Valley Grove School District

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Valley Grove School District
Map of Venango County Pennsylvania School Districts.png
Address
429 Wiley Ave
Franklin, Pennsylvania, Venango, 16323
United States
Information
Superintendent Jeffrey Clark
School number (814)432-4919
Principal Matt LaVerde, HS Principal
Principal Randy Baughman, JHS Principal
Principal Dustin Thompson, ES Principal
Grades K-12
Enrollment 1017 pupils enrolled in 2010[1]
Kindergarten 97
Grade 1 60
Grade 2 75
Grade 3 90
Grade 4 83
Grade 5 88
Grade 6 78
Grade 7 71
Grade 8 79
Grade 9 74
Grade 10 65
Grade 11 72
Grade 12 85
Other Enrollment projected to be over 1200 in 2020.
Website

The Valley Grove School District is a diminutive, rural public school district in Venango County, Pennsylvania, serving the boroughs of Sugarcreek and Cooperstown, as well as Jackson Township. Valley Grove School District encompasses approximately 63 square miles. According to 2001 local census data, it serves a resident population of 6,708. In 2009, the per capita income was $16,297, while the median family income was $37,177 a year.[2] Per Valley Grove Area School District officials, in school year 2007–08 the Valley Grove School District provided basic educational services to 1,029 pupils through the employment of 76 teachers, 51 full-time and part-time support personnel and 7 administrators. In 2006, the 2,122 student population was 98% White, 2% Black, < 0.1% Asian, Native American none and < 0.1% Hispanic.[3]

The district operates two schools: Valley Grove Elementary School and Rocky Grove Junior/Senior High School

Board of Directors[edit]

The authority to establish, equip, furnish, operate and maintain the public schools of Valley Grove School District is vested in the Board of School Directors.

  • Cindy Swendsen
  • Yvonne Rhoads
  • Todd Carson
  • Julie Danzer
  • Rev. Joseph P. Martin, Jr.
  • Vance Mays
  • Adam Miller
  • Julie Swartfager
  • Brandon Winger

Academic achievement[edit]

Valley Grove School District academic achievement has steadily declined to being among the lowest-performing public school districts in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Valley Grove School District was ranked 465th out of 498 Pennsylvania school districts in 2011 by the Pittsburgh Business Times. The ranking was based on five years of student academic performance based on the PSSAs for: reading, writing, math and three years of science.[4]

  • 2010 – 461st
  • 2009 – 434th
  • 2008 – 412th
  • 2007 – 406th out of 501 Pennsylvania school districts.[5]

In 2009, the academic achievement, of the students in the Valley Grove School District, was in the bottom 7th percentile among all 500 Pennsylvania school districts Scale (0–99; 100 is state best)[6]

The Valley Grove School District scores much lower in nearly every category on the annual PSSA tests than the rest of the state,[7] and currently holds a 3 out of 10 on GreatSchools.com.[8]

Graduation rate[edit]

In 2011, Valley Grove School District had a 95% graduation rate.[9] In 2010, the Pennsylvania Department of Education issued a new, 4-year cohort graduation rate. Valley Grove School District's rate was 87% for 2010.[10]

According to traditional graduation rate calculations:

  • 2010 – 95%[11]
  • 2009 – 97%
  • 2008 – 90%[12]
  • 2007 – 90%[13]

Graduation requirements[edit]

The Valley Grove School Board has determined that a student must earn between 24 and 26 credits to graduate, including: English 4 credits, Math 4 credits (including Algebra and Geometry), Social Studies 4 credits, Science 5 credits with two labs (including biology), Health 0.5 credit, Physical Education 2 credits, credits, Family and Consumer Science and 3 electives. Accelerated and academic focused students are expected earn two foreign language credits.[14]

By Pennsylvania law, all Pennsylvania secondary school students must complete a special 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.[15] Students 0.5 credits or a completed project.[16]

By Pennsylvania State School Board regulations, for the graduating classes of 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.[17]

High school[edit]

In 2011, Rocky Grove Junior Senior High School declined to Warning status due to low math achievement.[18] In 2010 and 2009, the school achieved AYP status.[19]

11th Grade Reading:

  • 2011 - 63% on grade level, (19% below basic). State - 69.1% of 11th graders are on grade level.[20]
  • 2010 – 64% (22% below basic). State - 66% of 11th graders are on grade level.[21]
  • 2009 – 44% (34% below basic), State – 65%[22]
  • 2008 – 54% (23% below basic), State – 65%[23]
  • 2007 – 58% (18% below basic), State – 65%[24]

11th Grade Math:

  • 2011 - 46% on grade level (25% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 60.3% of 11th graders are on grade level.[25]
  • 2010 – 60%, (22% below basic). State - 59% [26]
  • 2009 – 55% (26% below basic). State – 56%.
  • 2008 – 54% (26% below basic), State – 56%
  • 2007 – 46% (24% below basic), State – 53%

11th Grade Science:

  • 2011 - 33% on grade level (19% below basic). State - 40% of 11th graders were on grade level.[27]
  • 2010 – 35% (18% below basic). State – 39%
  • 2009 – 36% (20% below basic). State – 40% [28]
  • 2008 – 28%, State – 39%
College remediation

According to a Pennsylvania Department of Education study released in January 2009, 4% of Rocky Grove 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 graduate 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]

The high school offers the Pennsylvania dual enrollment program. This state program permits high school students to take courses, at local higher education institutions, to earn college credits. The students continue to have full access to activities and programs at their high school. 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.[31] Under the Pennsylvania Transfer and Articulation Agreement, many Pennsylvania colleges and universities accept these credits for students who transfer to their institutions.[32] The Pennsylvania College Credit Transfer System reported in 2009, that students saved nearly $35.4 million by having their transferred credits count towards a degree under the new system.[33] In 2010, the district received a $2,891 state grant to be used to assist students with tuition, fees and books.

SAT scores[edit]

From January to June 2011, 39 students took the SAT exams. The district's Verbal Average Score was 491. The Math average score was 492. The Writing average score was 457.[34] Pennsylvania ranked 40th among state with SAT scores: Verbal - 493, Math - 501, Writing - 479.[35] 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.[36]

Junior high school[edit]

8th Grade Reading:

  • 2011 - 74% on grade level (11% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 81.8% of 8th graders on grade level.
  • 2010 – 65% (19% below basic). State - 81%
  • 2009 – 61% (13% below basic), State – 80%
  • 2008 – 61% (16% below basic), State – 78%[37]
  • 2007 – 76% (7% below basic), State – 75%

8th Grade Math:

  • 2011 - 61% on grade level (21% below basic). State - 76.9%
  • 2010 – 54% (26% below basic). State - 75% [38]
  • 2009 – 54% (14% below basic), State – 71%[39]
  • 2008 – 61% (12% below basic), State – 70%
  • 2007 – 79% (11% below basic), State – 68%

8th Grade Science:

  • 2011 - 39% on grade level (33% below basic). State – 58.3% of 8th graders were on grade level.
  • 2010 – 47% (36% below basic). State – 57%
  • 2009 – 45% (30% below basic), State – 55%[40]
  • 2008 – 36%, State – 52%[41]

7th Grade Reading

  • 2011 - 64% on grade level (19% below basic). State – 76%
  • 2010 – 64% (12% below basic). State - 73%
  • 2009 – 64% (18% below basic). State – 71%
  • 2008 – 57% (13% below basic). State – 70%
  • 2007 – 42% (23% below basic). State – 67%

7th Grade Math:

  • 2011 - 63% on grade level (21% below basic). State - 78.6%
  • 2010 – 67% on grade level (20% below basic). State - 77%
  • 2009 – 66% (14% below basic). State – 75%
  • 2008 – 65% (13% below basic). State – 71%
  • 2007 – 66% (15% below basic). State – 67%

Elementary school[edit]

The school achieved AYP status in 2010 and 2011. In 2009, it was in Warning AYP status due to lagging student achievement. The attendance rate was 95% for both years.[42] Report Card 2010 [1]

PSSA Results
6th Grade Reading
  • 2011 - 63% on grade level (15% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 69.9% of 6th graders are on grade level.
  • 2010 – 67% (14% below basic). State - 68%
  • 2009 – 70% (8% below basic), State – 67%
  • 2008 – 78% (6% below basic), State – 67%
6th Grade Math
  • 2011 - 65% on grade level (16% below basic). State - 78.8%
  • 2010 – 55% (18% below basic). State - 78%
  • 2009 – 69% (14% below basic), State – 75%
  • 2008 – 82% (8% below basic), State – 72%
5th Grade Reading
  • 2011 - 54% on grade level (26% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 67.3% of 5th graders are on grade level.
  • 2010 – 51% (11% below basic). State - 64%
  • 2009 – 49% (28% below basic). State – 64%
  • 2008 – 62% (7% below basic). State – 62%
5th Grade Math
  • 2011 - 62% on grade level (12% below basic). State - 74%
  • 2010 – 55% (8% below basic). State - 74%
  • 2009 – 38% (27% below basic). State – 73%
  • 2008 – 57% (10% below basic). State – 73%
4th Grade Reading
  • 2011 - 77% (on grade level 11% below basic). State – 73.3% of 4th graders on grade level.
  • 2010 – 68% (18% below basic). State - 73%
  • 2009 – 82% (5% below basic). State – 72%
  • 2008 – 67% (16% below basic). State – 70%
4th Grade Math
  • 2011 - 79% (10% below basic). State – 85.3% of 4th graders on grade level.
  • 2010 – 80% (5% below basic). State - 84%
  • 2009 – 90% (6% below basic). State – 81%
  • 2008 – 79% (11% below basic). State – 80%
4th Grade Science
  • 2011 - 98%, 74% advanced (0% below basic), State – 82.9% of 4th graders on grade level.
  • 2010 – 97%, 66% advanced, (0% below basic). State - 81%
  • 2009 – 95%, 55% advanced (1% below basic), State – 83%
  • 2008 – 92%, 48% advanced. State – 80%
3rd Grade Reading
  • 2011 - 75%, (16% below basic), State – 77%
  • 2010 – 80% (8% below basic). State - 75%
  • 2009 – 78% (11% below basic). State – 77%
  • 2008 – 92% (2% below basic). State – 70%
3rd Grade Math
  • 2011 - 84% on grade level, 49% advanced, (4% below basic). State – 83% of 3rd graders on grade level.
  • 2010 – 85% (0% below basic). State - 84%
  • 2009 – 65% (7% below basic), State – 81%
  • 2008 – 83% (5% below basic), State – 80%

Special education[edit]

In December 2009, the district administration reported that 161 pupils or 15.5% of the district's pupils received Special Education services.[43]

In accordance with state and federal law, 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 Special Education Department. An Individualized Education Program is created to address the specialized services that are needed for those students who qualify for special education services.[44]

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.[45]

Valley Grove School District received a $648,541 supplement for special education services in 2010.[46] The state provided the same level of funding for 2011–12.

The District Administration reported that 66 or 6.49% of its students were gifted in 2009.[47] 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 by the classroom teacher. Students identified as gifted attending the High School have access to honors and advanced placement courses, and dual enrollment with 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.[48]

Bullying and school safety[edit]

The Valley Grove School District administration reported there were no incidents of bullying in the district in 2010.[49][50]

The Valley Grove School Board has provided the district's antibully policy online.[51] 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.[52] 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.[53]

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.[54]

Budget[edit]

In 2009, the district reports employing over 80 teachers with a starting salary of $36,500 for 180 days of pupil instruction.[55] The average teacher salary was $50,803 while the maximum salary is $110,000.[56] 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.[57] The school day is limited by the union contract to 7.5 hours with a 30-minute duty-free lunch. The administration is required to appoint 11 teacher coordinators who receive compensation for the title. Additionally, Valley Grove School District teachers receive a defined benefit pension, health insurance, professional development reimbursement, 2 paid personal days, 10 paid sick days, 3 religious leave days and many other benefits. Teachers are paid extra when they are required to work outside of the regular school day hours. Teachers receive extra compensation for additional duties. After ten years of active service teachers are eligible for a terminal leave payment of $80 per year or $50 per unused sick day.[58] According to State Rep. Glen Grell, a trustee of the Pennsylvania Public School Employees’ Retirement System Board, a 40-year educator can retire with a pension equal to 100 percent of their final salary.[59]

In 2007, the district employed 69 teachers. The average teacher salary in the district was $44,595 for 180 school days worked.[60]

Valley Grove School District administrative costs per pupil in 2008 was $749.68 per pupil. The district is ranked 258th out of 500 in Pennsylvania for school administrative spending. The lowest administrative cost per pupil in Pennsylvania was $398 per pupil.[61]

In 2008, Valley Grove School District reported spending $12,881 per pupil. This ranked 181st in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.[62]

Reserves – In 2010, Valley Grove School District reported $315,984 in an unreserved-undesignated fund balance. The designated fund balance was reported as $11,644,633. In 2009, Valley Grove School District reported $2,272,944 in an unreserved-undesignated fund balance. The designated fund balance was reported as $9,679,064.[63] In 2008, the district reported a balance of $4,525,590.00 in an unreserved-undesignated fund balance. The designated fund balance was reported as zero.

In January 2011, the Pennsylvania Auditor General conducted a performance audit of the district. Findings were reported to the administration and school board.[64]

The district is funded by a combination of: a local 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. Grants can provide an opportunity to supplement school funding without raising local taxes. In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, pension and Social Security income are exempted from state personal income tax and local earned income tax regardless of the individual's level of wealth.[65]

State basic education funding[edit]

In 2011–12, the Valley Grove School District will receive $6,361,064 in state Basic Education Funding.[66] Additionally, the district will receive $78,617 in Accountability Block Grant funding.[67] 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. 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.[68] Districts experienced a reduction in funding due to the loss of federal stimulus funding which ended in 2011.

In 2010, the district reported that 540 pupils received a free or reduced-price lunch due to the family meeting the federal poverty level.

For 2010–11 the Valley Grove School District received a 3.88% increase in state Basic Education Funding resulting in a $6,877,685 payment.[69] The district received the highest increase in BEF state funding among the school districts in Venango County. 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. One hundred fifty school districts received the base 2% increase in 2010–11. 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.[70]

In the 2009–2010 budget year the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a 4.08% increase in Basic Education funding for a total of $6,620,850. The state Basic Education funding to the district in 2008–09 was $6,361,064.18. The district also received supplemental funding for English language learners, Title 1 federal funding for low-income students, for district size, a poverty supplement from the commonwealth and more.[71] Franklin Area School District received 6.43% which was the highest increase in BEF awarded by the Commonwealth, to districts in Venango County, for the 2009–10 school year. Among the 500 school districts in Pennsylvania, Muhlenberg School District in Berks County received the highest with a 22.31% increase in funding.[72]

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 445 district students received free or reduced-price lunches due to low family income in the 2007–2008 school year.[73]

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 Valley Grove School District applied for and received $213,386 in addition to all other state and federal funding. The district used the funding to provide all-day kindergarten for the 7th year.[74][75]

Education Assistance grant[edit]

The state's EAP 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 Valley Grove School District did not apply.[76]

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. Valley Grove School District did not apply funding in any of the three years it was available. Of the 501 public school districts in Pennsylvania, 447 of them received Classrooms for the Future state grant awards.[77]

Federal Stimulus grant[edit]

The district received an extra $1,685,198 in ARRA – Federal Stimulus money to be used in specific programs like special education and meeting the academic needs of low-income students.[78] The funding is for the 2009–10 and 2010–11 school years.

Race to the Top grant[edit]

School district officials did not applied for the Race to the Top federal grant which would have brought the district up to one million additional federal dollars for improving student academic achievement.[79] Participation required the administration, the school board and the local teachers' union to sign an agreement to prioritize improving student academic success.[80] 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.[81]

Common Cents state initiative[edit]

The Valley Grove School Board chose 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.[82] After the review of the information, the district was not required to implement the recommended cost savings changes.

Real estate taxes[edit]

In 2010–11, the property taxes were 11.2362 mills.[83] 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. 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.[84]

  • 2009–10 – 10.7730 mills.[85] A new downtown bookstore, owned by Bucknell University, has brought $23,559 in additional tax revenue.[86]
  • 2008–09 – 10.7725 mills.[87]
  • 2007–08 – 10.7730 mills.[88]

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 authorized 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.[89]

The School District Adjusted Index for the Valley Grove School District 2006–2007 through 2011–2012.[90]

  • 2006–07 – 5.6%, Base 3.9%
  • 2007–08 – 4.9%, Base 3.4%
  • 2008–09 – 6.4%, Base 4.4%
  • 2009–10 – 6.0%, Base 4.1%
  • 2010–11 – 4.3%, Base 2.9%
  • 2011–12 – 2.1%, Base 1.4%

For the school budget year 2011–12, the Valley Grove School Board did not apply for any exceptions to the Act 1 index.[91] Each year, the school district 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.[92]

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.[93] With the 2011 state education budget, the General Assembly repealed most of the Act 1 tax increase exceptions leaving only special education costs, pension costs and prior voter approved (ballot referendum) debt for construction. The cost of construction projects in the future will go to the voters for approval via ballot referendum. Districts can no longer raise property taxes to cover increasing health insurance costs for employees.[94]

Valley Grove School Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed the Act 1 index for the budgets in 2010–11.[95] 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.[96]

Property tax relief[edit]

In 2009, the Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief from gambling for the Valley Grove School District was $172 per approved permanent primary residence. In the district, 1,987 property owners applied for the tax relief.[97] The tax relief was subtracted from the total annual school property on the individual's 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. The Pennsylvania Auditor General found that 73% of property owners applied for tax relief in Venango County.[98] In Venango County, the highest property tax relief in 2009 was $274 awarded to the approved property owners in Oil City Area School District. The Commonwealth of 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 2010.[99] This was the second year Chester Upland School District was 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 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.[100]

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%).[101]

Extracurriculars[edit]

The district offers a wide variety of clubs, activities and sports. Eligibility to participate in these activities is determined by school board policy.[102][103] When a student-athlete is failing two or more subjects, then they become academically ineligible. They are required to attend a tutoring program two times a week.[104] VGSD funded athletic programs available to students: Baseball, Basketball (Boys & Girls), Cross Country (Boys & Girls, Golf (Boys & Girls), Softball, Swimming (Boys & Girls), Volleyball (Girls) and Cheerleading.

The district offers other sports through a cooperative agreement, with neighboring Franklin Area School District. These sports include: football, tennis, volleyball, soccer, track (Boys & Girls), and wrestling. Students pay a $25 fee (2010) to Franklin Area School District to participate in these cooperative sports.

Additionally, the marching band programs is in cooperation with Franklin Area School District.

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 home schooled, 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.[105]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (2009). "Enrollment and Projections by LEA,". 
  2. ^ American Fact Finder, US Census Bureau, 2010
  3. ^ New York Times. "Diversity in the classroom". The New York Times. Retrieved June 5, 2011. 
  4. ^ Pittsburgh Business Times (April 2011). "Statewide Honor Roll Information.". 
  5. ^ "Three of top school districts in state hail from Allegheny County,". Pittsburgh Business Times,. May 23, 2007. 
  6. ^ "2009 PSSA RESULTS Valley Grove School District,". The Morning Call. Retrieved June 2011. 
  7. ^ "Test Scores for Valley Grove School District". GreatSchools. December 21, 2009. Retrieved December 21, 2009. 
  8. ^ "District Rating for Valley Grove School District". GreatSchools. December 21, 2009. Retrieved December 21, 2009. 
  9. ^ "Valley Grove School District Academic Achievement Report Card 2011". 
  10. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (March 15, 2011). "New 4-year Cohort Graduation Rate Calculation Now Being Implemented". 
  11. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education. "Valley Grove School District Academic Achievement Report Card 2010 data table". Retrieved June 6, 2011. 
  12. ^ The Times-Tribune (June 25, 2009). "Venango County Graduation Rates 2008". 
  13. ^ Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children. "High School Graduation rate 2007". Retrieved January 31, 2011. 
  14. ^ Valley Grove School Board (2010). "Rocky Grove High School Education Planning Guide 2011–12". 
  15. ^ State Board of Education Pennsylvania. "Pennsylvania Code §4.24 (a) High school graduation requirements". 
  16. ^ Valley Grove School District Administration (2010). "Valley Grove Graduation Project". 
  17. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (September 2011). "Pennsylvania Keystone Exams Overview". 
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