Smethport Area School District

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Smethport Area School District
Map of McKean County Pennsylvania School Districts.png
Address
414 South Mechanic Street
Smethport, Pennsylvania, McKean County, 16749-1522
United States
Information
Type public school district
Superintendent Mr. Andrew McCormick (2010-13)
Faculty 73 teachers (2011) [1]
Grades preschool to 12
Enrollment 896 (2009–2010)
 • Kindergarten 60
 • Grade 1 62
 • Grade 2 57
 • Grade 3 75
 • Grade 4 61
 • Grade 5 64
 • Grade 6 70
 • Grade 7 66
 • Grade 8 84
 • Grade 9 78
 • Grade 10 69
 • Grade 11 85
 • Grade 12 75
Budget

$11,234,000 (2010)[2]

$13,271.341 (2012-13)[3]
Per pupil spending $13,052 (2008)
Per pupil spending $14,720.67 (2010)
Website

Smethport Area School District is a rural, public school district located in McKean County, Pennsylvania, United States. Situated in the north central part of the state, it overlooks the borough of Smethport, which serves as the county seat. The District encompasses approximately 334 square miles (870 km2). Smethport Area School District serves the residents of: Hamlin Township, Keating Township, Norwich Township and Sergeant Township. According to 2000 federal census data, it serves a resident population of 6,399. By 2010, the district's population declined to 6,121 people.[4] In 2009, the district residents’ per capita income was $15,819, while the median family income was $39,809.[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 Smethport Area School District provided basic educational services to 974 pupils. It employed: 75 teachers, 40 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 7 administrators. Smethport Area School District received more than $8.5 million in state funding, for the 2007-08 school year.

Smethport Area School District has its entire complex in the borough of Smethport. Smethport Area School District operates one elementary school for grades K–6. It is connected by tunnel to the Smethport Area Junior Senior High School, which houses grades 7–12. The superintendent's offices are in the elementary school.

Governance[edit]

Smethport Area School District is governed by 9 individually elected board members (serves without compensation for a term of four years.), the Pennsylvania State Board of Education, the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the Pennsylvania General Assembly.[8] The federal government controls programs it funds like Title I funding for low-income children in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and the No Child Left Behind Act, which mandates the district focus resources on student success in acquiring reading and math skills. The Superintendent and Business Manager are appointed by the school board. The Superintendent is the chief administrative officer with overall responsibility for all aspects of operations, including education and finance. The Business Manager is responsible for budget and financial operations. Neither of these officials are voting members of the School Board.

The Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy Alternatives Sunshine Review gave the school board and district administration a "D" 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]

Smethport Area School District was ranked 387th 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 - 422nd [12]
  • 2010 - 430th [13]
  • 2009 - 441st
  • 2008 - 415th
  • 2007 - 415th out of 501 school districts.[14]
District AYP status history

In 2012, Smethport Area School District declined to Warning AYP status due to lagging student achievement in reading and math.[15] In 2011, Smethport Area School District achieved Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). 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] Smethport Area School District achieved AYP status each year from 2004 to 2010, while in 2003 the District was in Warning status due to lagging student achievement.[17]

Graduation rate[edit]

In 2012, Smethport Area School District’s graduation rate was 93%.[18] In 2011, Smethport Area School District's graduation rate was 94%.[19] In 2010, the Pennsylvania Department of Education issued a new, 4-year cohort graduation rate. High School's rate was 94.2% for 2010.[20]

According to traditional graduation rate calculations
  • 2010 - 94.52% [21]
  • 2009 – 92%[22]
  • 2008 – 96%
  • 2007 - 96% [23]

High school[edit]

Smethport Area Junior Senior High School is located at 412 South Mechanic Street, Smethport. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, the school reported an enrollment of 465 pupils in grades 7th through 12th, with 161 pupils eligible for a federal free or reduced-price lunch. Smethport Area Junior Senior High School employed 35 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 13:1.[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 2012, Smethport Area Junior Senior High School declined to Warning AYP status due to missing all 6 academic metrics that were measured. In 2010 and 2011, Smethport Area Junior Senior High School achieved AYP status.[26]

PSSA Results
11th Grade Reading
  • 2012 - 50% on grade level, (24% below basic). State - 67% of 11th graders are on grade level.[27]
  • 2011 - 67% (22% below basic). State - 69.1%[28]
  • 2009 – 58%, State - 65%[29]
  • 2008 – 51%, State – 65%[30]
11th Grade Math
  • 2012 - 59% on grade level (29% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 59% of 11th graders are on grade level.[31]
  • 2011 - 47% (18% below basic). State - 60.3% [32]
  • 2009 – 57%, State - 56% [33]
  • 2008 – 39%, State – 56% [34]
11th Grade Science
  • 2012 - 26% on grade level (15% below basic). State - 42% of 11th graders were on grade level.[35]
  • 2011 - 37% (14% below basic). State - 40% [36]
  • 2009 – 28% on grade level. State: 40% of 11th graders were on grade level.
  • 2008 – 32%, State – 39%

Science in Motion Port Allegany Junior Senior High School took 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.[37] The service was provided by the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford.

College remediation[edit]

According to a Pennsylvania Department of Education study released in January 2009, 15% of the Smethport Area 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.[38] 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.[39] 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]

Smethport Area High School offers its students a dual enrollment program. This state program permits high school students to take courses, at local higher education institutions, to earn college credits. Smethport Area has an agreement with University of Pittsburgh at Bradford. 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. Originally, the state offered a small grant to assist students in costs for tuition, fees and books.[40] The grant was discontinued by Governor Edward Rendell. Students and their parents are responsible for course costs and transportation. Under the Pennsylvania Transfer and Articulation Agreement, many Pennsylvania colleges and universities accept these credits for students who transfer to their institutions.[41]

For the 2009-10 funding year, the school district received a state grant of $3,271 for the program.[42]

Graduation requirements[edit]

Among Pennsylvania's 500 public school districts, graduation requirements widely vary. Smethport Area School Board has determined that a pupil must earn 24 credits to graduate, including: a required class every year in English, Math 3 credits, social studies 4 credits, science 3 credits, Physical Education 1 course each year, Health 2 courses, Drivers Education, and electives. Students taking a Seneca Highlands Vocational-Technical Course are exempted from one social studies credit. Students must earn 6 credits to be promoted to 10th grade, 12 credits to be promoted to 11th grade.[43]

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.[44] Students receive 0.5 credits upon completion. Effective with the graduating class of 2017, the Pennsylvania Board of Education eliminated the state mandate that students complete a culminating project in order to graduate.[45]

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.[46][47][48] 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.[49] 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.[50] 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, 34 Smethport Area School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 490. The Math average score was 499. The Writing average score was 449. 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, 41 Smethport Area School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 477. The Math average score was 497. The Writing average score was 444.[51] Pennsylvania ranked 40th among states with SAT scores: Verbal - 493, Math - 501, Writing - 479.[52] 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.[53]

Junior high school[edit]

PSSA Results:

8th Grade Science
  • 2012 - 59% on grade level (17% below basic). State - 59%
  • 2011 - 80% (6% below basic). State – 58.3%
  • 2009 – 54%, State - 55% [57]
  • 2008 – 56%, State – 50% [58]

Elementary school[edit]

Smethport Area Elementary School is located at 414 South Mechanic Street, Smethport. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2011, the school reported an enrollment of 479 pupils in a taxpayer-funded preschool and grades kindergarten through 6th, with 236 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school employed 38 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 12:1.[59] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[60]

In 2012, Smethport Area Elementary School declined to Warning AYP status due to inadequate student achievement in reading and math.[61] In 2011, Smethport Area Elementary School achieved AYP status

4th Grade Science
  • 2012 - 72%, (18% below basic). State - 82%
  • 2011 - 78%, (9% below basic). State - 82.9%
  • 2010 - 77%, (11% below basic). State - 81%

Wellness policy[edit]

Smethport Area School Board established a district wellness policy in 2006.[65] 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." Most districts identified the superintendent and school foodservice director as responsible for ensuring local wellness policy implementation.[66] e

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

The District offers a free school breakfast to low-income children. The program is funded with federal dollars through the USDA.[68]

Enrollment[edit]

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, there are 869 students enrolled in K-12 in 2010. In the 2008–2009 school year there were 957 students. The Class of 2009 had 95 students. The senior class of 2010 has 83 students. Enrollment in Smethport Area School District is projected to continue to remain below 950 through 2018. The administrative infrastructure and mandate costs per pupil are high. The district's administrative costs per pupil in 2008 was $822 per pupil. The lowest administrative cost per pupil in Pennsylvania was $398 per pupil.[69] With limited resources, opportunities for students are limited. Consolidation of the administration, with adjacent school districts, would achieve substantial administrative cost savings.[70] These excessive administrative overhead dollars could be redirected to improve the students' poor academic achievement, to enrich the academic programs or to substantially reduce local property taxes.[71] Consolidation of central administrations into one would not necessitate the closing of any schools.

Over the next 10 years, rural Pennsylvania school enrollment is projected to decrease 8 percent. The most significant enrollment decline is projected to be in western Pennsylvania, where rural school districts may have a 16 percent decline. More than 40 percent of elementary schools and more than 60 percent of secondary schools in western Pennsylvania are projected to experience significant enrollment decreases (15 percent or greater).[72]

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.[73] 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.[74]

Budget[edit]

Pennsylvania public school districts budget and expend funds according to procedures mandated by 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.[75]

In 2011, the average teacher salary in Smethport Area School District was $54,620.34 a year, while the cost of the benefits teachers receive was $15,859.07 per employee, for a total annual average teacher compensation of $70,479.41.[76]

In 2009, Smethport Area School District reported employing 85 teachers and administrators with a median salary of $56,390 and a top salary of $108,141.[77] The teacher’s work day is 7.5 hours, including a 30-minute duty-free lunch. Teachers work 184 days in the contract year (180 student days). Additionally, the teachers receive a defined benefit pension, health insurance, professional development reimbursement, paid personal days, 10 paid sick days, and other benefits.[78]

In 2007, the average teacher salary in the district was $51,866 for 180 days worked. The Smethport Area School District ranked first in McKean County for average teacher salary in 2007.[79]

Smethport Area School District administrative costs per pupil in 2008 was $822.39 per pupil which ranked 169th out of 500 public school districts in the Commonwealth. The lowest administrative cost per pupil in Pennsylvania was $398 per pupil.[80]

Per pupil spending In 2008, Smethport Area School District administration reported that per pupil spending was $$13,052 which ranked 173rd among Pennsylvania's 501 school districts. In 2010 the per pupil spending had increased to $$14,720.67 ranking 154th.[81] Among the fifty states, Pennsylvania’s total per pupil revenue (including all sources) ranked 11th at $15,023 per student, in 2008-09.[82] In 2007, the Pennsylvania per pupil total expenditures was $12,759.[83] The U.S. Census Bureau reports that Pennsylvania spent $8,191 per pupil in school year 2000-01.[84]

Reserves In 2008, Smethport Area School District reported a balance of zero in its unreserved-designated fund. The unreserved-undesignated fund balance was reported as $2,162,885. [85] In 2010, Smethport Area Administration reported $$1,842,972 in its unreserved-undesignated fund. The District reported also reported $746,561 in its unreserved-designated fund in 2010. 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.[86]

Audit In March 2011, the Pennsylvania Auditor General conducted a performance audit of the District. The findings were reported to the Smethport Area School Board and the District’s administration. A serious issue was uncovered regarding overpayment for student transportation.[87]

Tuition Students who live in the Smethport Area 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 Smethport Area School District. For these cases, the Pennsylvania Department of Education sets an annual tuition rate for each school district. It is the amount the public school district pays to a charter school for each resident student that attends the charter and it is the amount a nonresident student's parents must pay to attend the District's schools. The 2012 tuition rates are Elementary School - $9,094.59, High School - $9,657.26 [88]

Smethport Area School District is funded by a combination of: a local earned income tax, a property tax, a real estate transfer tax 0.5%, and per capita taxes coupled with substantial funding from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the federal government. Grants provide an opportunity to supplement school funding without raising taxes.[89] 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.[90]

State basic education funding[edit]

For the 2012-13 school year, Smethport Area School District received $6,164,882.[91] The Governor's Executive Budget for 2012-2013 included $9.34 billion for kindergarten through 12th grade public education, including $5.4 billion in basic education funding, which was an increase of $49 million over the 2011-12 budget. In addition, the Commonwealth provided $100 million for the Accountability Block grant program. Smethport Area School District received $77,642. The state also provided a $544.4 million payment for School Employees’ Social Security and $856 million for School Employees’ Retirement fund called PSERS.[92]

In 2011-12, Smethport Area School District received a $6,164,882 allocation, of state Basic Education Funding.[93][94] Additionally, the School District received $77,642 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.[95] 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.[96] In 2010, the district reported that 396 students received free or reduced-price lunches, due to the family meeting the federal poverty level.[97]

In the 2010-11 budget year, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided the base 2% increase in Basic Education Funding for a total of $6,434,551 to Smethport Area School District. Among the public school districts in McKean County, the highest increase went to Kane Area School District which got a 4.28% 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.[98] The state's hold harmless policy regarding state basic education funding continued where each district received at least the same amount as it received the prior school year, even when enrollment had significantly declined. The amount of increase each school district received was set by Governor Edward Rendell and then Secretary of Education Gerald Zahorchak, as a part of the state budget proposal given each February. This was the second year of Governor Rendell’s policy to fund some districts at a far greater rate than others.[99]

In the 2009–2010 budget year, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a 2.33% increase in state Basic Education funding for a total of $6,308,383. This was the lowest funding increase received by a McKean County school district in 2009. For comparison, Governor Rendell gave a 7.46% increase in funding to Bradford Area School District and Kane Area School District received a 5.32% increase in state funding. Ninety school Pennsylvania public school districts received a 2% increase. Muhlenberg School District in Berks County received a 22.31% increase in state basic education funding in 2009.[100] 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.[101] 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.[102][103]

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 310 district students received free or reduced-price lunches due to low family income in the 2007–2008 school year.[104]

The Commonwealth's Basic Education funding to Smethport Area School District in 2008–09 was $6,164,881.96.

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, Smethport Area School District applied for and received $210,740 in addition to all other state and federal funding. The District used the funding to provide full-day kindergarten for 62 and to develop better curriculum.[105][106]

PreK Counts grant[edit]

Smethport Area School District receives state funding to provide preschool at the elementary school. For the 2011 school year, Pre-K Counts was funded at the 2010 levels of $83.6 million statewide in Gov. Tom Corbett`s proposed budget,. The state also supplements the federal Head Start preschool program with an additional $37.6 million. Pre-K Counts funding was initiated during the Rendell administration. In 2007-08 the state funded Pre-K Counts at $75 million. Smethport Area School District received funding in 2007-08.[107] In 2009-10 the district received $402,900 to provide preschool to 59 children.[108][109]

Classrooms for the Future grant[edit]

The Classroom for the Future state program provided districts with hundreds of thousands of extra state funding to buy laptop computers for each core curriculum high school class (English, Science, History, Math) and paid for teacher training to optimize the computers use. The program was funded from 2006 to 2009. Smethport Area School District applied to participate in 2006-07 and was denied funding by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. In 2007-08, the District received $109,661. The District received $45,413 in 2008-09 for a total funding of $155,074.[110] In McKean County, the highest award was given to Bradford Area School District which received $365,176. 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.

Science It’s Elementary grant[edit]

Smethport Area Elementary School successfully applied to participate and received a Science It’s Elementary grant in 2008-09. For the 2008-09 school year, the program was offered in 143 schools reaching 2,847 teachers and 66,973 students across Pennsylvania.[111] In 2007, the Pennsylvania Department of Education initiated an effort to improve science instruction in the Commonwealth’s public elementary schools. Called Science: It’s Elementary, the program was a hands on instruction approach for elementary science classes that was intended to developed problem-solving and critical thinking skills.[112] To encourage schools to adopt the program’s standards aligned curriculum, the state provided a grant to cover the costs of materials and extensive mandatory teacher training.[113] The District was required to develop a three-year implementation plan for the participating school. They had to appoint a district liaison who was paid $3000 by PDE to serve as the conduit of all information between the district and the Department and its agents along with submitting orders and distributing supplies to implementing teachers. For the 2006-07 state education budget, $10 million was allocated. The 2006-07 State Education Budget provided $635 million in new spending for pre-K through 12th grades for the 2006-07 school year. This marks an 8-percent increase over 2005-06 public school funding.[114] The grant program was expanded to $14.5 million in the 2008-09 budget. The grant was discontinued in 2010 by Governor Rendell, due to a massive state budget.

Other grants[edit]

The District did not participate in: PA DEP Environmental Education grants, Education Assistance Grants, 2012 Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy grant 2012, nor the federal 21st Century learning grants.

Federal stimulus[edit]

The district also received $1,006,284 in ARRA – Federal Stimulus money to be used in specific programs like special education and meeting the academic needs of low-income students.[115][116] The funding was limited to the 2009-10 and 2010-2011 school years.[117] Due to the temporary nature of the funding, schools were repeatedly advised to use the funds for one-time expenditures like: acquiring equipment, making repairs to buildings, training teachers to provide more effective instruction or purchasing books and software.

Race to the Top grant[edit]

Smethport Area School District officials did not apply for the Race to the Top federal grant which would have brought the district millions of additional federal dollars for improving student academic achievement.[118] The administration, school board and teachers' union prioritized local control over free resources to improve student success. A substantial property tax increase will be needed to make up for the rejected funding.

Real estate taxes[edit]

Smethport Area School Board set property tax rates in 2012 were set at 15.8500 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 a region.[119] 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.[120] 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.[121] 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.[122]

  • 2011-12 - 15.8500 mills.[123]
  • 2010-11 - 15.8500 mills.[124]
  • 2009-10 - 15.8500 mills.[125]
  • 2008-09 - 15.8500 mills.[126]
  • 2007-08 - 15.8500 mills.[127]
  • 2006-07 - 15.8500 mills.[128]
  • 2005-06 - 15.0000 mills.[129]

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.[130] The average yearly property tax paid by McKean County residents amounts to about 2.6% of their yearly income. McKean County is ranked 874th of the 3143 United States counties for property taxes as a percentage of median income.[131]

Act 1 Adjusted Index[edit]

The Act 1 of 2006 Index regulates the rates at which each school district can raise property taxes in Pennsylvania. Districts are not permitted to raise property taxes above their annual Index unless they either: allow voters to vote by referendum or they receive an exception from the Pennsylvania Department of Education. The base index for the school year is published by the PDE in the fall of each year. Each individual school district’s Act 1 Index can be adjusted higher, depending on a number of factors, such as local property values and the personal income of district residents. Originally, Act 1 or 2006 included 10 exceptions: 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.[132] In June 2011, the Pennsylvania General Assembly eliminated six exceptions to the Act 1 Index.[133] 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.[134][135]

The School District Adjusted Index for the Smethport Area School District 2006-2007 through 2011-2012.[136]

For the 2012-13 budget year, Smethport Area School Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed the Act 1 Index. For 2012-2013, 274 school districts adopted a resolution certifying that tax rates would not be increased above their index; 223 school districts adopted a preliminary budget leaving open the option of exceeded the Index limit. For the exception for pension costs, 194 school districts received approval to exceed the Index. For special education costs, 129 districts received approval to exceed the tax limit.[139]

For the 2011-12 school year, the Smethport Area School Board did not apply for an exception to exceed the Act 1 Index. Each year, the Smethport Area 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.[140]

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.[141]

Property tax relief[edit]

In 2009, the Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief from gambling for the Smethport Area School District was $187 per approved permanent primary residence. In the district, 1687 property owners applied for the tax relief. 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 buildings used for agricultural purposes. The farm must be at least 10 contiguous acres and must include the primary residence of the owner. Farmers can qualify for both the homestead exemption and the farmstead exemption. In 2009, 68% of McKean County property owners applied for the property tax relief.[142]

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%).[143]

District athletics and activities[edit]

The district offers a variety of clubs, activities and an extensive and costly sports program. Eligibility for participation is determined by school board policy and PIAA regulations.

The school mascot is a wagon wheel, and they go by the name of "The Hubbers." The word "hubber" is symbolic of a wheel's hub—or center. The reason this is their name is because Smethport is the county seat—or the "hub" (center) of McKean County.

Activities students may participate in are: band, choir, National Honor Society, French and German clubs, Spanish and student council[144]

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.[145]

Sports[edit]

The District funds:

Junior High School Sports

According to PIAA directory July 2012 [146]

References[edit]

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  145. ^ Home-Schooled, Charter School Children Can Participate in School District Extracurricular Activities, Pennsylvania Office of the Governor Press Release, November 10, 2005
  146. ^ Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletics Association, PIAA School Directory, 2012
  • Some information for this article is taken from the school district's website or is contributed by employees of the school and/or citizen's of Smethport Borough

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 41°48′14″N 78°26′35″W / 41.80399°N 78.44319°W / 41.80399; -78.44319