children and adolescents through local nonprofits and schools.

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.[139]

In 2011, the average teacher salary in New Kensington–Arnold School District was $56,080 a year and the district employed 189 teachers and administrators. The top salary was $132,613, while the starting salary was $41,414.[140]

In 2009, the New Kensington–Arnold School District reported employing 204 teachers and administrators with a median salary of $55,107 and a top salary of $132,613.[141] The teacher’s work day was 7 hours 30 minutes, including a 30-minute duty-free lunch and a daily preparation period. There are 187 work days in the contract year (181 student days). Additionally, the teachers receive a defined benefit pension, health insurance, professional development reimbursement, 3 paid personal days, 10 paid sick days, 3 paid bereavement days, 3 paid emergency leave days, and other benefits. At retirement teachers are paid for unused sick days. Early retiring teachers also receive District health insurance until the age of 65 years. The Union is given six paid days in which to conduct union business.[142] 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.[143][144]

New Kensignton-Arnold School District administrative costs per pupil in 2008 was $809.11 per pupil which ranked 186th in Pennsylvania. The lowest administrative cost per pupil in Pennsylvania was $398 per pupil.[145] The Pennsylvania School Boards Association collects and maintains statistics on salaries of public school district employees in Pennsylvania. According to the association's report, the average salary for a superintendent, for the 2007-08 school year, was $122,165. Superintendents and administrators receive a benefit package commensurate with that offered to the district's teachers' union.[146] According to PSBA, the median Superintendent salary, in Pennsylvania, rose to over $130,000 in 2011.[147]

Per pupil spending In 2008, New Kensington–Arnold School District administration reported that per pupil spending was $12,031 which ranked 226th among Pennsylvania's 501 school districts. In 2010 the per pupil spending had increased to $14,272.81.[148] Among the states, Pennsylvania’s total per pupil revenue (including all sources) ranked 11th at $15,023 per student, in 2008-09.[149] In 2007, the Pennsylvania per pupil total expenditures was $12,759.[150] The U.S. Census Bureau reports that Pennsylvania spent $8,191 per pupil in school year year 2000-01.[151]

Reserves In 2008, New Kensington–Arnold School District reported a balance of $7,466,899 in its unreserved-undesignated fund. The unreserved-designated fund balance was reported as zero. [152] In 2010, New Kensington-Arnold School Administration reported a balance of $2,407,575.00 in the unreserved-undesignated fund. The District reported zero in its unreserved-designated fund in 2010. Pennsylvania public school district reserve funds are divided into two categories – designated and undesignated. The undesignated funds are not committed to any planned project. Designated funds and any other funds, such as capital reserves, are allocated to specific projects. School districts are required by state law to keep 5 percent of their annual spending in the undesignated reserve funds to preserve bond ratings. By law the state limits the total unreserved-undesignated fund balance at 8% of the annual budget for school districts that have budgets over $19 million a year. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, from 2003 to 2010, as a whole, Pennsylvania school districts amassed nearly $3 billion in reserved funds.[153]

Audit In January 2010, the Pennsylvania Auditor General conducted a performance audit of the District. The findings were reported to the School Board and the District’s administration. The audit found the New Kensington–Arnold School District had not taken appropriate corrective action in implementing recommendations for providing adequate documentation of nonresident membership data reported to the Department of Education.[154]

Tuition Students who live in the New Kensington–Arnold 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 New Kensington–Arnold 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 - $8,391.29, High School - $10,661.13.[155]

New Kensington–Arnold School District is funded by a combination of: a local earned income tax - 0.5%,[156][157] a property tax, a statewide real estate transfer tax 0.5%, coupled with substantial funding from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the federal government.[158] Interest earnings on reserve 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.[159] The average Pennsylvania public school teacher pension in 2011 exceeds $60,000 a year plus they receive Social Security benefits: both are free of Pennsylvania income tax and local income tax which funds local public schools.[160]

State basic education funding[edit]

For the 2012-13 school year, the New Kensington–Arnold School District received $11,153,908.[161] 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. New Kensington-Arnold received $205,818 in ABG funding. The state also provided a $544.4 million payment for School Employees’ Social Security and $856 million for School Employees’ Retirement fund called PSERS.[162]

In 2011-12, the New Kensington–Arnold School District received a $10,948,090 allocation, of state Basic Education Funding.[163][164] Additionally, the New Kensington–Arnold School District received $205,818 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.[165] 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.[166] In 2010, the District reported that 1,316 students received free or reduced-price lunches, due to the family meeting the federal poverty level.[167]

In the 2010-11 budget year, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a 2% increase in Basic Education Funding for a total of $11,505,680. Among the public school districts in Westmoreland County, the highest increase went to Yough School District which got a 7.40% increase in state Basic Education Funding. One hundred fifty Pennsylvania school districts received the base 2% increase. The highest increase in 2010-11 went to Kennett Consolidated School District in Chester County which received a 23.65% increase in state funding.[168] 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.[169]

In the 2009-2010 budget year, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a 3.05% increase in Basic Education Funding for a total of $11,281,487. Among the districts in Westmoreland County, the highest increase went to Southmoreland School District which got a 6.44%. Ninety school Pennsylvania public school districts received a 2% increase. Muhlenberg School District in Berks County received a 22.31% increase in state basic education funding in 2009.[170] 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.[171] According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Pennsylvania spent $7,824 Per Pupil in the year 2000. This amount increased up to $12,085 by the year 2008.[172][173]

The state Basic Education Funding to the district in 2008-09 was $10,948,090.19. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 1,129 District students received free or reduced-price lunches due to low family income in the 2007–2008 school year.[174]

Accountability Block Grants[edit]

Beginning in 2004-2005, the state launched the Accountability Block Grant school funding. This program has provided $1.5 billion to Pennsylvania’s school districts. The Accountability Block Grant program requires that its taxpayer dollars are focused on specific interventions that are most likely to increase student academic achievement. These interventions include: teacher training, all-day kindergarten, lower class size K-3rd grade, literacy and math coaching programs that provide teachers with individualized job-embedded professional development to improve their instruction, before or after school tutoring assistance to struggling students. For 2010-11, New Kensington–Arnold School District applied for and received $558,642 in addition to all other state and federal funding. The district uses the funding to provide full-day kindergarten and for expanded teacher training, including reading and math coaches to help teachers improve their instruction.[175][176]

Classrooms for the Future grant[edit]

The Classroom for the Future state program provided districts with hundreds of thousands of extra state funding to buy laptop computers for each core curriculum high school class (English, Science, History, Math) and paid for teacher training to optimize the computers use. The program was funded from 2006 to 2009. New Kensington–Arnold School District did not apply to participate in 2006-07 nor in 2007-08. The district received $138,210 in 2008-09.[177] In Westmoreland County the highest award was given to Franklin Regional School District - $449,073. 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 by Governor Rendell due to a massive state financial crisis.

Education Assistance grant[edit]

The state's EAP funding provides for the continuing support of tutoring services and other programs to address the academic needs of eligible students. Funds are available to eligible school districts and full-time career and technology centers (CTC) in which one or more schools have failed to meet at least one academic performance target, as provided for in Section 1512-C of the Pennsylvania Public School Code. In 2010-11, New Kensington=Arnold School District received $154,568.[178]

Literacy grant[edit]

New Kensington–Arnold School District was awarded a $58,000 competitive literacy grant. It is to be used to improve reading skills birth through 12th grade. The district was required to develop a lengthly literacy plan, which included outreach into the community. The funds come from a Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy grant, also referred to as the Keystones to Opportunity grant It is a five-year, competitive federal grant program designed to assist local education agencies in developing and implementing local comprehensive literacy plans. Of the 329 pre-applications by school districts reviewed by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, School District was one of only 148 entities that were invited to submit a full application. In County 5 school districts and one charter school were awarded funding for one year.[179] The funds must be used for teacher training, student screening and assessment, targeted interventions for students reading below grade level and research-based methods of improving classroom instruction and practice. Districts must hire literacy coaches. The coaches work with classroom teachers to enhance their literacy teaching skills. Pennsylvania was among six other states, out of the 35 that applied, to be awarded funding. Pennsylvania received $38 million through the federal program. The Pennsylvania Department of Education reserved 5% of the grant for administration costs at the state level. The top Pennsylvania grant recipient was Pittsburgh School District which was awarded $1,9983,014]].

Other grants[edit]

New Kensington–Arnold School District did not participate in: Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection's Environmental Education grants, PA Science Its Elementary grants, nor the 21st Century learning grants.

Federal Stimulus grant[edit]

New Kensington–Arnold School District received an extra $3,914,493 in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) - Federal Stimulus money to be used in specific programs like special education and meeting the academic needs of low-income students.[180][181] The funding was limited to the 2009-10 and 2010-2011 school years.[182] 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]

New Kensington–Arnold School District officials applied for the federal Race to the Top grant which would have provided nearly one million dollars in additional federal funding to improve student academic achievement.[183] 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.[184] 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.[185][186][187]

Real estate taxes[edit]

Property tax rates in 2012-13 were set by the New Kensington-Arnold School Board at 74.7000 mills. 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.[188] Property taxes, in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, apply only to real estate - land and buildings. The property tax is not levied on cars, business inventory, or other personal property. Certain types of property are exempt from property taxes, including: places of worship, places of burial, private social clubs, charitable and educational institutions and government property. Additionally, service related, disabled US military veterans may seek an exemption from paying property taxes. Pennsylvania school district revenues are dominated by two main sources: 1) Property tax collections, which account for the vast majority (between 75-85%) of local revenues; and 2) Act 511 tax collections, which are around 15% of revenues for school districts.[189] 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.[190] 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.[191]

  • 2011-12 - 72.9000 mills.[192]
  • 2010-11 - 71.9000 mills.[193]
  • 2009-10 - 71.9000 mills.[194]
  • 2008-09 - 71.9000 mills.[195]
  • 2007-08 - 71.9000 mills.[196]
  • 2006-07 - 71.9000 mills.[197]
  • 2005-06 - 71.9000 mills.[198]

The average yearly property tax paid by Westmoreland County residents amounts to about 3.31% of their yearly income. York County ranked 451st of the 3143 United States counties for property taxes as a percentage of median income.[199] 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.[200] 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%).[201]

Act 1 Adjusted Index[edit]

The Act 1 of 2006 Index regulates the rates at which each school district can raise property taxes in Pennsylvania. Districts are not permitted to raise property taxes above their annual Index unless they either: allow voters to vote by referendum or they receive an exception from the Pennsylvania Department of Education. The base index for the school year is published by the PDE in the fall of each year. Each individual school district’s Act 1 Index can be adjusted higher, depending on a number of factors, such as local property values and the personal income of district residents. Originally, Act 1 or 2006 included 10 exceptions: increasing pension costs, increases in special education costs, a catastrophe like a fire or flood, increase in health insurance costs for contracts in effect in 2006 or dwindling tax bases. The base index is the average of the percentage increase in the statewide average weekly wage, as determined by the PA Department of Labor and Industry, for the preceding calendar year and the percentage increase in the Employment Cost Index for Elementary and Secondary Schools, as determined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the U.S. Department of Labor, for the previous 12-month period ending June 30. For a school district with a market value/personal income aid ratio (MV/PI AR) greater than 0.4000, its index equals the base index multiplied by the sum of .75 and its MV/PI AR for the current year.[202] In June 2011, the Pennsylvania General Assembly eliminated six exceptions to the Act 1 Index.[203] 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.[204][205]

The School District Adjusted Index for the New Kensington–Arnold School District 2006-2007 through 2011-2012.[206]

For the 2012-13 budget year, New Kensington-Arnold 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.[209]

For the 2011-12 school year, the New Kensington-Arnold School Board did not apply for an exception to exceed the Act 1 Index. Each year, the New Kensington-Arnold School Board has the option of adopting either: 1) a resolution in January certifying they will not increase taxes above their index or 2) a preliminary budget in February. A school district adopting the resolution may not apply for referendum exceptions or ask voters for a tax increase above the inflation index. A specific timeline for these decisions is published annually, by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.[210]

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.[211]

New Kensington-Arnold School Board did not apply for any exceptions to exceed the Act 1 index for the budget in 2010-11.[212] For the 2009-10 school budget, the Board also did not apply for exceptions to exceed the Index.[213] 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.[214]

Property tax relief[edit]

In 2012, New Kensington–Arnold School District approved homestead residents received $300.[215] The amount of property tax relief each public school district receives is announced by the PDE in May each year. It is dependent on the amount of tax revenue collected on the casino slots in the previous year. In 2010, property tax relief for 4,246 approved residents of New Kensington–Arnold School District was set at $302.[216] In 2009, the Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief from gambling for the Area School District was also $161 per approved permanent primary residence. In the district, 6,534 property owners applied for the tax relief. In Westmoreland County, the highest tax relief went to New Kensington–Arnold School District.[217] The highest property tax relief, among Pennsylvania school districts, went to the homesteads of Chester Upland School District of Delaware County which received $632 per approved homestead in 2010. Chester-Upland School District has consistently been the top recipient since the programs inception.[218] 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 (40,000 m2) and must be the primary residence of the owner. Farmers can qualify for both the homestead exemption and the farmstead exemption. In Lawrence County, 51.25% of eligible property owners applied for property tax relief in 2009. This was among the lowest participation rates in Pennsylvania.[219]

In Pennsylvania, the homestead exclusion reduces the assessed values of homestead properties, reducing the property tax on these homes. The homestead exclusion allows homeowners real property tax relief of up to one half of the median assessed value of homesteads in the taxing jurisdiction (county, school district, city, borough, or township).[220]

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 a year. Applicants can exclude one-half (1/2) of their Social Security income, consequently people who have an income of substantially more than $35,000 may still qualify for a rebate. Individuals must apply annually for the rebate. This tax rebate can be taken in addition to Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief. In 2012, Pennsylvania Secretary of the Treasury reported issuing more than half a million property tax rebates totaling $238 million.[221] The program is funded by the Pennsylvania Lottery. Property tax rebates can be increased by an additional 50 percent for senior households in the state, so long as those households have incomes under $30,000 and pay more than 15% of their income in property taxes.[222]

Extracurriculars[edit]

New Kensington–Arnold School District offers a wide variety of clubs, activities and an extensive and costly sports program. Eligibility for participation is determined by school board policy and in compliance with the standards set by the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA). The District is a member of the WPIAL (Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association). Valley High’s Girls Softball was a recipient of the National Spirit of Sport Award from the National Federation of State High School Association due to their positive response to a controversial call.

By Pennsylvania law, all K-12 students residing in the district, including those who attend a private nonpublic school, cyber charter school, charter school and those homeschooled, are eligible to participate in the extracurricular programs, including all athletics. They must meet the same eligibility rules as the students enrolled in the district's schools.[223]

Sports[edit]

The District funds:

Middle School Sports

According to PIAA directory July 2012 [224]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  2. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education, Enrollment and Projections by LEA, 2012
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  4. ^ Liz Hayes., New Kensington-Arnold board checks spending, TribLIVE, March 14, 2013
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