Steel Valley School District
|Steel Valley School District|
|220 E. Oliver Road
Munhall, Pennsylvania, Allegheny, 15120
|Superintendent||Mr. Edward Wehrer|
|Grade 12||132 |
|Other||Enrollment is project to decline by over 200 students by 2019|
Steel Valley School District is a small, suburban public school district in the state of Pennsylvania. It is located to the southeast of the City of Pittsburgh. It serves the boroughs of Homestead, Munhall, and West Homestead, former mill towns. Steel Valley School District encompasses approximately 4 square miles. According to a 2005 local census data, it served a resident population of 18,340. In 2009, the district's residents per capita income was $16,902, while median family income was $40,295. Per school district officials, in school year 2007-08 the Steel Valley School District provided basic educational services to 1,892 pupils through the employment of 170 teachers, 71 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 15 administrators. Steel Valley School District received more than $11.8 million in state funding in school year 2007-08.
The district operates five schools: Franklin Primary Center - Kindergarten, Barrett Elementary School Grades 1-5, Park Elementary School Grades 1-5, Steel Valley Middle School Grades 6-8 and Steel Valley Senior High School Grades 9-12.
- 1 Academic achievement
- 2 Special education
- 3 Bullying policy
- 4 Budget
- 4.1 State basic education funding
- 4.2 Federal Stimulus funding
- 4.3 Common Cents state initiative
- 4.4 Real estate taxes
- 5 Enrollment and Consolidation
- 6 Extracurriculars
- 7 References
- 8 External links
The Steel Valley School District was ranked 384th out of 493 Pennsylvania School Districts in 2010 by the Pittsburgh Business Times. The ranking was based on five years of student academic performance on the PSSAs for: math, reading, writing and three years of science.
Local ranking - The Steel Valley School District was ranked 85th out of 105 Western Pennsylvania School Districts in 2009 by the Pittsburgh Business Times. In 2008, the school ranked 81st out of 105 Western Pennsylvania districts.
In 2009, the academic achievement of the district's pupils was in the 17th percentile of the 500 school districts in Pennsylvania. Scale - (0-99; 100 is state best) 
In 2010, the Pennsylvania Department of Education issued a new, 4-year cohort graduation rate. Steel Valley School District's rate was 86% for 2010.
According to traditional graduation rate calculations:
Senior high school
Steel Valley High School has a long history. It was the site for the televised "Steel Valley Presidential Debate" featuring Democratic primary opponents Governor Michael Dukakis and the Reverend Jesse Jackson in April, 1988.
In 2010, the high school's 11th grade ranked 102nd out of 124 western Pennsylvania high schools, based on four years of results in PSSAs on: reading, math writing and two years of science. In 2009, the high school's 11th grade ranked 103rd out of 123 western Pennsylvania high schools.
In 2010, the high school is in Making Progress: in School Improvement II AYP status. In 2009 the high school was in School Improvement II AYP status due to chronically low student academic achievement.
- PSSA Results
- 11th Grade Reading on grade level
- 2010 - 65% on grade level. In Pennsylvania, 67% of 11th graders on grade level.
- 2009 - 53%, State - 65%
- 2008 - 54%, State - 65% 
- 2007 - 54%, State - 65% 
- 11th Grade Math:
- 2010 - 61% on grade level. In Pennsylvania, 59% of 11th graders on grade level.
- 2009 - 53%, State - 55% 
- 2008 - 44%, State - 56%
- 2007 - 45%, State - 53%
- 11th Grade Science:
- 2010 - 32% on grade level. State - 39% of 11th graders were on grade level.
- 2009 - 37% on grade level. State - 40%
- 2008 - 25% 
College Remediation: According to a Pennsylvania Department of Education study released in January 2009, 42% of the Steel Valley 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. 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. 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.
The 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. The state offers a small grant to assist students in costs for tuition, fees and books. Under the Pennsylvania Transfer and Articulation Agreement, many Pennsylvania colleges and universities accept these credits for students who transfer to their institutions.
For the 2009-10 funding year, the school district received a state grant of $1,898 for the program.
The Steel Valley School Board has determined that 28 credits are required for graduation, including: English 4 credits, Scial Studies 4 credits, Math 4 credits, Science 3.5 credits, Technology 1 credit, Physical Education/health 2.5 credits, Community Service 0.25 credits and more Students are also required to score advanced or proficient on the 11th grade PSSAs for reading, writing and math in order to graduate.
For the graduating classes of 2016 and on, 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.
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.
In 2009, the 8th grade was ranked 84th out of 141 western Pennsylvania middle schools based on three years of student academic achievement in PSSAs in: reading, math writing and one year of science. (Includes schools in: Allegheny County, Beaver County, Butler County, Fayette County, Westmoreland County, and Washington County
- PSSA Results
- 8th Grade Reading on grade level
- 2010 - 88% on grade level. In Pennsylvania, 81% of 8th graders on grade level.
- 2009 - 77%, State - 80%
- 2008 - 77%, State - 78% 
8th Grade Science:
2010 - 60% on grade level. State - 57% of 8th graders were on grade level.
2009 - 45%, State - 55%
2008 - 41%, State - 52% 
In 2010, the seventh grade's academic achievement ranked 79th out of 153 local 7th grades.
7th Grade Reading on grade level
2010 - 66% on grade level, In Pennsylvania, 73% of 7th graders are on grade level.
2009 - 74%, State - 71%
2008 - 62%, State - 70%
7th Grade Math:
2010 - 79% on grade level. In Pennsylvania, 77% of 7th graders are on grade level.
2009 - 76%, State - 75%
2008 - 71%, State - 70%
In 2010, the sixth grade's academic achievement ranked 140th out of 207 local 6th grades.
6th Grade Reading on grade level
2010 - 58% on grade level, State - 68% of 6th graders on grade level.
2009 - 52%, State - 67%
2008 - 57%, State - 67%
6th Grade Math:
2010 - 76% on grade level. State - 78% of 6th graders are on grade level.
2009 - 76%, State - 75%
2008 - 68%, State - 72% 
In December 2009, the district administration reported that 337 pupils or 18% of the district's pupils received Special Education services.
The District engages in identification procedures to ensure that eligible students receive an appropriate educational program consisting of special education and related services, individualized to meet student needs. At no cost to the parents, these services are provided in compliance with state and federal law; and are reasonably calculated to yield meaningful educational benefit and student progress. To identify students who may be eligible for special education, various screening activities are conducted on an ongoing basis. These screening activities include: review of group-based data (cumulative records, enrollment records, health records, report cards, ability and achievement test scores); hearing, vision, motor, and speech/language screening; and review by the Instructional Support Team or Student Assistance Team. When screening results suggest that the student may be eligible, the District seeks parental consent to conduct a multidisciplinary evaluation. Parents who suspect their child is eligible may verbally request a multidisciplinary evaluation from a professional employee of the District or contact the building principal.
In 2010, the state of Pennsylvania provided $1,026,815 for Special Education services. The funds were distributed to districts based on a state policy which estimates that 16% of a 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.
Steel Valley School District received a $1,270,269 supplement for special education services in 2010.
The District Administration reported that 87 or 4.45% of its students were gifted in 2009. By law, the district must provide mentally gifted programs at all grade levels. The primary emphasis is on enrichment and acceleration of the regular education curriculum through a push in model with the gifted instructor in the classroom with the regular instructor. Students identified as gifted attending the High School have access to dual enrollment courses offered by local colleges. The referral process for a gifted evaluation can be initiated by teachers or parents by contacting the student’s building principal and requesting an evaluation. All requests must be made in writing. To be eligible for mentally gifted programs in Pennsylvania, a student must have a cognitive ability of at least 130 as measured on a standardized ability test by a certified school psychologist. Other factors that indicate giftedness will also be considered for eligibility.
The Steel Valley School Board has provided the district's antibully policy online. 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. 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.
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.
In 2007, the district employed 147 teachers. The average teacher salary in the district was $47,355 for 180 days worked. 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. Additionally, the teachers receive a defined benefit pension, health insurance, professional development reimbursement, personal days, 10 paid sick days which accumulate, and many other benefits.
Steel Valley administrative costs in 2008 were $1,571.25 per pupil. The district has the 4th highest administrative spending of 500 school districts. The lowest administrative cost per pupil in Pennsylvania was $398, in 2008. The Pennsylvania School Boards Association keeps statistics on salaries of public school district employees in Pennsylvania. According to the association, 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.
In 2008, the administration reported that the district per pupil spending was $12,657. This ranked 205th among Pennsylvania's 500 school districts.
In March 2011, the Pennsylvania Auditor General conducted a performance audit of the district. Multiple serious findings and irregularities were reported to the administration and the school board.
For the 2011-12 school year, the Steel Valley School Board approved a $24,467,184 budget which required furloughing 36.5 employees in response to declining enrollment and program elimination. At the high school the business education program was terminated, cuttying 7 teaching positions. Seventh grade football was also cut.
The district is funded by a combination of: a local income tax, a property tax, a real estate transfer tax, coupled with substantial funding from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the federal government. Grants can provide an opportunity to supplement school funding without raising local taxes. In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, pension income and Social Security income are exempted from state personal income tax and local earned income tax, regardless the of income level.
State basic education funding
For the 2010-11 school year the district received a 2% increase in state basic education funding for $8,293,183. In Allegheny County, 23 school districts received the base 2% increase in state funding in 2010. One hundred fifty school districts in the commonwealth received the base 2% increase. The highest increase in state basic education funding went to South Fayette Township School District which was awarded an 11.32% increase in funding for m the state. Among Pennsylvania school districts, the highest increase in 2010-11 went to Kennett Consolidated School District in Chester County which received a 23.65% increase in state funding. The amount of increase each school district receives is determined by the Governor and the Secretary of Education through the allocation set in the state budget proposal made in February each year.
In the 2009-2010 budget year the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a 2% increase in Basic Education funding for a total of $8,008,596. This was the base percentage increase, in Basic Education Funding, in the Commonwealth. Four school districts in Allegheny County received an increase of over 6 percent. Chartiers Valley School District received an 8.19% increase, which was the highest in Allegheny County in 2009-10. The state Basic Education funding to the Steel Valley School District in 2008-09 was $7,878,921. In Pennsylvania, a 2% increase in funding was the lowest. Muhlenberg School District in Berks County received an increase of over 22.31%. Fifteen school districts received Basic Education increases in excess of 10% The amount of increase each school district receives is determined by the Governor and the Secretary of Education through the allocation made in the budget proposal made in February each year.
Accountability Block Grants
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 the 2010-11 school year, the Steel Valley School District applied for and received $443,006 in addition to all other state and federal funding. The district used the funding to provide all-day kindergarten for the fifth year and to increase instructional time for struggling students.
Education Assistance grant
The state's Education Assistance Program funding provides for the continuing support of tutoring services and other programs to address the academic needs of eligible students. Funds are available to eligible school districts and full-time career and technology centers (CTC) in which one or more schools have failed to meet at least one academic performance target, as provided for in Section 1512-C of the Pennsylvania Public School Code. In 2010-11 the Milton Area School District received $159,566.
Classrooms for the Future grant
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 state grant requires the district hire a part-time technology coach, whose role is to assist the teachers in using the equipment and software effectively to improve their instruction. The salary is covered by the grant. The program was funded from 2006-2009. Steel Valley School District was denied funding in 2006-07. The district received $260,970 in 2007-08 and $47,518 in 2008-09 for a total funding of $308,488.
Federal Stimulus funding
Steel Valley School District received $1,830,608 in ARRA - Federal Stimulus money to be used in specific programs like special education and meeting the academic needs of low-income students. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 890 students received free or reduced-price lunches due to low family income in the 2007-2008 school year.
Race to the Top grant
School district officials did not apply for the Race to the Top federal grant which would have brought the district over $1 million additional federal dollars for improving student academic achievement. 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. 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.
Common Cents state initiative
The Steel Valley School Board decided 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. After the review of the information, the district was not required to implement the recommended cost savings changes.
Real estate taxes
Property tax rates in 2010 -11 were set by the school board at 24.0700 mills. A mill is $1 of tax for every $1,000 of a property's assessed value. Irregular property reassessments have become a serious issue in the commonwealth as it creates a significant disparity in taxation within a community and across a region. On the local level, Pennsylvania 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.
Act 1 Adjusted index
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 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, 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.
The School District Adjusted Index for the Steel Valley School District 2006-2007 through 2011-2012.
- 2006-07 - 5.3%, Base 3.9%
- 2007-08 - 4.7%, Base 3.4%
- 2008-09 - 6.2%, Base 4.4%
- 2009-10 - 5.7%, Base 4.1%
- 2010-11 - 4.0%, Base 2.9%
- 2011-12 - 1.9%, Base 1.4%
The Steel Valley School Board applied for multiple exceptions to exceed the Act 1 index for the budget in 2011, including: grandfathered construction debt, maintenance of local tax revenues, and pension obligations. . 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.
Property tax relief
In 2010, the property tax relief was set at $232 for 4,183 property owners. In 2009, the Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief from gambling for the Steel Valley School District was $234 per approved permanent primary residence. In the district, 4,144 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 Allegheny County, 60% have sought the property tax relief exemption for their home or farm. 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. 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, consequently individuals who have income substantially greater 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.
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%).
Enrollment and Consolidation
A proposal has been made, by prominent local citizen, David Wassel, to consolidate many Allegheny County school districts to save tax dollars and improve student services. The plan calls for a new district that combines: West Mifflin Area School District, Duquesne City School District and Steel Valley School District. The new district would serve the communities of: Duquesne City, Homestead, Munhall, West Homestead, West Mifflin, Whitaker. The high school in Duquesne School District was closed in 2007 due to low achievement, district financial distress, and low enrollment.
Over the next 10 years, rural Pennsylvania school enrollment is projected to decrease 8 percent. The most significant enrollment decline is projected to be in western Pennsylvania, where rural school districts may have a 16 percent decline. More than 40 percent of elementary schools and more than 60 percent of secondary schools in western Pennsylvania are projected to experience significant enrollment decreases (15 percent or greater). A study of Pennsylvania public school spending, conducted by Standard and Poor's, found that consolidation of the administration with an adjacent school district would achieve substantial administrative cost savings for people in both communities. 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. Consolidation of two central administrations into one would not require the closing of any schools
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. Less than 95 of Pennsylvania's 501 school districts have enrollment below 1250 students, in 2007.
The district offers a variety of clubs, activities and sports. Eligibility to participate 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.
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- Pennsylvania Department of Education, Steel Valley School District Enrollment and Projections, January 2009
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- Seventh grade rankings, Pittsburgh Business Times. April 30, 2010
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- Grading Our Schools, The Times-Tribune, 2008 PSSA results
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- Pennsylvania Department of Education (Revised December 1, 2009 Child Count (Collected July 2010)). "Gifted Students as Percentage of Total Enrollment by School District/Charter School".
- Pennsylvania Department of Education and Pennsylvania School Board. "CHAPTER 16. Special Education For Gifted Students". Retrieved February 4, 2011.
- Steel Valley School District School Safety Annual Report 2008 - 2009
- Pennsylvania Safe Schools Online Reports
- Bullying Policy 249 effective September 2008
- Regular Session 2007-2008 House Bill 1067, Act 61 Section 6 page 8
- Center for Safe Schools of Pennsylvania, Bullying Prevention advisory
- Pennsylvania Academic Standards
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- Accountability Block Grant Mid Year report
- Accountability Block Grant Mid Year Report 2009-10
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- Wassel, David, The Next Page: For a New Allegheny County -- 26 school districts, 26 municipalities. The PostGazette.com. June 21, 2009.
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