Sayre Area School District

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Sayre Area School District
Map of Bradford County Pennsylvania School Districts.png
Address
333 West Lockhart Street
Sayre, Pennsylvania, Bradford County, 18840
United States
Information
Established February 28, 1882
School board 9 locally elected members
Superintendent Mr. Dean W Hostermen, M'Ed (salary $123,189 in 2009)
Faculty 71 in 2010
Grades K-12
Pupils 1105 pupils (2009-10)[1]
Kindergarten 77
Grade 1 95
Grade 2 75
Grade 3 92
Grade 4 89
Grade 5 73
Grade 6 74
Grade 7 87
Grade 8 92
Grade 9 101
Grade 10 77
Grade 11 77
Grade 12 96
Other Enrollment project to decline to 990 by 2020[2]
Color(s) Red and Blue
Fight song On The Warpath
Mascot Redskins Redskins
Newspaper Sayrenade
Budget $16,745,190 in 2012-13[3]
Tuition for nonresident and charter school students ES - $9,048.53, HS - $10,643.49[4]
Per pupil spending $11,603 in 2008
Per pupil spending $13,137.51 in 2010
Website

The Sayre Area School District is a diminutive, rural public school district located in northcentral Bradford County, Pennsylvania. The district is composed of two noncontiguous fragments: the Boroughs of Sayre and South Waverly and Litchfield Township in Bradford County, Pennsylvania. Sayre Area School District encompasses approximately 58 square miles (150 km2). According to 2000 federal census data, it serves a resident population of 5,813. In 2009, the district residents’ per capita income was $16,811, while the median family income was $40,063.[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]

Per District officials, in school year 2007-08 the Sayre Area School District provided basic educational services to 1,212 pupils. The district employed: of 86 teachers, 64 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 13 administrators. Sayre Area School District received more than $7.4 million in state funding in school year 2007-08.

The district operates Sayre Junior/Senior High School (7th-12th), H. Austin Snyder Elementary School (pre K-6th) and Litchfield Elementary School (K-4th).

Governance[edit]

In accordance with Pennsylvania law, Sayre Area School District is governed by 9 individually elected board members (serve four-year terms), 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 Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy Alternatives Sunshine Review gave the Sayre Area School Board and district administration an "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.[9]

Academic achievement[edit]

Sayre Area School District was ranked 218th 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 - 195th[12]
  • 2010 - 195th[13]
  • 2009 - 242nd
  • 2008 - 260th
  • 2007 - 254th out of 501 school districts.[14]

In 2012, the Pittsburgh Business Times also reported an Overachievers Ranking for 498 Pennsylvania school districts. Sayre Area School District ranked 107th. In 2011, the district was 21st.[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]

In 2010 and 2011, Sayre Area School District achieved AYP status.[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 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.

Graduation rate[edit]

In 2011, the graduation rate was 88%.[18] In 2010, the Pennsylvania Department of Education issued a new, 4-year cohort graduation rate. Sayre Area High School's rate was 81% for 2010.[19]

According to traditional graduation rate calculations

High school[edit]

Sayre Area High School is located at 331 W Lockhart Street, Sayre. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, the school reported an enrollment of 525 pupils in grades 7th through 12th, with 222 pupils eligible for a federal free or reduced-price lunch. The school employed 30 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 18:1.[24] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[25]

In 2010 and 2011, Sayre Area High School achieved AYP status even though reading and math achievement was below statewide achievement levels.[26]

11th Grade Reading

  • 2011 - 66% on grade level, (25% below basic). State - 69.1% of 11th graders are on grade level.[27]
  • 2010 - 73% (7% below basic). State - 66%[28]
  • 2009 - 71% (9% below basic). State - 65%[29]
  • 2008 - 61% (19% below basic). State - 65%[30]
  • 2007 - 69% (14% below basic). State - 65%[31]

11th Grade Math:

  • 2011 - 68% on grade level (18% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 60.3% of 11th graders are on grade level.[32]
  • 2010 - 60% (22% below basic). State - 59%[33]
  • 2009 - 57% (20% below basic). State - 56%.[34]
  • 2008 - 53% (24% below basic). State - 56%[35]
  • 2007 - 52% (23% below basic). State - 53%[36]

11th Grade Science:

  • 2011 - 38% on grade level (15% below basic). State - 40% of 11th graders were on grade level.[37]
  • 2010 - 40% (13% below basic). State - 39%
  • 2009 - 48% (9% below basic). State - 40%[38]
  • 2008 - 39% (11% below basic). State - 39%[39]

College remediation rate[edit]

According to a Pennsylvania Department of Education study released in January 2009, 11% of the 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.[40] 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.[41] Per the Pennsylvania Department of Education, one in three recent high school graduates who attend Pennsylvania's public universities and community colleges takes at least one remedial course in math, reading or English.

Dual enrollment[edit]

Sayre Area High School offers dual enrollment program, which permits students to earn deeply discounted college credits through Corning Community College while still enrolled in high school. The program is offered through many school districts.

Graduation requirements[edit]

The Sayre Area School Board has determined that a student must earn 24.25 credits to graduate, including: Math 3 credits, Science 4 credits, English 4 credits, Social Studies 4 credits, Health and Physical Ed 2.5 credits, Driver Ed .25 credits, Arts and Humanities 2 credits, and Microsoft office 0.5 credits.[42]

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.[43] At Sayre Area a complex project is required that has multiple components, including a project notebook, completion of community service hours, a written paper and an oral presentation with a visual component.

By Pennsylvania School Board regulations, for the graduating class of 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.[44][45][46] 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.[47] Individual student, school or district reports were not made public, although they were reported to district officials by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

SAT scores[edit]

From January to June 2011, 74 Sayre Area students took the SAT exams. The district's Verbal Average Score was 472. The Math average score was 487. The Writing average score was 428.[48] Pennsylvania ranked 40th among states with SAT scores: Verbal - 493, Math - 501, Writing - 479.[49] 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.[50]

Eighth grade[edit]

8th Grade Science:

  • 2011 - 62% on grade level (19% below basic). State – 58.3% of 8th graders were on grade level.
  • 2010 - 53% (23% below basic). State – 57%[51]
  • 2009 - 73% (7% below basic). State - 55%[52]
  • 2008 - 64% (13% below basic). State - 52%[53]
  • 2007 - tested, but results not made public.

Seventh grade[edit]

Elementary schools[edit]

H. Austin Snyder Elementary School is located at 130 Warren Street, Sayre. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, the school reported an enrollment of 526 pupils in grades kindergarten through 6th, with 275 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school employed 35 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 15:1.[54] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[55] In 2010 and 2011, H. Austin Snyder Elementary School achieved AYP status.[56] In 2011, only 75% of the students were reading on grade level in grades 3rd through 6th. In math, 87% of the students in 3rd through 6th grades were on grade level and 58% scored advanced. In 4th grade science, 95% of the pupils were on grade level.[57] The school also has a federal taxpayer funded preschool program called Ready 4 classroom for local, identified for assistance 4 year olds. The school was named after H. Austin Snyder, who served Sayre Area School District as superintendent of schools from 1946 to 1976.

4th Grade Science
  • 2011 - 93%, (1% below basic), State – 82.9%
  • 2010 - 83%, (4% below basic), State - 81%
  • 2009 - 89%, (2% below basic), State - 83%
  • 2008 - 84%, (3% below basic), State - 81%

Litchfield Township Elementary School is located at Intersection Of State Route 10, Sayre. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, the school reported an enrollment of 92 pupils in grades kindergarten through 4th, with 49 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school employed 5 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 17:1.[62] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[63] In 2010 and 2011, Litchfield Township Elementary School achieved AYP status.[64] Litchfield Elementary is currently inactive.

PSSA Results
4th Grade Science
  • 2011 - 93%, 60% advanced. State – 82.9%
  • 2010 - 88%, 41% advanced. State - 81%
  • 2009 - 100%. State - 83%
  • 2008 - 92%, (0% below basic), State - 81%

Special education[edit]

In December 2010, the district administration reported that 202 pupils or 17% of the district's pupils received Special Education services with 55% of identified students having a specific learning disability. In December 2009, the district administration reported that 201 pupils or 17% of the district's pupils received Special Education services.[69]

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.[70] 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.[71] The state requires each district to have a three year special education plan to meet the unique needs of its special education students.[72] Overidentification 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.[73] In 2012, fudning for special education services was set at $1.02 billion in the enacted State budget.[74]

Sayre Area School District received a $724,380 supplement for special education services in 2010.[75] For the 2011-12 and 2012-13 school year, 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.[76][77]

Gifted education[edit]

The District Administration reported that 35 or 2.83% of its students were gifted in 2009.[78] 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.[79][80]

Wellness policy[edit]

Sayre Area School Board established a district wellness policy in 2012.[81] 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 District's policy includes an effort for students to accumulate at least sixty minutes of physical activity. That time will include physical activity outside the school environment, such as outdoor play at home and community sports.

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.[82] The Pennsylvania Department of Education required the district to submit a copy of the policy for approval.

Enrollment[edit]

According to Pennsylvania Department of Education enrollment reports, there were 1115 students enrolled in K-12 in 2012–13 school year at Sayre Area School District. There were 68 students in the Class of 2013. The district's class of 2010 had 74 students. Enrollment is projected to decline to 900 students by 2017.[83] In 2008, the district administrative costs were $681.05 per pupil. The lowest administrative cost per pupil in Pennsylvania was $398 per pupil.[84] A study of Pennsylvania public school spending, conducted by Standard and Poor's, examined the consolidation of Sayre Area School District and Northeast Bradford School District. The study found that consolidation of the administrations would achieve a savings of over $2000 per child.[85]

According to a 2009 school district administration consolidation proposal by Governor Edward Rendell, the excessive administrative overhead dollars could be redirected to improve lagging academic achievement, to enrich the academic programs or to reduce property taxes.[86] Consolidation of two central administrations into one would not require the closing of any schools. The Governor's proposal called for the savings to be redirected to improving lagging reading and science achievement, to enriching the academic programs or to reducing residents' property taxes.[87]

Rural Pennsylvania school enrollment is projected to decrease by 8 percent through 2020.[88] As the enrollment declines, per pupil administrative costs of the schools continue to rise. In March 2011, the Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants released a report finding that the state would save hundreds of millions of tax dollars, by cutting the number of school administrations in half through consolidation, with no impact on programs offered to students.[89]

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has one of the highest numbers of school districts in the nation. In Pennsylvania, 80% of the school districts serve student populations under 5,000, and 40% serve less than 2,000. This results in excessive school administration bureaucracy and not enough course diversity.[90] In a survey of 88 superintendents of small districts, 42% of the 49 respondents stated that they thought consolidation would save money without closing any schools.[91]

Budget[edit]

In 2009, the district reported employing 225 teachers and administrators with a median salary of $59,909 and a top salary of $123,189.[92] The teacher’s work a 7.5-hour day with a paid, duty-free lunch and a preparation period included. There are 187 days in the contract year. Additionally, the teachers receive a defined benefit pension, health insurance (employe contributes $60 a month), dental insurance, life insurance, vision insurance, professional development reimbursement, 3 paid personal days which accumulate without limitations, 10 paid sick days, and other benefits. Children of professional employees who are not residents of the District shall be permitted, on application, to attend school in the District, as assigned by the Administration, tuition free, provided space is available. Commencing 2011-2012, retiring teachers are paid the sum of the forty-five ($45.00) dollars per day for 1–150 days, the sum of fifty dollars ($50.00) per day for 151–250 days and the sum of fifty-five dollars ($55.00) per day for 251 – 350 days, to be paid upon retirement.[93] In 2011, the average teacher salary in Sayre Area School District was $61,752.16 a year, while the cost of the benefits teachers receive was $16,449.84 per employee, for a total annual average teacher compensation of $77,202.[94] According to a study conducted at the American Enterprise Institute, in 2011, public school teachers’ total compensation is roughly 50 percent higher than they would likely receive in the private sector. The study found that the most generous benefits that teachers receive are not accounted for in many studies of compensation, including: pension, retiree health benefits and job security.[95]

Sayre Area School District administrative costs per pupil in 2008 was $681.05 per pupil. The lowest administrative cost per pupil in Pennsylvania was $398 per pupil.[96] 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.[97]

In 2008 the district administration reported that per pupil spending was $11,603 which ranked 326th among Pennsylvania's 501 school districts. In 2010, the per pupil spending had increased to $13,137.51 ranking 254th.[98] Among the states, Pennsylvania’s total per pupil revenue (including all sources) ranked 11th at $15,023 per student, in 2008-09.[99] In 2007, the Pennsylvania per pupil total expenditures was $12,759.[100] The U.S. Census Bureau reports that Pennsylvania spent $8,191 per pupil in school year year 2000-01.[101]

Reserves In 2008, the district reported a balance of zero in an unreserved-designated fund. The unreserved-undesignated fund balance was reported as $2,058,390.[102] In 2010, Sayre Area Administration reported an increase to $2,612,165.00 in the unreserved-undesignated fund balance. Pennsylvania 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.[103]

In August 2009, the Pennsylvania Auditor General conducted a performance audit of the District. The findings were reported to the Sayre Area School Board and the District’s administration.[104]

The district is funded by a combination of: a local earned income tax, a property tax, a real estate transfer tax 0.5%, coupled with substantial funding from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the federal government.[105] 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.[106]

State basic education funding[edit]

For the 2012-13 school year, Sayre Area School District will receive $5,742,728.[107] The Governor's Executive Budget for 2012-2013 includes $9.34 billion for kindergarten through 12th grade public education, including $5.4 billion in basic education funding, which is an increase of $49 million over the 2011-12 budget. The state also provides $100 million for the Accountability Block grant. The state will also provide $544.4 million for School Employees’ Social Security and $856 million for School Employees’ Retirement fund called PSERS.[108] This amount is a $21,823,000 increase (0.34%) over the 2011-2012 appropriations for Basic Education Funding, School Employees' Social Security, Pupil Transportation, Nonpublic and Charter School Pupil Transportation. Since taking office, Corbett’s first two budgets have restored more than $918 million in support of public schools, compensating for the $1 billion in federal stimulus dollars lost at the end of the 2010-11 school year.

In 2011-12, the district received a $5,665,637, allocation, of state Basic Education Funding.[109][110] Additionally, Sayre Area School District received $77,091 in Accountability Block Grant funding and $357,940 for Social Security reimbursement. The enacted Pennsylvania state Education budget included $5,354,629,000 for the 2011-2012 Basic Education Funding appropriation. This amount is a $233,290,000 increase (4.6%) over the enacted State appropriation for 2010-2011.[111] 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.[112] In 2010, Sayre Area School District reported that 561 students received free or reduced-price lunches, due to the family meeting the federal poverty level.[113]

In the 2010-2011 budget year, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a 3% increase in Basic Education Funding for a total of $6,118,010 to Sayre Area School District. Among the public school districts in Bradford County, the highest increase went to [Towanda Area [School District]] which got a 6.36% 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.[114] 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 where 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.

In the 2009-2010 budget year, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a 4.86% increase in Basic Education Funding for a total of $5,940,440. Among the districts in Bradford County, the highest increase went to Towanda Area School District which got an 8.43%. The state Basic Education Funding to Sayre Area School District in 2008-09 was $5,506,493.16. Ninety 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.[115] 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.[116] 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.[117][118]

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 415 Sayre Area district students received free or reduced-price lunches due to low family income in the 2007–2008 school year.[119]

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 $209,245 in addition to all other state and federal funding. The district uses the funding to provide full-day kindergarten for 24 pupils and taxpayer funded preschool for 30 children ($90,576).[120][121]

Classrooms for the Future grant[edit]

The Classroom for the Future state program provided districts with hundreds of thousands of extra state funding to buy laptop computers for each core curriculum high school class (English, Science, History, Math) and paid for teacher training to optimize the computers use. The program was funded from 2006-2009. The Sayre Area School District did not apply to participate in 2006-07. In 2007-08 the district received $160,063. The district received $45,413 in 2008-09 for a total funding of $205,476.[122] In Bradford County the highest award was given to Troy Area School District - $449,423. 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 due to a massive state financial crisis.

Education Assistance grant[edit]

The state's EAP funding provides for the continuing support of tutoring services and other programs to address the academic needs of eligible students. Funds are available to eligible school districts and full-time career and technology centers (CTC) in which one or more schools have failed to meet at least one academic performance target, as provided for in Section 1512-C of the Pennsylvania Public School Code. In 2010-11, Sayre Area School District did not apply for funding. Five Bradford County school district received sizable state grants under this program.[123]

Federal Stimulus grant[edit]

The district received an extra $1,952,097 in ARRA - Federal Stimulus money to be used in specific programs like special education and meeting the academic needs of low-income students.[124][125] The funding was limited to the 2009-10 and 2010-2011 school years.[126] 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.[127]

Race to the Top grant[edit]

Sayre Area School District officials did not apply for the federal Race to the Top grant which would have provided nearly one half million dollars in additional federal funding to improve student academic achievement.[128] 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.[129] 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.[130][131][132]

Real estate taxes[edit]

Property tax rates in 2012-13 were set by the school board at 44.39 mills.[133] 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.[134] Property taxes, in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, apply only to real estate - land and buildings. The property tax is not levied on cars, business inventory, or other personal property. Certain types of property are exempt from property taxes, including: places of worship, places of burial, private social clubs, charitable and educational institutions and government property. Additionally, service related, disabled US military veterans may seek an exemption from paying property taxes. Pennsylvania school district revenues are dominated by two main sources: 1) Property tax collections, which account for the vast majority (between 75-85%) of local revenues; and 2) Act 511 tax collections, which are around 15% of revenues for school districts.[135] 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.[136] 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.[137]

  • 2011-12 - 43.3900 mills
  • 2010-11 - 42.5000 mills[138]
  • 2009-10 - 41.5000 mills.[139]
  • 2008-09 - 41.5000 mills.[140]
  • 2007-08 - 40.5000 mills.[141]
  • 2006-07 - 39.0000 mills.[142]

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 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.[143] In June 2011, the Pennsylvania General Assembly eliminated six of the ten exceptions to the Act 1 Index.[144] 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.[145][146]

The School District Adjusted Index for the Sayre Area School District 2006-2007 through 2011-2012.[147]

  • 2006-07 - 5.7%, Base 3.9%
  • 2007-08 - 4.9%, Base 3.4%
  • 2008-09 - 6.4%, Base 4.4%
  • 2009-10 - 6.0%, Base 4.1%
  • 2010-11 - 4.3%, Base 2.9%
  • 2011-12 - 2.1%, Base 1.4%
  • 2012-13 - 2.5%, Base 1.7%[148]

For the 2012-13 budget year, Sayre Area School Board applied for a Special Education costs exception 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. 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.[149]

For the 2011-12 school year, Sayre Area School Board did not apply for any exceptions to exceed the Act 1 Index. Each year, the 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.[150]

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.[151]

Sayre Area School Board did not apply for any exceptions to exceed the Act 1 index for the budget in 2011.[152] For 2009-10 school budget, the board did not apply for exceptions to exceed the Index.[153] 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.[154]

Property tax relief[edit]

In 2012, Sayre Area School District approved homestead residents received $337.[155] In 2010, property tax relief for 1,739 approved residents of Sayre Area School District was set at $337.[156] In the district, 1,691 property owners applied for the tax relief in 2009. In Bradford County, the highest tax relief went to Sayre Area School District which was set at $347.[157] The highest property tax relief, among Pennsylvania school districts, went to the homesteads of Chester Upland School District of Delaware County which received $632 per approved homestead in 2010. Chester-Upland School District has consistently been the top recipient since the programs inception.[158] The relief was subtracted from the total annual school property tax bill. Property owners apply for the relief through the county Treasurer's office. Farmers can qualify for a farmstead exemption on building used for agricultural purposes. The farm must be at least 10 contiguous acres (40,000 m2) and must be the primary residence of the owner. Farmers can qualify for both the homestead exemption and the farmstead exemption. In 2009, the Pennsylvania Auditor General reviewed 49 counties finding that approximately 1 million of the 3 million residential properties in those 49 counties were not approved for property tax relief.[159]

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 people who have an income of substantially more than $35,000 may still qualify for a rebate. Individuals must apply annually for the rebate. This tax rebate can be taken in addition to Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief. In 2012, Pennsylvania Secretary of the Treasury reported issuing more than half a million property tax rebates totaling $238 million.[160] The program is funded by the Pennsylvania Lottery. Property tax rebates are increased by an additional 50 percent for senior households in the state, so long as those households have incomes under $30,000 and pay more than 15% of their income in property taxes.[161]

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%).[162]

History[edit]

The present high school building was erected in 1928 and 1929 with additions and remodeling completed in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The community gave its swimming pool to the Sayre Area School District in 1951. The first high school building was actually constructed in 1891 and 1892 and renovated with an annex in 1897. It was a recreation center and later became a 4-6 elementary school.

Alma mater[edit]

In the Susquehanna valley
land of rippling streams and rills
lays a busy little city
nestled mist the blue ridge hills
and tis there our Alma Mater
May her praises never die
lifts her stately tow'r towards heaven
dear beloved old Sayre High

For we're all staunch and loyal
and we are each other's friend
we will stick by our colors
until this life shall end
so while we're together
let us give a ringing cheer
for the praise of Alma Mater
and our Sayre High School so dear.

Extracurriculars[edit]

The district offers a wide variety of clubs, activities and sports. Eligibility for participation is determined by school board policy.

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.[163]

References[edit]

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