Old Forge School District

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Old Forge School District
Map of Lackawanna County Pennsylvania School Districts.PNG
Old Forge Campus
Home of the Blue Devils
Location
300 Marion Street
Old Forge, PA 18518

Lackawanna, United States
Information
Type Public School
Established 1910
Superintendent Mr. John Rushefski (contract April 14, 2014 to June 30, 2018)[1]
Administrator Brian Rinaldi, Business Manager

Deborah Pepsin, Athletic Director
Francis Colianni, Maintenance supervisor

Principal Mrs Nicole Van Luvender - ES
Principal Christopher C Thomas HS - Curriculum
Vice principal Mrs Regina Krieger HS
Staff 47 nonteaching staff
Faculty 66.77 teachers[2]
Grades K–12
Age 5 years old to 21 years old special education
Enrollment 940 pupils (2014)[3]

903 pupils (2012)[4]
918 pupils (2011) [5]
900 pupils (2006)[6]

Kindergarten 71 (2012), 89 (2010)
Grade 1 73 (2012), 82
Grade 2 79 (2012), 71
Grade 3 67 (2012), 66
Grade 4 70 (2012), 58
Grade 5 60 (2012), 86
Grade 6 58 (2012), 76
Grade 7 80 (2012), 72
Grade 8 76 (2012), 64
Grade 9 72 (2012), 74
Grade 10 60 (2012), 67
Grade 11 69 (2012), 81
Grade 12 68 (2012), 88 (2010)
Other Enrollment projected to be 1001 pupils in 2019
Campus type Suburban
Color(s)          Blue and Gold
Sports Football, Basketball, Baseball, Softball, Soccer, Golf, Cross Country
Mascot Blue Devil
Rival Riverside School District
Yearbook "The Forge" (since 1961)
Budget $11,965,703 (2014-15)[7]

$11,761,809 (2013-14)
$11,440,978 (2012-13)[8]
$11.98 million (2009-10)[9]

Information 570-457-6721
Per pupil spending $13,141 (2008)
Per pupil spending $11,759.39 (2010)
Website

The Old Forge School District is a diminutive, suburban, public school district serving the municipality of Old Forge, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Scranton in Lackawanna County. The District is one of the 500 public school districts of Pennsylvania. The District encompasses 3 square miles (7.8 km2). According to 2000 federal census data, it served a resident population of 8,798. By 2010, the District's population declined to 8,310 people.[10] The educational attainment levels for the Old Forge School District population (25 years old and over) were 89.4% high school graduates and 22.6% college graduates.[11]

According to the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, 41.7% of the District’s pupils lived at 185% or below the Federal Poverty level as shown by their eligibility for the federal free or reduced price school meal programs in 2012.[12] In 2009, the Old Forge School District residents' per capita income was $19,228, while the median family income was just $46,152.[13] In Lackawanna County, the median household income was $43,673.[14] In the Commonwealth, the median family income was $49,501 [15] and the United States median family income was $49,445, in 2010.[16]

According to District officials, in school year 2007-08, the Old Forge School District provided basic educational services to 932 pupils. It employed 65 teachers, 35 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 6 administrators. In 2011 the enrollment K-12 was 925 pupils.[17] In school year 2009-10, the Old Forge School District provided basic educational services to 933 pupils. The District employed: 70 teachers, 38 full-time and part-time support personnel, and increased to 7 administrators. Old Forge School District received more than $4.4 million in state funding in school year 2009-10.

Old Forge School District has a cooperative agreement with Luzerne County Community College.[18]

Old Forge School District operates two schools: Old Forge Elementary School (K-6th) and Old Forge Junior Senior HIgh School (7th-12th). The Northeastern Educational Intermediate Unit IU19 provides the District with a wide variety of services like specialized education for disabled students and hearing, speech and visual disability services and professional development for staff and faculty. Old Forge High School students do not have access to Career Technology Center of Lackawanna County which is the region's vocational technical school.

History[edit]

The original high school

Since 1910, the town of Old Forge has had its own school district. Originally, there were several elementary schools throughout Old Forge serving each section of town, such as Central, Lawrenceville, Moosic Road, Sussex, Sibley, and Rendham. The high school was located on South Main Street (the site of the recently closed Eckerd's, now Ace Hardware), which housed grades 9-12. A separate building in the rear of the main high school served as another elementary school and a gymnasium. This structure was destroyed by fire in the late 1950s.

In 1956, it was decided that all schools should be consolidated into one large building. Many feel that it was the building of a new school that saved Old Forge from the growing trend of jointures that was taking place throughout the area in the 1960s and 1970s. Groundbreaking began on July 21, 1956 at the current site located on Marion Street. The new school opened for the 1960–1961 school year and is still in use to this day, receiving major renovations during the 1990s. All the old schools have since been demolished.

Governance[edit]

Old Forge School District is governed by 9 individually elected, school board members (serve without compensation for a term of four years), the Pennsylvania State Board of Education, the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the Pennsylvania General Assembly.[19] 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 "F" 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.[20]

Academic achievement[edit]

The Old Forge School District was ranked 386th out of 498 Pennsylvania school districts, in 2014, by the Pittsburgh Business Times.[21] The ranking was based on the last three years of student academic achievement as demonstrated on the PSSAs for: reading, writing, math and science and the three Keystone Exams (literature, Algebra 1, Biology I) in high school.[22] The PSSAs are given to all children in grades 3rd through 8th. Writing exams were given to children in 5th and 8th grades. Adapted examinations are given to children in the special education programs. Three school districts were excluded because they do not operate high schools (Saint Clair Area School District, Midland Borough School District, Duquesne City School District).

Overachiever statewide ranking

In 2013, the Pittsburgh Business Times also reported an Overachievers Ranking for 498 Pennsylvania school districts. Old Forge School District ranked 455th. In 2012, the District was ranked 375th. [28] 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."[29]

In 2009, the academic achievement, of the students in the Old Forge School District, was in the 44th percentile among all 500 Pennsylvania school districts Scale (0-99; 100 is state best) [30]

District AYP status history[edit]

In 2012, Old Forge School District achieved Adequate YEarly Progress (AYP) status, even though both schools were in Warning status due to lagging achievement in reading and mathematics.[31] In 2011, School District achieved Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). In 2011, 94 percent of the 500 Pennsylvania public school districts achieved the No Child Left Behind Act progress level of 72% of students reading on grade level and 67% of students demonstrating on grade level math. In 2011, 46.9 percent of Pennsylvania school districts achieved Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) based on student performance. An additional 37.8 percent of Pennsylvania public school districts made AYP based on a calculated method called safe harbor, 8.2 percent on the growth model and 0.8 percent on a two-year average performance.[32] Old Forge School District achieved AYP status each year from 2004 to 2010, while in 2003 the Old Forge School District was in Warning status due to lagging student achievement in reading.[33]

Graduation rate[edit]

In 2014, the Old Forge School District’s graduation rate was 79.7%.[34]

  • 2013 - 96%
  • 2012 - 89%.[35]
  • 2011 - 96%.[36]
  • 2010 - 96%, the Pennsylvania Department of Education issued a new, 4-year cohort graduation rate.[37]
According to traditional graduation rate calculations

Junior Senior High School[edit]

Old Forge Junior Senior High School is located at 300 Marion Street, Old Forge. In 2014, enrollment was reported as 423 pupils in 7th through 12th grades, with 40% of pupils eligible for a free lunch due to family poverty. Additionally, 11.5% of pupils received special education services, while 3.7% of pupils were identified as gifted. The school employed 32 teachers.[41] Per the PA Department of Education 100% of the teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, Old Forge Junior Senior HIgh School reported an enrollment of 446 pupils in grades 7th through 12th, with 152 pupils eligible for a federal free or reduced price lunch due to the family meeting the federal poverty level. The school employed 32 teachers yielding a student-teacher ratio of 14:1.[42] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.[43]

2014 School Performance Profile

Old Forge Junior Senior High School achieved a score of 73.6 out of 100. Reflects on grade level reading, mathematics and science achievement. In reading/literature - 76% of pupils were on grade level. In Algebra 1, only 69% showed on grade level skills a the end of the course. In Biology, 65.9% demonstrated on grade level science understanding at the end of the course. In 8th grade writing, just 61% of students demonstrated on grade level writing.[44][45] Statewide, the percentage of high school students who scored proficient and advanced in Algebra I increased to 39.7% to 40.1%. The percentage of high school students who scored proficient and advanced in reading/literature declined to 52.5%. The percentage of high school students who scored proficient and advanced in biology improved from 39.7% to 41.4%.[46]

2013 School Performance Profile

Old Forge Junior Senior High School achieved 79.7 out of 100. Reflects on grade level reading, mathematics and science achievement. In reading/literature - 77.93% were on grade level. In Algebra 1, 70.72% showed on grade level skills. In Biology, just 46.85% showed on grade level science understanding at the end of the course. In 8th grade writing, 82.43% of pupils demonstrated on grade level skills.[47] According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 2,181 public schools (less than 73 percent of Pennsylvania public schools), achieved an academic score of 70 or higher. Pennsylvania 11th grade students no longer take the PSSAs. Instead, beginning in 2012, they take the Keystone Exams at the end of the associated course.[48]

AYP status

In 2012, Old Forge Junior Senior High School declined to Warning Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) status due to missing all academics measured in reading and mathematics. In 2011, Old Forge Junior Senior High School achieved AYP status.[49] From 2004 to 2010, Old Forge High School achieved AYP status each school year. In 2003, Old Forge Junior Senior High School was in Warning AYP status due to lagging student achievement.

PSSA Results
11th Grade Reading
  • 2012 - 71% on grade level, (8% below basic). State - 67% of 11th graders are on grade level.[50]
  • 2011 - 76% (12% below basic). State - 69.1% [51]
  • 2010 - 73%, (12% below basic). State - 66% (83 pupils enrolled)[52]
  • 2009 - 66%, State - 65% (50 pupils enrolled) [53]
  • 2008 - 78%. State - 65% (71 pupils enrolled) [54]
  • 2007 - 73%, State - 65% (71 pupils enrolled)[55]
11th Grade Math
  • 2012 - 62% on grade level (25% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 59% of 11th graders are on grade level.[56]
  • 2011 - 76% (12% below basic). State - 60.3%[57]
  • 2010 - 71% (17% below basic). State - 59%[58]
  • 2009 - 70%, State - 56%[59]
  • 2008 - 67%, State - 56% [60]
  • 2007 - 64%, State - 53%[61]
11th Grade Science
  • 2012 - 34% on grade level (16% below basic). State - 42% of 11th graders were on grade level.[62]
  • 2011 - 44% (16% below basic). State - 40%[63]
  • 2010 - 41%, (12% below basic). State - 39%
  • 2009 - 32%, State - 40%
  • 2008 - 50%, State - 39%

Science in Motion Old Forge Junior Senior High School took advantage of a state program called Science in Motion which brought college professors and sophisticated science equipment to the school to raise science awareness and to provide inquiry-based experiences for the students. The Science in Motion program was funded by a state appropriation and cost the school nothing to participate.[64] Wilkes College to provide the science enrichment experiences.

College remediation[edit]

According to a Pennsylvania Department of Education study released in January 2009, 28% of Old Forge 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.[65] 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.[66] 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.

Graduation requirements[edit]

By law, all Pennsylvania secondary school students must complete a project as a part of their eligibility to graduate from high school. The type of project, its rigor and its expectations are set by the individual school district.[67] Effective with the graduating class of 2017, the Pennsylvania State Board of Education eliminated the state mandate that students complete a culminating project in order to graduate.[68]

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.[69] The exam is given at the end of the course. Keystone Exams replace the PSSAs for 11th grade. Students have several opportunities to pass the exam, with those who do not able to perform a project in order to graduate.[70][71] 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.[72] 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.[73] 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.

Dual enrollment[edit]

Old Forge School District offers a dual enrollment program. Dual Enrollment is a state education program which allows high school students to attend Pennsylvania colleges and universities while remaining enrolled at their high school. The program is open to juniors and seniors. The credits they earn count towards high school gradation and earn college credits. Colleges offer the credits at a deeply discounted rate. Students have full access to their high school's extracurricular programs and participate in the high school's graduation event. Using Pennsylvania's PATRAC system, students identify PA colleges and universities that have agreed to accept these credits.[74] Old Forge School District received a state grant of $7,979 to assist students with the cost of books, tuition and fees.[75] In 2010, Governor Edward Rendell eliminated the grants to students, from the Commonwealth, due to a state budget crisis.

SAT scores[edit]

In 2014, Old Forge School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 472. The Math average score was 494. The Writing average score was 450.[76] Statewide in Pennsylvania, Verbal Average Score was 497. The Math average score was 504. The Writing average score was 480. The College Board also reported that nationwide scores were: 497 in reading, 513 in math and 487 in writing.[77]

In 2013, 52 Old Forge School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 455. The Math average score was 477. The Writing average score was 433. The College Board reported that statewide scores were: 494 in reading, 504 in math and 482 in writing. The nation-wide SAT results were the same as in 2012.[78]

In 2012, 60 Old Forge School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 482. The Math average score was 494. The Writing average score was 467.[79] 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, 69 Old Forge School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 479. The Math average score was 494. The Writing average score was 446.[80] Pennsylvania ranked 40th among states with SAT scores: Verbal - 493, Math - 501, Writing - 479.[81] 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.[82]

In 2008, the combined SAT score of the students in Old Forge School District was 920. Lackawanna County's average SAT score was 954 in 2008. This was a 12 point increase over the 2007 average. Among Lackawanna County school districts, the highest SAT score average was achieved at Abington Heights School District.[83]

Junior high school[edit]

PSSA Results:

Pennsylvania System of School Assessments, commonly called PSSAs are NCLB related examination given in the Spring of each school year. Seventh graders take the reading and math tests. Eighth graders are tested in: reading, writing, mathematics and Science. Beginning in the Spring of 2013, eighth graders, who are enrolled in Algebra I take the Keystone Exam for Algebra I at the end of the course. The testing of 8th grade in reading and mathematics began in 1999, as a state initiative.[84] Testing in science began in 2007. The goal is for 100% of students to be on grade level or better in reading and mathematics, by the Spring of 2014. The tests focus on the state's Academic Standards for reading, writing, mathematics and science.[85] The standards were published in 1998 and are mandated by the Pennsylvania State Board of Education.[86] In 2014, the Commonwealth adopted the Pennsylvania Core Standards - Mathematics.[87]

8th Grade Science
  • 2012 - 57% (18% below basic). State - 59%
  • 2011 - 60% (26% below basic). State – 58.3%
  • 2010 - 42% (41% below basic). State - 57%.
  • 2009 - 52%, State - 54% [93]
  • 2008 - 68%, State - 52% [94]

Old Forge Elementary School[edit]

Old Forge Elementary School is located at 401 Melmore Street, Old Forge. In 2014, the Old Forge Elementary School's enrollment was 508 pupils in grades kindergarten through 6th, with 42.7% of pupils receiving a federal free or reduced price meals due to family poverty. Additionally, 12.8% of the pupils receive special education services, while 1% are identified as gifted.[95] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 93% of the teachers were rated highly qualified under No Child Left Behind. The school provides full day kindergarten.[96] The school is a federally designated Title I school.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2011, the school reported an enrollment of 529 pupils in grades kindergarten through 6th, with 224 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 35 teachers yielding a student-teacher ratio of 15:1.[97] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[98] In 2010, the school's attendance rate 95%.[99] Old Forge Elementary School provides full-day kindergarten since 2003-04. In 2008-09, there were 60 children enrolled in kindergarten.

Proponents of full day kindergarten claim it will reduce will raise primary student academic achievement especially in reading and math.[100] Those outcomes have not been realized in the Old Forge School District. Reading achievement in particular has not improved.[101]

2014 School Performance Profile

Old Forge Elementary School achieved a score of 76.4 out of 100. The score reflects on grade level: reading, science, writing and mathematics achievement. In 2013-14, only 65.6% of the students were reading on grade level in grades 3rd through 5th. In 3rd grade, 76% of the pupils were reading on grade level. In math, 71% were on grade level (3rd-5th grades). In 4th grade science, 80.8% of the pupils demonstrated on grade level understanding. In writing, only 45% of 5th grade pupils demonstrated on grade level writing skills.[102]

2013 School Performance Profile

Old Forge Elementary School achieved a score of 79.3 out of 100. The score reflects on grade level: reading, science, writing and mathematics achievement. In 2012-13, only 62.25% of the students were reading on grade level in grades 3rd through 5th. In 3rd grade, 72.31% of the pupils were reading on grade level. In math, 67.07% were on grade level (3rd-5th grades). In 4th grade science, just 78.26% of the pupils demonstrated on grade level understanding. In writing, only 50% of 5th grade pupils demonstrated on grade level skills.[103] According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 2,181 public schools (less than 73 percent of Pennsylvania public schools), achieved an academic score of 70 or higher.

AYP history

In 2012, Old Forge Elementary School declined to Warning AYP status due to lagging academic achievement in reading and math.[104] In 2003 through 2011, Old Forge Elementary School achieved AYP status each school year.

PSSA Results

Sixth have been tested in reading and mathematics since 2006.

4th Grade Science
  • 2012 - 83% (3% below basic). State - 82%
  • 2011 - 80% (3% below basic). State - 82.9%
  • 2010 - 85% (8% below basic). State - 81%
  • 2009 - 94%, State - 83%[110]
  • 2008 - 82%, State - 81%

Special education[edit]

In December 2012, the Old Forge School District administration reported that 131 pupils or 14% of the district's pupils received Special Education services, with 45% of the identified students having a specific learning disability.[112]

In December 2011, the Old Forge School District administration reported that 147 pupils or 15.6% of the district's pupils received Special Education services, with 41.5% of the identified students having a specific learning disability.[113] In December 2009, the district administration reported that 175 pupils or 19.4% of the district's pupils received Special Education services.[114] 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 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.[115] The largest group of students are identified as Specific Learning Disabilities 126,026 students (46.9 percent) and Speech or Language Impairments with 43,542 students (16.2 percent).

In 2007, Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Gerald Zahorchak testified before the Pennsylvania House Education Committee regarding full day kindergarten. He claimed that districts which offered these programs would see a significant decrease in special education students due to early identification and early intervention. He asserted the high cost of full day kindergarten would be recouped by Districts in lower special education costs.[116] While Old Forge School District has seen a decrease in the percentage of special education students it serves, there has been minimal savings.[117]

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.[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]

Old Forge School District received a $481,237 supplement for special education services in 2010.[123] For the 2011-12, 2012–13 and 2013-14 school years, all Pennsylvania public school districts received the same level of funding for special education that they received in 2010-11. This level funding is provided regardless of changes in the number of pupils who need special education services and regardless of the level of services the respective students required.[124][125] Additionally, the state provides supplemental funding for extraordinarily impacted students. The District must apply for this added funding. For the 2014-2015 school year, Old Forge School District will receive an increase to $489,745 from the Commonwealth for special education funding.[126]

Gifted education[edit]

The District Administration reported that 16 or 1.76% of its students were gifted in 2009.[127] By law, Old Forge School 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.[128] Through the strategic planning process, the Superintendent must ensure that Old Forge School District provides a continuum of program and service options to meet the needs of all mentally gifted students for enrichment, acceleration, or both.[129]

Bullying and school safety[edit]

The Old Forge School District administration reported there were three incidents of bullying in the District in 2012. Additionally, there was an assault on a student and no sexual incidents involving students. The local law enforcement was involved in zero incidents at the schools.[130] [131] Each year the school safety data is reported by the district to the Safe School Center which then publishes the compiled reports online. Nationally, nearly 20% of pupils report being bullied at school.[132] The Old Forge School District administration reported there was 1 incident of bullying in the district in 2009.[133][134]

The Old Forge School district has its policy regarding bullying posted online. [1] The district permits students to report bullying anonymously via an online form.[135] All Pennsylvania schools are required to have an anti-bullying policy incorporated into their Code of Student Conduct. The policy must identify disciplinary actions for bullying and designate a school staff person to receive complaints of bullying. The policy must be available on the school's website and posted in every classroom. All Pennsylvania public schools must provide a copy of its anti-bullying policy to the Office for Safe Schools every year, and shall review their policy every three years. Additionally, the District must conduct an annual review of that policy with students.[136] The Center for Schools and Communities works in partnership with the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime & Delinquency and the Pennsylvania Department of Education to assist schools and communities as they research, select and implement bullying prevention programs and initiatives.[137][138]

Education standards relating to student safety and anti harassment programs are described in the 10.3. Safety and Injury Prevention in the Pennsylvania Academic Standards for Health, Safety and Physical Education.[139]

Old Forge School District has not participated in the state's: Safe Schools Targeted Grant or the School Resource Office/School Police Officer Grants.

Wellness policy[edit]

Old Forge School Board established a district wellness policy in January 2006 - Policy 246.[140] The policy deals with nutritious meals served at school, the control of access to some foods and beverages during school hours, age appropriate nutrition education for all students, and physical education for students K-12. The policy is in response to state mandates and federal legislation (P.L. 108 - 265). The law dictates that each school district participating in a program authorized by the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act (42 U.S.C. 1751 et seq) or the Child Nutrition Act of 1966 (42 U.S.C. 1771 et seq) "shall establish a local school wellness policy by School Year 2006."

The legislation placed the responsibility of developing a wellness policy at the local level so the individual needs of each district can be addressed. According to the requirements for the Local Wellness Policy, school districts must set goals for nutrition education, 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.[141] The Pennsylvania Department of Education required the district to submit a copy of the policy for its approval.[142] This includes classroom party guidelines from the Pennsylvania Department of Education.[143]

The District offers a free school breakfast and free or reduced-price lunch to children in low income families. All students attending the school can eat breakfast and lunch. Children from families with incomes at or below 130 percent of the federal poverty level are provided a breakfast and lunch at no cost to the family. Children from families with incomes between 130 and 185 percent of the federal poverty level can be charged no more than 30 cents per breakfast. A foster child whose care and placement is the responsibility of the State or who is placed by a court with a caretaker household is eligible for both a free breakfast and a free lunch. Runaway, homeless and Migrant Youth are also automatically eligible for free meals.[144] The meals are partially funded with federal dollars through the United States Department of Agriculture.[145]

In 2013, the USDA issued new restrictions to foods in public schools. The rules apply to foods and beverages sold on all public school district campuses during the day. They limit vending machine snacks to a maximum of 200 calories per item. Additionally, all snack foods sold at school must meet competitive nutrient standards, meaning they must have fruits, vegetables, dairy or protein in them or contain at least 10 percent of the daily value of fiber, calcium, potassium, and Vitamin D.[146] In order to comply with the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 all US public school districts are required to raise the price of their school lunches to $2.60 regardless of the actual cost of the lunch.[147]

In 2014, President Obama ordered a prohibition of advertisements for unhealthy foods on public school campuses during the school day.[148] The Food and Drug Administration requires that students take milk as their beverage at lunch. In accordance with this law, any student requesting water in place of milk with their lunch must present a written request, signed by a doctor, documenting the need for water instead of milk.[149][150]

Old Forge School District provides health services as mandated by the Commonwealth and the federal government. Nurses are available in the building to conduct annual health screenings (data reported to the PDE and state Department of Health) and to dispense prescribed medications to students during the school day. Students can be excluded from school unless they comply with all the State Department of Health’s extensive immunization mandates. School nurses monitor each pupil for this compliance.[151] Nurses also monitor each child's weight.

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.[152]

In 2013, the average teacher salary in Old Forge School District was $47,271 a year, while the cost of the benefits teachers received was $26,844 per employee, for a total annual average teacher compensation of $74,115.[153]

In 2011, the average teacher salary in Old Forge School District was $47,203 a year, while the cost of the benefits teachers received was $22.643 per employee, for a total annual average teacher compensation of $69,847.[154] The Old Forge School District reported a top salary of $87,000.[155]

Strikes Old Forge School teachers declared a strike again in August 2013. They have gone out on strike several times including December 2012.[156] The teachers have been working without a new contract since 2010. Sharing of health insurance costs has been a sticking point. Teachers currently pay nothing for their platinum level health insurance plans.[157] The district has been plagued by teacher strikes. There were four strikes regarding the 2006-2010 contract. Teachers set a strike notice for March 2011.[158][159] Under Act 1 of 2006, the school board can no longer obtain an exemption to raise property taxes due to health insurance costs.[160] Of nearly 140 teacher strikes that occurred nationally between 2000 and 2007, 60 percent took place in Pennsylvania, according to a report released by the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy.[161] Pennsylvania is one of 13 states in which teacher strikes are legal. Pennsylvania has the highest rate of teacher strikes in the United States. State law gives the Pennsylvania Department of Education the power to order the teachers to return so that students will complete 180 days of school by June 15.

In 2009, Old Forge School District reported employing over 60 teachers with a starting salary of $41,290, for 185 days worked with 182 pupils days.[162] Teachers are paid at an hourly rate for work that is required after regular school hours. An extra stipend is paid to department head teachers. The work day is 7 hours and 5 minutes. Additionally, Old Forge School District teachers receive a defined benefit pension, health insurance, fully paid prescription plan, dental insurance, vision insurance, professional development reimbursement, a 2 week unpaid marriage leave per year, 2 paid personal days, and 10 sick days, life insurance and other benefits. The president of teachers' union can take 5 days with pay to conduct union business. The teachers receive a free pass, with a guest pass, for all home school events. The 2006-2010 teacher union contract also contains an annual pay increase of 3.5 percent. Teachers are paid for unused sick days upon resigning.[163] According to State Rep. Glen Grell, a trustee of the Pennsylvania Public School Employees’ Retirement System Board, a 40-year educator can retire with a pension equal to 100 percent of their final salary.[164] By 2009, the average teacher salary in the Old Forge School District, was $53,337 while the maximum salary is $93,600.[165]

Old Forge School District's average teacher salary, in 2007 was $45,053, when the district employed 57 teachers. In Pennsylvania, the average teacher salary for Pennsylvania's 124,100 public school teachers was $54,977 in 2008.[166] 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 United States for average teacher compensation.[167][168]

Administration costs Old Forge School District administration costs per pupil in 2008 was $819.76 per pupil. The District was ranked 171st out of 500 in Pennsylvania for administration spending. The lowest administrative cost per pupil in Pennsylvania was $398 per pupil.[169]

Per pupil spending In 2008, Old Forge School District administration reported spending $13,141 per pupil. This spending ranked 166th in the commonwealth.[170] In 2010, the District’s per pupil spending had decreased to $11,759.39.[171] In 2011, Pennsylvania’s per pupil spending was $13,467, ranking 6th in the United States.[172] In 2007, the Pennsylvania per pupil total expenditures was reported as $12,759.[173]

The U.S. Census Bureau reported that Pennsylvania spent $8,191 per pupil in school year 2000-01.[174] In 2007, the Pennsylvania per pupil total expenditures was reported as $12,759.[175] Among the fifty states, Pennsylvania’s total per pupil revenue (including all sources) ranked 11th at $15,023 per student, in 2008-09.[176] Pennsylvania’s total revenue per pupil rose to $16,186 ranking 9th in the nation in 2011.[177]

Reserves In 2009, the Old Forge School District reported a $858,668 in an unreserved-undesignated fund balance. The designated fund balance was reported as zero.[178] In 2012, Old Forge School District Administration reported an decrease to $11,606 in the unreserved-undesignated fund balance. Pennsylvania public school district reserve funds are divided into two categories – designated and undesignated. The undesignated funds are not committed to any planned project. Designated funds and any other funds, such as capital reserves, are allocated to specific projects. School districts are required by state law to keep 5 percent of their annual spending in the undesignated reserve funds to preserve bond ratings. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, from 2003 to 2010, as a whole, Pennsylvania school districts amassed nearly $3 billion in reserved funds.[179] By 2013, reserves held by Pennsylvania public school districts, as a whole, had increased to over $3.8 billion.[180] In 2014, Old Forge School District reported a -$22,308 balance in reserves.

Audit In October 2009, the Pennsylvania Auditor General conducted a performance audit of the district. Findings were reported to the administration and school board.[181] In October 2011, the District was once again audited by the Pennsylvania Auditor General. The findings included that Old Forge School District personnel failed to adhere to the SAF policy established by the board.[182]

Tuition Students who live in the Old Forge 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 Old Forge 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 - $7,645.13, High School - $8,461.44[183]

Old Forge School District is funded by a combination of: a local income tax 0.5%, Occupation Taxes $5 per year, a property tax, a real estate transfer tax 0.5%, coupled with substantial funding from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and about 10% of its budget from the federal government.[184] Grants can provide an opportunity to supplement school funding without raising local taxes. In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, pension and Social Security income are exempted from state personal income tax and local earned income tax regardless of the individual's wealth.[185] The average Pennsylvania public school teacher pension in 2011 exceeded $60,000 a year, plus the teacher pensioners receive federal Social Security benefits. Both sources of income are free of Pennsylvania state income tax and local income tax, which funds local public schools.[186]

State basic education funding[edit]

According to a report from Representative Todd Stephens office, Old Forge School District receives 38.9% of its annual revenue from the state.[187]

For the 2014-15 school year, Old Forge School District will receive $2,893,446 in State Basic Education funding. The District will also receive $107,823 in new Ready To Learn Block grant. The State’s enacted Education Budget includes $5,526,129,000 for the 2014-2015 Basic Education Funding.[188] The Education budget also includes Accountability Block Grant funding at $100 million and $241 million in new Ready to Learn funding for public schools that focus on student achievement and academic success. The State is paying $500.8 million to Social Security on the school employees behalf and another $1.16 billion to the state teachers pension system (PSERS). In total, Pennsylvania’s Education budget for K-12 public schools is $10 billion. This was a $305 million increase over 2013-2014 state spending and the greatest amount ever allotted by the Commonwealth for its public schools.[189]

For the 2013-14 school year, the Old Forge School District will receive a 1.9% increase or $2,895,157 in Pennsylvania Basic Education Funding. This is $53,761 more than its 2012-13 state BEF to the District. Additionally, Old Forge School District will receive $58,087 in Accountability Block Grant funding to focus on academic achievement and level funding for special education services. Among the public school districts in Lackawanna County, Mid Valley School District received the highest percentage increase at 2.5%. The District has the option of applying for several other state and federal grants to increase revenues. The Commonwealth’s budget increased Basic Education Funding statewide by $123 million to over $5.5 billion. Most of Pennsylvania’s 500 public school districts received an increase of Basic Education Funding in a range of 0.9% to 4%. Eight public school districts received exceptionally high funding increases of 10% to 16%. The highest increase in state funding was awarded to Austin Area School District which received a 22.5% increase in Basic Education Funding.[190] The state funded the PSERS (Pennsylvania school employee pension fund) with $1,017,000,000 and Social Security payments for school employees of $495 million.[191]

For the 2012-13 school year, the Old Forge School District received $2,841,396.[192] 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. Old Forge School District received $58,087 in Accountability Block Grant funding to focus on academic achievementThe state also provided a $544.4 million payment for School Employees’ Social Security and $856 million for School Employees’ Retirement fund called PSERS.[193] This amount was a $21,823,000 increase (0.34%) over the 2011-12 appropriations for Basic Education Funding, School Employees' Social Security, Pupil Transportation, Nonpublic and Charter School Pupil Transportation. Since taking office, Corbett’s first two budgets have restored more than $918 million in support of public schools, compensating for the $1 billion in federal stimulus dollars lost at the end of the 2010-11 school year.

In the 2011-12 year school budget, Old Forge School District received $2,841,396 in state Basic Education Funding.[194] Additionally, Old Forge School District received $58,086 in Accountability Block Grant funding. The enacted Pennsylvania state education budget included $5,354,629,000 for the 2011-12 Basic Education Funding appropriation. This amount is a $233,290,000 increase (4.6%) over the enacted State appropriation for 2010-11. Statewide 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.[195] Districts experienced a reduction in funding due to the loss of federal stimulus funding which ended in 2011.

For the 2010-11 budget year, the Old Forge School District received a 2% increase in state Basic Education Funding resulting in a $3,113,535 payment.[196] Dunmore School District received 11.88% increase which was the highest increase in Basic Education Funding in Lackawanna County. Kennett Consolidated School District in Chester County received the highest increase in the state at 23.65% increase in funding for the 2010-11 school year. One hundred fifty school districts received the base 2% increase in 2010-11. The 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 determined by then Governor Edward Rendell and the Secretary of Education, Gerald Zahorchak, through the allocation set in the state budget proposal made in February each year.[197] This was the second year of Governor Rendell’s policy to fund some public school districts at a far greater rate than others.[198] In 2010, the Old Forge School District reported that 321 pupils received a free or reduced-price lunch due to the family meeting the federal poverty level.

In the 2009-2010 budget year, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a 7.43% increase in Basic Education funding for a total of $3,062,485. The district also received supplemental funding for English language learners, Title 1 federal funding for low-income students, for district size, a poverty supplement from the commonwealth and more.[199] Scranton School District received the highest increase in Lackawanna County a 9.46% increase, for the 2009-10 school year. Among the 500 school districts in Pennsylvania, Muhlenberg School District in Berks County received the highest with a 22.31% increase in funding.[200] 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.[201]

The state Basic Education funding to the district in 2008-09 was $2,841,395.72. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 284 district students received free or reduced-price lunches due to low family income in the 2007-2008 school year. 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.[202][203]

All Pennsylvania school districts also receive additional funding from the state through several other funding allocations, including Reimbursement of Charter School Expenditures; Special Education Funding; Secondary Career & Technical Education Subsidy; PA Accountability Grants; and low achieving schools were eligible for Educational Assistance Program Funding. Plus all Pennsylvania school districts receive federal dollars for various programs including: Special Education funding and Title I funding for children from low income families. In 2010, Pennsylvania spent over $24 billion for public education - local, state and federal dollars combined.[204]

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, Old Forge School District applied for and received $157,661 in addition to all other state and federal funding. The District used the extra funding to provide full day kindergarten to 60 children.[205][206]

Ready to Learn grant[edit]

Beginning in the 2014-2015 budget, the State funded a new Ready to Learn Grant for public schools. A total of $100 million is allocated through a formula to districts based on the number of students, level of poverty of community as calculated by its market value/personal income aid ratio (MV/PI AR) and the number of English language learners. Ready to Learn Block Grant funds may be used by the Districts for: school safety; Ready by 3 early childhood intervention programs; individualized learning programs; and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs.[207]

Old Forge School District will receive $107,823 in Ready to Learn Grant dollars in addition to State Basic Education funding, Special Education funding, Accountability Block Grant funding, PreK Counts funding, reimbursement for Social Security payments for employees and other state grants which the district must apply to receive.

Education Assistance grant[edit]

The state's EAP funding provides for the continuing support of tutoring services and other programs to address the academic needs of eligible students. Funds are available to eligible school districts and full-time career and technology centers (CTC) in which one or more schools have failed to meet at least one academic performance target, as provided for in Section 1512-C of the Pennsylvania Public School Code. In 2010-11 the Old Forge School District received $44,924.[208]

Classrooms for the Future grant[edit]

The Classroom for the Future state program provided districts with hundreds of thousands of extra state funding to buy laptop computers for each core curriculum high school class (English, Science, History, Math) and paid for teacher training to optimize the computers use. The program was funded from 2006-2009. Old Forge School District did not seek funding from the program. Of the 501 public school districts in Pennsylvania, 447 of them received Classrooms for the Future grant awards.[209] Among the public school districts in Lackawanna County the highest award was given to Scranton School District which received $888,647. The highest funding statewide was awarded to Philadelphia City School District in Philadelphia County - $9,409,073. The grant program was discontinued by Governor Edward Rendell as part of the 2009-10 state budget.

Other grants[edit]

Old Forge School District did not participate in: Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection's Environmental Education annual grants;[210][211] PA Science Its Elementary grants (discontinued effective with 2009-10 budget by Governor Rendell);[212] 2012 and 2013 Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy grant;[213] 2012 and 2013 Pennsylvania Hybrid Learning Grants;[214] Project 720 High School Reform grants (discontinued effective with 2011-12 budget); nor the federal 21st Century Learning grants.

Federal Stimulus grant[edit]

Old Forge School District received an extra $670,745 in ARRA - Federal Stimulus money to be used in specific programs like special education and meeting the academic needs of low-income students.[215] The funding was limited to the 2009-10 and 2010-2011 school years.[216] 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. Old Forge School District used the money to renovate a room, to buy equipment and to pay for an instructional aide.[217]

Race to the Top grant[edit]

Old Forge School District officials did not apply to participate in the Race to the Top federal grant which would have brought the district hundreds of thousands in additional federal dollars for improving student academic achievement.[218] Several Lackawanna County school districts applied for funding. Participation required the administration, the school board and the local teachers' union to sign an agreement to prioritize improving student academic success.[219] In Pennsylvania, 120 public school districts and 56 charter schools agreed to participate.[220] Pennsylvania was not approved for the grant. According to then Governor Rendell, failure of districts to agree to participate was cited as one reason that Pennsylvania was not approved.[221]

Common Cents state initiative[edit]

The Old Forge School Board did not participate in the Pennsylvania Department of Education Common Cents program. The program called for the state to audit the district, at no cost to local taxpayers, to identify ways the district could save tax dollars.[222] After the review of the information, the district was not required to implement the recommended cost savings changes.

Real estate taxes[edit]

The Old Forge School Board set property tax rates in 2014-2015 at 123.2434 mills.[223] 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. Property taxes, in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, apply only to real estate - land and buildings. The property tax is not levied on cars, business inventory, or other personal property. Certain types of property are exempt from property taxes, including: places of worship, places of burial, private social clubs, charitable and educational institutions and all government property (local, state and federal). Additionally, service related, disabled US military veterans may seek an exemption from paying property taxes. Pennsylvania school district revenues are dominated by two main sources: 1) Property tax collections, which account for the vast majority (between 75-85%) of local revenues; and 2) Act 511 tax collections, which are around 15% of revenues for school districts.[224] Pennsylvania school district revenues are dominated by two main sources: 1) Property tax collections, which account for the vast majority (between 75-85%) of local revenues; and 2) Act 511 tax collections (Local Tax Enabling Act), which are around 15% of revenues for school districts.[225]

The average yearly property tax paid by Lackawanna County residents amounts to about 3.4% of their yearly income. Lackawanna County ranked 413th out of the 3143 United States counties for property taxes as a percentage of median income.[233] 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.[234] 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%).[235]

Act 1 Adjusted index[edit]

The Act 1 of 2006 Index regulates the rates at which each school district can raise property taxes in Pennsylvania. Districts are not authorized to raise taxes above that index unless they allow voters to vote by referendum, or they seek an exception from the state Department of Education. The base index for the 2011-2012 school year was 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 which permitted Boards to raise taxes above the Index, 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.[236]

In June 2011, the Pennsylvania General Assembly passed legislation eliminating six of the exceptions to the Act 1 Index.[237] 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.[238][239] The legislature also froze the payroll amount public school districts use to calculate the pension-plan exception at the 2012 payroll levels. Further increases in payroll cannot be used to raise the district’s exception for pension payments. A specific timeline for Act I Index decisions is published annually, by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.[240]

The School District Adjusted Index for the Old Forge School District 2006-2007 through 2011-2012.[241]

For the 2014-15 budget year, Old Forge School Board applied for two exceptions to exceed their Act 1 Index limit: accelerating teacher pension benefits and increasing special education costs. In 2014-15, all Pennsylvania school districts were required to make a 21.4% of payroll payment to the teacher’s pension fund (PSERS).[246] For the school budget 2014-15, 316 Pennsylvania public school districts adopted a resolution certifying that tax rates would not be increased above its Act 1 Index limit. Another 181 school districts adopted a preliminary budget leaving open the option of exceeding the Index limit. Districts may apply for multiple exceptions each year. For the pension costs exception, 163 school districts received approval to exceed the Index in full, while others received a partial approval of their request. For special education costs, 104 districts received approval to exceed their tax limit. Seven Pennsylvania public school districts received an approval for the grandfathered construction debts exception.[247]

For the 2013-14 budget year, Old Forge School Board applied for an exception to exceed their Act 1 Index limit due to high cost of the teachers' pensions. For the school budget year 2013-14, 311 Pennsylvania public school districts adopted a resolution certifying that tax rates would not be increased above their index. Another 171 school districts adopted a preliminary budget leaving open the option of exceeded the Index limit. For the exception for pension costs, 89 school districts received approval to exceed the Index in full while others received a partial approval of their request. For special education costs, 75 districts received approval to exceed their tax limit. For the pension costs exception, 169 school districts received approval to exceed the Index. Eleven Pennsylvania public school districts received an approval for grandfathered construction debts.[248]

For the 2012-13 budget year, Old Forge School Board applied for two exceptions to exceed the Act 1 Index: the high costs of the teachers' pension and special education costs. 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.[249]

For the 2011-12 school year, the Old Forge School Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed the Act 1 Index. Each year the Old Forge 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.[250]

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.[251]

The Old Forge School Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed the Act 1 index for the budgets in 2010-11.[252] 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.[253]

Property tax relief[edit]

In 2013, Old Forge School District 2,353 approved homestead properties received $96.[254] In 2011, property tax relief for 2,368 approved residents of Old Forge School District was set at $95.[255] The highest tax relief in Lackawanna County was given to Scranton School District at $321.

In 2009, the Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief from gambling for the Old Forge School District was $101 per approved permanent primary residence. In the district, 2,244 property owners applied for the tax relief.[256] The tax relief was subtracted from the total annual school property on the individual's tax bill. Property owners apply for the relief through the county Treasurer's office. Farmers can qualify for a farmstead exemption on building used for agricultural purposes. The farm must be at least 10 contiguous acres and must be the primary residence of the owner. Farmers can qualify for both the homestead exemption and the farmstead exemption.[257] Pennsylvania awarded the highest property tax relief to residents of the Chester-Upland School District in Delaware County at $631 per homestead and farmstead in 2010.[258] This was the fifth year they were the top recipient.

Additionally, the Pennsylvania Property Tax/Rent Rebate program is provided for low income Pennsylvanians aged 65 and older; widows and widowers aged 50 and older; and people with disabilities age 18 and older. The income limit is $35,000 for homeowners. The maximum rebate for both homeowners and renters is $650. Applicants can exclude one-half (1/2) of their Social Security income, consequently individuals who have income substantially more than $35,000, may still qualify for a rebate. Individuals must apply annually for the rebate. This can be taken in addition to Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief.[259]

Enrollment[edit]

Old Forge School District is experiencing low enrollment in K-12. The Pennsylvania Department of Education projects the district's enrollment will be just 1001 pupils by 2018.[260] Shifting population trends across the U.S. and Pennsylvania are affecting school enrollment.[261] Over the next 10 years, rural Pennsylvania school enrollment is projected to decrease 8 percent. The most significant enrollment decline is projected to be in western Pennsylvania, where rural school districts may have a 16 percent decline. More than 40 percent of elementary schools and more than 60 percent of secondary schools in western Pennsylvania are projected to experience significant enrollment decreases (15 percent or greater).[262]

A study conducted by Standard and Poors in 2007 (at the request of the PA General Assembly) examined whether the consolidation of small school district's administrations would yield savings. It found that where the resulting district had 3000 pupils or less substantial savings were achievable.[263] Superintendents were asked about savings, if their district were to merge with another district at the administrative level only, but not close any of their schools. It found 42% of survey respondents thought consolidation could achieve cost reductions. Additionally, 63% of responding superintendents believed that consolidation with another district would help provide additional academic enrichment opportunities for the students.[264] In March 2011, the Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants Fiscal Responsibility Task Force released a report which found that consolidating school district administrations with one neighboring district would save the Commonwealth $1.2 billion without forcing the consolidation of any schools.[265]

Pennsylvania has one of the highest numbers of school districts in the nation. In Pennsylvania, 80% of the school districts serve student populations under 5,000, and 40% serve less than 2,000. Less than 95 of Pennsylvania's 501 school districts have enrollment below 1250 students, in 2007.[266]

Extracurriculars[edit]

Old Forge School District offers a variety of clubs, activities and sports. Eligibility to participate is set by school board policies. By Pennsylvania law, all K-12 students in the district, including those who attend a private nonpublic school, cyber charter school, charter school and those homeschooled, are eligible to participate in the extracurricular programs, including all athletics. They must meet the same eligibility rules as the students enrolled in the district's schools.[267]

According to PA Child Abuse Recognition and Reporting Act 126 of 2014, all volunteer coaches and all those who assist in student activities, must have criminal background checks. Like all school district employees, they must also attend an anti child abuse training once every three years.[268][269][270]

Sports[edit]

Coaches receive compensation as outlined in the teachers' union contract. When athletic competition exceeds the regular season, additional compensation is paid.[271]

Old Forge School District does not provide its athletics disclosure form on its web site.[272] Article XVI-C of the Public School Code requires the disclosure of interscholastic athletic opportunities for all public secondary school entities in Pennsylvania. All school entities with grades 7-12 are required to annually collect data concerning team and financial information for all male and female athletes beginning with the 2012-13 school year and submit the information to the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Beginning with the 2013-14 school year, all non-school (booster club and alumni) contributions and purchases must also be reported to PDE.[273]

According to Pennsylvania’s Safety in Youth Sports Act, all sports coaches, paid and volunteer, are required to annually complete the Concussion Management Certification Training and present the certification before coaching.[274][275]

The District funds:

Varsity
Junior High School Sports

According to PIAA directory July 2014[276]

The Blue Devil
History

The Old Forge Blue Devils of Old Forge High School have a long, rich history in the area of sports. During the 1950s and 1960s, Old Forge dominated the area in football and basketball, winning several league championships and conference titles.[277] During the 1950s, Old Forge compiled the highest winning percentage for football in the entire state.

The school has been to the state championship game five times and has won twice. In 1932, Old Forge beat St. Vincent High from Erie 24-19 for the state basketball championship. At the time, schools were not divided by class, thus there was only one state champion in the entire state. Sixty years later in 1992, Old Forge won the Class "AA" state championship in baseball by beating Ridgway 15-5. In 2009, the girls softball team reached the state championship game, only to lose 1-0 to Curwensville. In the 2013-2014 school year, the Old Forge football team and the girls basketball team both reached the state finals.

Old Forge has had a long standing rival with neighboring town Taylor that goes back to 1939 when Old Forge beat the Taylor Trojans 2-0 in the first meeting of the two teams on the football field. Thus began the "Old Forge-Taylor Football Rivalry". A tradition began in 1940 of the two teams meeting on Thanksgiving Day. This continued until 1974. The rivalry was on hiatus from 1988 until 2000, when the two teams met renewing the heated rivalry between the two neighboring towns.

Starting in 2010, all Old Forge football games are being broadcast live and then archived on the Blue Devil Football Network. The website is www.OFBlueDevils.com.

Below is a partial list of the achievements made in basketball, football and baseball/softball.[278]

Basketball[edit]

1924 Suburban County League champions
1932 Old Forge High School State Basketball Champs
1951-1952 Varsity Basketball
1975-76 Varsity Basketball
Year Award Additional awards, and notes
1924 Suburban County League champions
1930 Anthracite League champions
1932 Anthracite League champions Pennsylvania State Champions
1941 Lackawanna League champions
1948 Lackawanna League champions
1949 Lackawanna League champions
1951 Lackawanna League champions
1952 Lynett Invitational Tournament champions
1952 Lackawanna League champions
1953 District 2 - Class "A" champions
1958 Lynett Invitational Tournament champions
1959 PIAA Inter-District champions
1985 District 2 - Class "A" champions Eastern Class "A" State Semi-Finalists
1988 District 2 - Class "A" champions (Girls) Eastern Class "A" State Semi-Finalists
1989 District 2 - Class "A" champions (Girls) Eastern Class "A" State Finalists
1992 District 2 - Class "A" champions Eastern Class "A" State Semi-Finalists
1992 District 2 - Class "A" champions (Girls) Eastern Class "A" State Quarter-Finalists
2001 District 2 - Class "A" champions Eastern Class "A" State Finalists
2004 Lackawanna League - Division 2 South champions
2005 Lackawanna League - Division 2 South champions
2007 Lackawanna League - Division 2 champions Eastern Class "A" State Semi-Finalists
2007 District 2 Class "A" champions Season record 28-1
2008 District 2 Class "A" champions Eastern Class "A" State Quarter-Finalists
2008 District 2 Class "A" champions (Girls) Eastern Class "A" State Semi-Finalists
2009 District 2 Class "A" champions
2009 District 2 Class "A" champions (Girls)
2010 District 2 Class "A" champions
2010 District 2 Class "A" champions (Girls)
2011 District 2 Class "A" champions
2012 District 2 Class "A" champions (Girls) Eastern Class "A" State Semi-Finalists
2013 District 2 Class "A" champions (Girls) Lackawanna League Div. III/IV Champions - Season Record 25-1
2014 District 2 Class "A" champions
2014 District 2 Class "A" champions (Girls) Eastern Class "A" Champions

Football[edit]

1925 Old Forge High Football
1961 Eastern Conference Lineman
Year Award Additional awards, and notes
1912 Anthracite Conference champions
1949 Lackawanna Conference champions
1952 Lackawanna Conference champions Eastern Conference champions (Old Forge 6 - Sunbury 0)
1954 Lackawanna Conference champions
1955 Lackawanna Conference champions
1956 Lackawanna Conference champions
1958 Lackawanna Conference champions Eastern Conference champions (Old Forge 21 - Shenandoah 0)
1961 Eastern Conference champions Old Forge 13 - Coal Township 6
1975 PIAA Bowl champions Big 11 vs. Wyoming Valley Conference
1987 Suburban Conference champions Eastern Conference - Div. III North champions
1988 Suburban Conference champions Eastern Conference - Div. III North champions
1989 Suburban Conference champions Eastern Conference - Div. III champions (Old Forge 26 - Nativity 7)
1993 District 2 - Class "A" champions
1998 Lackawanna Conference champions (Freshman)
1999 Lackawanna Conference champions (Freshman)
2002 Lackawanna Conference champions (Freshman)
2005 Eastern Conference - Division I champions Old Forge 40 - Bishop O'Hara 28
2006 District 2 - Class "A" champions Lackawanna Division III champions
2009 Lackawanna Division III Champions Undefeated regular season (10-0)
2011 District 2 - Class "A" champions Old Forge 47 - Riverside 6
2013 District 2 - Class "A" champions Pennsylvania Class "A" Eastern Champions

Baseball/Softball[edit]

Year Award Additional awards, and notes
1981 Lackawanna League champions (Girls Softball)
1984 Lackawanna League Southern Division champions (Boys Baseball)
1989 Lackawanna League Southern Division champions (Boys Baseball)
1991 Lackawanna League Southern Division champions (Boys Baseball) District 2 Class "AA" champions
1991 Lackawanna League champions (Girls Softball)
1992 Lackawanna League Southern Division champions (Boys Baseball)
1992 District 2 Class "AA" champions (Boys Baseball) Pennsylvania State Champions - Class "AA"
2000 District 2 Class "A" Silver Medal (Girls Softball)
2006 Lackawanna League Division IV champions (Boys Baseball)
2007 Lackawanna League Division IV champions (Boys Baseball)
2007 District 2 Class "A" champions (Boys Baseball)
2008 District 2 Class "A" champions (Boys Baseball)
2008 District 2 Class "A" champions (Girls Softball)
2009 District 2 Class "A" champions (Boys Baseball) State Class "A" Semi-Finalists
2009 District 2 Class "A" champions (Girls Softball) State Class "A" Finalists
2010 District 2 Class "A" champions (Boys Baseball)
2010 District 2 Class "A" champions (Girls Softball)
2011 District 2 Class "A" champions (Boys Baseball) Fifth straight division title
2011 District 2 Class "A" champions (Girls Softball) Fourth straight division title
2013 District 2 Class "A" champions (Boys Baseball)
2013 District 2 Class "A" champions (Girls Softball)
2014 District 2 Class "A" champions (Girls Softball)

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