Williams Valley School District

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Williams Valley School District
Map of Dauphin County Pennsylvania School Districts.png
Address
10330 State Route 209
Tower City, Pennsylvania, Dauphin County and Schuylkill County, 17980-9801
United States
Information
School board 9 elected members
Superintendent Dr. Donald Burkhardt, salary $95,000 (2012)[1]
Administrator Knox, Homer, Business Manager, $76,800 (2012)

Brian Lacey, Supervisor of Special Education

Principal Mohl, Caitlin, ES salary $70,000 (2012)
Vice principal Mosteller, Gwen, HS salary $64,000 (2012)
Staff 40 non teaching staff members
Faculty 77.5 teachers [2]
Grades K-12
Age 5 years old to 21 years old special education students
Pupils 1,028 pupils (2011), 993 (2009–10)[3]
Kindergarten 89
Grade 1 84
Grade 2 56
Grade 3 62
Grade 4 76
Grade 5 80
Grade 6 76
Grade 7 85
Grade 8 80
Grade 9 95
Grade 10 59
Grade 11 74
Grade 12 77
Other Enrollment is projected to 976 in 2019[4]
Mascot Vikings
USNWR ranking 352 of 458 districts [5]
Budget $14,488,818 (2013-14)[6]

$14,108,840 (2012) [7]
$14,531,699 (2010-11)
$14,891,295 (2009-10)[8]

Per pupil spending $12,085 (2008)
Website
Map of Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania School Districts showing a part of Williams Valley School District

The Williams Valley School District is a small, rural public school district located in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania and Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania. The Districts is highly fragmented encompassing: the boroughs of Williamstown and Tower City as well as the townships of Porter, Rush, Williams, and Wiconisco. The district encompasses approximately 62 square miles (160 km2). According to 2000 federal census data, it served a resident population of 7,355. By 2010, the District's population increased to 7,463 people.[9]

According to District officials, in school year 2007–08 the Williams Valley School District provided basic educational services to 1,100 pupils through the employment of 88 teachers, 26 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 9 administrators. In school year 2009-10 the Williams Valley School District provided basic educational services to 1,129 pupils. It employed: 94 teachers, 20 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 9 administrators. Williams Valley School District received more than $9.2 million in state funding in school year 2009-10.

Williams Valley School District operates one elementary school and one combined jr/sr high school, both of which are located in Tower City. The District is one of the 500 public school districts of Pennsylvania.

Governance[edit]

Williams Valley School District is governed by a 9-member board that is elected to serve four-year terms, the Pennsylvania State Board of Education, the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the Pennsylvania General Assembly.[10] The federal government controls programs it funds like Title I funding for low-income children in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and President George W. Bush's No Child Left Behind Act, which mandates the district focus resources on student success in acquiring on grade level reading skills and math skills.

The Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy Alternatives Sunshine Review gave the school board and district administration a "F" for transparency based on a review of "What information can people find on their school district's website". It examined the school district's website for information regarding; taxes, the current budget, meetings, school board members names and terms, contracts, audits, public records information and more.[11]

The District is served by the Intermediate Unit 29 which offers a variety of services, including assistance with developing K-12 curriculum that is mapped and aligned with the Pennsylvania Academic Standards, shared services, a group purchasing program and a wide variety of special education and special needs services.

Academic achievement[edit]

Williams Valley School District was ranked 443rd out of 500 Pennsylvania public school districts, in 2013, by the Pittsburgh Business Times.[12] The ranking is based on student academic performance on the last 3 years of PSSA results in: reading, writing, mathematics and science. 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.

  • 2012 - 468th [13]
  • 2010 - 465th [14]
  • 2009 – 464th[15]
  • 2008 – 472nd
  • 2007 – 466th of 501 school districts by the Pittsburgh Business Times.[16]
Overachievers ranking

In 2013, the Pittsburgh Business Times reported an Overachievers Ranking for 498 Pennsylvania school districts. Williams Valley School District ranked 474th. The paper 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."[17]

  • 2012 - 476th
  • 2010 - 488th
  • 2009 - 487th

In 2009, the academic achievement, of the students in the Williams Valley School District, was in the bottom 5th percentile among all 500 Pennsylvania school districts Scale (0–99; 100 is state best)[18]

District AYP status history[edit]

In 2012, Williams Valley School District declined to Warning Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) status, due to a graduation rate that continues to decline.[19] In 2011, Williams Valley School District achieved Adequate Yearly Progress status. 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 Pennsylvania public 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.[20] Williams Valley School District achieved AYP status each year from 2004 to 2010, while in 2003 the Williams Valley School District was in Warning status due to lagging student achievement.[21]

Graduation rate[edit]

In 2012, Williams Valley School District’s graduation rate was 80%.[22] In 2011, the District's graduation rate was 85%.[23] In 2010, the Pennsylvania Department of Education issued a new, 4-year cohort graduation rate. Williams Valley Junior Senior High School's rate was 82% for 2010.[24]

According to traditional graduation rate calculations
  • 2010 – 88%[25]
  • 2009 – 91%[26]
  • 2008 – 83%
  • 2007 – 83%[27]

Junior/senior high school[edit]

Williams Valley Junior Senior High School is located at10330 State Route 209, Tower City. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2011, the school reported an enrollment of 362 pupils in grades 7th through 12th, with 164 pupils eligible for a federal free or reduced price lunch due to the family meeting the federal poverty level. The school is a federally Title I school. The school employed 37.5 teachers yielding a student-teacher ratio of 12:1.[28] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 46 classes were taught by teachers who were rated "Non‐Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[29]

AYP status history

In 2012, Williams Valley Junior Senior High School remained in School Improvement II AYP level due to chronic student achievement in reading and mathematics as well as a low graduation rate.[30] Under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, the school administration was required to notify parents of the school's poor achievement outcomes and to offer the parent the opportunity to transfer to a successful school within the District. Additionally the school administration was required by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, to develop a School Improvement Plan to address the school's low student achievement. Under the Pennsylvania Accountability System, the school district must pay for additional tutoring for struggling students.[31] The High School is eligible for special, extra funding under School Improvement Grants which the school must apply for each year.[32]

  • 2011 - declined further to School Improvement II AYP level.[33]
  • 2010 - School Improvement I due to chronic, low student achievement.[34]
  • 2009 - School Improvement I [35]
  • 2008 - School Improvement I AYP status [36]
  • 2007 - declined to Warning AYP status[37]
  • 2006 - AYP status[38]
  • 2005 - AYP status
  • 2004 - AYP status
  • 2003 - Warning AYP status
PSSA Results
11th Grade Reading
  • 2012 - 58% on grade level (28% below basic). State - 67% of 11th graders are on grade level.[39]
  • 2011 - 49% (26% below basic). State - 69.1% [40]
  • 2010 – 50%, State - 67%[41]
  • 2009 – 58%, State – 65%[42]
  • 2008 – 60%, State – 65%
  • 2007 – 47%, State – 65%[43]
11th Grade Math
  • 2012 - 54% on grade level (29% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 59% of 11th graders are on grade level.[44]
  • 2011 - 32% (45% below basic). State - 60.3% [45]
  • 2010 – 38%, State - 59%
  • 2009 – 55%, State – 56%[46]
  • 2008 – 43%, State – 56%
  • 2007 – 38%, State – 53%
11th Grade Science
  • 2012 - 35% on grade level (15% below basic). State - 42% of 11th graders were on grade level.[47]
  • 2011 - 16% (28% below basic). State - 40%[48]
  • 2010 – 17% (26% below basic). State – 39%
  • 2009 – 22%, State – 40%
  • 2008 – 28%, State – 39%

Science in Motion Williams Valley Junior Senior High School does not take advantage of a state program called Science in Motion which brought college professors and sophisticated science equipment to the school to raise science awareness and to provide inquiry-based experiences for the students. The Science in Motion program was funded by a state appropriation and cost the school nothing to participate.[49] Susquehanna University provides the experiences to schools in the region.

Dual enrollment

The high school does not offer the Pennsylvania dual enrollment program which permits students to earn deeply discounted college credits with the assistance of a state grant.[50] Over 400 school districts in Pennsylvania offer their high school juniors and seniors the dual enrollment program.[51]

College remediation[edit]

According to a Pennsylvania Department of Education study released in January 2009, 34% of Williams Valley 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.[52] 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.[53] Per the Pennsylvania Department of Education, one in three recent high school graduates who attend Pennsylvania's public universities and community colleges takes at least one remedial course in math, reading or English.

Graduation project[edit]

Among Pennsylvania's 500 public school districts, graduation requirements widely vary. The School Board has determined that a pupil must earn 25 credits to graduate including: a required class every year in math, English, social studies, science, Physical Education and electives.[54]

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.[55] Effective with the graduating class of 2017, the Pennsylvania State Board of Education eliminated the state mandate that students complete a culminating project in order to graduate.[56]

By Pennsylvania School Board regulations, beginning with the class of 2017, public school students must demonstrate successful completion of secondary level course work in Algebra I, Biology, and English Literature by passing the Keystone Exams.[57] The exam is given at the end of the course. Keystone Exams replace the PSSAs for 11th grade. Students have several opportunities to pass the exam, with those who do not able to perform a project in order to graduate.[58][59] For the class of 2019, a Composition exam will be added. For the class of 2020, passing a civics and government exam will be added to the graduation requirements.[60] In 2011, Pennsylvania high school students field tested the Algebra 1, Biology and English Lit exams. The statewide results were: Algebra 1 38% on grade level, Biology 35% on grade level and English Lit - 49% on grade level.[61] Individual student, school or district reports were not made public, although they were reported to district officials by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Students identified as having special needs and qualifying for an Individual Educational Program (IEP) may graduate by meeting the requirements of their IEP.

SAT scores[edit]

In 2012,4 3Williams Valley School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 451. The Math average score was 461. The Writing average score was 445. 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, 30 Williams Valley School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 461. The Math average score was 458. The Writing average score was 460.[62] Pennsylvania ranked 40th among states with SAT scores: Verbal - 493, Math - 501, Writing - 479.[63] 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.[64]

Junior high school achievement[edit]

8th Grade Reading
  • 2012 - 74% on grade level (14% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 79% of 8th graders on grade level.[65]
  • 2011 - 82% (9% below basic) State - 81.8%[66]
  • 2010 – 65% (16% below basic). State – 81%[67]
  • 2009 – 67%, State – 80%
  • 2008 – 72%, State – 78%[68]
  • 2007 – 62%, State – 75%[69]
8th Grade Math
  • 2012 - 64% on grade level (18% below basic). State - 76% [70]
  • 2011 - 65% (17% below basic). State - 76.9%
  • 2010 – 38% (36% below basic). State – 75%
  • 2009 – 48%, State – 71%
  • 2008 – 46%, State – 70%[71]
  • 2007 – 39%, State – 67%
8th Grade Science
  • 2012 - 59% on grade level (15% below basic). State - 59%
  • 2011 - 62% (21% below basic). State – 58.3%
  • 2010 – 43% (32% below basic). State - 57%
  • 2009 – 49%, State – 54%[72]
  • 2008 – 44%, State – 52%[73]

Elementary School[edit]

Williams Valley Elementary School is located at 10400 State Route 209, Tower City. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2011, the school reported an enrollment of 566 pupils in grades kindergarten through 6th, with 261 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced price lunch due to family poverty. The school is a federally designated Title I school. The school employed 40 teachers yielding a student-teacher ratio of 14:1.[74] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Non‐Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[75] The District has provided full-day kindergarten since 2003.

In 2012, Williams Valley Elementary School declined to Warning AYP status due to low reading and mathematics achievement.[76] From 2009 to 2011, Williams Valley Elementary School achieved AYP status each year. In 2008, the School declined to Warning AYP status due to lagging student achievement in reading and mathematics.

PSSA results
4th Grade Science
  • 2012 - 91%, (1% below basic). State - 82%
  • 2011 - 88%, (4% below basic). State - 82.9%
  • 2010 – 93%, 50% advanced. State – 81% [80]
  • 2009 – 83%, State – 83%[81]
  • 2008 – 94%

Special education[edit]

In December 2011, Williams Valley School District Administration reported that 238 pupils or 22% of the district's pupils received Special Education services, with 51.7% of identified students having a specific learning disability. In December 2009, the District Administration reported that 244 pupils or 23% of the district's pupils received Special Education services.[83]

Williams Valley 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. 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 Supervisor of Special Education.[84] The IDEA 2004 requires each school entity to publish a notice to parents, in newspapers or other media, including the student handbook and website regarding the availability of screening and intervention services and how to access them.

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 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.[85] The Special Education funding structure is through the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) funds and state appropriations. IDEA funds are appropriated to the state on an annual basis and distributed through intermediate units (IUs) to school districts, while state funds are distributed directly to the districts. Total funds that are received by school districts are calculated through a formula. The Pennsylvania Department of Education oversees four appropriations used to fund students with special needs: Special Education; Approved Private Schools; Pennsylvania Chartered Schools for the Deaf and Blind; and Early Intervention. The Pennsylvania Special Education funding system assumes that 16% of the district’s students receive special education services. It also assumes that each student’s needs accrue the same level of costs.[86] Over identification of students, in order to increase state funding, has been an issue in the Commonwealth. Some districts have more than 20% of its students receiving special education services while others have 10% supported through special education.[87] The state requires each public school district and charter school to have a three-year special education plan to meet the unique needs of its special education students.[88] In 2012, the Obama Administration's US Department of Education issued a directive that schools include students with disabilities in extracurricular activities including sports.[89]

Williams Valley School District received a $750,302 supplement for special education services in 2010.[90] For the 2011-12, 2012–13 and 2013-14 school years, 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.[91][92] Additionally, the state provides supplemental funding for extraordinarily impacted students. The District must apply for this added funding.

Gifted education[edit]

The District Administration reported that two of its students were gifted in 2011. None of the District's students were acknowledged by the administration as gifted in 2009.[93] 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. 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.[94]

Bullying policy and school safety[edit]

The Williams Valley School District administration reported there were 8 incidents of bullying in the district in 2012. Additionally, there were seven incidents involving law enforcement with one arrest. There was one case of open lewdness and a bomb threat.[95] The Williams Valley School District administration reported there was one incident of bullying in the district in 2009.[96][97]

The Williams Valley School Board has provided the district's antibully policy online.[98] 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.[99] 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.[100]

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.[101]

Wellness policy[edit]

Williams Valley School Board established a district wellness policy in 2006 – Policy 246.[102] The policy deals with nutritious meals served at school, the control of access to some foods and beverages during school hours, age appropriate nutrition education for all students, and physical education for students K-12. The policy is in response to state mandates and federal legislation (P.L. 108 – 265). The law dictates that each school district participating in a program authorized by the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act (42 U.S.C. 1751 et seq) or the Child Nutrition Act of 1966 (42 U.S.C. 1771 et seq) "shall establish a local school wellness policy by School Year 2006."

The legislation placed the responsibility of developing a wellness policy at the local level so the individual needs of each district can be addressed. According to the requirements for the Local Wellness Policy, school districts must set goals for nutrition education, physical activity, campus food provision, and other school-based activities designed to promote student wellness. Additionally, districts were required to involve a broad group of individuals in policy development and to have a plan for measuring policy implementation. Districts were offered a choice of levels of implementation for limiting or prohibiting low nutrition foods on the school campus. In final implementation these regulations prohibit some foods and beverages on the school campus.[103]

The Pennsylvania Department of Education required the district to submit a copy of the policy for approval. A study was conducted of the submitted policies (n=499). It found that the majority of districts complied with the mandates of the law. Most districts identified the superintendent and school foodservice director as responsible for ensuring local wellness policy implementation.[104]

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

In 2013, the USDA issued new restrictions to foods in public schools. The rules apply to foods and beverages sold on all public school district campuses during the day. They limit vending machine snacks to a maximum of 200 calories per item. Additionally, all snack foods sold at school must meet competitive nutrient standards, meaning they must have fruits, vegetables, dairy or protein in them or contain at least 10 percent of the daily value of fiber, calcium, potassium, and Vitamin D.[107]

Williams Valley School District provides health services as mandated by the Commonwealth and the federal government. Nurses are available to conduct annual health screenings (data reported to the PDE and state Department of Health) and to dispense prescribed medications to students during the school day

Highmark Healthy High 5 grant[edit]

In 2009, the Williams Valley School District received funding through a Highmark Healthy High 5 grant. Williams Valley Elementary School received $6,627 which was used to implement a six-week nutrition education and physical activity program for grades two and six through the Weller Health Education Center.[108] Beginning in 2006, Highmark Foundation engaged in a 5 year, $100 million program to promote lifelong healthy behaviors in children and adolescents through local nonprofits and schools.

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.[109]

In 2011, the average teacher salary in Williams Valley School District was $43,593 a year, while the cost of the benefits teachers received was $15,636 per employee, for a total annual average teacher compensation of $59,229.[110] The District employed 106 teachers and administrators with a top salary of $95,000.[111]

In 2009, Williams Valley School District reported employing 94 teachers and administrators with a median salary of $47,901 and a top salary of $103,000.[112] The teacher’s work day is 7 hours 30 minutes, including: a 30-minute duty-free lunch and a daily preparation period. The contract sets 186 days in the contract year. Additionally, the teachers receive a defined benefit pension, health insurance (employees contribute $18 per pay), dental insurance, vision insurance, disability income insurance, professional development reimbursement, 3 paid personal days which accumulate, 10 paid sick days, and other benefits.[113] Teachers receive additional payments at an hourly rate, for required work done outside the regular school day.

In 2007, Williams Valley School District employed 79 teachers. The average teacher salary in the district was $45,669 for 180 days worked.[114] 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.[115]

Williams Valley School District administrative costs per pupil in 2008 was $1,081 per pupil. The district is ranked 44th out of 500 in Pennsylvania for spending on administration. The lowest administrative cost per pupil in Pennsylvania was $398 per pupil.[116] In 2009, Olga Ehrhart, Superintendent's salary is reported by the district at $75,000.[117][118] In addition to the salary, she received an extensive benefits package including health insurance, life insurance, travel benefits and more. The Pennsylvania School Board Association tracks salaries for Pennsylvania public school employees. It reports that in 2008 the average superintendent salary in Pennsylvania was $122,165.[119] In January 2010, Ehrhart resigned her position effective June 29, 2011.[120]

In 2008, Williams Valley School District reported spending $12,085 per pupil. This ranked 263rd in the commonwealth.[121] In 2010, the District’s per pupil spending had increased to $12,001.67.[122] In 2011, Pennsylvania’s per pupil spending was $13,467, ranking 6th in the United States.[123] In 2007, the Pennsylvania per pupil total expenditures was reported as $12,759.[124] The U.S. Census Bureau reported that Pennsylvania spent $8,191 per pupil in school year 2000-01.[125]

Among the fifty states, Pennsylvania’s total per pupil revenue (including all sources) ranked 11th at $15,023 per student, in 2008-09.[126] Pennsylvania’s total revenue per pupil rose to $16,186 ranking 9th in the nation in 2011.[127]

In 2010, the revenue breakdown was: 4 percent from federal sources, 27 percent from local sources, and 69 percent from state funds.

Reserves In 2008, Williams Valley School District reported a $1,497,979.00 in an unreserved-undesignated fund balance. The designated fund balance was repoted as $1,200,000.[128] In 2010, Williams Valley School District Administration reported an increase to $2,396,756 in the unreserved-undesignated fund balance. The District also reported $$900,000 in its unreserved-designated fund in 2010. Pennsylvania public school district reserve funds are divided into two categories – designated and undesignated. The undesignated funds are not committed to any planned project. Designated funds and any other funds, such as capital reserves, are allocated to specific projects. School districts are required by state law to keep 5 percent of their annual spending in the undesignated reserve funds to preserve bond ratings. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, from 2003 to 2010, as a whole, Pennsylvania school districts amassed nearly $3 billion in reserved funds.[129] By 2013, reserves held by Pennsylvania public school districts, as a whole, had increased to over $3.8 billion.[130] By 2012, Williams Valley School District reported having $4,729,155 in reserves.[131]

Audits In October 2009, the Williams Valley School District was audited by the Pennsylvania Auditor General. The performance audit cited the district for Continued Certification Deficiencies which included several administrators and teachers.[132] In April 2012, the District was audited again. The certification violations continued and the district was found to be reporting erroneous enrollment data to the state. These errors resulted in the WVSD being underpaid $102,113 for their state reimbursement subsidy.[133]

Tuition Students who live in the Williams Valley School District's attendance area may choose to attend one of Pennsylvania's 157 public charter schools. A student living in a neighboring public school district or a foreign exchange student may seek admission to Williams Valley 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 Williams Valley School District's schools. The 2012 tuition rates are Elementary School - $8,581, High School - $10,003.79.[134]

Williams Valley School District is funded by a combination of: a local earned income tax of 1%, a local property tax, a real estate transfer tax 0.5%, a $5 (Act 511) per capita tax, a $5 (Sec 679) per capita tax, a $10 occupation privilege tax, and a $205 occupation tax, coupled with substantial funding from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the federal government.[135] 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 of the level of the individual’s personal wealth.[136] 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.[137]

State basic education funding[edit]

For the 2013-14 school year, the School District will receive a 1.3% increase or $6,811,636 in Pennsylvania Basic Education Funding. This is $88,848 more than its 2012-13 state BEF to the District. Additionally, Williams Valley School District will receive $97,533 in Accountability Block Grant funding to focus on academic achievement and level funding for special education services. Among the public school districts in Schuylkill County, Blue Mountain School District and Saint Clair Area School District received the highest percentage increase at 2.2%. Williams Valley School 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.[138] 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.[139]

For the 2012-13 school year, the Williams Valley School District received $6,722,788 of state BEF money.[140] The Governor's Executive Budget for 2012-2013 included $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. In addition, the Commonwealth provided $100 million for the Accountability Block Grant (ABG) program. Williams Valley School District received $97,533 in Accountability Block Grant funding. The state also provided a $544.4 million payment for School Employees’ Social Security and $856 million for School Employees’ Retirement fund called PSERS.[141] This amount was a $21,823,000 increase (0.34%) over the 2011-2012 appropriations for Basic Education Funding, School Employees' Social Security, Pupil Transportation, Nonpublic and Charter School Pupil Transportation. Since taking office, Corbett’s first two budgets have restored more than $918 million in support of public schools, compensating for the $1 billion in federal stimulus dollars lost at the end of the 2010-11 school year.

In 2011-12, Williams Valley School District received a $6,722,788 allocation, of state Basic Education Funding.[142][143] Additionally, the School District received $97,533 in Accountability Block Grant funding. The enacted Pennsylvania state Education budget included $5,354,629,000 for the 2011-2012 Basic Education Funding appropriation. This amount was a $233,290,000 increase (4.6%) over the enacted State appropriation for 2010-2011.[144] The highest increase in state basic education funding was awarded to Duquesne City School District of Allegheny County, which got a 49% increase in state funding for 2011-12.[145] In 2010, the district reported that 444 students received free or reduced price lunches, due to the family meeting the federal poverty level.[146]

For 2010–11, Williams Valley School District received a 2.71% increase in state Basic Education Funding for $7,198,786.[147] The highest increase in BEF in Schuylkill County went to Minersville Area School District which received 9.69%. 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. Fifteen (15) Pennsylvania public school districts received a BEF increase of greater than 10%. The state's hold harmless policy regarding state basic education funding continued where each district received at least the same amount as it received the prior school year, even when enrollment had significantly declined. The amount of increase each school district received was set by Governor Edward Rendell and then Secretary of Education Gerald Zahorchak, as a part of the state budget proposal given each February. This was the second year of Governor Rendell’s policy to fund some public school districts at a far greater rate than others.[148]

In the 2009–2010 budget year, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a 4.25% increase in Basic Education funding for a total of $7,008,632 to Williams Valley School District. 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.[149] Shenandoah Valley School District was the highest increase in Schuylkill County with a 14.50% increase in basic education funding, 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.[150] The amount of increase each school district received was set by Governor Edward G. Rendell and the Secretary of Education Gerald Zahorchak, as a part of the state budget proposal.[151] According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Pennsylvania spent $7,824 Per Pupil in the year 2000. This amount increased up to $12,085 by the year 2008.[152][153]

Fro the 2008-09 school year, the state Basic Education funding to Williams Valley School district was $6,722,788. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 375 students received free or reduced-price lunches due to low family income in the 2007–2008 school year.[154]

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 Williams Valley School District applied for and received $264,729 in addition to all other state and federal funding. The district used the funding to provide full-day kindergarten for the seventh year.[155][156]

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 Williams Valley School District received $82,934.[157]

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. Williams Valley School District did not apply for funding in 2006–07 nor in 2007–08. For the 2008–09 school year the district received $74,691. Of the 501 public school districts in Pennsylvania, 447 of them received Classrooms for the Future grant awards.[158] Among the public school district in Schuylkill County, North Schuylkill School District received the largest grant award $245,673. The highest funding statewide was awarded to Philadelphia City School District in Philadelphia County - $9,409,073. The grant program was discontinued by Governor Edward Rendell as part of the 2009-10 state budget.

Other grants[edit]

The 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), 2012 Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy grant, nor the federal 21st Century Learning grants.

Federal Stimulus grant[edit]

The district received an extra $1,204,949 in ARRA – Federal Stimulus money to be used in specific programs like special education and meeting the academic needs of low-income students.[159] The funding is for the 2009–2011 school years.[160]

Race to the Top grant[edit]

Williams Valley School District officials did not apply for the Race to the Top federal grant which would have brought the district hundreds of thousands of additional federal dollars for improving student academic achievement.[161] 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.[162] 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 RTTT application judging will occur in June 2010.[163]

Common Cents state initiative[edit]

The Williams Valley School Board did 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.[164] After the review of the information, the district was not required to implement the recommended cost savings changes.

Real estate taxes[edit]

The Williams Valley School Board set property tax rates in 2013–14: residents who reside in Schuylkill County pay 33.47 mills and 15.0300 mills in Dauphin County. A mill is $1 of tax for every $1,000 of a property's assessed value. Irregular property reassessments have become a serious issue in the commonwealth as it creates a significant disparity in taxation within a community and across a region. 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.[165] The school district includes municipalities in two counties, each of which has different rates of property tax assessment, necessitating a state board equalization of the tax rates between the counties.[166] In 2010, miscalculations by the State Tax Equalization Board (STEB) were widespread in the Commonwealth and adversely impacted funding for many school districts, including those that did not cross county borders.[167]

  • 2012-13 - Schuylkill County residents – 33.7800 mills. Dauphin County residents – 15.0300 mills.
  • 2011-12 - Schuylkill County residents – 33.7100 mills. Dauphin County residents – 14.6500 mills.[168]
  • 2010-11 - Schuylkill County residents – 32.9700 mills. Dauphin County residents – 14.3700 mills.[169]
  • 2009-10 - Schuylkill County residents – 31.6400 mills. Dauphin County residents – 14.0100 mills.
  • 2008-09 - Schuylkill County residents – 29.7600 mills. Dauphin County residents – 13.4200 mills.
  • 2007-08 - Schuylkill County residents – 29.0200 mills. Dauphin County residents – 12.3000 mills.
  • 2006-07 - Schuylkill County residents – 27.3674 mills. Dauphin County residents – 11.4192 mills.
  • 2005-06 - Schuylkill County residents – 26.1100 mills. Dauphin County residents – 10.7100 mills.

The average yearly property tax paid by Schuylkill County residents amounts to about 2.84% of their yearly income. Schuylkill County ranked 700th out of the 3143 United States counties for property taxes as a percentage of median income.[170] 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.[171] 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%).[172]

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.[173]

In June 2011, the Pennsylvania General Assembly passed legislation eliminating six of the exceptions to the Act 1 Index.[174] Several exceptions were maintained: 1) costs to pay interest and principal on indebtedness incurred prior to September 4, 2004 for Act 72 schools and prior to June 27, 2006 for non-Act 72 schools; 2) costs to pay interest and principal on electoral debt; 3) costs incurred in providing special education programs and services (beyond what is already paid by the State); and 4) costs due to increases of more than the Index in the school’s share of payments to PSERS (PA school employees pension fund) taking into account the state mandated PSERS contribution rate.[175][176] The legislature also froze the payroll amount public school districts use to calculate the pension-plan exception at the 2012 payroll levels. Further increases in payroll cannot be used to raise the district’s exception for pension payments.

A specific timeline for Act I Index decisions is published annually, by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.[177]

The School District Adjusted Index for the Williams Valley School District 2006–2007 through 2010–2011.[178]

For the 2013-14 budget year, Williams Valley School Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed their Act 1 Index limit. 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.[182]

For the 2012-13 budget year, Williams Valley School Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed the Act 1 Index. 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.[183]

For the 2011-12 school year, the Williams Valley School Board did not apply for an exception to exceed the Act 1 Index. Each year, the Williams Valley 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.

According to a state report, for the 2011-12 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.[184]

The Williams Valley School Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed the Act 1 index for the budgets in 2010–11.[185] 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.[186]

Property tax relief[edit]

In 2010, property tax relief for Williams Valley School District was set at $149 for 12,070 approved properties.[187]

In 2009, the Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief from gambling for the Williams Valley School District was $148 per approved permanent primary residence. In the district, 2,287 property owners applied for the tax relief. In Dauphin County, the highest amount of tax relief in 2009, went to Harrisburg City School District at $446.[188] In Schuylkill County, the highest amount went to Schuylkill Haven Area School District set at $195. The tax 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 Dauphin County, 68.71% of eligible property owners applied for property tax relief in 2009. Schuylkill County data was not provided.[189] 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.[190] 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 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.[191]

Extracurriculars[edit]

Williams Valley School District offers a variety of clubs, activities and an extensive costly sports program. Eligibility to participate is set by school board policies.[192] For the 2010–2011 school year, all students in grades 7–12 who participate in athletic teams, cheerleading, extra-curricular clubs and/or student drivers and who are subject to the Drug Testing Policy will be required to pay a one time, non-refundable Student Activity Fee of $10.[193] The fee was increased to $20 in 2012.

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.[194]

Sports[edit]

The District funds:

Junior High School Sports

According to PIAA directory July 2013 [195]

References[edit]

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Coordinates: 40°35′16″N 76°36′20″W / 40.58788°N 76.60560°W / 40.58788; -76.60560