Reading School District

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For the school district in Reading, Massachusetts, see Reading Public Schools.
Reading School District
Map of Berks County Pennsylvania School Districts.png
Address
800 Washington Street
Reading, Pennsylvania, Berks County, United States
Information
School board 9 locally elected members
Superintendent Khalid N. Mumin [1]
Administrator Karen Gokay, Chief Human Resources Officer
Linda Greth, Acting Director of Communications
Roger Brubaker, Acting Director of Finance and Operations
Craig Dilks, Director of Technology
Marcia Vega, Director of English Language Acquisition
Anne Fisher, Director of Health Services
Todd Conn, Jr., Director of Facilities [2]
Principal Wynton Butler, Principal of Alternative Education
Staff 895; Full-time: 758, Part time: 137
Grades PreK-12
Age 4 years old to 21 years old for special education students
Number of students 18,194 students (2011) [3]
Kindergarten 2,117
Grade 1 1,694
Grade 2 1,477
Grade 3 1,440
Grade 4 1,370
Grade 5 1,372
Grade 6 1,385
Grade 7 1,336
Grade 8 1,302
Grade 9 1,435
Grade 10 1,418
Grade 11 1,221
Grade 12 804
Other Enrollment projected to be 20,930 students (2020)[4]
Budget $220.5 million 2012-13
Per pupil Spending $9,573 (2008)
Per pupil Spending $12,559.37 (2010)
Website

Reading School District is a large, urban public school district that serves the city of Reading, Pennsylvania. The Reading School District encompasses approximately 10 square miles (26 km2). According to 2000 federal census data, it serves a resident population of 81,207. In 2009, the Reading School District residents’ per capita income was $13,086, while the median family income was $31,067.[5] In the Commonwealth, the median family income was $49,501 [6] and the United States median family income was $49,445, in 2010.[7] The District's student demographics reflect the racial diversity of the City of Reading. The City’s 81,000 residents include 58% Latino/Hispanic (vs. 37% in 2000), 28% White and 11% Black.

Reading School District officials report that the District provided basic educational services to 17,464 pupils in 2008. The District employed 1,171 teachers, 810 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 74 administrators. Reading School District received more than $119 million in state funding for the 2007-08 school year. In the District's Strategic Plan 2011-2016, the Reading School Board reported there were: 2,300 employees, including 1,275 teachers, 900 support staff, and 120 administrators.

Schools[edit]

Elementary schools[edit]

Students in Preschool and Kindergarten through Grade 5 attend the following schools:

  • Amanda E. Stout
  • Glenside
  • Lauer's Park
  • Millmont
  • Northwest Area
  • Riverside
  • Tyson-Schoener
  • 10th & Green
  • 10th & Penn
  • 12th & Marion
  • 13th & Green
  • 13th & Union
  • 16th & Haak

Middle schools[edit]

Students in Grade 6 through Grade 7 attend the following schools:

  • Northeast Middle School
  • Northwest Middle School
  • Southern Middle School
  • Southwest Middle School

High schools[edit]

Governance[edit]

Reading School District is governed by 9 individually elected board members (serves without compensation for a term of four years.), the Pennsylvania State Board of Education, the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the Pennsylvania General Assembly.[8] 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 "B-" 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.[9]

Academic achievement[edit]

Reading School District was ranked 484th out of 498 Pennsylvania school districts by the Pittsburgh Business Times in 2012.[10] The ranking was based on student academic achievement as demonstrated on the last three years of the PSSAs for: reading, writing math and science.[11] The PSSAs are given to all children in grades 3rd through 8th and the 11th grade in high school. Adapted examinations are given to children in the special education programs.

  • 2011 - 485th [12]
  • 2010 - 486th [13]
  • 2009 - 486th
  • 2008 - 486th
  • 2007 - 487th out of 501 school districts.[14]
Overachiever statewide ranking

In 2012, the Pittsburgh Business Times also reported an Overachievers Ranking for 498 Pennsylvania school districts. Reading School District ranked 45th. In 2011, the District was ranked 25th. [15] 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."[16]

District AYP status history[edit]

In 2012, Reading School District declined to Corrective Action Level II 6th year Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) due to chronic low student achievement.[17] 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.[18]

In July 2012, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) released a report identifying most Reading School District schools as among the lowest-achieving schools for reading and mathematics in 2011. Seven elementary schools, 3 middle schools and the Senior High School are all among the 15% lowest-achieving schools in the Commonwealth. Parents and students may be eligible for scholarships to transfer to another public or nonpublic school through the state's Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit Program passed in June 2012.[20] The scholarships are limited to those students whose family's income is less than $60,000 annually, with another $12,000 allowed per dependent. Maximum scholarship award is $8,500, with special education students receiving up to $15,000 for a year's tuition. Parents pay any difference between the scholarship amount and the receiving school's tuition rate. Students may seek admission to neighboring public school districts. Each year the PDE publishes the tuition rate for each individual public school district.[21] According to the report, parents in 414 public schools (74 school districts) were offered access to these scholarships. For the 2012-13 school year, eight public school districts in Pennsylvania had all of their schools placed on the list, including: Sto-Rox School District, Chester Upland School District, Clairton City School District, Duquesne City School District, Farrell Area School District, Wilkinsburg Borough School District, William Penn School District and Steelton-Highspire School District.[22] Funding for the scholarships comes from donations by businesses which receive a state tax credit for their donation.

For the 2013-14 school year, Reading School District had 13 of its schools on the lowest 15% for academic achievement in reading and mathematics, among Pennsylvania public schools list. This includes: 10TH & Penn Elementary School, Northwest Elementary School, Riverside Elementary School, Tenth and Green Elementary School, Thirteenth and Green Elementary School, Thirteenth and Union Elementary School, Twelfth and Marion Elementary School, Tyson-Schoener Elementary School, Sixteenth & Haak Elementary School, Northeast Middle School, Northwest Middle School, Southwest Middle School, Reading Senior High School.[23]

Graduation rate[edit]

In 2012, Reading School District’s graduation rate was 61%.[24] In 2011, the graduation rate was 56%.[25] In 2010, the Pennsylvania Department of Education issued a new, 4-year cohort graduation rate. High School's rate was 53.7% for 2010.[26]

According to traditional graduation rate calculations

Drop out rate[edit]

The Reading Senior High School administration reports annual dropout rate.[32]

  • 2011 - 13.19%, Berks County - 1.89%, PA - 1.28%
  • 2010 - 9.61%, Berks County - 2.13%, PA - 1.49%
  • 2009 - 10.0%, Berks County - 2.20%, PA - 1.60%
  • 2008 - 8.10%, Berks County - 2.00%, PA - 1.70%
  • 2007 - 7.50%, Berks County - 1.90%, PA - 1.60%

Reading Senior High School[edit]

Reading Senior High School is located at 801 North Thirteenth Street, Reading. Serves students in grades 10 through 12th. In 2011, the school employed 157 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 18:1.[33] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 4 teachers were rated "Non‐Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[34]

In 2012, Reading Senior High School declined to School Improvement II AYP status due to missing 12 of 14 academic metrics measured. In 2011, Reading Senior High School was in School Improvement Level 1 AYP status due to missing 13 out of 14 metrics measured.[35] Under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, the school administration was required to notify parents of the school's poor achievement outcomes and to offer the parent the opportunity to transfer to a successful school within the District. Additionally, the school administration was required by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, to develop a School Improvement Plan to address the school's low student achievement. Under the Pennsylvania Accountability System, the school district was required to pay for additional tutoring for struggling students.[36] The High School was eligible for special, extra funding under School Improvement Grants which the school must apply for each year.[37] Reading High School received $80,676 in 2010.[38] The High School was again eligible for School Improvement Grant funding in 2011.[39]

PSSA results
11th Grade Reading
  • 2012 - 36% on grade level, (37% below basic). State - 67% of 11th graders are on grade level.[40]
  • 2011 - 41% (36% below basic). State - 69.1% [41]
  • 2010 - 42% (38% below basic). State - 66% [42]
  • 2009 - 37% (36% below basic). State - 65% [43]
  • 2008 - 32% (45% below basic). State - 65% [44]
  • 2007 - 37% (44% below basic). State - 65% [45]

11th Grade Math:

  • 2012 - 29% on grade level (48% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 59% of 11th graders are on grade level.[46]
  • 2011 - 26% (48% below basic). State - 60.3% [47]
  • 2010 - 25% (54% below basic). State - 59% [48]
  • 2009 - 28% (49% below basic). State - 56%.[49]
  • 2008 - 22% (58% below basic). State - 56% [50]
  • 2007 - 21% (59% below basic). State - 53% [51]

11th Grade Science:

  • 2012 - 8% on grade level (46% below basic). State - 42% of 11th graders were on grade level.[52]
  • 2011 - 13% (45% below basic). State - 40% [53]
  • 2010 - 12% (42% below basic). State - 39%
  • 2009 - 11% (43% below basic). State - 40% [54]
  • 2008 - 11% (43% below basic). State - 39% [55]

College remediation rate[edit]

According to a Pennsylvania Department of Education study released in January 2009, 68% of the Reading Senior 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.[56] 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.[57] Per the Pennsylvania Department of Education, one in three recent high school graduates who attend Pennsylvania's public universities and community colleges takes at least one remedial course in math, reading or English.

SAT scores[edit]

In 2012, 410 Reading Senior High School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 397. The Math average score was 395. The Writing average score was 375. 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, 446 Reading Senior School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 402. The Math average score was 398. The Writing average score was 357.[58] Pennsylvania ranked 40th among states with SAT scores: Verbal - 493, Math - 501, Writing - 479.[59] 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.[60]

Graduation requirements[edit]

Among Pennsylvania's 500 public school districts, graduation requirements widely vary. The School Board has determined that a pupil must earn 23 credits to graduate, including: Social Studies 3.00 credits, English 4.00 credits, Mathematics - 4.00 credits, Science - 3.00 credits, Physical Education 1.32credits, Wellness .50 credits, Safety/First Aid .18 credits, Computer/Career Awareness .50 credits, and Electives - 6.50 credits.[61]

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.[62] Effective with the graduating class of 2017, the Pennsylvania Board of Education eliminated the state mandate that students complete a culminating project in order to graduate.[63]

By Pennsylvania School Board regulations, for the graduating class of 2017, 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.[64][65][66] 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.[67] 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.

Reading Intermediate High School[edit]

Reading (Citadel) Intermediate High School is located at 215 North 12th Street, Reading. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2011, the school reported an enrollment of 2,014 pupils in grades 9th and 10th, with 1,785 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school employed 124 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 16:1.[68] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 4 teachers were rated "Non‐Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[69]

For the 2012-13 school year, the school provides grades 8th and 9th. In 2012, Reading Intermediate High School was in Making Progress: in School Improvement I AYP status due to low student attendance levels. In 2012 the attendance rate was 89%.[70]

AP courses[edit]

The Reading High School offers an extensive AP course program which permits successful students to earn college credits when they earn a 3 or better on the final examination offered by the College Board.

Northeast Middle School[edit]

In 2012, Northeast Middle School declined to Corrective Action II 1st Year AYP status due to chronic low student achievement in mathematics and reading.[71] In 2011, Northeast Middle School declined to Corrective Action I AYP status due to ongoing low student achievement. The attendance rate was 93% in 2011 and 2012. The school employed 63 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 12:1.[72] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[73] The school was on the Commonwealth's 2012 and 2013, lowest 15% achievement list. Students are eligible for Opportunity Scholarships to attend other public and private schools in the area. Due to the low academic achievement the school is eligible for school improvement grants which provide additional state funding to improve students' academic achievement.[74] Northeast Middle School received $109,200 for 2009-10 and $86,180 for 2010-11.[38] The school was in School Improvement Level 2 in 2010.[75] Northeast Middle School was again eligible for federal School Improvement Grant funding in 2011.

PSSA Results:

8th Grade Science:

  • 2012 - 27% on grade level (44% below basic). State - 59%
  • 2011 - 23% (53% below basic). State – 58.3%
  • 2010 - 27% (51% below basic). State – 57% [78]

Northwest Middle School[edit]

In 2012, Northwest Middle School declined to Corrective Action II 3rd Year AYP status due to chronic, low student achievement in mathematics and reading. The school achieved zero (0) of 14 academic metrics measured in 2012.[80] In 2011, Northeast Middle School declined to Corrective Action II 2nd year AYP status due to persistent, low student achievement. The attendance rate was 94% in 2011 and 2012. The school employed 58 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 12:1.[81] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[82] Northwest Middle School was on the Commonwealth's 2012 and 2013, lowest 15% achievement lists. Students are eligible for Opportunity Scholarships to attend other public and private schools in the area. Due to the low academic achievement the Northwest Middle School has been eligible for school improvement grants which provide additional state funding to improve students' academic achievement. Northwest Middle School received $109,200 in 2009-10 and $86,180.00 in 2010-11.[83] The school was in Corrective Action 2 - First year in 2010.[84] Northwest Middle School was again eligible for federal School Improvement Grant funding in 2011.

PSSA Results:

8th Grade Science:

  • 2012 - 18% on grade level (54% below basic). State - 59%
  • 2011 - 31% (39% below basic). State – 58.3%
  • 2010 - 33% (47% below basic). State – 57%

Southern Middle School[edit]

Southern Middle School declined further to Corrective Action II 2nd Year AYP Status due to chronic low student achievement in 2012. In 2011, Southern Middle School declined to Corrective Action II 2nd Year AYP Status due to ongoing, low student achievement.[87] The attendance rate was 92% in 2011 and 2012. The school employed 47 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 13:1.[88] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[89] Southern Middle School was on the Commonwealth's 2012 and 2013, lowest 15% achievement lists. Students are eligible for Opportunity Scholarships to attend other public and private schools in the area. Due to the low academic achievement the Southern Middle School has been eligible for school improvement grants which provide additional state funding to improve students' academic achievement. Southern Middle School received $80,676 in 2009-10 and $56,180 in 2010-11.[38] The school was in Corrective Action 1 in 2010.[90] Southern Middle School was again eligible for federal School Improvement Grant funding in 2011.

PSSA Results:

8th Grade Science:

  • 2012 - 19% on grade level (51% below basic). State - 59%
  • 2011 - 18% (64% below basic). State – 58.3%
  • 2010 - 18% (60% below basic). State – 57%

Southwest Middle School[edit]

Southwest Middle School declined further to Corrective Action II 5th Year AYP Status due to chronic low student achievement in 2012. In 2011, Southwest Middle School declined to Corrective Action II 4th Year AYP Status due to ongoing, low student achievement.[94] The attendance rate was 92% in 2011 and 2012. The school employed 44 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 11:1.[95] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[96] Southwest Middle School was on the Commonwealth's 2012 and 2013, lowest 15% achievement lists. Students are eligible for Opportunity Scholarships to attend other public and private schools in the area. Due to the low academic achievement the Southwest Middle School has been eligible for school improvement grants which provide additional state funding to improve students' academic achievement. Southwest Middle School received $109,200 in 2009-10 and $46,180 in 2010-11. The school was in Corrective Action II - 3rd year in 2010.[97] Southwest Middle School was again eligible for federal School Improvement Grant funding in 2011.

PSSA Results:

8th Grade Science:

  • 2012 - 28% on grade level (51% below basic). State - 59%
  • 2011 - 26% (52% below basic). State – 58.3%
  • 2010 - 14% (72% below basic). State – 57%

Elementary school[edit]

Tenth and Penn Elementary School is located at 955 Penn Street. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2011, the school reported an enrollment of 566 pupils in grades preschool through 5th, with 532 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school is a federal Title I school. The school employed 38 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 14:1.[101] 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.[102] In 2012, Tenth and Penn Elementary School was in Making Progress - School Improvement II AYP status.[103] In 2011, Tenth and Penn Elementary School was in School Improvement II AYP status. Under No Child Left Behind, the school's administration was mandated to inform parents of the low student achievement and to offer a transfer to a better performing school in the District. Additionally the PDE required the administration to develop a plan to raise student achievement and to submit it for approval. In 2012, only 50% of the students were reading on grade level in grades 3rd through 5th, with one-third of students below basic. In math, just 65% of the students in 3rd through 5th grades were on grade level. In 4th grade science, just 49% of the pupils were on grade level.[104]

Amanda Stout Elementary School is located at 321 South 10th Street. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2011, the school reported an enrollment of 746 pupils in preschool through 5th grade, with 690 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school employed teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of :1.[105] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, teachers were rated "Non‐Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[106] In 2012, Amanda Stout Elementary School Declined to Warning status due to missing 6 academic metrics, while in 2011 the school achieved AYP status.[107] In 2012, only 55% of the students were reading on grade level in grades 3rd through 5th, with 28% below basic. In math, 69% of the students in 3rd through 5th grades were on grade level and 11% scored below basic. In 4th grade science, 66% of the pupils were on grade level.[108]

Special education[edit]

In December 2010, the Reading School District administration reported that 3,062 pupils or 16.7% of the district's pupils received Special Education services, with 56.6% of the identified students having a specific learning disability.[109] In December 2009, the District administration reported that 2,966 pupils or 16.7% of the district's pupils received Special Education services, with 59% of the identified students having a specific learning disability. Special education services in the Commonwealth are provided to students from ages three years to 21 years old. In the 2010-11 school year, the total student enrollment 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.[110] The largest group of stduents 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 2010, the state of Pennsylvania provided $1,026,815,000 for special education services. This funding is in addition to the state's basic education per pupil funding, as well as, all other state and federal funding.[111] 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.[112] 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.[113] 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.[114]

Reading School District received a $9,265,619 supplement for special education services in 2010.[115] For the 2011-12 and 2012-13 school years, all Pennsylvania public school districts received the same level of funding for special education that they received in 2010-11. This level funding is provided regardless of changes in the number of pupils who need special education services and regardless of the level of services the respective students required.[116][117]

Gifted education[edit]

In 2011, Reading school District reported that 717 students or 4.01% of its students were gifted. The District Administration reported that 488 or 2.72% of its students were gifted in 2009. The highest percentage of gifted students reported among all 500 school districts and 100 public charter schools in Pennsylvania was North Allegheny School District with 15.5% of its students identified as gifted.[118] By law, the district must provide mentally gifted programs at all grade levels. The referral process for a gifted evaluation can be initiated by teachers or parents by contacting the student’s building principal and requesting an evaluation. All requests must be made in writing. To be eligible for mentally gifted programs in Pennsylvania, a student must have a cognitive ability of at least 130 as measured on a standardized ability test by a certified school psychologist. Other factors that indicate giftedness will also be considered for eligibility.[119][120]

Budget[edit]

In 2009, the Reading School District reported employing 1,387 teachers and administrators with a median salary of $52,826 and a top salary of $147,056. The district reported that 14 administrators received a salary of over $104,000 per year.[121] The teacher’s work day is 7 hours in ES and 7.5 hours in MS/SHS with 186 days in the contract year (180 student days). Teachers receive a 30-minute duty-free lunch and daily preparation period. Additionally, the teachers receive a defined benefit pension, health insurance, professional development reimbursement, 1-2 paid personal days, 10 paid sick days, paid bereavement leave, 3 paid emergency days and other benefits. The district pays a benefit of compensation based on unused sick days for a deceased employee to the estate. Special Education employees receive an additional payment above salary. Teachers receive an annual longevity bonus after 25 years. Teachers taking sabbatical leave receive 2/3rd of salary and earn sick days.[122]

The Reading School District is under severe financial stress. In June, 2012, it laid off 110 teachers, 66 teaching assistants, 24 clerical workers, 12 security guards, eight maintenance and custodial workers, seven administrators and six administrative support employees.. The district increased class size and closed one under enrolled elementary school.[123][124] In 2009, the district opened four sixth grade magnet schools – Communications and Technology, Agriculture, Science and Ecology, Business and World Languages, and Performing Arts. The schools were abolished at the end of the 2011-12 school year. Sixth graders were moved to the middle schools.

Dr.Carlinda Purcell was hired, with a five year contract as superintendent in March 2012. She had recently resigned under a cloud of controversy from the Montgomery County School District, in Alabama. She received a $279,000 buy out from that district.[125] Former Superintendent Tom Chapman retired effective Jan. 1, 2011.[126] Assistant Superintendent Frank J. Vecchio served as interim superintendent until July 2012. Dr. J. Drue Miles was named acting superintendent on a temporary basis following Vecchio's retirement until April 2012 when Purcell was hired.

Reading School District administrative costs per pupil in 2008 was $547.79 per pupil. The lowest administrative cost per pupil in Pennsylvania was $398 per pupil.[127] The Pennsylvania School Boards Association collects and maintains statistics on salaries of public school district employees in Pennsylvania. According to the association's report, the average salary for a superintendent, for the 2007-08 school year, was $122,165. Superintendents and administrators receive a benefit package commensurate with that offered to the district's teachers' union.[128] According to PSBA, the median Superintendent salary rose to over $130,000 in 2011.[129]

Per pupil spending In 2008, Reading School District administration reported that per pupil spending was $9,573. In 2010 the per pupil spending had increased to $12,559.37 [130] Among the states, Pennsylvania’s total per pupil revenue (including all sources) ranked 11th at $15,023 per student, in 2008-09.[131] In 2007, the Pennsylvania per pupil total expenditures was $12,759.[132] The U.S. Census Bureau reports that Pennsylvania spent $8,191 per pupil in school year year 2000-01.[133]

Reserves In 2008, Reading School District reported a balance of $8,414,442 in an unreserved-designated fund. The unreserved-undesignated fund balance was reported as $12,571,852. [134] In 2010, Reading School District Administration reported an increase to $20,357,558 in the unreserved-undesignated fund balance and the reserved-undesignated fund balance was $8,414,442. 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.[135]

Tuition rates Students who live in the 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 Reading 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, for Reading School District, are Elementary School - $7,566.32, High School - $8,991.66.[136]

Audit In January 2012, the Pennsylvania Auditor General conducted a performance audit of the District. Significant findings were reported to the Reading School Board and the District’s administration. Its audit of professional employees’ certifications and assignments found that 14 individuals were teaching without proper certification, including administrators.[137]

Reading School District is funded by a combination of: a local earned income tax 1.5%, a property tax, a real estate transfer tax 0.5%, coupled with substantial funding from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the federal government.[138] Interest earnings on accounts also provide nontax income to the district. In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, pension income and Social Security income are exempted from state personal income tax and local earned income tax, regardless of the level of the individual’s personal wealth.[139]

State basic education funding[edit]

For the 2012-13 school year, the Reading School District received $116,303,672.[140] 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 program. Reading School District received $1,912,874 in ABG funding. The state also provided a $544.4 million payment for School Employees’ Social Security and $856 million for School Employees’ Retirement fund called PSERS.[141]

In 2011-12, Reading School District received a $110,657,924 allocation, of state Basic Education Funding.[142][143] Additionally, Reading School District received $1,912,874 in Accountability Block Grant funding. The enacted Pennsylvania state Education budget included $5,354,629,000 for the 2011-2012 Basic Education Funding appropriation. This amount was a $233,290,000 increase (4.6%) over the enacted State appropriation for 2010-2011.[144] 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.[145] In 2010, the district reported that 15,586 students received free or reduced-price lunches, due to the family meeting the federal poverty level.[146]

In the 2010-11 budget year, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a 5.65% increase in Basic Education Funding for a total of $122,590,320 . Among the districts in Berks County, the highest increase went again to Muhlenberg School District which got an 8.17% increase. One hundred fifty Pennsylvania school districts received the base 2% increase. The highest increase in 2010-11 went to Kennett Consolidated School District in Chester County which received a 23.65% increase in state funding.[147] The state's hold harmless policy regarding state basic education funding continued where each district received at least the same amount as it received the prior school year, even when enrollment had significantly declined. The amount of increase each school district received was set by Governor Edward Rendell and then Secretary of Education Gerald Zahorchak, as a part of the state budget proposal given each February. This was the second year of Governor Rendell’s policy to fund some districts at a far greater rate than others.[148]

For the 2009-10 budget year, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a 13.29% increase in Basic Education Funding for a total of $116,029,024 to Reading School District. Among the districts in Berks County, the highest increase went to Muhlenberg School District which got a 22.31% increase in BEF. Ninety school Pennsylvania public school districts received a 2% increase. Muhlenberg School District in Berks County received a 22.31% increase in state basic education funding in 2009.[149] The amount of increase each school district received was set by Governor Edward G. Rendell and the Secretary of Education Gerald Zahorchak, as a part of the state budget proposal.[150] According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 14,568 Reading School District students received free or reduced-price lunches due to low family income in the 2007–08 school year.[151]

Pennsylvania's Basic Education Funding to the Reading School District in 2008-09 was $102,421,602.52. 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.[152][153]

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, the district applied for and received $5,192,019, in addition to all other state and federal funding. The district used the funding to provide full-day kindergarten since 2004, to reduced class size K-3rd grade, to employ teacher coaches, to fund preschool for 456 children since 2004, and to improve science instruction.[154][155]

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 Reading School District received $1,419,337.[156]

Classrooms for the Future grant[edit]

The Classroom for the Future state program provided districts with hundreds of thousands of extra state funding to buy laptop computers for each core curriculum high school class (English, Science, History, Math) and paid for teacher training to optimize the computers use. The program was funded from 2006 to 2009. The Reading School District received $407,573 in 2006-07. In 2007-08, the District received $558,533. The district received $328,391 in 2008-09.[157] In Berks County, the highest award was given to Reading School District. The highest funding state wide was awarded to Philadelphia City School District in Philadelphia County - $9,409,073. In 2010, Classrooms for the Future funding was curtailed statewide, by Governor Rendell, due to a massive state financial crisis.

Other grants[edit]

The District did not participate in: PA DEP Environmental Education grants, Science Its Elementary grants, PreK Counts grants for preschool, nor 2012 Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy grants.

Federal Stimulus grant[edit]

The district received an extra $44,996,551 in ARRA - Federal Stimulus money to be used in specific programs like special education and meeting the academic needs of low-income students.[158][159] The funding was limited to the 2009-10 and 2010-2011 school years.[160] Due to the temporary nature of the funding, schools were repeatedly advised to use the funds for one-time expenditures like acquiring equipment, making repairs to buildings, training teachers to provide more effective instruction or purchasing books and software.

Race to the Top grant[edit]

Reading School District officials applied for the federal Race to the Top grant which would have provided several million dollars in additional federal funding to improve student academic achievement.[161] 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.[162] 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.[163][164][165]

21st Century Learning grant[edit]

In July 2012, Reading School District received a federal grant which is run by the PDE. The grant calls for the establishment and sustainability of community learning centers that provide additional educational services to students in high-poverty and low-performing schools. The grant was competitive. Applications for the grants were reviewed and scored by a panel of representatives from the educational field and professional grant writers. The District received $492,710. While 101 entities applied for the funding, only 66 were approved. The District must reapply each year. Continued funding is not likely. The funding is for the 2012-13 fiscal year.[166]

School Improvement Grant[edit]

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced in March 2012, that the first-year data suggest student achievement is improving at campuses that participated in the School Improvement grant program. He reported that at nearly 60 percent of SIG schools, more students are demonstrating proficiency in reading and math. Nearly a quarter of those schools reported math improvement in the double digits, and close to 20 percent of schools saw double-digit gains in reading.[167]

In the summer of 2011, the district administration did not apply for School Improvement Grant funding, from the federal government (over $9.9 million available). The School of the Performing Arts at Glenside was eligible for funding due to chronic low achievement. The grant stipulates the funds be used for improving student achievement using one of four federally dictated strategies. The strategies are: transformation, turnaround, restart with new faculty and administration or closure of failing schools.[168] The Pennsylvania Education Secretary awarded $66 million to reform Pennsylvania's lowest-achieving schools in August 2011. The funding is for three years.[169]

For the 2010-11 school year, Reading School District administration applied for a School Improvement Grants. It was eligible for funding due to the chronic, low achievement at many of the district's schools. These schools included: Northeast Middle School, Northwest Area Middle School, Riverside Elementary School, School of the Performing Arts at Glenside, Sixteenth & Haak Elementary School, Southern Middle School, Southwest Middle School, Tenth & Green Elementary School, Tenth & Penn Elementary School, Thirteenth & Green Elementary School, Thirteenth & Union Elementary School and Twelfth & Marion Elementary School.[170]

In 2010, Pennsylvania received $141 million from the federal –US Department of Education, to turn around its worst-performing schools. The funds were disbursed via a competitive grant program.[171] The Pennsylvania Department of Education has identified 200 Pennsylvania schools as "persistently lowest-achieving," making them eligible for this special funding.[172] Pennsylvania required low performing schools to apply or provide documentation about why they had not applied. The funds must be used, by the district, to turn around schools in one of four ways: school closure, restart - close the school and reopen it as a charter school. The other two options involve firing the principal. One would require at least half the faculty in a chronically poor performing school be dismissed. The second involves intensive teacher training coupled with strong curriculum revision or a longer school day.[173] Ten Reading School District schools received various levels of funding, including Northeast Middle School, 10th & Penn Elementary School, Northwest Middle School, Reading High School, Riverside Elementary School, Southern Middle School, School of the Performing Arts AT Glenside, Southern Middle School, Southwest Middle School, Tenth & Green Elementary School and Thirteenth & Green Elementary School.

Real estate taxes[edit]

Property tax rates in 2012-13 were set by the Reading School Board at 16.9200 mills. A mill is $1 of tax for every $1,000 of a property's assessed value.[174] Property taxes, in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, apply only to real estate - land and buildings. The property tax is not levied on cars, business inventory, or other personal property. Certain types of property are exempt from property taxes, including: places of worship, places of burial, private social clubs, charitable and educational institutions and government property. Additionally, service related, disabled US military veterans may seek an exemption from paying property taxes. 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, which are around 15% of revenues for school districts.[175] When the school district includes municipalities in two counties, each of which has different rates of property tax assessment, a state board equalizes the tax rates between the counties.[176] In 2010, miscalculations by the State Tax Equalization Board (STEB) were widespread in the Commonwealth and adversely impacted funding for many school districts, including those that did not cross county borders.[177]

  • 2011-12 - 16.4600 mills.[178]
  • 2010-11 - 16.4600 mills [179]
  • 2009-10 - 16.4600 mills.[180]
  • 2008-09 - 19.7500 mills.[181]
  • 2007-08 - 19.7500 mills.[182]
  • 2006-07 - 19.7500 mills.[183]
  • 2005-06 - 19.7500 mills.[184]

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.[185] The average yearly property tax paid by Berks County residents amounts to about 4.66% of their yearly income. Berks County is ranked 112th of the 3143 United States counties for property taxes as a percentage of median income.[186]

Act 1 Adjusted Index[edit]

The Act 1 of 2006 Index regulates the rates at which each school district can raise property taxes in Pennsylvania. Districts are not permitted to raise property taxes above that Index unless they either: 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.[187] In June 2011, the Pennsylvania General Assembly eliminated six of the ten exceptions to the Act 1 Index.[188] 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.[189][190]

The School District Adjusted Index for the Reading School District 2006-2007 through 2011-2012.[191]

For the 2012-13 budget year, Reading School Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed the Act 1 Index. For 2012-2013, 274 school districts adopted a resolution certifying that tax rates would not be increased above their index; 223 school districts adopted a preliminary budget leaving open the option of exceeded the Index limit. For the exception for pension costs, 194 school districts received approval to exceed the Index. For special education costs, 129 districts received approval to exceed the tax limit.[194]

For the 2011-12 school year, the Reading School Board did not apply for an exception to exceed the Act 1 Index. Each year, the Reading School Board has the option of adopting either 1) a resolution in January certifying they will not increase taxes above their index or 2) a preliminary budget in February. A school district adopting the resolution may not apply for referendum exceptions or ask voters for a tax increase above the inflation index. A specific timeline for these decisions is published annually, by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.[195]

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.[196]

The Reading School Board did not apply for any exceptions to exceed the Act 1 index for the budget in 2010-11.[197] For the 2009-10 school budget, the Reading School Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed the Index.[198] 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.[199]

Extracurriculars[edit]

The Reading School District offers a wide variety of clubs, activities and a costly, extensive sports program at the high school and 4 middle schools. Eligibility for participation is determined by school board policy and the regulations of the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association.

By Pennsylvania law, all K-12 students residing in the district, including those who attend a private nonpublic school, cyber charter school, charter school and those homeschooled, are eligible to participate in the extracurricular programs, including all athletics. They must meet the same eligibility rules as the students enrolled in the district's schools.[200]

Sports[edit]

The District funds:

Middle School Sports:

According to PIAA directory July 2012 [201]

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