Pittston Area School District
|Pittston Area School District|
|Map of Luzerne County, Pennsylvania School Districts with the Pittson Area School District in green in the north-eastern part of the county|
|5 Stout Street
Pittston, Pennsylvania, Luzerne, 18640
|Superintendent||Mr. George B. Cosgrove|
|Other||Enrollment projected to be 3891 by 2020|
Pittston Area School District (PASD) is a mid-sized school district located in the Greater Pittston area of Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, the north-eastern part of the state, in the United States. The school district serves students from the city of Pittston, the boroughs of Avoca, Dupont, Duryea, Hughestown, and Yatesville, and Jenkins and Pittston townships. Pittston Area School District encompasses approximately 42 square miles. According to 2000 federal census data, it serves a resident population of 30,034. In 2009, the residents' per capita income was $16,811 and the median family income was $40,063. Per school district officials, in school year 2005-06, the PASD provided basic educational services to 3,147 pupils through the employment of 196 teachers, 159 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 10 administrators.
In the 2009 school year, Pittston Area began enforcing a "structured" dress code. The dress code requires males and females to wear collared shirts and khaki pants. Logos on shirts must not exceed a 2×2" measurement. More information on Pittston Area's dress code can be found here.  Also, the students cannot wear short skirts, skinny jeans, sandals, or hooded sweatshirts.
PASD was created in 1966 by merging Pittston School District, Pittston Township School District, Hughestown School District, Dupont School District, Duryea School District, and Avoca School District. The first superintendent was Martin Mattei. PASD currently runs five schools: Pittston Area Senior High School in Yatesville (grades 9 through 12), Martin L. Mattei Middle School in Pittston (grades 6 through 8), Pittston Area Intermediate Center in Pittston (grades 3 through 5), Pittston Area Primary School in Hughstown (grades 1 and 2), and Ben Franklin Kindergarten Center in Dupont (kindergarten). The current principal of the high school is Mr. John Haas. School Board Members include (as of December 11, 2009) Atty. Mark Singer, President; Mr. Anthony Guargilia, VP; Mrs. Marilyn Starna; Mr. Terry Best; Mr. Bruce Knick; Mr. Robert Linskey; Dr. Ross Latona; Mr. Michael McAndrew; Mr. Martin Quinn; Atty. Joseph Saporito, Solicitor; and Ms. Deborah Rachilla, Board Secretary. The school's mascot is the Patriot and the official school colors are red, white, and blue. The mascot symbolizes pride in the school and country and the colors represent that.
- 1 Academic achievement
- 2 Special education
- 3 Bullying policy
- 4 Budget and taxes
- 5 Corruption
- 6 Extracurricular Activities
- 7 Notable alumni
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Pittston Area School District was ranked 200th out of 498 Pennsylvania school districts in 2011 by the Pittsburgh Business Times. The ranking was based on student academic performance based on the PSSAs for: reading, writing, math and two years of science.
In 2009, the academic achievement of the pupils in the district was in the 54th percentile among Pennsylvanian's 500 school districts. Scale (0-99; 100 is state best)
In 2007, the student achievement at Pittston Area School District ranked 3rd among Luzerne County public school districts. At PASD, 91% of students were on grade level in mathematics, while 87% were on grade level in reading. In the county, 87% of pupils were on grade level in mathematics and 87% were on grade level for reading. Wyoming Area School District had the highest achievement with 94% of students on grade level in both mathematics and reading.
In 2010, the Pennsylvania Department of Education issued a new, 4-year cohort graduation rate. Pittston Area High School's rate was 94% for 2010.
According to traditional graduation rate calculations:
In order to graduate from the Pittston Area High School, a student must successfully complete 21.4 credits which include: 4 credits of English, 4 credits of Social Studies, 4 credits of Mathematics, 4 credits of Science, 2 credits of Language, 2 credits of electives and 1.4 credits of Health & Physical Education.
By law, all Pennsylvania secondary school students must complete a graduation 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. At Pittston Area High School the project focuses on career exploration.
Beginning with the class of 2016, students must take the Keystone Exams in Literature, Biology 1 and Algebra 1.
11th Grade Reading
- 2010 - 66% on grade level (16% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 66% of 11th graders are on grade level.
- 2009 - 77% (10% below basic), State - 65%
- 2008 - 68% (17% below basic), State - 65%
- 2007 - 71% (14% below basic), State - 65%
11th Grade Math:
- 2010 - 62%, on grade level (24% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 59% of 11th graders are on grade level.
- 2009 - 69% (16% below basic), State - 56%.
- 2008 - 57% (20% below basic), State - 56%
- 2007 - 60% (20% below basic), State - 53%
11th Grade Science:
- 2010 - 43% on grade level (17% below basic). State - 39% of 11th graders were on grade level.
- 2009 - 51% (12% below basic), State - 40%
- 2008 - 38%, State - 39%
In 2010, The institute for Public Policy and Economic Development reported that Pittston Area School District had the second largest percentage of 11th grade students scoring Advanced in science achievement - 22.7%, among all Luzerne County School Districts on the 2009 PSSAs.
According to a Pennsylvania Department of Education study released in January 2009, 21% of Pittston 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 or Spanish.
The high school offers a dual enrollment program. This state-funded 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 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 2008-09 funding year, the school district received a state grant of $29,558 for its dual enrollment program.
8th Grade Reading
- 2010 - 89% on grade level (61% advanced). In Pennsylvania, 81% of 8th graders on grade level.
- 2009 - 85% (63% advanced), State - 80%
- 2008 - 83% (57% advanced), State - 78%
- 2007 - 76% (48% advanced), State - 75%
8th Grade Math:
- 2010 - 88% on grade level (63% advanced). In Pennsylvania, 75% of 8th graders are on grade level.
- 2009 - 81% (52% advanced), State - 71%
- 2008 - 76% (45% advanced), State - 70%
- 2007 - 72% (41% advanced), State - 68%
8th Grade Science:
- 2010 - 67% on grade level (15% below basic). State - 57% of 8th graders were on grade level.
- 2009 - 63% (26% below basic), State - 55%
- 2008 - 65%, State - 52%
In 2010, The institute for Public Policy and Economic Development reported that Pittston Area School District had the fifth largest percentage of 8th grade students scoring Advanced in science achievement - 25.7%, among all Luzerne County School Districts on the 2009 PSSAs.
7th Grade Reading
- 2010 - 76% on grade level (44% advanced). In Pennsylvania, 73% of 7th graders on grade level.
- 2009 - 74% (38% advanced), State - 71%
- 2008 - 77% (42% advanced), State - 70%
- 2007 - 76% (43% advanced), State - 67%
7th Grade Math:
- 2010 - 87% on grade level (62% advanced). In Pennsylvania, 77% of 7th graders are on grade level.
- 2009 - 83% (57% advanced), State - 75%
- 2008 - 83% (53% advanced), State - 71%
- 2007 - 80% (54% advanced), State - 67%
6th Grade Reading
- 2010 - 70% on grade level (18% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 68% of 6th graders on grade level.
- 2009 - 70% (11% below basic), State - 67%
- 2008 - 71% (14% below basic), State - 67%
- 2007 - 64% (17% below basic), State - 63%
6th Grade Math:
- 2010 - 74% on grade level (47% advanced). In Pennsylvania, 78% of 6th graders are on grade level.
- 2009 - 77% (50% advanced), State - 75%
- 2008 - 76% (54% advanced), State - 72%
- 2007 - 76% (45% advanced), State - 69%
- Intermediate Center (3rd-5th) Report Card 2010 
- Primary Center Report Card 2010 (1st-2nd) 
- Kindergarten Center
The Pittston Area School District offers a full continuum of services for students who have a disability and require specially designed instruction. From Early Intervention services before a student is school aged through Transition to the adult world, the district is committed to ensuring that students in the Special Education program have the necessary supports to make progress in identified educational goals throughout the school years in Pittston Area. Parents may request an evaluation of their child for services. The evaluation is performed at no cost to the family.
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.
Pittston Area School District received a $1,530,913 supplement for special education services in 2010.
The District Administration reported that 23 or 0.68% 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 Pittston Area School Board has an antibullying policy which is provided in the student handbook. The board encourages anyone who observes bullying to report it. Staff are mandated to report bullying to the building principal. The consequences for students who are found to have bullied others include: counseling, a parent/guardian conference, detention, suspension, expulsion, a loss of school privileges and/or exclusion from school-sponsored activities.
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.
Budget and taxes
In 2008, the district reported $2,515,387 in an unreserved-undesignated fund balance. The designated fund balance was reported as zero.
In 2009, the district reported having over $44.6 million in outstanding debt in General Obligation bonds and over $9 million in other long term debt.
In 2009, the district reported employing over 184 teachers with a salary range of $38,500 to $114,200 and a median teacher salary of $59,461. The teachers are members of the American Federation of Teachers and the AFL-CIO.Teachers work 7 hours 30 minutes per day with a 37 min lunch period and a daily prep period. In addition to salary, the teachers' compensation includes: a state pension (PSERS), health insurance, life insurance, 10 paid sick days, 2 paid personal days (can accumulate to 7 days), 3 paid bereavement days and reimbursement for college courses. Teachers receive a pass for free admission to all school events. Teachers are paid $33 per hour to teach summer school. At retirement, teachers receive $50 per unused sick day up to 100 days then $90 a day for each day over 100. The early retirement incentive begins at a $30,000 bonus payment and fully paid health insurance. Teachers receive extra compensation for additional duties and for extracurricular advising and sports coaching.
In 2007, the district employed over 184 teachers. The average teacher salary in the district was $56,968 for 180 instructional days worked.
In 2008, Pittston Area School District reported spending $10,639 per pupil. This ranked 427th among the 500 school districts, in the commonwealth.
Pittston Area School District administrative costs per pupil in 2008 was $620.70 in 2008. This ranked 418th in Pennsylvania public schools. The lowest administrative cost per pupil in Pennsylvania was $398 per pupil.
In June 2010, the Pennsylvania Auditor General conducted a performance audit of the district. Significant findings were reported to the school board and the school district administration
The district is funded by a combination of: a local earned income tax, a property tax, a real estate transfer tax of 0.5%, 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 income and Social Security income are exempted from state personal income tax and local earned income tax regardless of the individual's level of wealth.
State basic education funding
For the 2010-11 school year, the state basic education funding to Pittston Area School District was increased 7.11% for a total of $9,727,873. The highest increase in Luzerne County was awarded to Hazleton Area School District at 12,61%. Sixteen Pennsylvania school districts received an increase over 10%. One hundred fifty Pennsylvania school districts received the base 2% increase. Among Pennsylvania school districts, the highest increase in 2010-11 went to Kennett Consolidated School District in Chester County which received a 23.65% increase in state 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.
For the 2009-2010 budget year the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a 7.98% increase in Basic Education funding for Pittston Area School District a total of $7,275,177. The state Basic Education Funding to the district in 2008-09 was $9,082,713. The highest increase in BEF for the school districts in Luzerne County was awarded to Hazleton Area School District at a 13.36% increase. The highest increase in Pennsylvania went to Muhlenberg School District of Berks County which received an increase of 22.31 percent. Sixteen school districts received an increase in funding of over 10 percent in 2009.
In 2009, the district reported that 1,137 students were eligible for a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to low family income.
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 Pittston Area School District applied for and received $434,703 in addition to all other state and federal funding. The district used the funding to provide all-day kindergarten for the seventh year.
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. Pittston Area School District did not apply for funding in 2006-07 nor in 2007-08. The district received $188,223 in 2008-09.
Federal Stimulus grant
Pittston Area School District received an extra $2,668,855 in ARRA - Federal Stimulus money to be used only in specific programs like special education and meeting the academic needs of low-income students.
Race to the Top grant
School district officials applied for the Race to the Top federal grant which would have brought the district over $1 million in 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 a majority of school districts to agree to participate was cited as one reason that Pennsylvania was not approved.
Common Cents state initiative
The Pittston Area School Board decided to not participate in the Pennsylvania Department of Education Common Cents program. The program called for the state to audit the district, at no cost to local taxpayers, to identify ways the district could save tax dollars. After the review of the information, the district was not required to implement the recommended cost savings changes.
Real estate taxes
The school board levied a real estate tax of 12.7990 mills in 2010-11. 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. On the local level, Pennsylvania 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.
- 2009-10 - 12.3212 mills
In 2008, Luzerne County conducted a county wide property value reassessment. The previous county wide assessment had been done in 1965
- 2008-09 - 281.5000 mills
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 allowed to raise taxes above that index unless they allow voters to vote by referendum, or they seek an exception from the state Department of Education. The base index for the 2011-2012 school year is 1.4 percent, but the Act 1 Index can be adjusted higher, depending on a number of factors, such as property values and the personal income of district residents. Act 1 included 10 exceptions, including: increasing pension costs, increases in special education costs, a catastrophe like a 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 Pittston Area School District 2006-2007 through 2011-2012.
- 2006-07 - 4.9%, Base 3.9%
- 2007-08 - 4.4%, Base 3.4%
- 2008-09 - 5.7%, Base 4.4%
- 2009-10 - 5.3%, Base 4.1%
- 2010-11 - 3.9%, Base 2.9%
- 2011-12 - 1.9%, Base 1.4%
The Pittston Area School Board did not apply for any exceptions to exceed the Act 1 index for the budget in 2011. In the Spring of 2010, 135 of 500 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 2010, the Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief from gambling for the Pittston Area School District was $105 per approved permanent primary residence. In the district, 8,080 property owners applied for the tax relief. In 2010 within Luzerne County, the highest reported amount went to Wilkes-Barre Area School District set at $210 per approved homestead. The property tax relief was subtracted from the total annual school property tax bill for each property. 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 $641 per homestead and farmstead in 2010. CUSD was given $632 in 2009. This was the second 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 greater 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%).
In April 2009, the Pittston Area School District was rocked by the Luzerne County Corruption Probe, when Superintendent Ross Scarantino was charged with taking thousands of dollars in kickbacks in exchange for building contracts. U.S. District Court Judge Thomas I. Vanaskie sentenced Scarantino to 13 months in prison followed by two years of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay a $15,000 fine. Scarantino was the first of the many defendants of the Luzerne County Corruption Probe to be sentenced. Mr. Georgre Cosgrove (then District Principal), replaced Dr. Scarantino, and is the current superintendent of the District.
Pittston Area was targeted again, this time in August 2009, when board member Joseph Oliveri was charged with taking a bribe from a district contractor in January of that year. He is to be sentenced in Federal Court on December 22, 2009. Oliveri also worked at the Luzerne County sheriff's office before he was charged. His seat on the school board was filled by Dr. Ross Latona, who had recently won the Primary election for the Pittston Area School Board. Oliveri also ran for re-election in the Primary, on the "Patriot Progress Team" ticket, but was defeated.
The district provides a wide variety of activities, including sports, clubs and social events. The eligibility to participate is set by school board policy and communicated via the student handbook and school board policy manual. The mascot is the Patriot.
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.
- Jimmy Cefalo
- Charley Trippi
- Chris "Motionless" Cerulli, lead vocalist of Motionless in White
- Angelo Parente, former drummer of Motionless in White
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