Southmoreland School District

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Southmoreland School District
Map of Westmoreland County Pennsylvania School Districts.png
Address
609 Parker Ave
Scottdale, PA, Westmoreland and Fayette, 15612, 15683-1026
United States
Information
Superintendent Dr. John A. Molnar beginning July 2011
Grades K-12
Pupils 1981 enrolled 2010[1]
Kindergarten 160
Grade 1 139
Grade 2 156
Grade 3 144
Grade 4 144
Grade 5 136
Grade 6 151
Grade 7 150
Grade 8 160
Grade 9 165
Grade 10 148
Grade 11 171
Grade 12 158
Other enrollment projected to be 1896 pupils in 2020
Color(s) Red and Black
Mascot Scotties
Newspaper Tam O' Shanter
Website
Fayette County School Districts

Southmoreland School District is a small, suburban public school district located in northern Fayette County, Pennsylvania and southern Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. The boroughs of Scottdale and Everson, as well as the townships of East Huntington and Upper Tyrone are within district boundaries. Southmoreland School District encompasses approximately 43 square miles. According to 2000 federal census data, it serves a resident population of 15,639. In 2009, the district residents’ per capita income was $15,876, while the median family income was $38,993.[2] In the Commonwealth, the median family income was $49,501[3] and the United States median family income was $49,445, in 2010.[4] According to District officials, in school year 2007-08, Southmoreland School District provided basic educational services to 2,146 pupils. It employed: 156 teachers, 77 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 10 administrators. Southmoreland School District received more than $12.6 million in state funding in school year 2007-08.

Schools[edit]

School Name Grade Level School Principal Street Address Telephone #
Southmoreland Primary Center Grades K-1 Mr. Daniel A. Clara 1431 Water Street
Alverton, Pennsylvania 15612
(724) 887-2026
Southmoreland Elementary School Grades 2-5 Mr. John L. Lee 100 Scottie Way
Scottdale, Pennsylvania 15683
(724) 887-2020
Southmoreland Middle School Grades 6-8 Mr. Vincent Mascia 200 Scottie Way
Scottdale, Pennsylvania 15683
(724) 887-2029
Southmoreland High School Grades 9-12 Mr. Daniel M. Krofcheck 2351 Route 981
Alverton, Pennsylvania 15612
(724) 887-2010

Governance[edit]

The school district is governed by 9 individually elected board members (serve four-year terms), the Pennsylvania State Board of Education, the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the Pennsylvania General Assembly.[5] The federal government controls programs it funds like Title I funding for low-income children in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and the No Child Left Behind Act, which mandates the district focus resources on student success in acquiring reading and math skills.

The Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy Alternatives Sunshine Review gave the school board and district administration a "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.[6]

Academic achievement[edit]

Southmoreland School District was ranked 8th out of all Pennsylvania school districts in 2013, by the Pittsburgh Business Timesin the "most overacheiving" category. The ranking was based on five years of student academic performance on the reading, writing, math and three years of science PSSAs.[7]

  • 2011 - 156th[8]
  • 2010 - 194th
  • 2009 - 264th
  • 2008 - 286th
  • 2007 - 291st out of 501 school districts.[9]

In 2010, the Pittsburgh Business Times reported an Overachievers Ranking for 498 Pennsylvania school districts. Southmoreland School District ranked 21st. In 2009 the district was 37th. The report 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."[10]

In 2009, the academic achievement of the students of Southmoreland School District was in the 68 percentile among 500 Pennsylvania school districts. Scale - (0-99; 100 is state best)[11]

Graduation rate[edit]

In 2011, the graduation rate was 90%.[12] In 2010, the Pennsylvania Department of Education issued a new, 4-year cohort graduation rate. High School's rate was % for 2010.[13]

According to traditional graduation rate calculations:

High school[edit]

In 2011, the Southmoreland Senior High School was in Warning status due to low student achievement in reading and Mathematics. In 2010, the school achieved AYP status in reading and math.[18][19] In 2008, the school saw an increase in attendance to 93%. In the 1998-99 school year, Southmoreland Senior High School attendance was at 88 to 89 percent.[20]

11th Grade Reading

  • 2011 - 71% on grade level, (13% below basic). State - 69.1% of 11th graders are on grade level.[21]
  • 2010 - 76% (10% below basic). State - 66%[22]
  • 2009 - 68% (14% below basic). State - 65%[23]
  • 2008 - 70%. State - 65%[24]
  • 2007 - 61% (19% below basic). State - 65%[25]

11th Grade Math:

  • 2011 - 63%, on grade level (20% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 60.3% of 11th graders are on grade level.[26]
  • 2010 - 68% (16% below basic). State - 59%
  • 2009 - 55% (22% below basic). State - 56%.
  • 2008 - 56%. State - 56%
  • 2007 - 54% (28% below basic). State - 53%
  • 2006 - 52%. State - 52%

11th Grade Science:

  • 2011 - 45% on grade level (11% below basic). State - 40% of 11th graders were on grade level.[27]
  • 2010 - 38% (14% below basic). State - 39%
  • 2009 - 41% (14% below basic). State - 40%[28]
  • 2008 - 38% (11% below basic). State - 39%
  • 2007 - Tested by the state - score not released to public.

College remediation rate[edit]

According to a Pennsylvania Department of Education study released in January 2009, 23% of the Southmoreland Senior High School graduates required remediation in mathematics and or reading before they were prepared to take college level courses in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education or community colleges.[29] 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 graduates in three years.[30] 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]

Southmoreland High School offers a dual enrollment program. This state program permits high school students to take courses, at local higher education institutions, to earn college credits. Students remain enrolled at their high school. The courses count towards high school graduation requirements and towards earning a college degree. The students continue to have full access to activities and programs at their high school. The college credits are offered at a deeply discounted rate. Southmoreland School District has an agreement with Penn State Fayette, Eberly Campus to offer the courses.[31] The state offered a small grant to assist students in costs for tuition, fees and books[32] Under the Pennsylvania Transfer and Articulation Agreement, many Pennsylvania colleges and universities accept these credits for students who transfer to their institutions.[33]

For the 2009-10 funding year, the school district received a state grant of $8,246 for the program.[34]

Graduation requirements[edit]

The Southmoreland School Board has determined that a pupil must earn 25 credits to graduate, including: Math 3 credits (required in grades 9, 10, 11), English 4 credits, social studies 4 credits, Science 3 credits (required in grades 9, 10, 11), Physical Education 1.5 credits, Health 0.50 credit, Wellness/Life Management Skills 0.5 credit and electives 7.50 credits. Students who do not score proficient or advanced on the eleventh (11th) grade PSSA Reading and/or Math assessment must take a remedial course.

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.[35] The graduation project is a career exploration project including several components that are accomplished over four years.[36]

By Pennsylvania School Board regulations, for the graduating classes of 2015 and 2016, students must demonstrate successful completion of secondary level course work in Algebra I, Biology, English Composition, and Literature for which the Keystone Exams serve as the final course exams. Students’ Keystone Exam scores shall count for at least one-third of the final course grade.[37][38][39]

SAT scores[edit]

In 2010-2011, 85 Southmoreland School District students took the SAT exams. The district's Verbal Average Score was 481. The Math average score was 507. The Writing average score was 457.[40] Pennsylvania ranked 40th among state with SAT scores: Verbal - 493, Math - 501, Writing - 479.[41] 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.[42]

Middle school[edit]

In 2010 and 2011, Southmoreland Middle School achieved AYP status.[43] In 2011, the attendance rate was 94%.[44]

PSSA Results: 8th Grade Reading

  • 2011 - 92% on grade level (2% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 81.8% of 8th graders on grade level.[45]
  • 2010 - 85% (6% below basic). State - 81%
  • 2009 - 88% (6% below basic), State - 80%
  • 2008 - 85% (5% below basic), State - 78%[46]
  • 2007 - 82% (5% below basic), State - 75%

8th Grade Math:

  • 2011 - 89% on grade level (3% below basic). State - 76.9%[47]
  • 2010 - 87% (5% below basic). State - 75%[48]
  • 2009 - 86% (5% below basic). State - 71%[49]
  • 2008 - 80% (10% below basic). State - 70%
  • 2007 - 81% (9% below basic). State - 68%

8th Grade Science:

  • 2011 - 66% on grade level (15% below basic). State – 58.3% of 8th graders were on grade level.
  • 2010 - 67% (16% below basic). State – 57%[50]
  • 2009 - 78% (16% below basic). State - 55%[51]
  • 2008 - 66% (12% below basic). State - 52%[52]

Scottdale Elementary School[edit]

In 2010 and 2011, Scottdale Elementary School achieved AYP status.[54] The attendance rate was 95% in both years.[55] The school provides grades 2 to 5th since 2009.

5th Grade Reading:

  • 2011 - 74% on grade level (9% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 67.3% of 5th graders are on grade level.
  • 2010 - 64% (8% below basic). State – 64%
  • 2009 - 65% (19% below basic), State - 64%

5th Grade Math:

  • 2011 - 90% on grade level, 63% advanced. State - 74%
  • 2010 - 83%, 55% advanced. State - 76.3%
  • 2009 - 80%, 43% advanced. State - 73%
4th Grade Science
  • 2011 - 99%, 71% advanced. State – 82.9%
  • 2010 - 99%, 74% advanced. State - 81%
  • 2009 - 96%, 51% advanced. State - 83%

Special education[edit]

In December 2010, the district administration reported that 341 pupils or 16% of Southmoreland School District's pupils received Special Education services.[57]

In order to comply with state and federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act rules and regulations, the school district engages in identification procedures to ensure that eligible students receive an appropriate educational program consisting of special education and related services, individualized to meet student needs. At no cost to the parents, these services are provided in compliance with state and federal law; and are reasonably calculated to yield meaningful educational benefit and student progress .[58] To identify students who may be eligible for special education services, various screening activities are conducted on an ongoing basis. These screening activities include: review of group-based data (cumulative records, enrollment records, health records, report cards, ability and achievement test scores); hearing, vision, motor, and speech/language screening; and review by the Special Education administration. When screening results suggest that the student may be eligible, the District seeks parental consent to conduct a multidisciplinary evaluation. Parents who suspect their child is eligible may verbally request a multidisciplinary evaluation from a professional employee of the District or contact the district's Special Education Department.[59]

In 2011, the district was sued by a family which claimed the district failed to provide their child with an appropriate educational program.[60] The hearing's verdict favored the school district's position.

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.[61] 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.[62] The state requires each district to have a three year special education plan to meet the unique needs of its special education students.[63] 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.[64]

Southmoreland School District received a $1,337,163 supplement for special education services in 2010.[65] For the 2011-12 school year, all Pennsylvania public school districts received the same level of funding for special education that they received in 2010. 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.[66]

Gifted education[edit]

The District Administration reported that 76 or 3.39% of its students were gifted in 2009.[67] By law, the district must provide mentally gifted programs at all grade levels. The referral process for a gifted evaluation can be initiated by teachers or parents by contacting the student’s building principal and requesting an evaluation. All requests must be made in writing. To be eligible for mentally gifted programs in Pennsylvania, a student must have a cognitive ability of at least 130 as measured on a standardized ability test by a certified school psychologist. Other factors that indicate giftedness will also be considered for eligibility.[68] There are two teachers who are providing gifted services for identified students. One teaches grades K-8; the second teaches grades 9-12, two periods a day.[69]

Bullying policy[edit]

The school district administration reported there were three incidents of bullying in the district in 2009.[70][71]

The Southmoreland School Board has not provided the district's antibully policy online.[72] All Pennsylvania schools are required to have an anti-bullying policy incorporated into their Code of Student Conduct. The policy must identify disciplinary actions for bullying and designate a school staff person to receive complaints of bullying. The policy must be available on the school's website and posted in every classroom. All Pennsylvania public schools must provide a copy of its anti-bullying policy to the Office for Safe Schools every year, and shall review their policy every three years. Additionally, the district must conduct an annual review of that policy with students.[73] The Center for Schools and Communities works in partnership with the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime & Delinquency and the Pennsylvania Department of Education to assist schools and communities as they research, select and implement bullying prevention programs and initiatives.[74]

Education standards relating to student safety and antiharassment programs are described in the 10.3. Safety and Injury Prevention in the Pennsylvania Academic Standards for Health, Safety and Physical Education.[75]

Budget[edit]

In 2009, the district reported employing over 160 teachers and administrators with a salary range of $35,000 to $114,881.[76] The school year was 180 student days, 4 inservice days one clerical day.

In 2007, the district employed 143 teachers. The average teacher salary in the district was $51,595 for 185 days worked.[77] As of 2007, Pennsylvania ranked in the top 10 states in average teacher salaries. When adjusted for cost of living Pennsylvania ranked fourth in the nation for teacher compensation.[78] Teachers are provided with one prep period each day and a 30-minute duty-free paid lunch. Additionally, the teachers receive a defined benefit pension, health insurance, professional development reimbursement, paid personal days, 10 paid sick days, and other benefits. The union receives up to 8 Association Days to conduct union business. The Southmoreland Teachers' Union must provide substitutes to cover the Association time off during the school day. When ten or more teachers retire in one year they receive $10,500 a year for 6 consecutive years in remuneration, plus are paid for unused sick time and receive their pension plus social security.[79]

Southmoreland School District administrative costs per pupil in 2008 was $811.41 per pupil. Which ranked in the top 20% in the Commonwealth. The lowest administrative cost per pupil in Pennsylvania was $398 per pupil.[80] The Pennsylvania School Boards Association keeps statistics on salaries of public school district employees in Pennsylvania. According to the association's report, the average salary for a superintendent, for the 2007-08 school year, was $122,165. Superintendents and administrators receive a benefit package commensurate with that offered to the district's teachers' union.[81] John Molnar, MS was promoted from Assistant Superintendent to Superintendent in July 2011.[82]

Reserves In 2008, the district reported zero in an unreserved-designated fund balance. The unreserved-undesignated fund balance was reported as $3,764,085.[83] In 2010, the district reported having $4,539,129.00 in an unreserved-designated and $2,000,000.00 in unreserved-undesignated fund.

In 2008, the district administration reported that per pupil spending was $10,693 which ranked 422nd among Pennsylvania's 501 school districts. In 2010, the per pupil spending had increased to $12,588.23.[84]

In January 2011, the Pennsylvania Auditor General conducted a performance audit of the district. The findings were reported to the school board and administration. The report noted that Southmoreland School District did not take appropriate corrective action in implementing state recommendations pertaining to internal control weaknesses over remote access to the student accounting system.[85]

The district is funded by a combination of: a local earned income tax, a property tax, a real estate transfer tax 0.5%, coupled with substantial funding from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the federal government. In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, pension income and Social Security income are exempted from state personal income tax and local earned income tax, regardless the of personal wealth.[86]

State basic education funding[edit]

In 2011-12, the district received a $9,106,073 allocation, of state Basic Education Funding.[87][88] Additionally, the Southmoreland School District received $146,780, 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.[89] 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.[90] In 2010, the district reported that 866 students or 44% of its students received free or reduced-price lunches, due to the family meeting the federal poverty level.[91]

For the 2010-11 budget year, Southmoreland School District received a 6.13% increase, in state basic education funding, for $9,490,840. The highest Basic Education Funding increase given, by the state to school districts, in Westmoreland County was given to the Yough School District which was awarded a 7.40% 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.[92]

In the 2009-2010 budget year, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided Southmoreland School District a 6.44% increase in Basic Education Funding for a total of $8,366,732. Among the districts in Westmoreland County, this was highest increase in funding. The state Basic Education Funding to the district in 2008-09 was $4,787,151.79. Ninety school districts received a 2% increase. Muhlenberg School District in Berks County received a 22.31% increase in state basic education funding in 2009.[93] The amount of increase each school district receives is set by the Governor and the Secretary of Education as a part of the state budget proposal given each February.[94] The district reported that 862 pupils qualified for a free or reduced price breakfast and lunch at school.

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 $398,396 in addition to all other state and federal funding. The district uses the funding to provide full-day kindergarten for the 6th year, tutoring before/after school, weekends and paid teachers $57,052 to develop new curricula/course offerings.[95][96]

Classrooms for the Future grant[edit]

The Classroom for the Future state program provided districts with hundreds of thousands of extra state funding to buy laptop computers for each core curriculum high school class (English, Science, History, Math) and paid for teacher training to optimize the computers use. The program was funded from 2006-2009. The School District did not apply to participate in any of the three years of the grant program.[97]

Federal Stimulus grant[edit]

The district received an extra $1,827,231 in ARRA - Federal Stimulus money to be used in specific programs like special education and meeting the academic needs of low-income students.[98] The funding is for the 2009-10 and 2010-2011 school years.[99]

Race to the Top grant[edit]

District officials did not apply for the federal Race to the Top grant which would have provided over one million dollars in additional federal funding to improve student academic achievement.[100] 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.[101] 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.[102][103][104]

Common Cents state initiative[edit]

The Southmoreland 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.[105] After the review of the information, the district was not required to implement the recommended cost savings changes.

Real estate taxes[edit]

Property tax rates in 2011-12 were set by the school board at 14.0000 mills for Fayette County and 69.4000 mills in Westmoreland County. A mill is $1 of tax for every $1,000 of a property's assessed value. Irregular property reassessments have become a serious issue in the commonwealth as it creates a significant disparity in taxation within a community and across a region.[106] 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.[107]

  • 2010-11 - 14.0000 mills for Fayette County and 69.4000 mills in Westmoreland County.[108]
  • 2009-10 - 13.8000 mills for Fayette County and 69.5000 mills in Westmoreland County.[109]
  • 2008-09 - 13.6000 mills for Fayette County and 69.7000 mills in Westmoreland County.[110]
  • 2007-08 - 12.7000 mills for Fayette County and 69.3000 mills in Westmoreland County.[111]

Act 1 Adjusted Index[edit]

The Act 1 of 2006 Index regulates the rates at which each school district can raise property taxes in Pennsylvania. Districts are not allowed to raise taxes above that index unless they allow voters to vote by referendum, or they seek an exception from the state Department of Education. The base index for the 2011-2012 school year is 1.4 percent, but the Act 1 Index can be adjusted higher, depending on a number of factors, such as property values and the personal income of district residents. Act 1 included 10 exceptions, including: increasing pension costs, increases in special education costs, a catastrophe like a fire or flood, increase in health insurance costs for contracts in effect in 2006 or dwindling tax bases. The base index is the average of the percentage increase in the statewide average weekly wage, as determined by the PA Department of Labor and Industry, for the preceding calendar year and the percentage increase in the Employment Cost Index for Elementary and Secondary Schools, as determined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the U.S. Department of Labor, for the previous 12-month period ending June 30. For a school district with a market value/personal income aid ratio (MV/PI AR) greater than 0.4000, its index equals the base index multiplied by the sum of .75 and its MV/PI AR for the current year.[112] In June 2011, the Pennsylvania General Assembly eliminated six of the ten the exceptions to the Act 1 Index.[113] The following exceptions were maintained: 1) costs to pay interest and principal on indebtedness incurred prior to September 4, 2004 for Act 72 schools and prior to June 27, 2006 for non-Act 72 schools; 2) costs to pay interest and principal on electoral debt; 3) costs incurred in providing special education programs and services (beyond what is already paid by the State); and 4) costs due to increases of more than the Index in the school’s share of payments to PSERS (PA school employees pension fund) taking into account the state mandated PSERS contribution rate.[114][115]

The School District Adjusted Index for the School District 2006-2007 through 2011-2012.[116]

  • 2006-07 - 5.4%, Base 3.9%
  • 2007-08 - 4.8%, Base 3.4%
  • 2008-09 - 6.1%, Base 4.4%
  • 2009-10 - 5.8%, Base 4.1%
  • 2010-11 - 4.1%, Base 2.9%
  • 2011-12 - 2.0%, Base 1.4%
  • 2012-13 - 2.4%, Base 1.7%[117]

For the 2012-13 school year, the Southmoreland School Board approved abiding by the Act 1 index cap of 2.4% increase on property tax rates.[118]

For the 2011-12 school year, the Southmoreland School Board did not apply for an exception to exceed the Act 1 Index. Each year, the School Board has the option of adopting either 1) a resolution in January certifying they will not increase taxes above their index or 2) a preliminary budget in February. A school district adopting the resolution may not apply for referendum exceptions or ask voters for a tax increase above the inflation index. A specific timeline for these decisions is published annually, by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.[119]

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.[120]

The School Board did not apply for any exceptions to exceed the Act 1 index for the budget in 2011.[121] For 2009-10 school budget, Southmoreland School Board also did not apply for exceptions to exceed the Index.[122] 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.[123]

Property tax relief[edit]

In 2010, the Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief from gambling for the Southmoreland School District was $206 per approved permanent primary residence. In the district, 4,547 property owners applied for the tax relief.[124] In 2009, the district rate was $210 per property owner. The relief is subtracted from the total annual school property tax bill. Property owners apply for the relief through the county Treasurer's office. Farmers can qualify for a farmstead exemption on building used for agricultural purposes. The farm must be at least 10 contiguous acres (40,000 m2) and must be the primary residence of the owner. Farmers can qualify for both the homestead exemption and the farmstead exemption. In Westmoreland County, 62.18% of eligible property owners applied for property tax relief in 2009.[125] In Westmoreland County, the highest amount of tax relief in 2010, went to property owners in New Kensington-Arnold School District at $300. The highest property tax relief in Pennsylvania went to the residents of Chester Upland School District of Delaware County who received $632 per approved homestead.[126] This was the third 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, consequently, individual with income much more than $35,000 may still qualify for a rebate. Individuals must apply annually for the rebate. This can be taken in addition to Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief.[127]

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%).[128]

Enrollment[edit]

According to Pennsylvania Department of Education enrollment reports, there were 2,042 students enrolled in K-12 in 2009–10 school year at Southmoreland School District. There were 184 students in the Class of 2009. The district's class of 2010 has 196 students. Enrollment is projected to decline to 1,978 students by 2017<[129] In 2008, the district administrative costs were $811 per pupil. The lowest administrative cost per pupil in Pennsylvania was $398 per pupil.[130] A study of Pennsylvania public school spending, conducted by Standard and Poor's, examined the consolidation of School Administrations with neighboring districts. The study found that consolidation of the administration with an adjacent school district would achieve substantial administrative cost savings which varied by district.[131]

According to a 2009 school district administration consolidation proposal by Governor Edward Rendell, the excessive administrative overhead dollars could be redirected to improve lagging academic achievement, to enrich the academic programs or to reduce property taxes.[132] Consolidation of two central administrations into one would not require the closing of any schools. The Governor's proposal called for the savings to be redirected to improving lagging reading and science achievement, to enriching the academic programs or to reducing residents' property taxes.[133]

Over the next 10 years, rural Pennsylvania school enrollment is projected to decrease 8 percent.[134] As the enrollment declines, per pupil administrative costs of the schools continue to rise. In March 2011, the Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants released a report finding that the state would save hundreds of million by cutting the number of school administrations in half through consolidation, with no impact on programs offered to students.[135]

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has one of the highest numbers of school districts in the nation. In Pennsylvania, 80% of the school districts serve student populations under 5,000, and 40% serve less than 2,000. This results in excessive school administration bureaucracy and not enough course diversity.[136] 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.[137]

Extracurriculars[edit]

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

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.[138]

Sports Teams[edit]

Sport Boys Girls
Football Class AA
Baseball Class AA
Softball Class AAA
Track and Field Class AAA Class AAA
Basketball Class AAA Class AAA
Cross Country Class AAA Class AAA
Tennis Class AA Class AA
Wrestling Class AA
Soccer Class AA Class AAA
Golf Class AAAA Class AAAA
Volleyball Class AA
Marching Band Class AA Class AA

Vocational-Technical School[edit]

Students in Grades 10-12 in the Southmoreland School District have the opportunity to attend the Central Westmoreland Career and Technology Center in New Stanton.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education, Enrollment and Projections by LEA, July 20, 2010
  2. ^ US Census Bureau, American Fact Finder, 2009
  3. ^ US Census Bureau, (2010). "American Fact Finder, State and County quick facts". 
  4. ^ US Census Bureau (September 2011). "Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2010". 
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  58. ^ Pennsylvania Bureau of Special Education (2008). "Pennsylvania Parent Guide to Special Education Services". 
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External links[edit]