State College Area School District

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State College Area School District
SCASDLogo.png
"We are the future!"
Type and location
Type Public
Country United States
Location State College, Pennsylvania
District information
Superintendent Robert O'Donnell
Budget $116,874,909 (2012–13) [1]
Students and staff
Students 7,022
Teachers 553 in 2010 [2]
Staff approximately 650
District Mascot The Little Lion
Colors Maroon & Gray
Other information
Per pupil spending $13,633 (2008)
Per pupil spending $15,467.90 (2010)
Website State College Area School District
State College Area School District region in Centre County

The State College Area School District (SCASD) is a large, suburban/rural public school district based in State College, Pennsylvania that serves students and includes public schools in the Borough of State College, Pennsylvania, and the surrounding townships of College, Ferguson, Halfmoon, Harris, and Patton. State College Area School District encompasses approximately 150 square miles (390 km2). According to 2008 local census data, the district served a resident population of 86,106. Per District officials, in school year 2007-08 the State College Area School District provided basic educational services to 7,096 pupils through the employment of 635 teachers, 712 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 36 administrators. State College Area School District received more than $16.9 million in state funding in school year 2007-08. The State College Area School District provides schooling for approximately 7,000 students in the 2011-12 school year.[3] The District is the third largest employer in Centre County. It is governed by a Board of Directors consisting of nine members. Each board member is elected for a four-year term of office.

This district operates nine elementary schools, three secondary schools (two middle schools and one high school), and charters four schools for operation.

Academic achievement[edit]

State College Area School District was ranked 26th out of 498 Pennsylvania school districts in 2012, by the Pittsburgh Business Times. The ranking was based on the last three years of student academic performance on the PSSAs for: reading, mathematics, science and writing. .[4] The PSSAs are given to all children in grades 3rd through 8th and the 11th grade in high school. Adapted examinations are given to children in the special education programs.

  • 2011 - 26th[5]
  • 2010 - 29th
  • 2009 - 30th [6]
  • 2008 - 34th
  • 2007 - 37th [7]

In 2012, the Pittsburgh Business Times also reported an Overachievers Ranking for 498 Pennsylvania school districts. State College Area School District ranked 131st. In 2011, the district was 113th. [8] 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."[9]

In 2009, the academic achievement, of the students of State College Area School District was in the 82nd percentile of Pennsylvania's 500 school districts. Scale (0-99; 100 is state best).[10]

In 2010 and 2011, State College Area School District achieved AYP status under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.[11] 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.

Graduation rate[edit]

In 2012, the State College Area School District's graduation rate was 94%.[12] In 2011, the State College Area School District's graduation rate was 96%.[13] In 2010, the Pennsylvania Department of Education issued a new, 4-year cohort graduation rate. State College Area High School's rate was 92.81% for 2010.[14]

  • 2010 - 97%
  • 2009 - 95.7% [15]
  • 2008 - 95% [16]
  • 2007 - 94% [17]

State High[edit]

In 2012, State College Area High School was in Warning status due to lagging achievement in reading and mathematics.[18] In 2011, the school was in Warning status due to lagging achievement of special education students and English language learners. The school achieved AYP. In 2010, the school was AYP status [19] In 2010, the school reported 2,538 pupils grades 9th through 12th. Three hundred twenty-eight students qualified for a federal free or reduced-priced lunch. The school employed 203 teachers.[20] In 2012 the High School Administration reported that 4 teachers were rated "non-Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind and 2 teachers had emergency certifications.

11th Grade Reading

  • 2012 - 84% on grade level, (7% below basic). State - 67% of 11th graders are on grade level.[21]
  • 2011 - 83% (6% below basic). State - 69.1% [22]
  • 2010 - 86%, (7% below basic). State - 66% [23]
  • 2009 - 75% (12% below basic), State - 65% [24]
  • 2008 - 81% (9% below basic), State - 65% [25]
  • 2007 - 83% (8% below basic), State - 65% [26]

11th Grade Math:

  • 2012 - 80% on grade level (9% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 59% of 11th graders are on grade level.[27]
  • 2011 - 79%, (8% below basic). State - 60.3%.
  • 2010 - 78%, (10% below basic). State - 59%
  • 2009 - 69%, (14% below basic). State - 56%.
  • 2008 - 78%, (11% below basic), State - 56% [28]
  • 2007 - 76%, (11% below basic), State - 53%

11th Grade Science:

  • 2012 - 67% on grade level (8% below basic). State - 42% of 11th graders were on grade level.[29]
  • 2011 - 65% (8% below basic). State - 40% [30]
  • 2010 - 68% (6% below basic). State - 39%
  • 2009 - 62% (7% below basic). State - 40% [31]
  • 2008 - 62%, State - 39%

SAT scores[edit]

In 2012, 525 State College Area School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 556. The Math average score was 572. The Writing average score was 537. 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, 555 State College Area High School students took the SAT exams. The district's Verbal Average Score was 548. The Math average score was 585. The Writing average score was 537.[32] Pennsylvania ranked 40th among state with SAT scores: Verbal - 493, Math - 501, Writing - 479.[33] 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.[34]

College remediation rate[edit]

According to a Pennsylvania Department of Education study released in January 2009, 21% of the State College 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.[35] 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.[36] 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.

Middle schools[edit]

Mount Nittany Middle School is located at 656 Brandywine Drive, State College. It serves 713 pupils grades 6th through 8th. One hundred twenty students qualified for a free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school employed 69 teachers.[37] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[38]

In 2012, Mount Nittany Middle School declined to "Warning" status due to lagging student achievement in reading and math. In 2010 and 2011, the Middle School achieved AYP status under No Child Left Behind.[39]

PSSA Results:

8th Grade Science:

  • 2012 - 78% on grade level (8% below basic). State - 59%
  • 2011 - 82% (5% below basic). State – 58.3%
  • 2010 - 78% (6% below basic). State – 57% [46]
  • 2009 - 78% (9% below basic). State - 55% [47]

Park Forest Middle School is located at 2180 School Drive, State College. It serves 840 pupils grades 6th through 8th. One hundred twenty five students qualified for a free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school employed 68 teachers.[48] In 2010 and 2011 the school achieved AYP status under No Child LEft Behind.[49] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[50]

PSSA Results:

8th Grade Science:

  • 2012 - 82% on grade level (7% below basic). State - 59%
  • 2011 - 74% (13% below basic). State – 58.3%
  • 2010 - 85% (6% below basic). State – 57% [55]
  • 2009 - 77% (10% below basic). State - 55% [56]

National Recognition[edit]

The district's balanced academic competitiveness, accreditation, recognition for excellence, instructional expenditures, and small class size have received national acknowledgment. State College Area High School earned a silver medal in U.S. News and World Report's premiere ranking of the nation's best high schools in 2008 and was rated one of the "Top High Schools in the Country" by Newsweek magazine in 2007.

State High Renovation Controversy[edit]

There is a debate between school board members and an organization named State High Vision (SHV). The school board plans High School Facilities Plan to demolish one of the high school buildings and disintegrate the other. The school board believes this is the most cost effective option and that they have looked at all of the options. State High Vision, an organization of some community citizens, claims that the plan was decided on with little community input. SHV also doesn’t like the creation of what they deem a mega-school (3,400 students in one building), claiming that students learn better in a smaller environment. A handful of students held walk outs in protest of the renovation project in 2007.

Elementary schools[edit]

Mount Nittany Elementary School is located at 240 Villa Crest Drive, State College. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, the school reported an enrollment of 322 pupils in grades kindergarten through 5th, with 88 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school employed 23 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 14:1.[59] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[60] In 2010 and 2011, Elementary School achieved AYP status.[61] In 2011, only 78% of the students were reading on grade level in grades 3rd through 5th. In math, 89% of the students in 3rd through 5th grades were on grade level and 57% scored advanced. In 4th grade science, 86% of the pupils were on grade level.[62] The school was permanently closed at the end of the 2010- 2011 school year. Students were reassigned to the new Mount Nittany Elementary School for the next school year. The building was sold to Saint Joseph's Catholic Academy in July 2011.[63]

Corl Street Elementary School is located at 235 Corl Street, State College. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, the school reported an enrollment of 259 pupils in grades kindergarten through 5th, with 33 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school employed 17 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 15:1.[64] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[65] In 2010 through 2012, Corl Street Elementary School achieved AYP status.[66] In 2011, 89% of the students were reading on grade level in grades 3rd through 5th. In math, 96% of the students in 3rd through 5th grades were on grade level and 71% scored advanced. In 4th grade science, 100% of the pupils were on grade level.[67] In 2012, 92% of the students were reading on grade level in grades 3rd through 5th with 56%. In math, 97% of the students in 3rd through 5th grades were on grade level and 78% scored advanced. In 4th grade science, 98% of the pupils were on grade level with 80% achieving advanced.[68]

Easterly Parkway Elementary School is located at 234 Easterly Parkway, State College. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, the school reported an enrollment of 360 pupils in grades kindergarten through 5th, with 87 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school employed 27 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 13:1.[69] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, teachers were rated "Non‐Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[70] In 2012, Easterly Parkway ES declined to Warning AYP status. In 2010 and 2011, Easterly Parkway Elementary School achieved AYP status.[71] In 2011, 80% of the students were reading on grade level in grades 3rd through 5th. In math, 84% of the students in 3rd through 5th grades were on grade level and 55% scored advanced. In 4th grade science, 91% of the pupils were on grade level.[72] In 2012, only 77% of the students were reading on grade level in grades 3rd through 5th. In math, 85% of the students in 3rd through 5th grades were on grade level and 56% scored advanced. In 4th grade science, 88% of the pupils were on grade level.[73]

Ferguson Township Elementary School is located at 215 West Main Street, Pine Grove Mills. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, the school reported an enrollment of 320 pupils in grades kindergarten through 5th, with 56 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school employed 19 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 16:1.[74] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[75] In 2010 and 2011, Ferguson Township Elementary School achieved AYP status.[76] In 2011, 85% of the students were reading on grade level in grades 3rd through 5th. In math, 92% of the students in 3rd through 5th grades were on grade level and 66% scored advanced. In 4th grade science, 98% of the pupils were on grade level.[77] In 2012, 82% of the students were reading on grade level in grades 3rd through 5th. In math, 91% of the students in 3rd through 5th grades were on grade level and 64% scored advanced. In 4th grade science, 97% of the pupils were on grade level, with 66% achieving advanced.[78]

Grays Wood Elementary School is located at 60 Brackenbourne Drive, Port Matilda. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, the school reported an enrollment of 405 pupils in grades kindergarten through 5th, with 38 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school employed 27 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 15:1.[79] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[80] In 2010 and 2011, Grays Wood Elementary School achieved AYP status.[81] In 2011, 86% of the students were reading on grade level in grades 3rd through 5th. In math, 92% of the students in 3rd through 5th grades were on grade level and 65% scored advanced. In 4th grade science, 94% of the pupils were on grade level.[82] In 2012, 84% of the students were reading on grade level in grades 3rd through 5th. In math, 91% of the students in 3rd through 5th grades were on grade level and 66% scored advanced. In 4th grade science, 95% of the pupils were on grade level, with 70% advanced.[83]

Houserville/Lemont Elementary School is located at 675 Elmwood Street, State College. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, the school reported an enrollment of 360 pupils in grades kindergarten through 5th, with 57 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school employed 26 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 14:1.[84] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.[85] In 2010 and 2011, Houserville/Lemont Elementary School achieved AYP status.[86] In 2011, 84% of the students were reading on grade level in grades 3rd through 5th. In math, 93% of the students in 3rd through 5th grades were on grade level and 62% scored advanced. In 4th grade science, 89% of the pupils were on grade level.[87] In 2012, 82% of the students were reading on grade level in grades 3rd through 5th. In math, 92% of the students in 3rd through 5th grades were on grade level and 71% scored advanced. In 4th grade science, 94% of the pupils were on grade level, with 73% achieving advanced.[88]

Park Forest Elementary School is located at 2181 School Drive, State College. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, the school reported an enrollment of 474 pupils in grades kindergarten through 5th, with 97 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school employed 35 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 13:1.[89] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[90] In 2011, Park Forest Elementary School achieved AYP status, while in 2010 the school was in Warning status due to lagging student achievement in reading and math.[91] In 2011, 81% of the students were reading on grade level in grades 3rd through 5th. In math, 86% of the students in 3rd through 5th grades were on grade level and 55% scored advanced. In 4th grade science, 91% of the pupils were on grade level.[92] In 2012, 81% of the students were reading on grade level in grades 3rd through 5th. In math, 89% of the students in 3rd through 5th grades were on grade level and 62% scored advanced. In 4th grade science, 88% of the pupils were on grade level.[93]

Radio Park Elementary School is located at 800 W Cherry Lane, State College. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, the school reported an enrollment of 429 pupils in grades kindergarten through 5th, with 87 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school employed 31 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 13:1.[94] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[95] In 2010 and 2011, Radio Park Elementary School achieved AYP status.[96] In 2011, 85% of the students were reading on grade level in grades 3rd through 5th. In math, 92% of the students in 3rd through 5th grades were on grade level and 79% scored advanced. In 4th grade science, 94% of the pupils were on grade level with 69% achieving advanced.[97] In 2012, 80% of the students were reading on grade level in grades 3rd through 5th. In math, 91% of the students in 3rd through 5th grades were on grade level and 73% scored advanced. In 4th grade science, 86% of the pupils were on grade level with 62% advanced.[98]

District Master Plan[edit]

Currently[vague] the district, with the help of DeJong Inc. and the input of the community, is trying to craft a master plan to guide the district's building plans/renovations in the coming years.

However, proposals to close smaller neighborhood schools, such as Corl Street and Lemont, in order to create larger consolidated elementary schools has been met with fierce opposition from the community. Many residents contend that the proposals are costly, wasteful of valuable resources, and poorly envisioned for its historic properties. In particular, the proposal to close Lemont Elementary School [1], a splendid limestone structure from the 1930s in the historic village of Lemont, has garnered community involvement. A group opposed to its closing has formed as the Friends of Lemont School to convince the District to remain committed to neighborhood schools and be respectful of its historic schools through rehabilitating them rather than abandoning them. The historic school's possible closure promises to be a bellwether election issue.

Special education[edit]

In December 2010, the district administration reported that 889 pupils or 12.3% of the district's pupils received Special Education services.[99][100]

In order to comply with state and federal laws, 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.[101] To identify students who may be eligible for special education, various screening activities are conducted on an ongoing basis. These screening activities include: review of group-based data (cumulative records, enrollment records, health records, report cards, ability and achievement test scores); hearing, vision, motor, and speech/language screening; and review by the 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 Coordinator of Special Education.[102]

In 2010, the state of Pennsylvania provided $1,026,815,000 for special education services. The funds were distributed to districts based on a state policy which estimates that 16% of the district's pupils are receiving special education services. This funding is in addition to the state's basic education per pupil funding, as well as, all other state and federal funding.[103]

State College Area School District received a $3,221,641 supplement for special education services in 2010.[104] For the 2011-12 school year, all Pennsylvania public school districts received the same level of funding for special education that they received in 2010-11. This level funding is provided regardless of changes in the number of pupils who need special education services and regardless of the level of services the respective students required.[105]

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.[106]

In 2012, the average teacher salary in State College Area School District was $65,014.98 a year, while the cost of the benefits teachers received was $17,818 per employee, for a total annual average teacher compensation of $82,833.[107] In 2011, the District employed 656 teachers with an average salary of $65,551 and a top salary of $169,000.[108]

In 2009, State College Area School District reported employing 796 teachers and administrators with a salary range of $45,000 to $152,300.The median salary was $64,625. Fifteen salaries exceeded $100,000 a year.[109] By 2011, the District employed 656 teachers and administrators, with the average teacher salary in State College Area School District at $64,211.89 a year, while the cost of the benefits the teachers receive at $15,233.03 per employee, for a total annual average teacher compensation of $79,444.92.[110] According to a study conducted at the American Enterprise Institute, in 2011, public school teachers’ total compensation is roughly 50 percent higher than they would likely receive in the private sector. The study found that the most generous benefits that teachers receive are not accounted for in many studies of compensation, including: pension, retiree health benefits and job security.[111][112]

In 2007, State College Area School District employed 555 teachers. The average teacher salary in the district was $57,450 for 180 days worked.[113] 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.[114] Additionally, the teachers received a defined benefit pension, health insurance, life insurance, professional development reimbursement, paid personal days, 10 paid sick days, and other benefits.[115]

Per pupil spending In 2008, State College Area School District per pupil spending was $13,633. This ranked 128th among 500 Pennsylvania public school districts.[116] In 2010 the per pupil spending had increased to $14,388.64.[117] Among the states, Pennsylvania’s total per pupil revenue (including all sources) ranked 11th at $15,023 per student, in 2008-09.[118] In 2007, the Pennsylvania per pupil total expenditures was $12,759.[119]

State College Area School District administrative costs in 2008 were $729.62 per pupil. The lowest administrative cost per pupil in Pennsylvania was $398, in 2008.[120] The district provides an extensive benefit package to all administrators.[121] Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Richard Mextorf, resigned on December 4, 2010 as a result of a DUI arrest.[122] The acting Superintendent of Schools as Michael Hardy. In June 2011, the school board awarded a five-year contract to Dr. Robert J. O'Donnell as Superintendent with a starting salary of $169,000.[123] He was also given $20,000 for his expenses in relocating from Lancaster, Pennsylvania.[124] The salary was $15,000 more than the previous superintendent's contract. The Pennsylvania School Boards Association maintains 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.[125]

Reserves In 2008, State College Area School District reported no balance in an unreserved-designated fund. The unreserved-undesignated fund balance was reported as $10,049,629.[126] In 2010, State College Area Administration reported an increase to $8,000,000.00 in the unreserved-undesignated fund and $6,331,870.00 in its unreserved-undesignated fund. Pennsylvania 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.[127]

Audit In November 2010, the Pennsylvania Auditor General conducted a performance audit of the district. Several findings, including the lapsing of a professional certificate which caused a subsidy forfeiture, were reported to the school board and administration.[128]

Tuition Students who live in the 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 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 - $11,343.06, High School - $12,296.17.[129]

State College Area School District is funded by a combination of: a local earned income tax - 1.7%, a property tax, a real estate transfer tax -0.5%, coupled with substantial funding from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the federal government. Grants can provide an opportunity to supplement school funding without raising local taxes. Interest earnings on accounts also provide nontax income to the District. In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, pension income and Social Security income are exempted from state personal income tax and local earned income tax, regardless of the level of the individual’s personal wealth.[130] 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.[131]

State basic education funding[edit]

For the 2013-14 school year, the State College Area School District received a 2.1% increase or $6,440,816 in Pennsylvania Basic Education Funding. This is $132,929 more than its 2012-13 state BEF to the District. Additionally, State College Area School District received $128,440 in Accountability Block Grant funding to focus on academic achievement and level funding for special education services. Among the public school districts in Centre County, Penns Valley Area School District received the highest percentage increase in BEF at 13.4%. 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.[132] The state funded the PSERS (Pennsylvania school employee pension fund) with $1,017,000,000 and Social Security payments for school employees of $495 million.[133]

For the 2012-13 school year, State College Area School District received $6,307,887.[134] 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 was an increase of $49 million over the 2011-12 budget. State College Area School District received $128,440 in Accountability Block Grant funding to focus on academic achievement.

In the 2011-12 school year, the State College Area School District received $6,307,887 in state Basic Education Funding.[135] Additionally, the District received $128,440 in Accountability Block Grant funding.[136] The Pennsylvania Department of Education reported that 1,220 pupils received a federal free and reduced-price lunch, due to the family meeting the federal poverty level.

For the 2010-11 school year, State College Area School District's state Basic Education Funding increased by 2% for an additional $128,371 and a total of $6,434,044. The greatest increase, in state Basic Education Funding, in Centre County, was a 5.71% increase awarded to Penns Valley Area School District. One hundred fifty school districts received the base 2% increase for 2010.[137] Kennett Consolidated School District in Chester County received the highest increase in the state at 23.65% increase in funding, for the 2010-11 school year. The amount of increase each school district receives was determined by the Governor and the Secretary of Education through the allocation set in the state budget proposal made in February each year.[138]

In the 2009-2010 budget year, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided State College Area School District a 2% increase, in Basic Education Funding, for a total of $$6,434,044. Penns Valley Area School District received an 3.89% increase, while the other two Centre County districts also received increases above 3.5%. In Pennsylvania, over 15 school districts received Basic Education Funding increases in excess of 10% in 2009. Muhlenberg School District in Berks County received the highest with a 22.31% increase in basic education funding from the Commonwealth. Ninety school districts received the base 2% increase in 2009. The state's Basic Education Funding to the State College Area School District in 2008-09 was $6,307,886.53 [139] According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 1,011 students qualified for free or reduced-price lunch due to low family income in 2008.[140]

Accountability Block Grants[edit]

Beginning in 2004-2005, the state launched the Accountability Block Grant school funding. This program has provided $1.5 billion to Pennsylvania’s school districts. The Accountability Block Grant program requires that its taxpayer dollars are focused on specific interventions that are most likely to increase student academic achievement. These interventions include: teacher training, all-day kindergarten, lower class size K-3rd grade, literacy and math coaching programs that provide teachers with individualized job-embedded professional development to improve their instruction, before or after school tutoring assistance to struggling students. For 2010-11, the State College Area School District applied for and received $348,619 in addition to all other state and federal funding. The district used the funding to provide all-day kindergarten[141][142]

Classrooms for the Future grant[edit]

The Classroom for the Future state program provided districts with hundreds of thousands of extra state funding to buy laptop computers for each core curriculum high school class (English, Science, History, Math) and paid for teacher training to optimize the computers use. The program was funded from 2006-2009. State College Area School District was denied funding in 2006-07. In 2007-08 the district was awarded $693,767. In 2008-09, the district received an additional $124,566 for a total funding of $818,333. Of the 501 public school districts in Pennsylvania, 447 of them received Classrooms for the Future state grant awards.[143]

Other grants[edit]

State College Area School District did not participate in: Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection's Environmental Education annual grants, PA Science Its Elementary grants (discontinued effective with 2009-10 budget by Governor Rendell), Education Assistance Grants, 2012 Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy grant, 2012 and 2013 Hybrid Learning Grants,[144] nor the federal 21st Century Learning grants.

Common Cents state initiative[edit]

The State College Area School Board chose to not permit the Pennsylvania Department of Education Common Cents program access to the district records. 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.[145] After the review of the information, the district was not required to implement the recommended cost savings changes.

Federal Stimulus funding[edit]

The State College Area School District received an extra $2,285,966 in ARRA - Federal Stimulus money to be used in specific programs like special education and meeting the academic needs of low-income students.[146] This funding was for 2009-10 to 2010-2011 school years.

Race to the Top grant[edit]

State College Area School District officials did not apply for the Race to the Top federal grant which would have brought the district millions of additional federal dollars for improving student academic achievement.[147] 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.[148] Pennsylvania was not approved in the first round of the grant. The failure of districts to agree to participate was cited as one reason that Pennsylvania was not approved. A second round of state Race to the Top application judging will occur in June 2010.[149]

Real estate taxes[edit]

The State College Area School Board set the 2014-2015 property taxes at 39.5056 mills.[150] A mill is $1 of tax for every $1,000 of a property's assessed value. Property taxes, in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, apply only to real estate - land and buildings. The property tax is not levied on cars, business inventory, or other personal property. Certain types of property are exempt from property taxes, including: places of worship, places of burial, private social clubs, charitable and educational institutions and government property. Irregular property reassessments have become a serious issue in the commonwealth as it creates a significant disparity in taxation within a community and across a region. Pennsylvania school district revenues are dominated by two main sources: 1) Property tax collections, which account for the vast majority (between 75-85%) of local revenues; and 2) Act 511 tax collections (Local Tax Enabling Act), which are around 15% of revenues for school districts.[151]

The average yearly property tax paid by Centre County residents amounts to about 3.34% of their yearly income. Centre County ranked 438th out of the 3143 United States counties for property taxes as a percentage of median income.[161] 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.[162] 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%).[163]

Property tax relief[edit]

In 2011, the Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief from gambling for the State College Area School District was $107 per approved permanent primary residence. Within the district, 13,305 property owners applied for the tax relief. In Centre County, the highest amount of tax relief in 2011, went to Bellefonte Area School District at $186.[164] 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. As required by law, the Commonwealth’s Budget Secretary certified on April 15, 2011, that $612,100,000 in state-funded local tax relief will be awarded in 2011-2012.

In 2010, approved residents received $110 for 13,106 properties [165]

In 2009, the Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief from gambling for the State College Area School District was $110 per approved permanent primary residence. In the district, 7,071 property owners applied for the tax relief. In Centre County, the highest amount of tax relief in 2009, went to Bellefonte Area School District at $198. The highest property tax relief, among Pennsylvania school districts, went to the residents of Chester Upland School District of Delaware County who received $632 per approved homestead.[166] In Cumberland County, 75.93% of eligible property owners applied for property tax relief in 2009.[167]

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. This can be taken in addition to Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief.[168]

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 2010-2011 school year is 1.4 percent, but it 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, increasing rising 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 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.[169]

The School District Adjusted Index for the State College Area School District 2006-2007 through 2011-2012.[170]

For the 2013-14 budget year, State College Area School Board applied for one exception to exceed their Act 1 Index limit due to rapidly escalating 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.[176]

For the 2012-13 budget year, State College 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.[177]

For the 2011-12 school year, the State College Area School Board applied for 2 exceptions to exceed the Act 1 Index: pension costs and special education costs. Each year, the State College 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 publisher each year by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.[178]

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.[179]

In 2010-11, State College Area School Board applied for 2 exceptions to exceed the Act 1 index for the budget: pension costs and special education costs.[180]

State College Area School Board also did not apply for exceptions to exceed the Act 1 index for the budget in 2009-10.[181] 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.[182]

Extracurriculars[edit]

The district offers an extensive extracurricular program for elementary through high school students, including: clubs, activities and sports. Eligibility is determined by school board policy.[183][184] The district's athletics programs are under the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association.[185] Constraints on spending have been considered as an art of controlling costs district wide.[186] The district made cuts in its extensive intramural programs in 2011.[187] In 2012, Shamokin Area School District spent $596,422 on extracurriculars and activities.

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.[188][189]

Sports[edit]

The District funds:

Middle School Sports

According to PIAA directory July 2013 [190]

Snow day policies[edit]

The district has the ability to call parents (at 4 different times or at all of them, 5:30, 6:15, 6:30, 7:00 am) to announce a snow day or opening delay.

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External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°47′03″N 77°54′17″W / 40.78418°N 77.90473°W / 40.78418; -77.90473