Pine Grove Area School District
|Pine Grove Area School District|
|103 School Street
Pennsylvania, Schuylkill, 17963
|School board||9 elected members|
|Superintendent||Brian T. Uplinger|
|Other||Enrollment projected to decline to 1633 in 2019|
The Pine Grove Area School District is a public school district in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania. It serves the municipalities of Pine Grove, Tremont, Frailey Township, Washington Township, Pine Grove Township, and Tremont Township. The district features one elementary, one middle, and one high school. The district encompasses approximately 109 square miles. According to 2000 federal census data, it serves a resident population of 11,284. District officials reported in school year 2007-08 that the PGASD provided basic educational services to 1,729 pupils through the employment of 141 teachers, 67 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 19 administrators.
- 1 Governance
- 2 Academic achievement
- 3 Special education
- 4 Bullying policy
- 5 Wellness policy
- 6 Virtual Academy
- 7 Budget
- 7.1 State basic education funding
- 7.2 Federal Stimulus grant
- 7.3 Common Cents state initiative
- 7.4 Real estate taxes
- 8 Extracurriculars
- 9 Notes
The district is governed by a 9-member board that is elected to serve four-year terms, the Pennsylvania State Board of Education, the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the Pennsylvania General Assembly. The federal government controls programs it funds like Title I funding for low-income children in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and President George W. Bush's No Child Left Behind Act, which mandates the district focus resources on student success in acquiring reading and math skills.
The Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy Alternatives Sunshine Review gave the school board and district administration a "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.
The district is served by the Intermediate Unit 29 which offers a variety of services, including assistance with developing K-12 curriculum that is mapped and aligned with the Pennsylvania Academic Standards, shared services, a group purchasing program and a wide variety of special education and special needs services.
The Pine Grove Area School District was ranked 314th out of 498 Pennsylvania school districts, in 2010, by the Pittsburgh Business Times. The ranking was based on student academic performance on four years of PSSA results in: reading, writing, mathematics and two years of science.
- 2009 - 373rd
- 2008 - 405th
- 2007 - 378th of 501 school districts by the Pittsburgh Business Times.
In 2009, the academic achievement, of the students in the Pine Grove Area School District, was in the 50th percentile among all 500 Pennsylvania school districts Scale (0-99; 100 is state best) 
- PSSA Results
- 11th Grade Reading
- 2010 - 66% on grade level. In Pennsylvania, 67% of 11th graders on grade level.
- 2009 - 57%, State - 65% 
- 2008 - 54%, State - 65%
- 2007 - 54%, State - 65% 
- 11th Grade Math
- 2010 - 58% on grade level. In Pennsylvania, 59% of 11th graders are on grade level.
- 2009 - 44%, State - 56%
- 2008 - 48%, State - 56% 
- 2007 - 41%, State - 53%
- 11th Grade Science
- 2010 - 51% on grade level. State - 39% of 11th graders were on grade level.
- 2009 - 43%, State - 40%
- 2008 - 37%, State - 39%
- College remediation
According to a Pennsylvania Department of Education study released in January 2009, 33% of Pine Grove Area High School graduates required remediation in mathematics and or reading before they were prepared to take college level courses in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education or community colleges. 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. 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.
The high school offers a dual enrollment program. This state program permits high school students to take courses, at local higher education institutions, to earn college credits. Students remain enrolled at their high school. The courses count towards high school graduation requirements and towards earning a college degree. The students continue to have full access to activities and programs at their high school. The college credits are offered at a deeply discounted rate. The state offers a small grant to assist students in costs for tuition, fees and books. Under the Pennsylvania Transfer and Articulation Agreement, many Pennsylvania colleges and universities accept these credits for students who transfer to their institutions. The Pennsylvania College Credit Transfer System reported in 2009, that students saved nearly $35.4 million by having their transferred credits count towards a degree under the new system.
For the 2009-10 funding year, the school district received a state grant of $1,631 for the program.
The Pine Grove Area School Board has determined that a total of 26 credits are required for graduation. Additionally, students must achieve proficiency in mathematics, reading and writing standards as described in Chapter 4 of the Pennsylvania School Code.
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. As a part of the project students complete 35 community service hours over a four-year period (5 hours/year Freshman through Junior year and 20 hours during Senior year)
By Pennsylvania School Board regulations, for the graduating classes of 2015 and 2016, students must demonstrate successful completion of secondary level course work in Algebra I, Biology, English Composition, and Literature for which the Keystone Exams serve as the final course exams. Students’ Keystone Exam scores shall count for at least one-third of the final course grade.
Middle school achievement
The attendance rate in 2010 was 95%.
- 8th Grade Reading
- 2010 - 86% on grade level. State - 81%
- 2009 - 84%, State - 80%
- 2008 - 80%, State - 78%
- 2007 - 79%, State - 75%
- 8th Grade Math
- 2010 - 77% on grade level. State - 75%
- 2009 - 74%, State - 71%
- 2008 - 66%, State - 70% 
- 2007 - 68%, State - 67%
- 8th Grade Science
- 2010 - 60% on grade level. State: 57% of 8th graders were on grade level.
- 2009 - 63%, State: - 54% 
- 2008 - 59%, State - 52% 
- 7th Grade Reading
- 2010 - 86% on grade level. State - 73%
- 2009 - 69%, State - 71.7%
- 2008 - 65%
- 7th Grade Math
- 2010 - 86% on grade level. State - 77%
- 2009 - 88%, State - 75%
- 2008 - 83%
- 6th Grade Reading
- 2010 - 77% on grade level. State - 68%
- 2009 - 65%, State - 67%
- 6th Grade Math
- 2010 - 90% on grade level. State - 78%
- 2009 - 85%, State - 75.9%
- 5th Grade Reading
- 2010 - 77% on grade level. State - 64%
- 2009 - 73%, State - 64%
- 5th Grade Math
- 2010 - 93% on grade level. State - 74%
- 2009 - 88%, State - 73%
- 4th Grade Reading
- 2010 - 70%, State - 72% 
- 2009 - 73%, State - 72%
- 2008 - 70%, State - 70%
- 4th Grade Math
- 2010 - 87%, State - 95%
- 2009 - 81%, State - 82%
- 2008 - 84%, State - 80%
- 4th Grade Science
- 2010 - 89% on grade level. State - 81%
- 2009 - 91%, State - 83%
- 2008 - 91%, State - 81%
- 3rd Grade Reading
- 2010 - 82%, State - 75%
- 2009 - 83%, State - 72%
- 2008 - 83%, State - 70%
- 3rd Grade Math
- 2010 - 95%, State - 84%
- 2009 - 94%, State - 82%
- 2008 - 81%, State - 80%
In December 2009, the district administration reported that 228 pupils or 13.5% of the district's pupils received Special Education services.
The District engages in identification procedures to ensure that eligible students receive an appropriate educational program consisting of special education and related services, individualized to meet student needs. At no cost to the parents, these services are provided in compliance with state and federal law; and are reasonably calculated to yield meaningful educational benefit and student progress. To identify students who may be eligible for special education, various screening activities are conducted on an ongoing basis. These screening activities include: review of group-based data (cumulative records, enrollment records, health records, report cards, ability and achievement test scores); hearing, vision, motor, and speech/language screening; and review by the Instructional Support Team or Student Assistance Team. When screening results suggest that the student may be eligible, the District seeks parental consent to conduct a multidisciplinary evaluation. Parents who suspect their child is eligible may verbally request a multidisciplinary evaluation from a professional employee of the District or contact the Supervisor of Special Education.
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.
Pine Grove Area School District received a $942,999 supplement for special education services in 2010.
The District Administration reported that 26 or 1% of its students were gifted in 2009. By law, the district must provide mentally gifted programs at all grade levels. The primary emphasis is on enrichment and acceleration of the regular education curriculum through a push in model with the gifted instructor in the classroom with the regular instructor. This approach permits such specialized instructional strategies as tiered assignments, curriculum compacting, flexible grouping, learning stations, independent projects and independent contracts. Students identified as gifted attending the High School have access to honors and advanced placement courses, and dual enrollment with local colleges. 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.
The Pine Grove Area School Board has provided the district's antibully policy online. 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. 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.
Education standards relating to student safety and antiharassment programs are described in the 10.3. Safety and Injury Prevention in the Pennsylvania Academic Standards for Health, Safety and Physical Education.
Pine Grove Area School Board established a district wellness policy in May 2006. 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.
The Pennsylvania Department of Education required the district to submit a copy of the policy for approval. A study was conducted of the submitted policies (n=499). It found that the majority of districts complied with the mandates of the law. Most districts identified the superintendent and school foodservice director as responsible for ensuring local wellness policy implementation.
The district offers a tuition free, online learning program to all students who reside in the district. In particular the program seeks to include: homeschooled students, traditional students seeking advancement, credit recovery students, alternative education students and students who are homebound due to illness. The program is available to grades K-12 students. The faculty of Pine Grove Area School District provides the instruction and monitors the child's progress. The school district provides a laptop computer and the parents are responsible for purchasing online access through an internet service provider.
In 2009, the district reports employing over 150 teachers with a starting salary of $36,000. The average teacher salary was $50,611 while the maximum slary is $108,654. In Pennsylvania, the average teacher salary for Pennsylvania's 124,100 public school teachers was $54,977 in 2008. 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. Additionally, Pine Grove Area School District teachers receive a defined benefit pension, health insurance (employee pays 5% of premium), professional development reimbursement, income protection insurance, payment of 1/2 dues of professional organization, 2 paid personal days, bereavement leave, and 10 sick days, retirement bonus ($280 for each year worked up to 25 years), life insurance and other benefits. 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.
Pine Grove Area School District administrative costs per pupil in 2008 was $612.76 per pupil. The district is ranked 426th out of 500 in Pennsylvania for administrative spending. The lowest administrative cost per pupil in Pennsylvania was $398 per pupil.
In 2007, the district employed 119 teachers. The average teacher salary in the district was $49,599 for 180 days worked.
In 2008, Pine Grove Area School District reported spending $11,189 per pupil. This ranked 379th in the commonwealth.
In 2008, the district reported a $5,059,127.00 in an unreserved-undesignated fund balance. The designated fund balance was reported as $1,590,000.00.
In January 2010, the Pennsylvania Auditor General conducted a performance audit of the district. Findings were reported to the administration and school board.
The district is funded by a combination of: a local earned income tax, a property tax, a real estate transfer tax, coupled with substantial funding from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the federal government. Grants can provide an opportunity to supplement school funding without raising local taxes. 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.
State basic education funding
For 2010-11 the Pine Grove Area School District received a 6.71% increase in state Basic Education Funding resulting in a $7,021,079 payment. The highest increase in BEF in Schuylkill County went to Minersville Area School District which received 9.96%. 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.
n the 2009-2010 budget year the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a 6.43% increase in Basic Education funding for a total of $6,579,289. The state Basic Education funding to the district in 2008-09 was $6,181,924. 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. Shenandoah Valley School District was the highest increase in Schuylkill County with a 14.50% increase in basic education funding, 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. The amount of increase each school district receives is determined by the Governor and the Secretary of Education through the allocation set in the state budget proposal made in February each year.
Accountability Block Grants
Beginning in 2004-2005, the state launched the Accountability Block Grant school funding. This program has provided $1.5 billion to Pennsylvania’s school districts. The Accountability Block Grant program requires that its taxpayer dollars are focused on specific interventions that are most likely to increase student academic achievement. These interventions include: teacher training, all-day kindergarten, lower class size K-3rd grade, literacy and math coaching programs that provide teachers with individualized job-embedded professional development to improve their instruction, before or after school tutoring assistance to struggling students. For 2010-11 the Pine Grove Area School District applied for and received $389,757 in addition to all other state and federal funding. The district used the funding to provide full-day kindergarten for the third year and increased instructional time.
Education Assistance grant
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 Pine Grove Area School District received $32,745.
Classrooms for the Future grant
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. Pine Grove Area School District did not apply for funding in 2006-07. In 2007-08, the district received $196,752. For the 2008-09, school year the district received $45,413 for a total of $242,165 in state funding. Of the 501 public school districts in Pennsylvania, 447 of them received Classrooms for the Future grant awards.
Federal Stimulus grant
The district received an extra $1,730,533 in ARRA - Federal Stimulus money to be used in specific programs like special education and meeting the academic needs of low-income students. The funding is for the 2009-10 and 2010-11 school years.
Race to the Top grant
School district officials did not apply for the Race to the Top federal grant which would have brought the district hundreds of thousands of additional federal dollars for improving student academic achievement. 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. 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.
Common Cents state initiative
The Pine Grove Area 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. After the review of the information, the district was not required to implement the recommended cost savings changes.
Real estate taxes
The school board set property tax rates in 2010-2011 at 38.9000 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. 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. The school district includes municipalities in two counties, each of which has different rates of property tax assessment, necessitating a state board equalization of the tax rates between the counties.
Act 1 Adjusted index
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 is 1.4 percent, but the Act 1 Index can be adjusted higher, depending on a number of factors, such as property values and the personal income of district residents. Act 1 included 10 exceptions, including: increasing pension costs, increases in special education costs, a catastrophe like a fire or flood, increase in health insurance costs for contracts in effect in 2006 or dwindling tax bases. The base index is the average of the percentage increase in the statewide average weekly wage, as determined by the PA Department of Labor and Industry, for the preceding calendar year and the percentage increase in the Employment Cost Index for Elementary and Secondary Schools, as determined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the U.S. Department of Labor, for the previous 12-month period ending June 30. For a school district with a market value/personal income aid ratio (MV/PI AR) greater than 0.4000, its index equals the base index multiplied by the sum of .75 and its MV/PI AR for the current year.
The School District Adjusted Index for the Pine Grove Area School District 2006-2007 through 2010-2011.
- 2006-07 - 5.3%, Base 3.9%
- 2007-08 - 4.7%, Base 3.4%
- 2008-09 - 6.1%, Base 4.4%
- 2009-10 - 5.6%, Base 4.1%
- 2010-11 - 4.0%, Base 2.9%
- 2011-12 - 2.0%, Base 1.4%
The Pine Grove Area School Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed the Act 1 index for the budgets in 2010-11. 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.
Property tax relief
In 2009, the Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief from gambling for the Pine Grove Area School District was $169 per approved permanent primary residence. In the district, 3,428 property owners applied for the tax relief. In Dauphin County, the highest amount of tax relief in 2009, went to Harrisburg City School District at $446. In Schuylkill County, the highest amount went to Schuylkill Haven Area School District set at $195. The tax relief was subtracted from the total annual school property tax bill. Property owners apply for the relief through the county Treasurer's office. Farmers can qualify for a farmstead exemption on building used for agricultural purposes. The farm must be at least 10 contiguous acres and must be the primary residence of the owner. Farmers can qualify for both the homestead exemption and the farmstead exemption. Pennsylvania awarded the highest property tax relief to residents of the Chester-Upland School District in Delaware County at $632 per homestead and farmstead in 2010. This was the second year they were the top recipient.
In 2008 - $171 for 3,397 homestead/farmsteads.
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.
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%).
The 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.
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