Shenandoah Valley School District

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Shenandoah Valley School District
Map of Schuylkill County Pennsylvania School Districts.png
Address
805 West Centre Street
Shenandoah, Pennsylvania, Schuylkill County, 17976-1441
United States
Information
School board 9 locally elected members
Superintendent Dr. Stanley G. Rakowsky
Administrator Mr Anthony Demalis, Business Manager

Mr. Phillip Andras, Director of Special Education
Michelle Zinkus, Jr/Sr High School Special Education Coordinator
Brooke Wowak, Elementary Supervisor of Special Education

Staff 88 non teaching staff
Faculty 89 teachers[1]
Grades K-12
Age 4 years old - preschool to 21 years old special education
Pupils 1,107 students (2011) 1,206 (2010)[2]
Kindergarten 88
Grade 1 82
Grade 2 83
Grade 3 75
Grade 4 97
Grade 5 96
Grade 6 74
Grade 7 69
Grade 8 76
Grade 9 74
Grade 10 77
Grade 11 80
Grade 12 79
Other 57
Color(s)           Columbia Blue and White
Song Shenandoah Valley Alma Mater
Fight song On, Wisconsin!
Athletics conference Anthracite Football League/Schuylkill League
Mascot Blue Devils
Rival Mahanoy Area School District
Yearbook The Mirror
Budget $16,120,873 (2013-14)[3]

$16,133,004 (2012-13)

Website

The Shenandoah Valley School District is a diminutive, rural public school district in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania. It serves the municipalities of Shenandoah, Altamont, and West Mahanoy Township. The District encompasses approximately 11 square miles (28 km2) in two noncontiguous areas. According to 2000 federal census data, it serves a resident population of 11,790. By 2010, the district's population declined to 7,940 people.[4] In 2009, Shenandoah Valley School District residents’ per capita income was $13,948, while the median family income was $32,598.[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]

According to District officials, in school year 2007-08 the Shenandoah Valley School District provided basic educational services to 1,160 pupils. The District employed: 84 teachers, 50 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 5 administrators. In 2009-10, the Shenandoah Valley School District provided basic educational services to 1,190 pupils. The District employed: 95 teachers, 59 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 5 administrators. Shenandoah Valley School District received more than $8.3 million in state funding in school year 2009-10.

Shenandoah Valley School District operates one elementary school and one combined junior-senior high school.

Governance[edit]

The 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 school board and district administration a "F" for transparency based on a review of "What information can people find on their school district's website". It examined the school district's website for information regarding; taxes, the current budget, meetings, school board members names and terms, contracts, audits, public records information and more.[9]

Academic achievement[edit]

The Shenandoah Valley School District was ranked 464th out of 498 Pennsylvania school districts, in 2013, by the Pittsburgh Business Times. The ranking was based on student academic performance on the last three years of PSSA results in: reading, writing, mathematics and science.[10] 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.

  • 2012 - 461st
  • 2010 - 441st
  • 2009 - 426th
  • 2008 - 408th
  • 2007 - 420th of 501 school districts by the Pittsburgh Business Times.[11]
Overachiever statewide ranking

In 2013, the Pittsburgh Business Times also reported an Overachievers Ranking for 498 Pennsylvania school districts. Shenandoah Valley School District ranked 37. In 2012, the district was 27th.[12] 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."[13]

In 2009, the academic achievement, of the students in the Shenandoah Valley School District, was in the 17th percentile among all 500 Pennsylvania school districts Scale (0-99; 100 is state best) [14]

District AYP status history

In 2012, Shenandoah Valley School District declined to District Improvement level I AYP status, due to a low graduation rate coupled with lagging achievement in reading and mathematics.[15] In 2011, Shenandoah Valley School District declined to Warning Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) status. 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.[16] School District achieved AYP status each year from 2007 to 2010, while in 2006 and 2003 the District was in Warning status due to lagging student achievement.[17]

Graduation rate[edit]

In 2012, The District’s graduation rate was 67%.[18] In 2011, the District's graduation rate was 79%.[19] In 2010, the Pennsylvania Department of Education issued a new, 4-year cohort graduation rate. Shenandoah Valley High School's rate was 79% for 2010.[20]

According to traditional graduation rate calculations

Junior Senior High School[edit]

Shenandoah Valley High School is located at 805 West Centre Street, Shenandoah. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, the school reported an enrollment of 455 pupils in grades 7th through 12th, with 296 pupils eligible for a federal free or reduced price lunch due to the family meeting the federal poverty level. The school is a federally designated Title I school. The school employed 41 teachers yielding a student-teacher ratio of 11:1.[25] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 25 classes were taught by teachers who were rated "Non‐Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[26] The attendance rate was reported as 92%.

AYP history

In 2012, Shenandoah Valley Junior Senior High School declined to School Improvement I AYP status due to low graduation rate and chronic, low student academic achievement in both reading and mathematics. 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 must pay for additional tutoring for struggling students.[27] In 2010 and 2011, the school was in Warning AYP status.[28] In 2007 through 2010, the Junior Senior High School achieved AYP status. In 2006, the School was in Warning AYP status.

PSSA results
11th Grade Reading
  • 2012 - 56% on grade level, (25% below basic). State - 67% of 11th graders are on grade level.[29]
  • 2011 - 51% (23% below basic). State - 69.1% [30]
  • 2010 - 49%, State - 66%[31]
  • 2009 - 46%, State - 65%[32]
  • 2008 - 56%, State - 65%[33]
  • 2007 - 53%, State - 65% [34]
11th Grade Math
  • 2012 - 45% on grade level (30% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 59% of 11th graders are on grade level.[35]
  • 2011 - 31% (36% below basic). State - 60.3%[36]
  • 2010 - 29%, State - 59%
  • 2009 - 27%, State - 56%
  • 2008 - 40%, State - 56% [37]
  • 2007 - 42%, State - 53%
11th Grade Science
  • 2012 - 28% on grade level (14% below basic). State - 42% of 11th graders were on grade level.[38]
  • 2011 - 17% (20% below basic). State - 40% [39]
  • 2010 - 27%, State - 39%
  • 2009 - 22%, State - 40%
  • 2008 - 22%, State - 39%

Science in Motion Shenandoah Valley Junior Senior High School did not take advantage of a state program called Science in Motion which brought college professors and sophisticated science equipment to the school to raise science awareness and to provide inquiry-based experiences for the students. The Science in Motion program was funded by a state appropriation and cost the school nothing to participate.[40] Susquehanna University provides the enrichment experiences to schools in the region.

College remediation

According to a Pennsylvania Department of Education study released in January 2009, 39% of Shenandoah Valley Junior 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.[41] 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.[42] 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]

Shenandoah Valley School District does not 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. Students remain enrolled at their high school. The courses count towards high school graduation requirements and towards earning a college degree. The students continue to have full access to activities and programs at their high school. The college credits are offered at a deeply discounted rate. The state offers a small grant to assist students in costs for tuition, fees and books.[43] Under the Pennsylvania Transfer and Articulation Agreement, many Pennsylvania colleges and universities accept these credits for students who transfer to their institutions.[44] 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.[45] In 2010, Governor Edward Rendell eliminated the grants to students, from the Commonwealth, due to a state budget crisis.

Graduation requirements[edit]

The Shenandoah Valley School Board has determined that a student must earn 22.5 credits to graduate.[46]

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.[47] Effective with the graduating class of 2017, the Pennsylvania State Board of Education eliminated the state mandate that students complete a culminating project in order to graduate.[48]

By Pennsylvania School Board regulations, beginning with the class of 2017, public school students must demonstrate successful completion of secondary level course work in Algebra I, Biology, and English Literature by passing the Keystone Exams.[49] The exam is given at the end of the course. Keystone Exams replace the PSSAs for 11th grade. Students have several opportunities to pass the exam, with those who do not able to perform a project in order to graduate.[50][51] For the class of 2019, a Composition exam will be added. For the class of 2020, passing a civics and government exam will be added to the graduation requirements.[52] 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.[53] 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.

SAT scores[edit]

In 2012, 42 Shenandoah Valley School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 435. The Math average score was 441. The Writing average score was 440. 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, 47 Shenandoah Valley School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 445. The Math average score was 461. The Writing average score was 438.[54] Pennsylvania ranked 40th among states with SAT scores: Verbal - 493, Math - 501, Writing - 479.[55] 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.[56]

Junior High PSSA results[edit]

8th Grade Reading
  • 2012 - 64% on grade level (16% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 79% of 8th graders on grade level.[57]
  • 2011 - 68% (21% below basic) State - 81.8%
  • 2010 - 82%, State - 81%[58]
  • 2009 - 76%, State - 80%[59]
  • 2008 - 91%, State - 78%[60]
  • 2007 - 69%, State - 75%[61]
8th Grade Math
  • 2012 - 58% on grade level (20% below basic). State - 76%
  • 2011 - 57% (24% below basic). State - 76.9%
  • 2010 - 60% on grade level. State - 75%
  • 2009 - 61%, State - 71%
  • 2008 - 69%, State - 70% [62]
  • 2007 - 62%, State - 67%
8th Grade Science
  • 2012 - 39% on grade level (37% below basic). State - 59%
  • 2011 - 24% (44% below basic). State – 58.3%
  • 2010 - 61%, State - 57%.
  • 2009 - 46%, State: - 54% [63]
  • 2008 - 47%, State - 52% [64]

Tutoring[edit]

The junior senior high school offers after school tutoring for students in grades 7-12, on any subject, in a program called The Successful Student Partnership Program.

Shenandoah Valley Elementary[edit]

Shenandoah Valley Elementary School is located at 805 West Centre Street, Shenandoah. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2011, the school reported an enrollment of 632 pupils in grades preschool through 6th, with 467 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced price lunch due to family poverty. The school is a federally designated Title I school. The school employed 48 teachers yielding a student-teacher ratio of 13:1.[65] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Non‐Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[66] The school provides a taxpayer funded preschool with three classes in 2013. It has provided full-day kindergarten since 2003.

In 2012, Shenandoah Valley Elementary School declined to Corrective Action II 1st Year AYP status due to chronic, low student academic achievement in both reading and mathematics.[67] In 2011, the School was in Corrective Action I due to chronic low student achievement in both reading and mathematics. The School declined to School Improvement II AYP status due to chronic low student achievement for two subgroups.[68] 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.[69] Additionally, Shenandoah Valley Elementary School Administration was required by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, to develop a School Improvement Plan to address the school's low student reading and math achievement. Under the Pennsylvania Accountability System, the school district must pay for additional tutoring for struggling students.[70] The attendance rate was 94% in 2009-10.

PSSA results
4th Grade Science
  • 2012 - 81% (6% below basic). State - 82%
  • 2011 - 82% (7% below basic). State - 82.9%
  • 2010 - 73% (2% below basic). State - 81%
  • 2009 - 73%, State - 83%
  • 2008 - 81%, State - 81%

Special education[edit]

In December 2012, Shenandoah Valley School District administration reported that 200 pupils or 17% of the district's pupils received Special Education services, with 54% of the identified students having a specific learning disability.[78] In December 2009, the District administration reported that 213 pupils or 18.6% of the district's pupils received Special Education services.[79]

The District engages in identification procedures to ensure that eligible students receive an appropriate educational program consisting of special education and related services, individualized to meet student needs. At no cost to the parents, these services are provided in compliance with state and federal law; and are reasonably calculated to yield meaningful educational benefit and student progress. To identify students who may be eligible for special education, various screening activities are conducted on an ongoing basis. These screening activities include: review of group-based data (cumulative records, enrollment records, health records, report cards, ability and achievement test scores); hearing, vision, motor, and speech/language screening; and review by the Instructional Support Team or Student Assistance Team. When screening results suggest that the student may be eligible, the District seeks parental consent to conduct a multidisciplinary evaluation. Parents who suspect their child is eligible may verbally request a multidisciplinary evaluation from a professional employee of the District or contact the Supervisor of Special Education.[80] The IDEA 2004 requires each school entity to publish a notice to parents, in newspapers or other media, including the student handbook and website regarding the availability of screening and intervention services and how to access them.

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.[81] 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.[82] 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.[83] 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.[84] In 2012, the Obama Administration's US Department of Education issued a directive that schools include students with disabilities in extracurricular activities, including sports.[85]

Shenandoah Valley School District received a $1,552,794 supplement for special education services in 2010.[86] For the 2011-12, 2012–13 and 2013-14 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.[87][88] Additionally, the state provides supplemental funding for extraordinarily impacted students. The District must apply for this added funding.

Gifted education[edit]

The District Administration reported that 7 or 0.66% of its students were identified as gifted in 2009.[89] 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.[90]

Bullying policy and school safety[edit]

In 2012, Shenandoah Valley School District administration reported there were 17 incidents of assaults on students and 31 episodes of harassment/intimidation of students. There were no reported cases of bullying in 2012.[91] The Shenandoah Valley School District administration reported there were no incidents of bullying in the district in 2009.[92][93]

The Shenandoah Valley School Board has provided the district's antibully policy online. The District is currently using the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program in grades K to 12. 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.[94] 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.[95]

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.[96]

Budget[edit]

Pennsylvania public school districts budget and expend funds according to procedures mandated by the General Assembly and the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE). An annual operating budget is prepared by school district administrative officials. A uniform form is furnished by the PDE and submitted to the board of school directors for approval prior to the beginning of each fiscal year on July 1.

Under Pennsylvania’s Taxpayer Relief Act, Act 1 of the Special Session of 2006, all school districts of the first class A, second class, third class and fourth class must adopt a preliminary budget proposal. The proposal must include estimated revenues and expenditures and the proposed tax rates. This proposed budget must be considered by the Board no later than 90 days prior to the date of the election immediately preceding the fiscal year. The preliminary budget proposal must also be printed and made available for public inspection at least 20 days prior to its adoption. The board of school directors may hold a public hearing on the budget, but are not required to do so. The board must give at least 10 days’ public notice of its intent to adopt the final budget according to Act 1 of 2006.[97]

In 2011, the average teacher salary in Shenandoah Valley School District was $45,891 a year, while the cost of the benefits teachers received was $21,691 per employee, for a total annual average teacher compensation of $67,583.[98] In 2012, the Administration reported employing 103 teachers and administrators, with a top salary of $116,565.[99]

In 2009, Shenandoah Valley School District reported employing over 80 teachers with a starting salary of $35,000.[100] The average teacher salary was $45,053, while the maximum salary is $107,424.[101] In Pennsylvania, the average teacher salary for Pennsylvania's 124,100 public school teachers was $54,977 in 2008.[102] 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.[103] Additionally, Shenandoah Valley School District teachers receive a defined benefit pension, health insurance, professional development reimbursement, paid personal days and 10 paid sick days which accumulate, life insurance, and other benefits.[104] 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.[105]

In 2007, Shenandoah Valley School District employed 68 teachers. The average teacher salary in the district was $44,793 for 180 school days worked. This is the highest paid teachers in Schuylkill County.[106]

Shenandoah Valley School District administrative costs per pupil in 2008 was $644.56 per pupil. The district is ranked 391st out of 500 in Pennsylvania for administrative spending. The lowest administrative cost per pupil in Pennsylvania was $398 per pupil.[107]

Per pupil spending In 2008, Shenandoah Valley School District reported spending $9,492 per pupil. This ranked 495th in the commonwealth.[108] In 2010, the District’s per pupil spending had increased to $12,616.[109] In 2011, Pennsylvania’s per pupil spending was $13,467, ranking 6th in the United States.[110] In 2007, the Pennsylvania per pupil total expenditures was reported as $12,759.[111] The U.S. Census Bureau reported that Pennsylvania spent $8,191 per pupil in school year 2000-01.[112]

Among the fifty states, Pennsylvania’s total per pupil revenue (including all sources) ranked 11th at $15,023 per student, in 2008-09.[113] Pennsylvania’s total revenue per pupil rose to $16,186 ranking 9th in the nation in 2011.[114]

Audits In October 8, 2009, the Pennsylvania Auditor General conducted a performance audit of the district. Findings were reported to the administration and school board. In particular, the report noted the "Continued Inadequate Control of Student Activity Fund".[115] In February 2012, the Auditor General conducted another audit. Significant findings were reported to the school board and administration. They found inaccurate reporting of pupil membership.[116]

In 2006 and 2007, the Pennsylvania Auditor General conducted a special investigatory audit of the District. They found that 31 students, who did not reside in the District, were attending its schools. The report noted that In addition to losing over $182,000 in uncollected tuition revenue, Shenandoah Valley School District received more state funds from the Pennsylvania Department of Education than it was entitled to receive.[117]

Reserves In 2009, Shenandoah Valley School District reported a $3,060,606 in an unreserved-undesignated fund balance. The designated fund balance was reported as zero.[118] In 2012, the District reported it held $3,176,083 in reserves. 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.[119] By 2013, reserves held by Pennsylvania public school districts, as a whole, had increased to over $3.8 billion.[120]

Building project In 2009, the school board approved a major renovation and building project estimated to cost $15,660,000. It includes $8,145,773 for construction of 34 new classrooms, which will result in 30 net classrooms district-wide. The difference of the costs will go to upgrades, renovations and other work, such as replace the roof on the elementary school, replace an elevator, restructure inside to move facilities, such as the nurse's office, and improve security throughout the facilities.[121] There was significant taxpayer opposition to the project. Opponents urged the school board to put the project on the next election ballot. Some opponents suggested the board consolidate with several local school districts. The board rejected that plan and took out debt that will require annual tax increases for many years.

Tuition Students who live in the Shenandoah Valley School 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 Shenandoah Valley 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 Shenandoah Valley School District's schools. The 2012 tuition rates are Elementary School - $6,902.54, High School - $8,990.58.[122]

Shenandoah Valley School District is funded by a combination of: a local income tax 1%, a property tax, a real estate transfer tax 0.5%, annual Per capita taxes: $5 (as per Section 579) plus $5 (as per Section 511), Occupation privilege tax $10, Occupational assessment, $50, coupled with substantial funding from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the federal government. Grants can provide an opportunity to supplement school funding without raising local taxes. In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, pension income and Social Security income are exempted from state personal income tax and local earned income tax, regardless of the level of the individual’s personal wealth.[123] The average Pennsylvania public school teacher pension in 2011 exceeds $60,000 a year plus they receive federal Social Security benefits: both are free of Pennsylvania state income tax and local income tax which funds local public schools.[124]

State basic education funding[edit]

For the 2013-14 school year, the Shenandoah Valley School District will receive a 1.7% increase or $6,653,050 in Pennsylvania Basic Education Funding. This is $108,366 more than its 2012-13 state BEF to the District. Additionally, Shenandoah Valley School District will receive $73,791 in Accountability Block Grant funding to focus on academic achievement and level funding for special education services. Among the public school districts in Schuylkill County, Blue Mountain School District and Saint Clair Area School District received the highest percentage increase at 2.2%. The District has the option of applying for several other state and federal grants to increase revenues. The Commonwealth’s budget increased Basic Education Funding statewide by $123 million to over $5.5 billion. Most of Pennsylvania’s 500 public school districts received an increase of Basic Education Funding in a range of 0.9% to 4%. Eight public school districts received exceptionally high funding increases of 10% to 16%. The highest increase in state funding was awarded to Austin Area School District which received a 22.5% increase in Basic Education Funding.[125] The state funded the PSERS (Pennsylvania school employee pension fund) with $1,017,000,000 and Social Security payments for school employees of $495 million.[126]

For the 2012-13 school year, Shenandoah Valley School District received $6,544,684.00.[127] 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 (ABG) program. Shenandoah Valley School District will receive $73,791 in Accountability Block Grant 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.[128] This amount was 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.

In 2011-12, Shenandoah Valley School District received a $6,546,340 allocation, of state Basic Education Funding.[129][130] Additionally, the Shenandoah Valley School District received $73,791 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.[131] The highest increase in state basic education funding was awarded to Duquesne City School District of Allegheny County, which got a 49% increase in state funding for 2011-12.[132] In 2010, the district reported that 784 students received free or reduced price lunches, due to the family meeting the federal poverty level.[133]

For 2010-11 the Shenandoah Valley School District received a 4.57% increase in state Basic Education Funding resulting in a $7,241,012 payment.[134] The highest increase in BEF in Schuylkill County went to Minersville Area School District which received 9.96%. Kennett Consolidated School District in Chester County received the highest increase in the state at 23.65% increase in funding for the 2010-11 school year. Fifteen (15) Pennsylvania public school districts received a BEF increase of greater than 10%. 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 public school districts at a far greater rate than others.[135]

In the 2009-2010 budget year the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a 14.50% increase in Basic Education funding for a total of $6,924,761. 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.[136] Shenandoah Valley School District received the highest increase in Schuylkill County. Among the 500 school districts in Pennsylvania, Muhlenberg School District in Berks County received the highest with a 22.31% increase in funding. Ninety school districts received the base 2% increase in state basic education funding.[137]

In 2008-09, the state Basic Education funding to the Shenandoah Valley School District was $6,048,031.85. 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.[138][139] According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 672 District students received free or reduced-price lunches due to low family income in the 2007-2008 school year.[140]

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 Shenandoah Valley School District applied for and received $200,288 in addition to all other state and federal funding. The District used the funding to provide full-day kindergarten for the seventh year.[141][142]

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. Shenandoah Valley School District did not apply for funding in 2006-07. In 2007-08 it received $40,485. For the 2008-09, school year the district received $20,679 for a total funding of $61,164. Of the 501 public school districts in Pennsylvania, 447 of them received Classrooms for the Future grant awards.[143] Among the public school districts in Schuylkill County the highest award was given to North Schuylkill School District which received $245,673. The highest funding statewide was awarded to Philadelphia City School District in Philadelphia County - $9,409,073. The grant program was discontinued by Governor Edward Rendell as part of the 2009-10 state budget.

Other grants[edit]

Shenandoah Valley School District did not participate in: Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection's Environmental Education annual grants, PA Science Its Elementary grants (discontinued effective with 2009-10 budget by Governor Rendell), Education Assistance Grants, 2012 Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy grant, nor the federal 21st Century Learning grants.

Federal Stimulus grant[edit]

Shenandoah Valley School District received an extra $1,900,032 in ARRA - Federal Stimulus money to be used in specific programs like special education and meeting the academic needs of low-income students.[144] The funding was limited to the 2009-10 and 2010-2011 school years.[145] 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.

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 federal 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.[146]

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.[147] The Pennsylvania Education Secretary awarded $66 million to reform Pennsylvania's lowest achieving schools in August 2011. The funding is for three years.[148]

For the 2009-10 school year, Shenandoah Valley School District administration did not apply for a School Improvement Grant. It was eligible for funding due to the chronic, low achievement at the elementary school.[149] Districts with chronically low achieving schools are not required to apply for this funding.[150]

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.[151] The Pennsylvania Department of Education has identified 200 Pennsylvania schools as "persistently lowest achieving," making them eligible for this special funding.[152] 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.[153]

Race to the Top grant[edit]

Shenandoah Valley School District officials did not apply for the Race to the Top federal grant which would have brought the district up to one million dollars of additional federal dollars for improving student academic achievement.[154] 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.[155] 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.[156]

Common Cents state initiative[edit]

The Shenandoah Valley School Board did not participate in the Pennsylvania Department of Education Common Cents program. The program called for the state to audit the district, at no cost to local taxpayers, to identify ways the district could save tax dollars.[157] After the review of the information, the district was not required to implement the recommended cost savings changes.

Real estate taxes[edit]

Shenandoah Valley School Board set property tax rates in 2013-14 at 53.3000 mills. A mill is $1 of tax for every $1,000 of a property's assessed value. Irregular property reassessments have become a serious issue in the commonwealth as it creates a significant disparity in taxation within a community and across a region. Pennsylvania school district revenues are dominated by two main sources: 1) Property tax collections, which account for the vast majority (between 75-85%) of local revenues; and 2) Act 511 tax collections (Local Tax Enabling Act), which are around 15% of revenues for school districts.[158] The school district includes municipalities in two counties, each of which has different rates of property tax assessment, necessitating a state board equalization of the tax rates between the counties. 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.[159]

  • 2012-13 - 53.3000 mills [160]
  • 2011-12 - 49.3000 mills.[161]
  • 2010-11 - 49.3000 mills[162]
  • 2009-10 - 47.3000 mills[163]
  • 2008-09 - 45.3000 mills[164]
  • 2007-08 - 45.3000 mills[165]
  • 2006-07 - 45.3000 mills.[166]
  • 2005-06 - 45.3000 mills.[167]

The average yearly property tax paid by Schuylkill County residents amounts to about 2.84% of their yearly income. Schuylkill County ranked 700th out of the 3143 United States counties for property taxes as a percentage of median income.[168] 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.[169] 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%).[170]

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.[171]

The School District Adjusted Index for the Shenandoah Valley School District 2006-2007 through 2010-2011.[172]

For the 2013-14 budget year, Shenandoah Valley School Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed their Act 1 Index limit. For the school budget year 2013-14, 311 Pennsylvania public school districts adopted a resolution certifying that tax rates would not be increased above their index. Another 171 school districts adopted a preliminary budget leaving open the option of exceeded the Index limit. For the exception for pension costs, 89 school districts received approval to exceed the Index in full while others received a partial approval of their request. For special education costs, 75 districts received approval to exceed their tax limit. For the pension costs exception, 169 school districts received approval to exceed the Index. Eleven Pennsylvania public school districts received an approval for grandfathered construction debts.[176]

For the 2012-13 budget year, Shenandoah Valley School Board applied for two exceptions to exceed the Act 1 Index: teacher pension costs and special education costs. 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.[177]

For the 2011-12 school year, the Shenandoah Valley School Board did not apply for an exception to exceed the Act 1 Index. Each year, the Shenandoah Valley 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.

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.[178]

The Shenandoah Valley School Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed the Act 1 index for the budgets in 2010-11.[179] 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.[180]

Property tax relief[edit]

In 2009, the Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief from gambling for the Shenandoah Valley School District was $133 per approved permanent primary residence. In the district, 2,349 property owners applied for the tax relief. Schuylkill Haven Area School District received $195 which was the highest property tax relief allotted in Schuylkill County for 2009.[181] 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.[182] 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.[183] This was the second year they were the top recipient.

In Pennsylvania, the homestead exclusion reduces the assessed values of homestead properties, reducing the property tax on these homes. The homestead exclusion allows homeowners real property tax relief of up to one half of the median assessed value of homesteads in the taxing jurisdiction (county, school district, city, borough, or township).[184]

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.[185]

Enrollment[edit]

According to Pennsylvania Department of Education enrollment reports, there are were 1,208 students enrolled in K-12 in 2009–10 school year at Shenandoah Valley School District. There were 96 students in the Class of 2009. The district's class of 2010 had 79 students.[186] A study of Pennsylvania public school spending, conducted by Standard and Poor's, examined the consolidation of neighboring school districts were enrollment was below 1,500 pupils. The study found that consolidation of the administration with an adjacent school district would achieve substantial administrative cost savings which varied by district.[187]

According to a 2009 public 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.[188] 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.[189]

Over the decade 2000-2010, rural Pennsylvania public school district enrollment decreased 8 percent.[190] As the enrollment declined, 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.[191]

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.[192] 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.[193]

Extracurricular Activities[edit]

Shenandoah Valley School District offers a wide variety of clubs, activities and sports. Eligibility to participate is set by school board policies.

By Pennsylvania law, all K-12 students in the district, including those who attend a private nonpublic school, cyber charter school, charter school and those homeschooled, are eligible to participate in the extracurricular programs, including all athletics. They must meet the same eligibility rules as the students enrolled in the district's schools.[194]

Sports[edit]

The District funds:

Junior High School Sports

According to PIAA directory July 2013 [195]

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