Southern Columbia Area School District

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Southern Columbia Area School District
Map of Columbia County Pennsylvania School Districts.png
Address
800 Southern Drive
Catawissa, Pennsylvania, Northumberland County and Columbia County, Pennsylvania, 17820
United States
Information
School board 9 elected members
Superintendent Mr. Paul Caputo, contract (Feb 2013 to June 2016)[1]
School number (570) 356-2331
Administrator Jenn Snyder Director of special ed

Mr Michael J Sokoloski, Business Manager
Mehalick, Robert, Supervisor salary $78,677 (2012)

Principal Mr.John Fetterman ES
Principal Mrs.Angela Farronato, MS
Principal Mr.Jim Becker, HS salary $82,479 (2012)
Staff 124 non teaching staff members 2011[2]
Faculty 109 teachers in 2010
Grades K-12
Age 5 years old to 21 yers old for special education
Enrollment 1,455 pupils (2013)[3]1,443 pupils (2010-11)[4]
Kindergarten 112
Grade 1 116
Grade 2 113
Grade 3 114
Grade 4 109
Grade 5 109
Grade 6 128
Grade 7 108
Grade 8 121
Grade 9 94
Grade 10 97
Grade 11 103
Grade 12 117
Color(s) Black and Gold
Mascot Tigers
Budget $18,076,935 (2013-14)[5]

$16,472,216 (2011-12)
$16,887,333 (2010-11)[6]
$16,052,576 (2009-10)

Per Pupil spending $10,666 (2008)
Website
Map of Northumberland County, Pennsylvania Public School Districts

Southern Columbia Area School District is a small, rural school district located in Catawissa, Pennsylvania. It serves communities in two counties. In Columbia County the District serves: Catawissa Borough, Catawissa Township, Locust Township, Roaring Creek Township, and Cleveland Township. This includes the boroughs of: Slabtown and Numidia. In Northumberland County it serves Ralpho Township. Southern Columbia Area School District encompasses approximately 108 square miles (280 km2). According to 2000 federal census data, it serves a resident population of 9,803. By 2010, the district's population increased to 10,386 people.[7] The per capita income of residents was $18,969 in 2009, while the median family income was $45,889.[8] In the Commonwealth, the median family income was $49,501[9] and the United States median family income was $49,445, in 2010.[10]

According to District officials, in school year 2009-10, the Southern Columbia Area School District provided basic educational services to 1,488 pupils. The District employed: 108 teachers, 115 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 7 administrators. Southern Columbia Area School District received more than $6.6 million in state funding in school year 2009-10. Per school district officials, in school year 2007-08, the Southern Columbia Area School District provided basic educational services to 1,424 pupils through the employment of 114 teachers, 141 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 7 administrators.

Southern Columbia Area School District is composed of an Elementary Center housing Kindergarten through Fourth Grade, a Middle School for Fifth through Eighth Grade, and a Senior High School serving grades nine through twelve. Both the Elementary and the Junior/Senior High Schools are accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools and by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

Governance[edit]

Southern Columbia Area School District is governed by 9 individually elected board members (serve four-year terms), the Pennsylvania State Board of Education, the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the Pennsylvania General Assembly.[11] 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 School Board enters into individual employment contracts for these positions. In Pennsylvania, public school districts are required to give 150 days notice to the Superintendent regarding renewal of the employment contract.

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.[12]

Academic achievement[edit]

In 2013, Southern Columbia Area School District was ranked 167th out of 498 Pennsylvania school districts by the Pittsburgh Business Times in 2013.[13] The ranking was based on student academic achievement as demonstrated on the last three years of the PSSAs for: reading, writing, math and science.[14] 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. Writing exams were given to children in 5th, 8th and 11th grades.

  • 2013 - 142nd
  • 2011 - 118th [15]
  • 2010 - 146th [16]
  • 2009 - 160th
  • 2008 - 176th
  • 2007 - 135th out of 501 Pennsylvania school districts.[17]
Overachiever statewide ranking

In 2013, the Pittsburgh Business Times also reported an Overachievers Ranking for 498 Pennsylvania school districts. Southern Columbia School District ranked 300th. [18] 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."

In 2009, the academic achievement, of the students in the Southern Columbia Area School District, was in the 67th percentile among all 500 Pennsylvania school districts Scale (0-99; 100 is state best) [21]

District AYP status history[edit]

In 2012, Southern Columbia Area School District achieved Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) status.[22] In 2011, 94 percent of the 500 Pennsylvania public school districts achieved the No Child Left Behind Act progress level of 72% of students reading on grade level and 67% of students demonstrating on grade level math. In 2011, 46.9 percent of Pennsylvania school districts achieved Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) based on student performance. An additional 37.8 percent of school districts made AYP based on a calculated method called safe harbor, 8.2 percent on the growth model and 0.8 percent on a two-year average performance.[23]

  • 2011 - achieved Adequate Yearly Progress [24]
  • 2004-2010 - achieved Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP)[25]
  • 2003 - Warning AYP status due to lagging academic achievement.

Graduation rate[edit]

In 2013, Southern Columbia Area School District's graduation rate was 97%.[26] In 2012, Southern Columbia Area School District's graduation rate was 98%.[27] In 2011, the District had a 98% graduation rate.[28] In 2010, the Pennsylvania Department of Education issued a new, 4-year cohort graduation rate. Southern Columbia Area High School's rate was 91% for 2010.[29]

Former AYP graduation rate:

High school[edit]

Southern Columbia High School is located at 812 Southern Drive, Catawissa. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2013, the school reported an enrollment of 437 pupils in grades 9th through 12th, with 23.5% of its pupils eligible for a federal free or reduced price lunch due to the family meeting the federal poverty level. According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 2% of its teachers were rated "Non-Highly Qualified" under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.[34]

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, the school reported an enrollment of 415 pupils in grades 9th through 12th, with 97 pupils eligible for a federal free or reduced-price lunch. The school employed 34 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 12:1.[35] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[36]

2013 School Performance Profile

Southern Columbia High School achieved 81.6 out of 100. Reflects on grade level reading, mathematics and science achievement. In reading/literature - 88.5% of pupils were on grade level. In Algebra 1, 77.8% showed on grade level math skills. In Biology, 63% showed on grade level science understanding.[37] According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 2,181 public schools (less than 73 percent of Pennsylvania public schools), achieved an academic score of 70 or higher. Pennsylvania 11th grade students no longer take the PSSAs. Instead, they now take the Keystone Exams at the end of the associated course.[38]

AYP status[edit]

In 2012, Southern Columbia High School achieved Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) status. In 2010 and 2011, Southern Columbia High School also achieved AYP status.[39]

PSSA results

PSSAs are NCLB related examinations which were administered from 2003 through 2012. In 2013, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania changed its high school assessments to the Keystone Exams in Algebra 1, Reading/literature and Biology1. The exams are given at the end of the course, rather than all in the spring of the student's 11th grade year.

11th Grade Reading:

Of the 18 CSIU16 region high schools, Southern Columbia High School ranked 3rd for 11th grade reading achievement in 2012.[40] In 2009, it ranked 5th in the region.

  • 2012 - 81% on grade level, (6% below basic). State - 697% of 11th graders are on grade level.[41]
  • 2011 - 74% (7% below basic). State - 69.1% [42]
  • 2010 - 81%, State - 67% [43][44]
  • 2009 - 80%, State - 65%[45]
  • 2008 - 71%, State - 65%
11th Grade Math:

In 2012, Southern Columbia HIgh School 11th graders ranked 3rd out of 18 high schools in the CSIU 16 region for math achievement.[46] In 2011, Southern Columbia 11th graders ranked 3rd out of 18 high schools in the CSIU 16 region for math achievement.[47] In 2010, Southern Columbia High School 11th graders ranked 5th out of 18 high schools in the CSIU 16 region for math achievement.[48] In 2009, the 11th grade ranked 1st in the region for math achievement on the 11th grade PSSAs.

  • 2012 - 71%, on grade level (9% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 59% of 11th graders are on grade level.
  • 2011 - 76% (3% below basic). State - 60.3% [49]
  • 2010 - 74%, State - 59% [50]
  • 2009 - 77%, State - 56%
  • 2008 - 72%, State - 56% [51]
  • 2007 - 63%, State - 53% [52]
11th Grade Science:

In 2012, Southern Columbia HIgh School 11th graders ranked 2nd out of 18 high schools in the CSIU 16 region for science achievement.[53]

  • 2012 - 71% on grade level (4% below basic). State - 42% of 11th graders were on grade level.
  • 2011 - 60% (2% below basic). State - 40% [54]
  • 2010 - 63%, State - 39% [55]
  • 2009 - 61%, State: 40%.[56]
  • 2008 - 52%, State - 39%

College remediation: According to a Pennsylvania Department of Education study released in January 2009, 14% of the Southern Columbia Area 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.[57] 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.[58] Per the Pennsylvania Department of Education, one in three recent high school graduates who attend Pennsylvania's public universities and community colleges takes at least one remedial course in math, reading or English.

Graduation requirements[edit]

To graduate from Southern Columbia Area School District, a student must earn 25 credits, including passing the following courses: 4 credits of English, 4 credits of Social Studies, four credits of Math, four years of Science, four years of physical education and one of health. Students in grades 10 - 12 are required to schedule at least 6. 66 credits in each of their high school years. Students must schedule a minimum of 40 class periods per week. Students in grade 9 are required to schedule 7.66 credits. Students in grade 9 must schedule 46 class periods per week.[59]

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.[60]

Beginning with the graduating classes of 2016, students must demonstrate successful completion of secondary-level course work in Algebra I, Biology, Literature, and English Composition, in which the Keystone Exam serves as the final course exam. Students’ Keystone Exam scores count for at least one-third of the final course grade.[61]

Dual enrollment[edit]

The high school offers the Pennsylvania dual enrollment program. This state program permits high school students to take courses, at local higher education institutions, to earn college credits. The students continue to have full access to activities and programs at their high school, including the high school graduation ceremony.[62] Classes from Wilkes University, Kings College, and Luzerne County Community College are typically available to our students. Southern Columbia junior and senior students also have the opportunity to participate in Bloomsburg University’s Advance College Experience Program (ACE). The ACE program provides a 75% tuition reduction for high school students taking college level classes.[63] Under the Pennsylvania Transfer and Articulation Agreement, many Pennsylvania colleges and universities accept these credits for students who transfer to their institutions.[64] 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.[65] In 2010 the district received a $6,975.00 state grant to be used to assist students with tuition, fees and books.

SAT scores[edit]

In 2013, Southern Columbia School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 501. The Math average score was 513. The Writing average score was 487. The College Board reported that statewide scores were: 494 in reading, 504 in math and 482 in writing. The nation-wide SAT results were the same as in 2012.[66]

In 2012, 73 Southern Columbia School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 483. The Math average score was 512. The Writing average score was 475. 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, 74 Southern Columbia students took the SAT exams. The district's Verbal Average Score was 498. The Math average score was 511. The Writing average score was 483.[67] Pennsylvania ranked 40th among states with SAT scores: Verbal - 493, Math - 501, Writing - 479.[68] 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.[69]

AP Courses[edit]

In 2013, Southern Columbia High School offered 5 Advanced Placement (AP) courses at a higher cost than regular courses. Students have the option of taking College Board approved courses and then taking the College Board's examination in the Spring. Students, who achieve a 3 or better on the exam, may be awarded college credits at US universities and colleges. Each higher education institution sets its own standards about what level of credits are awarded to a student based on their AP exam score. Most higher education give credits for scores of 4 or 5. Some schools also give credits for scores of 3. High schools give credits towards graduation to students who take the school's AP class. At Southern Columbia High School, less than 10 of the students who took an AP course earned a 3 or better on the exam.[70]

Middle school[edit]

Southern Columbia Middle School is located at 810 Southern Drive, Catawissa. In 2013, the school reported an enrollment of 457 pupils in grades 5th through 8th, with 30% of its pupils receiving a federal free or reduced price lunch due to family poverty. Additionally, 16.8% of pupils received special education services and 5% were identified as gifted[71]

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, the school reported an enrollment of 462 pupils in grades 5th through 8th, with 134 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school employed 31 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 15:1.[72] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[73]

2013 School Performance Profile

Southern Columbia Middle School achieved 83.4 out of 100. Reflects on grade level reading, writing, mathematics and science achievement. In reading, 72.5% of the students were on grade level. In Mathematics/Algebra I, 72% of the students showed on grade level skills. In Science, 74.7% of the 8th graders demonstrated n grade level understanding. In writing, 68% of the 8th grade students were on grade level.[74]

AYP history[edit]

In 2012, Southern Columbia Middle School declined to Warning status due to lagging reading skills.[75] From 2003 through 2011, Southern Columbia Middle School achieved AYP each year.[76]

PSSA Results:

Pennsylvania System of School Assessments, commonly called PSSAs are NCLB related examination given in the Spring of each school year. Sixth and seventh grades are tested in reading and mathematics since 2006. Eighth graders are tested in: reading, writing, mathematics and Science. Beginning in the Spring of 2013, eighth graders, who are enrolled in Algebra I take the Keystone Exam for Algebra I at the end of the course. The testing of 8th grade in reading and mathematics began in 1999. Testing in science began in 2007. The goal is for 100% of students to be on grade level or better in reading and mathematics, by the Spring of 2014. The tests focus on the state's Academic Standards for reading, writing, mathematics and science. The standards were first published in 1998 and are mandated by the Pennsylvania State Board of Education.[77]

8th Grade Science:
  • 2012 - 68% on grade level (14% below basic). State – 59% of 8th graders were on grade level.
  • 2011 - 73% (13% below basic). State – 58.3%
  • 2010 - 77%, State - 57% [86]
  • 2009 - 74%, State - 55%[87]
  • 2008 - 72%, State - 50%[88]

Hartman Elementary Center[edit]

Hartman Elementary Center is located at. In 2013, the school's enrollment was 561 pupils with 30% of its pupils eligible for a free or reduced price lunch. Additionally, 16% of pupils received special education services and 1% of pupils were identified as gifted. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, the school reported an enrollment of 551 pupils in grades kindergarten through 4th, with 154 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school employed 44 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 12:1.[96] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[97]

2013 School Performance Profile

Hartman Elementary Center achieved a score of 82.8 out of 100. The score reflects on grade level: reading, science, writing and mathematics achievement. In 2012-13, only 68.6% of the students were reading on grade level in grades 3rd through 4th. In 3rd grade, 72% of the pupils were reading on grade level. In math, 73% were on grade level (3rd-4th grades). In 4th grade science, 81.6% of the pupils demonstrated on grade level understanding. [98]

AYP Status[edit]

In 2012, Hartman Elementary School declined to Warning AYP status under No Child Left Behind. In 2011 and 2010, the school achieved AYP status.[99] In 2011, the attendance rate was 95% whole the attendance rate was 92% in 2010.[100]

4th Grade Science
  • 2012 - 83%, (5% below basic), State – 82%
  • 2011 - 91%, (2% below basic), State – 82.9%
  • 2010 - 79%, (7% below basic), State - 81%
  • 2009 - 87%, (1% below basic), State - 83%
  • 2008 - 89%, (3% below basic), State - 81%

Wellness policy[edit]

Southern Columbia Area School Board established a district wellness policy in 2006 - Policy 246.[103] The policy deals with nutritious meals served at school, the control of access to some foods and beverages during school hours, age appropriate nutrition education for all students, and physical education for students K-12. The policy is in response to state mandates and federal legislation (P.L. 108 - 265). The law dictates that each school district participating in a program authorized by the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act (42 U.S.C. 1751 et seq) or the Child Nutrition Act of 1966 (42 U.S.C. 1771 et seq) "shall establish a local school wellness policy by School Year 2006." The Superintendent or designee is required to annually report to the Board on the district’s compliance with law and policies related to student wellness.

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 and physical education that are aligned with the Pennsylvania State Academic Standards for Health, Safety and Physical Education, 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.[104] The Pennsylvania Department of Education required the district to submit a copy of the policy for approval.

The District offers both a free school breakfast and a free or reduced-price lunch to children in low income families. All students attending the school can eat breakfast and lunch. Children from families with incomes at or below 130 percent of the federal poverty level are provided a breakfast and lunch at no cost to the family. Children from families with incomes between 130 and 185 percent of the federal poverty level can be charged no more than 30 cents per breakfast. A foster child whose care and placement is the responsibility of the State or who is placed by a court with a caretaker household is eligible for both a free breakfast and a free lunch. Runaway, homeless and Migrant Youth are also automatically eligible for free meals.[105] The meals are partially funded with federal dollars through the United States Department of Agriculture.[106]

In 2013, the USDA issued new restrictions to foods in public schools. The rules apply to foods and beverages sold on all public school district campuses during the day. They limit vending machine snacks to a maximum of 200 calories per item. Additionally, all snack foods sold at school must meet competitive nutrient standards, meaning they must have fruits, vegetables, dairy or protein in them or contain at least 10 percent of the daily value of fiber, calcium, potassium, and Vitamin D. [107] In order to comply with the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 all US public school districts are required to raise the price of their school lunches to $2.60 regardless of the actual cost of providing the lunch.[108] In 2014, President Obama ordered a prohibition of advertisements for unhealthy foods on public school campuses during the school day.[109]

Southern Columbia School District provides health services as mandated by the Commonwealth and the federal government. Nurses are available in each building to conduct annual health screenings (data reported to the PDE and state Department of Health) and to dispense prescribed medications to students during the school day. Students can be excluded from school unless they comply with all the State Department of Health’s extensive immunization mandates. School nurses monitor each pupil for this compliance.[110] Nurses also monitor each child's weight.

Highmark Healthy High 5 grant[edit]

In 2011, the Southern Columbia School District received funding through a Highmark Healthy High 5 grant. Southern Columbia High School received $10,000 which was used to purchase equipment for the Tigers in Training program, and interactive circuit training program incorporating equipment introduction, testing, and heart rate lessons. [111] Beginning in 2006, Highmark Foundation engaged in a 5 year, $100 million program to promote lifelong healthy behaviors in children and adolescents through local nonprofits and schools.

The Southern Columbia School District participated in Highmark Healthy High 5 Health eTools for Schools which enabled mobile data collection of pertinent health and physical fitness screening data on students K-12 in a database held by InnerLink, Inc. in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Health eTools for Schools also provided interdisciplinary research-based curriculum in nutrition, physical education and physical activity to participating districts. The program was discontinued in 2013.[112]

Special education[edit]

In December 2012, the Souther Columbia Area School District administration reported that 268 pupils or 18.1% of the district's pupils received Special Education services, with 57.8% of the identified students having a specific learning disability.[113]

In December 2010, the district reported that 272 or 18.3% of its students received Special Education services, with 55% of those identified as having specific learning disability. In December 2008, the district reported that 277 or 18.4% of its students received special education services.[114] In December 2008, the district reported that 19% of students received special education services.[115] The Southern Columbia Area School District provides a variety of opportunities for the screening and evaluation of students thought to have disabilities. In kindergarten all students receive screenings on readiness as well as standardized indicators of early literacy. The elementary school has an identified and trained Instructional Support Team (IST). The Instructional Support Team works with school staff to provide screening in various areas (cognitive, emotional, social, communication, motor, vision and hearing). Parents may request IST consideration through the building principal. The IST process can recommend interventions, further screening and/or a referral for multidisciplinary evaluation (MDE) for special education services for a student with a disability. At the middle and high school level these teams are in the form of Child and Pupil Study Teams. In addition, the district conducts screenings to identify students who may need special education through universal screens, health screens, group intelligence tests and achievement tests.

A multidisciplinary evaluation (MDE) can be requested at any level by school teams and/or parents if a student is thought to be in need of special education services. Once a student is identified to be in need of Special Education an Individual Education Plan (IEP) is developed and reviewed annually to offer the necessary Specially Designed Instruction. This plan would include all the necessary supplemental aides and services for the student to make meaningful educational progress.[116]

In 2010, the state of Pennsylvania provided $1,026,815,000 for special education services. This funding is in addition to the state's basic education per pupil funding, as well as, all other state and federal funding.[117] 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.[118] The state requires each school district to have a three year special education plan to meet the unique needs of its special education students.[119] Overidentification of students in order to increase state funding has been an issue in the Commonwealth. Some districts have more than 20% of its students receiving special education services while others have 10% supported through special education.[120]

Southern Columbia Area School District received a $762,288 supplement for special education services, in 2010. .[121] For the 2009-10, 2011-12, 2012-13, 2013-14 school years, all Pennsylvania public school districts received the same level of funding for special education that they received in 2010. 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.[122]

Gifted education[edit]

The District Administration reported that 67 or 4.64% of its students were gifted in 2009.[123] The program focuses on experiences directly related to general classes, expanding on current instructional material. Acceleration through the grade level content is provided by a gifted instructor, utilized enrichment opportunities, and advanced content related activities. The program is based on the interests of the student, allowing them to develop critical thinking skills. Secondary level students (7-12) are provided the opportunity to participate in Honors and Advanced Placement courses.

By law, the district must provide mentally gifted programs at all grade levels. The referral process for a gifted evaluation can be initiated by teachers or parents by contacting the student’s building principal and requesting an evaluation. All requests must be made in writing. The principal acts as the case manager for the referral process. A 60 calendar day time-line begins when the signed Permission to Evaluate form is received. 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.[124] Through the strategic planning process, the Superintendent must ensure that Southern Columbia Area School District provides a continuum of program and service options to meet the needs of all mentally gifted students for enrichment, acceleration, or both. The district's program is based on student needs and provides differentiated curriculum using acceleration, enrichment and pull-out options.

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.[125]

In 2013, the average teacher salary in Southern Columbia Area School District was $54,304 a year, while the cost of the benefits teachers received was $13,989 per employee, for a total annual average teacher compensation of $68,294.[126] In 2012, the District employed 140 teachers with an average salary of $57,987 and had a top salary of $106,090.[127]

In 2007, the district employed 212 teachers. The average teacher salary in the district was $47,981 for 180 days worked.[128] Additionally, the teachers receive a defined benefit pension, health insurance, professional development reimbursement, paid personal days, paid sick days, life insurance, retirement bonus and other benefits.[129] According to Rep. Glen Grell, a trustee of the state teacher retirement fund, a 40-year Pennsylvania public school educator can retire with a pension equal to 100 percent of their final salary.[130] In September 2010, the board approved a three year contract with the teachers' union. It gives the teachers a salary increase of 3.3 percent for the current school year - averaging a raise of $1,700 each for the length of the contract. In the 2011-12 teachers will receive a 3.19% raise. For the 2012-13 school year they receive another 3.09 percent increase. The contract will cost the taxpayers an additional $200,000 a year. Additionally, single teachers pay between $1,173 and $1,500 for health insurance, depending on the plan they chose through the CSIU trust. The district will pay the rest of the bill of either $4,652 to $6,000. Teachers with families will pay between $2,706 and $3,723 with the school paying either $10,824 or $14,892, depending on the plan chosen.[131] In 2011 the teachers' union rejected a one year salary freeze as a part of balancing the budget for 2011-2012.[132]

Per pupil spending Southern Columbia Area School District administrative costs per pupil was $618.92 in 2008. The lowest administrative cost per pupil in Pennsylvania was $398 per pupil.[133]

In 2008, the administration reported that the district per pupil spending was $10,666. This ranked 426th among Pennsylvania's 500 school districts.[134] In 2010, the District’s per pupil spending had increased to $11,948.85.[135] In 2011, Pennsylvania’s per pupil spending was $13,467, ranking 6th in the United States.[136] In 2007, the Pennsylvania per pupil total expenditures was reported as $12,759.[137]

Reserves In 2008, the district reported an unreserved designated fund balance of zero and an unreserved-undesignated fund balance of $1,514,763.[138] In 2010, Southern Columbia Area School District Administration reported a $913,916 balance, in the unreserved-undesignated fund balance. 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. [139] In 2005, the total reserve funds held by Pennsylvania public school districts was $1.9 billion.[140] By 2013, reserves held by Pennsylvania public school districts, as a whole, had increased to over $3.8 billion.[141]

Audit In April 2010, the Pennsylvania Auditor General conducted a performance audit of the district. Findings were reported to the school board and administration.[142]

Referendum At the March 17, 2014, Board of Education meeting, the Southern Columbia Area School District Board approved a resolution requesting that the election officials of Columbia County and Northumberland County place a referendum question on the May 20, 2014, primary election ballot. The referendum question will ask voters whether they favor increasing the rate of its tax on real property by 5.40 mills more than the Act 1 2014-2015 Index, which is 2.7%, plus any Act 1 exceptions approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. This equates to a $173.12 tax for a property assessed at the average assessment of $32,060.00 If the referendum fails, the budget will be held to within the Act I limits.[143]

Tuition Students who live in the Southern Columbia 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 Southern Columbia 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 - $8,275.08 , High School - $8,853.21.[144]

The Southern Columbia Area School District is funded by a combination of: a local earned income tax 1.5%, a local real property tax, a real estate transfer tax - 0.5%, coupled with substantial funding from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the federal government.[145] Grants 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 individual's level of wealth.[146] 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.[147]

State basic education funding[edit]

According to a report from Representative Todd Stephens office, Southern Columbia Area School District receives 42.8% of its annual revenue from the state.[148]

For the 2013-14 school year, the Southern Columbia Area School District received a 2.1% increase or $4,377,466 in Pennsylvania Basic Education Funding (BEF). This is $88,184 more than its 2012-13 state BEF to the District. Additionally, Southern Columbia Area School District received $68,555 in Accountability Block Grant funding to focus on academic achievement and level funding for special education services. Among the public school districts in Columbia County, Southern Columbia Area School District received the highest percentage increase in BEF. 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.[149] The highest percent of state spending per student is in the Chester-Upland district, where roughly 78 percent comes from state coffers. In Philadelphia, it is nearly 49 percent.[150] As a part of the education budget, the state provided the PSERS (Pennsylvania school employee pension fund) with $1,017,000,000 and Social Security payments for school employees of $495 million.[151]

For the 2012-13 school year, the Southern Columbia Area School District received $4,357,837.[152] The Governor's Executive Budget for 2012-2013 includes $9.34 billion for kindergarten through 12th grade public education, including $5.4 billion in basic education funding, which is an increase of $49 million over the 2011-12 budget. The state also provides $100 million for the Accountability Block grant. Southern Columbia Area School District received $68,555 in Accountability Block Grant funding to focus on academic achievement. The state will also provide $544.4 million for School Employees’ Social Security and $856 million for School Employees’ Retirement fund called PSERS. [153] This amount is a $21,823,000 increase (0.34%) over the 2011-2012 appropriations for Basic Education Funding, School Employees' Social Security, Pupil Transportation, Nonpublic and Charter School Pupil Transportation. Since taking office, Corbett’s first two budgets have restored more than $918 million in support of public schools, compensating for the $1 billion in federal stimulus dollars lost at the end of the 2010-11 school year.

In 2011-12, the Southern Columbia Area School District received a $4,288,404 allocation of state Basic Education Funding.[154] Additionally, the Southern Columbia Area School District will receive $68,554 in Accountability Block Grant funding. The enacted Pennsylvania state Education budget includes $5,354,629,000 for the 2011-2012 Basic Education Funding appropriation. This amount is a $233,290,000 increase (4.6%) over the enacted State appropriation for 2010-2011.[155] 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.[156] In 2010, the district reported that 392 students received free or reduced-price lunches, due to the family meeting the federal poverty level.[157]

For the 2010-11 school year, the state allocated the highest increase among Columbia County school districts to Southern Columbia Area School District with a 5.77% increase for $4,734,539. One hundred fifty school districts, in Pennsylvania, received a base 2% increase. The highest increase in the state went to Kennett Consolidated School District located in Chester County, which received a 23.65% increase in state basic education funding.[158]

In the 2009-2010 budget year, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a 4.45% increase in Basic Education Funding for a total of $4,476,361 to Southern Columbia Area School District. The highest percentage increase, in Basic Education Funding, among the school districts in Columbia County went to Berwick Area School District with a 6.11% increase. In Pennsylvania, twenty school districts received basic education funding increases over 10% in 2009.[159] Across the Commonwealth ninety school districts received the base 2% increase in funding in 2009. Muhlenberg School District in Berks County received a 22.31% increase in state basic education funding in 2009. The amount of increase each school district received was determined by then Governor Edward G Rendell and the Secretary of Education Gerald Zahorchak through the allocation set in the state budget proposal made in February each year.[160]

The state Basic Education Funding to the Southern Columbia Area School District in 2008-09 was $4,285,546.

Accountability Block Grants[edit]

Beginning in 2004-2005, the state launched the Accountability Block Grant school funding. This program has provided $1.5 billion to Pennsylvania’s school districts. The Accountability Block Grant program requires that its taxpayer dollars are focused on specific interventions that are most likely to increase student academic achievement. These interventions include: teacher training, all-day kindergarten, lower class size K-3rd grade, literacy and math coaching programs that provide teachers with individualized job-embedded professional development to improve their instruction, before or after school tutoring assistance to struggling students, For 2010-11 the District applied for and received $186,074 in addition to all other state and federal funding. The district uses the funding to provide full-day kindergarten.[161][162]

  • 2009-10 - $186,074 for full-day kindergarten for 124 pupils for the 5th year.[163]
  • 2008-09 - $186,074 for full-day kindergarten.[164]

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), along with other specialized equipment and provided funding for teacher training to optimize the use of the computers. The program was funded from 2006-2009. Southern Columbia Area School District received $95,283 in 2006-07 and $250,000 in 2007-08. The District did not apply for funding in 2008-09.[165]

Science It’s Elementary grant[edit]

Hartman Elementary Center 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 66,973 students across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. [166] 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 develops problem-solving and critical thinking skills.[167] 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.[168] The district was required to develop a three-year implementation plan for the participating school. The school district administration was required to appoint a district liaison who was paid $3,000 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 for the program. The grant program was expanded to $14.5 million in the 2008-09 budget. The grant was discontinued in the state’s 2011 budget by Governor Edward G. Rendell.

21st Century learning Center[edit]

Southern Columbia School District received $356,129 in 21st Century Learning Grant. Southern Columbia Community Learning Centers provide Afterschool Tutoring for grades 3 through 8, an Afterschool Enrichment and Discovery Program for grades 3 though 8, Art Enrichment for grades 3 through 5, and Summer Fun-da-Mentals. The grant was competitive. Applications for the grants were reviewed and scored by a panel of representatives from the educational field and professional grant writers.

Other grants[edit]

The Southern Columbia Area School District did not participate in: Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection's Environmental Education annual grants, Education Assistance Grants, 2012 Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy grant, nor 2012 and 2013 Pennsylvania Hybrid Learning Grants [169] .

Federal Stimulus grant[edit]

The district received over $1,178,640 in ARRA (Federal Stimulus) funding in 2009-2011. This is in addition to all regular state and federal funding.[170] This funding was for the 2009-10 and 2010-2011 school years.

Race to the Top Grant[edit]

Southern Columbia Area School District officials did not apply for the Race to the Top federal grant which would have brought the district up to one million additional federal dollars for improving student academic achievement.[171][172] 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.[173] No school district in the CSIU16 region applied to participate. 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.[174]

Common Cents state initiative[edit]

The school board elected to not participate in the Pennsylvania Department of Education Common Cents program. The program called for the state to audit the district, at no cost to local taxpayers, to identify ways the district could save tax dollars.[175] After the review of the information, the district was not required to implement the recommended cost savings changes.

Real Estate taxes[edit]

For the 2013-2014 school year, the school board levied property taxes for residents in Columbia County at 35.8000 mills while residents in Northumberland County were set at 52.8600 mills. [176] A mill is $1 of tax for every $1,000 of a property's assessed value. The school district includes multiple municipalities in two counties, both of which have different rates of property tax assessment, necessitating a state board equalization of the tax rates between the counties. 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.[177] 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.[178]

  • 2012-13 - Columbia County - 34.2000 mills. Northumberland 49.9500 mills.[179]
  • 2011-12 - Columbia County - 29.5300 mills. Northumberland 47.8700 mills. [180]
  • 2010-11 - Columbia County - 28.0700 mills. Northumberland 43.7500 mills.[181]
  • 2009-10 - Columbia County - 28.0300 mills. Northumberland 43.0800 mills.[182]
  • 2008-09 - Columbia County - 27.4000 mills. Northumberland 41.0800 mills.[183]
  • 2007-08 - Columbia County - 27.3000 mills. Northumberland 39.6110 mills.[184]

The average yearly property tax paid by Columbia County residents amounts to about 2.71% of their yearly income. Columbia County ranked 776th out of the 3143 United States counties for property taxes as a percentage of median income.[185] The average yearly property tax paid by Northumberland County residents amounts to about 2.23% of their yearly income . Northumberland County is ranked 1219th of the 3143 counties for property taxes as a percentage of median income. 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.[186] 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%).[187]

Act 1 Adjusted Index[edit]

The Special Session 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 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 it can be adjusted higher on a per district basis, by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, depending on a number of factors, such as local property values (Market Aid Ratio) 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, increasing health care 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 Pennsylvania 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.[188] In June 2011, the Pennsylvania General Assembly eliminated six of the ten the exceptions to the Index.[189] The following exceptions were maintained: 1) costs to pay interest and principal on indebtedness incurred prior to September 4, 2004 for Act 72 schools and prior to June 27, 2006 for non-Act 72 schools; 2) costs to pay interest and principal on electoral debt; 3) costs incurred in providing special education programs and services (beyond what is already paid by the State); and 4) costs due to increases of more than the index in the school’s share of payments to PSERS taking into account on the PSERS contribution rate.[190]

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

For the 2013-14 budget year, Southern Columbia Area School Board applied for an exception to exceed their Act 1 Index limit: due to rapidly increasing teacher pension costs. 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.[194]

For the 2012-13 budget year, Southern Columbia Area 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. 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.[195]

For the 2011-12 school year, the Southern Columbia Area School Board applied for three exceptions to exceed the Act 1 Index. It applied for these exceptions: Pension Costs, Maintenance of Local Tax Revenue and Special Education expenditures.[196] Each year, the Southern Columbia 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.[197]

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.[198]

For the 2010-11 budget, Southern Columbia Area School Board did not apply for any exceptions to exceed the Act 1 index limit.[199] 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.[200]

Property tax relief[edit]

In 2013, the property tax relief awarded to Southern Columbia Area School District was set at $87 for 3,306 property owners.[201] In 2010, the property tax relief was set at $88 for 3,241 property owners.[202] In 2009, the Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief from gambling for the Southern Columbia Area School District was $93 per approved for 3,090 permanent primary residences. In the district, 1541 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 building used for agricultural purposes. The farm must be at least 10 contiguous acres and must be the primary residence of the owner. Farmers can qualify for both the homestead exemption and the farmstead exemption. In Columbia County, 71% have sought the property tax relief exemption for their home or farm. In Northumberland County, 55% applied for the tax relief in 2009.[203] 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 2009 and $641 in 2010.[204] This was the second year they were the top recipient.

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, so people who make substantially more than $35,000 may still qualify for a rebate. Individuals must apply annually for the rebate.

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%). %).[205]

Facilities[edit]

Southern Columbia has two buildings: an elementary school housing k-4 built in 1971. The elementary building has a gymnasium/cafeteria. And a high school housing 9th-12th grades built in 1961. the high school has a 2,080 seat gymnasium and a 900 seat auditorium. A middle school addition was built onto the high school in 1999. The middle/high school was renovated in 2011. The elementary school was also renovated in 2011. The middle/high school is a two story building. The elementary also is a two story building.

Extracurricular Activities[edit]

The Southern Columbia Area School District offers a variety of clubs, activities and an extensive costly sports program. The Southern Columbia Area School Board determines eligibility policies to participate in these programs.[206][207] The District is compliant with state law, by posting its Interscholastic Athletic Opportunities Disclosure Form on its website.

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.[208]

Southern Columbia currently holds the Pennsylvania state record for consecutive and total state football championships, with 5 and 6 respectively.

Sports[edit]

The District funds:

Junior high school sports

According to PIAA directory July 2012 [209]

References[edit]

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