Scranton School District (Pennsylvania)

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Scranton School District
Location
Scranton, Pennsylvania
United States
Information
Type Public
Grades K-12
Enrollment 9393 pupils enrolled (2010) [1]
Kindergarten 906
Grade 1 772
Grade 2 707
Grade 3 720
Grade 4 703
Grade 5 725
Grade 6 663
Grade 7 665
Grade 8 660
Grade 9 721
Grade 10 783
Grade 11 723
Grade 12 655
Other Enrollment projected to be 11,486 in 2019
Map of Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania School Districts with Scranton School District in green in east-central Lackawanna County.

The Scranton School District is a large, urban school district located in Scranton, Pennsylvania. It serves the city of Scranton. Its current superintendent is William King. The district encompasses approximately 26 square miles. According to 2000 federal census data, it serves a resident population of 73,766. According to School District officials, in school year 2005-06, the Scranton School Districr provided basic educational services to 10,000 pupils through the employment of 900 teachers, 342 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 44 administrators. In 2006, the district students were: 72% white, 3% Asian, 11% black and 14% Hispanic.[2]

Schools[edit]

There are thirteen preschool classes operated in twelve different settings.

Elementary[edit]

  • John Adams Elementary - achieved Adequate Yearly Progress in 2011.[3]
  • Neil Armstrong Elementary - achieved Adequate Yearly Progress in 2011.[4]
  • John Audubon Elementary - achieved Adequate Yearly Progress in 2011. Closed 2012 due to mold damage.[5]
  • George Bancroft Elementary - achieved Adequate Yearly Progress in 2011.[6]
  • Isaac Tripp Elementary
  • John F. Kennedy Elementary - in Warning status in 2011.[7]
  • William Prescott Elementary - achieved Adequate Yearly Progress in 2011.[8]
  • Charles Sumner Elementary - achieved Adequate Yearly Progress in 2011.[9]
  • John G. Whittier Elementary - achieved Adequate Yearly Progress in 2011.[10]
  • Frances Willard Elementary - in Warning status in 2011.[11]
  • McNichols Plaza Elementary - in Warning in 2011.[12]
The school district administration building.

Intermediate schools[edit]

  • Northeast Intermediate - achieved Adequate Yearly Progress in 2011.
  • South Scranton Intermediate - in Warning status in 2011.
  • West Scranton Intermediate - in Warning status in 2011.

High schools[edit]

Academic achievement[edit]

Scranton School District was ranked 306th out of 498 Pennsylvania school districts in 2011 by the Pittsburgh Business Times. The ranking was based on five years of student academic performance on the PSSAs for: reading, writing, math and three years of science.[13]

  • 2010 - 281st [14]
  • 2009 - 273rd
  • 2008 - 233rd
  • 2007 - 212th out of 501 Pennsylvania school districts.[15]

In 2009, the academic achievement, of the students in the Scranton School District, was in the 33rd percentile among all 500 Pennsylvania school districts Scale (0-99; 100 is state best) [16]

In 2008, a study was done of public schools in Lackawanna County and Luzerne County. It found that of the 10 public school districts in Lackawanna County, Scranton School District academic achievement ranked 7th in math and 9th in Reading. In 2004 the district was in School Improvement Level 1 AYP status. In 2005 the district was in School Improvement Level 1 AYP status. In 2006 and 2007, the district made AYP. In 2008 the district declined to Warning status.[17]

In 2011, Scranton School District declined to Warning status due to low student achievement in several schools.[18] The district achieved AYP status in 2010.

Graduation rate[edit]

In 2011, the District's graduation rate was 90%. In 2010, the Pennsylvania Department of Education issued a new, 4-year cohort graduation rate. Scranton School District's rate was 82% for 2010.[19]

According to traditional graduation rate calculations:

  • 2010 - 90% [20]
  • 2009 - 93%
  • 2008 - 90% [21]
  • 2007 - 90% [22]
College remediation

In January 2009, the Pennsylvania Department of Education released a study on college preparation that found 22% of Scranton School District 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.[23] 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.[24] Per the Pennsylvania Department of Education, one in three recent high school graduates who attend Pennsylvania's public universities and community colleges takes at least one remedial course in math, reading or English.

Graduation requirements[edit]

The Scranton School Board has determined that students must earn 24 credits to graduate, including: English 4 credits, Math 4 credits, Social Studies 4 credits, Arts Humanities 2 credits, Physical Education 1 credit, Health 0.8 credits, Safety 0.2 credits and 4 electives.[25]

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.[26] At Scranton School District the graduation project consists of a research paper that must be completed by the end of the first semester of the student's junior year.[27]

By Pennsylvania School Board regulations, for the graduating classes 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. Students’ Keystone Exam scores count for at least one-third of the final course grade.[28]

Dual enrollment[edit]

The Scranton School district high schools offer the Pennsylvania dual enrollment program. This state program permits high school students to take courses, at local higher education institutions, to earn college credits. The students continue to have full access to activities and programs at their high school. The college credits are offered at a deeply discounted rate. The state offers a small grant to assist students in costs for tuition, fees and books.[29] Under the Pennsylvania Transfer and Articulation Agreement, many Pennsylvania colleges and universities accept these credits for students who transfer to their institutions.[30] The Pennsylvania College Credit Transfer System reported in 2009, that students saved nearly $35.4 million by having their transferred credits count towards a degree under the new system.[31] In 2010, the district received a $177,704 state grant to be used to assist students with tuition, fees and books.

Special education[edit]

In December 2009, the district administration reported that 1776 pupils or 18.5% of the district's pupils received Special Education services.[32]

The District engages in identification procedures to ensure that eligible students receive an appropriate educational program consisting of special education and related services, individualized to meet student needs. At no cost to the parents, these services are provided in compliance with state and federal law; and are reasonably calculated to yield meaningful educational benefit and student progress. To identify students who may be eligible for special education, various screening activities are conducted on an ongoing basis. These screening activities include: review of group-based data (cumulative records, enrollment records, health records, report cards, ability and achievement test scores); hearing, vision, motor, and speech/language screening; and review by the Instructional Support Team or Student Assistance Team. When screening results suggest that the student may be eligible, the District seeks parental consent to conduct a multidisciplinary evaluation. Parents who suspect their child is eligible may verbally request a multidisciplinary evaluation from a professional employee of the District or contact the Special Education Department.[33]

In 2010, the state of Pennsylvania provided $1,026,815,000 for Special Education services. The funds were distributed to districts based on a state policy which estimates that 16% of the district's pupils are receiving special education services. This funding is in addition to the state's basic education per pupil funding, as well as, all other state and federal funding.[34] 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.[35] The state requires each district to have a three year special education plan to meet the unique needs of its special education students.[36] 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.[37]

Scranton School District received a $5,223,073 supplement for special education services in 2010.[38] For the 2011-12 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.[39]

Gifted education[edit]

The District Administration reported that 167 students or 1.75% of its students were gifted in 2009.[40] By law, the district must provide mentally gifted programs at all grade levels. The primary emphasis is on enrichment and acceleration of the regular education curriculum through a push in model with the gifted instructor in the classroom with the regular instructor. This approach permits such specialized instructional strategies as tiered assignments, curriculum compacting, flexible grouping, learning stations, independent projects and independent contracts. Students identified as gifted attending the High School have access to honors and advanced placement courses, and dual enrollment with local colleges. The referral process for a gifted evaluation can be initiated by teachers or parents by contacting the student’s building principal and requesting an evaluation. All requests must be made in writing. To be eligible for mentally gifted programs in Pennsylvania, a student must have a cognitive ability of at least 130 as measured on a standardized ability test by a certified school psychologist. Other factors that indicate giftedness will also be considered for eligibility.[41]

Bullying Policy[edit]

The Scranton School Administration reported one incident of bullying occurring in the schools in 2009.[42][43]

The school board prohibits bullying by district students and employees. The Board directs that complaints of bullying shall be investigated promptly, and corrective action shall be taken when allegations are verified. No reprisals or retaliation shall occur as a result of good faith reports of bullying.[44] All Pennsylvania schools are required to have an anti-bullying policy incorporated into their Code of Student Conduct. The policy must identify disciplinary actions for bullying and designate a school staff person to receive complaints of bullying. The policy must be available on the school's website and posted in every classroom. All Pennsylvania public schools must provide a copy of its anti-bullying policy to the Office for Safe Schools every year, and shall review their policy every three years. Additionally, the district must conduct an annual review of that policy with students.[45] District administration are required to annually provide the following information with the district's Safe School Report: the board’s bullying policy, a report of bullying incidents in the school district, and information on the development and implementation of any bullying prevention, intervention or education programs. The Center for Schools and Communities works in partnership with the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime & Delinquency and the Pennsylvania Department of Education to assist schools and communities as they research, select and implement bullying prevention programs and initiatives.[46][47]

Education standards relating to student safety and antiharassment programs are described in the 10.3. Safety and Injury Prevention in the Pennsylvania Academic Standards for Health, Safety and Physical Education.[48]

Budget[edit]

In 2009, the district reports employing over 700 teachers with a starting salary of $34,000 for 185 days for pupil instruction. The average teacher salary was $55,011 while the maximum salary was $117,123.[49] As of 2007, Pennsylvania ranked in the top 10 states in average teacher salaries. When adjusted for cost of living Pennsylvania ranked fourth in the nation for teacher compensation.[50] Additionally, Scranton School District teachers receive a defined benefit pension, health insurance, dental insurance, life insurance, professional development reimbursement, several paid personal days, 10 paid sick days, 5 paid bereavement days, and other benefits. Teachers are paid an additional hourly rate, if they are required to work outside of the regular school day. The school day is 6 and 1/4 hours in elementary schools and 6 and 3/4 hours in the middle schools/high schools. A retirement bonus of $10,000 a year for 7 years is paid to encourage teachers with more than 20 years service to retire. Retirees also receive $100 for each unused sick day over their career.[51] According to State Rep. Glen Grell, a trustee of the Pennsylvania Public School Employees’ Retirement System Board, a 40-year educator can retire with a pension equal to 100 percent of their final salary.[52]

In 2007, the district employed 675 teachers. The average teacher salary in the district was $52,030 for 185 school days worked.[53]

In November 2011, both the union and school board rejected the state Labor Relations Board fact-finding report, which outlined contract recommendations. Items in the report included salary issues, and called for teachers to receive a 1.25 percent raise, plus step movement based on years of service and advanced degrees, in 2011-12 and 2012–13, and a 1.5 percent increase plus step in 2013-14.[54] The teacher's union gave the school board a strike notice in February 2012 complaining about paying for their health insurance and demanding higher raises.[55]

Scranton School District administrative costs per pupil in 2008 was $549.55 per pupil. The lowest administrative cost per pupil in Pennsylvania was $398 per pupil.[56]

In 2008, Scranton School District reported spending $10,782 per pupil. This ranked 416th in the commonwealth.[57]

Reserves

In 2009, the district reported $9,694,947 in an unreserved-undesignated fund balance. The designated fund balance was reported as zero.[58]

In March 2009, the Pennsylvania Auditor General conducted a performance audit of the district. Multiple significant findings were reported to the administration and school board.[59]

The district is funded by a combination of: a local earned income tax or 3.4%, a property tax, a real estate transfer tax 0.5%, coupled with substantial funding from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the federal government. Grants can provide an opportunity to supplement school funding without raising local taxes.[60] In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, pension and Social Security income are exempted from state personal income tax and local earned income tax regardless of the individual's wealth.[61]

State basic education funding[edit]

In 2011-12, the district received a $36,626,299 allocation, of state Basic Education Funding.[62][63] Additionally, the School District received $562,676 in Accountability Block Grant funding. The enacted Pennsylvania state Education budget includes $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.[64] 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.[65] In 2010, the district reported that 5,613 students received free or reduced-price lunches, due to the family meeting the federal poverty level.[66]

For 2010-11, Scranton School District received a 3.77% increase in state Basic Education Funding resulting in a $40,471,931 payment.[67] Dunmore School District received an 11.88% increase, which was the highest increase in BEF in Lackawanna County. Kennett Consolidated School District in Chester County received the highest increase in the state at 23.65% increase in funding for the 2010-11 school year. One hundred fifty school districts received the base 2% increase in 2010-11. The amount of increase each school district receives is determined by the Governor Edward G. Rendell and the Secretary of Education Gerald Zahorchak through the allocation set in the state budget proposal made in February each year.[68]

In the 2009-2010 budget year, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a 9.46% increase in Basic Education funding for a total of $38,930,659. The state Basic Education funding to the district in 2008-09 was $35,567,428.08. The district also received supplemental funding for English language learners, Title 1 federal funding for low-income students, for district size, a poverty supplement from the commonwealth and more.[69] Scranton School District received the highest increase in Lackawanna County for the 2009-10 school year. Among the 500 school districts in Pennsylvania, Muhlenberg School District in Berks County received the highest with a 22.31% increase in funding.[70]

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 5310 district students received free or reduced-price lunches due to low family income in the 2007-2008 school year.[71]

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 Scranton School District applied for and received $1,527,244 in addition to all other state and federal funding. The district used the funding to provide full-day kindergarten for the 3rd year.[72][73]

Education Assistance grant[edit]

The state's Education Assistance Program funding provides for the continuing support of tutoring services and other programs to address the academic needs of eligible students. Funds were 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 Scranton School District received $495,858.[74]

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. Scranton School District received $435,123 in 2006-07. In 2007-08 the district received $300,000. For the 2008-09, school year the district received $153,524 for a total of $888,647. Of the 501 public school districts in Pennsylvania, 447 of them received Classrooms for the Future grant awards.[75]

Federal Stimulus grant[edit]

The district received an extra $11,484,419 in ARRA - Federal Stimulus money to be used in specific programs like Title 1, special education and meeting the academic needs of low-income students.[76] The funding was for the 2009-10 and 2010-11 school years.

Race to the Top grant[edit]

School district officials applied for the Race to the Top federal grant which would have brought the district millions in additional federal dollars for improving student academic achievement.[77][78] Participation required the administration, the school board and the local teachers' union to sign an agreement to prioritize improving student academic success.[79] In Pennsylvania, 120 public school districts and 56 charter schools agreed to participate.[80] 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.[81]

Common Cents state initiative[edit]

The Scranton School Board chose to not participate in the Pennsylvania Department of Education Common Cents program. The program called for the state to audit the district, at no cost to local taxpayers, to identify ways the district could save tax dollars.[82] After the review of the information, the district was not required to implement any of the recommended cost savings changes.

Real estate taxes[edit]

The Scraton School Board set property tax rates in 2011-2012 at 109.0000 mills.[83] A mill is $1 of tax for every $1,000 of a property's assessed value. 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.[84] Irregular property reassessments have become a serious issue in the commonwealth as it creates a significant disparity in property taxation within a community and across a region. Pennsylvania school district revenues are dominated by two main sources: 1) Property tax collections, which account for the vast majority (between 75-85%) of local revenues; and 2) Act 511 tax collections (Local Tax Enabling Act), which are around 15% of revenues for school districts.[85]

  • 2010-11 - 109.0000 mills.[86]

2009-10 - 109.2400 mills.[87]

In 2010, the high number of tax exempt properties became an issue. A Times-Tribune analysis found that 1,204 of Scranton's 27,037 properties were tax exempt and therefore paid no school property taxes.[88]

Act 1 Adjusted index[edit]

The Act 1 of 2006 Index regulates the rates at which each school district can raise property taxes in Pennsylvania. Districts are not authorized to raise taxes above that index unless they allow voters to vote by referendum, or they seek an exception from the state Department of Education. The base index for the 2011-2012 school year 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.[89] In June 2011, the Pennsylvania General Assembly eliminated six of the ten the exceptions to the Act 1 Index.[90] The following 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.[91][92]

The School District Adjusted Index for the Scranton School District 2006-2007 through 2010-2011.[93]

  • 2006-07 - 5.6%, 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% [94]

Scranton School Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed the Act 1 index for the budgets in 2009-10 or in 2010-11.[95][96] 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.[97]

Property tax relief[edit]

In 2009, the Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief from gambling for the Scranton School District was $334 per approved permanent primary residence. In the district, 13,037 property owners applied for the tax relief.[98] The tax relief was subtracted from the total annual school property on the individual's tax bill. Property owners apply for the relief through the county Treasurer's office. Farmers can qualify for a farmstead exemption on building used for agricultural purposes. The farm must be at least 10 contiguous acres and must be the primary residence of the owner. Farmers can qualify for both the homestead exemption and the farmstead exemption. In Lackawanna County, the highest property tax relief in 2009 was awarded to the approved property owners in Scranton School District. Pennsylvania awarded the highest property tax relief to residents of the Chester-Upland School District in Delaware County at $632 per homestead and farmstead in 2010.[99] This was the second year Chester Upland School District was the top recipient.

According to Act 1 of 2006, Scranton School District could use gambling revenues for wage tax relief rather than property tax relief.[100]

Additionally, the Pennsylvania Property Tax/Rent Rebate program is provided for low income Pennsylvanians aged 65 and older; widows and widowers aged 50 and older; and people with disabilities age 18 and older. The income limit is $35,000 for homeowners. The maximum rebate for both homeowners and renters is $650. Applicants can exclude one-half (1/2) of their Social Security income, consequently individuals who have income substantially more than $35,000, may still qualify for a rebate. Individuals must apply annually for the rebate. This can be taken in addition to Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief.[101]

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%).[102]

Extracurriculars[edit]

Scranton School District offers a variety of clubs, activities and sports. Eligibility to participate is set by school board policies.[103]

By Pennsylvania law, all K-12 students in the district, including those who attend a private nonpublic school, cyber charter school, charter school and those home schooled, 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.[104]

References[edit]

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  41. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education and Pennsylvania School Board. "CHAPTER 16. Special Education For Gifted Students". Retrieved February 4, 2011. 
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