Yough School District
|Yough School District|
|915 Lowber Road
Herminie, Pennsylvania, Westmoreland, 15637
|Superintendent||Dr. Janet Sardon|
|Enrollment||2335 pupils in 2010, (2516 in 2006) |
|Other||Enrollment is projected to continue to decline to 2100 by 2020.|
|Color(s)||Green and Silver|
Track and Field
Yough School District is a midsized, rural public school district in southwestern Pennsylvania in Westmoreland County. It serves Smithton, Sutersville, Madison, and Arona boroughs, as well as Sewickley and South Huntingdon Townships. Yough School District encompasses approximately 77 square miles. According to 2000 federal census data it serves a resident population of 17,485. In 2009, the district residents' per capita income was $16,708, while the median family income was $39,772. According to District officials, in school year 2007-08 the Yough School District provided basic educational services to 2,435 pupils through the employment of 156 teachers, 54 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 8 administrators. The Yough School District received more than $13.5 million in state funding in school year 2007-08. The district was named after the Youghiogheny River.
- 1 Secondary schools
- 2 Elementary schools
- 3 Governance
- 4 Academic achievement
- 5 Special education
- 6 Bullying policy
- 7 Budget
- 8 Extracurriculars
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Yough Senior High School (Grades 9-12) 919 Lowber Road, Herminie, PA 15637
Yough Intermediate / Middle School (Grades 5-8) 171 Route 31, Ruffsdale, PA 15679. Report Card 2010 
There are three elementary schools, all of them serving grades K-4.
HW Good Elementary 1464 Herminie-West Newton Road, Herminie, PA 15637. Achieved AYP status in 2009 and 2010, Report Card 2010 
Mendon Elementary 164 Route 31, Ruffsdale, PA 15679. Achieved AYP status in 2009 and 2010, Report Card 2010 
West Newton Elementary 1208 Vine Street, West Newton, PA 15089. Achieved AYP status in 2009 and 2010. Report Card 2010 
The district is governed by 9 individually elected board members (serve four-year terms), the Pennsylvania State Board of Education, the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the Pennsylvania General Assembly. The federal government controls programs it funds like Title I funding for low-income children in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and the No Child Left Behind Act, which mandates the district focus resources on student success in acquiring reading and math skills.
The Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy Alternatives Sunshine Review gave the school board and district administration a "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.
In 2008, a group of five candidates ran together promising to reopen a closed elementary school - West Newton Elementary School. They won election and did reopen the school. In 2011, a new group of candidates ran in the Spring Primary election. Three of the five incumbent board members, who were elected in 2008, were defeated. According to the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, there was an 18 percent turnover of school directors in 2008. While some of the seats were open because the board members were ending their service, 13% of incumbent board members lost reelection. This was a record high in Pennsylvania. Of the 72 percent of incumbents who ran, 87 percent were re-elected.
In 2011, the Yough School District ranked 301st of 498 Pennsylvania school district. The ranking was based on five years of student academic performance on the PSSAs for math, reading, writing and three years of science.
- 2010 - 326th
- 2009 - 305th 
- 2008 - 287th out of 498 ranked Pennsylvania school districts.
- 2007 - 243rd out of 501 Pennsylvania school districts.
In 2009, the academic achievement of the students of the Yough School District was in the 33rd percentile among 500 Pennsylvania school districts. Scale - (0-99; 100 is state best) 
In 2010, the Pennsylvania Department of Education issued a new, 4-year cohort graduation rate. Yough Senior High School's rate was 95% for 2010.
Former graduation calculation rate:
In 2010, the high school improved to AYP status. It was in Warning status, in 2009, due to chronically, low student achievement.
11th Grade Reading
- 2010 - 72% on grade level (13% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 66% of 11th graders are on grade level.
- 2009 - 59% (19% below basic), State - 65% 
- 2008 - 70% (14% below basic), State - 65% 
- 2007 - 73% (13% below basic), State - 65% 
11th Grade Math:
- 2010 - 59%, on grade level (22% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 59% of 11th graders are on grade level.
- 2009 - 47% (29% below basic). State - 56%.
- 2008 - 52% (29% below basic), State - 56%
- 2007 - 50% (23% below basic), State - 53%
11th Grade Science:
- 2010 - 41% on grade level (13% below basic). State - 39% of 11th graders were on grade level.
- 2009 - 38% (14% below basic). State - 40% 
- 2008 - 35%, State - 39%
- College remediation
According to a Pennsylvania Department of Education study released in January 2009, 27% of Yough 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.
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.
By Pennsylvania State School Board regulations, beginning with the graduating class in 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.
The high school offers a dual enrollment program. The students may attend: University of Pittsburgh, Westmoreland County Community College or Mount Aloysius College. 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. 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.
For the 2009-10 funding year, the school district received a state grant of $4,857 for the program.
in 2010, the school had declined to Warning AYP Status due to low student achievement. In 2009, the school achieved AYP status. The attendance rate was reported at 95% in 2010.
8th Grade Reading
- 2010 - 82% on grade level (9% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 81% of 8th graders on grade level.
- 2009 - 86% (9% below basic), State - 80%
- 2008 - 79% (11% below basic), State - 78% 
- 2007 - 78% (6% below basic), State - 75%
8th Grade Math:
- 2010 - 66% on grade level (14% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 75% of 8th graders are on grade level.
- 2009 - 66% (13% below basic), State - 71% 
- 2008 - 60% (19% below basic), State - 70%
- 2007 - 65% (18% below basic), State - 68%
8th Grade Science:
- 2010 - 61% on grade level (21% below basic). State - 57% of 8th graders were on grade level.
- 2009 - 68% (14% below basic), State - 55% 
- 2008 - 50%, State - 52% 
7th Grade Reading
- 2010 - 80% on grade level (8% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 73% of 7th graders on grade level.
- 2009 - 70% (12% below basic), State - 71%
- 2008 - 76% (11% below basic), State - 70%
- 2007 - 69% (13% below basic), State - 67%
7th Grade Math:
- 2010 - 79% on grade level (9% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 77% of 7th graders are on grade level.
- 2009 - 75% (16% below basic), State - 75%
- 2008 - 71% (12% below basic), State - 71%
- 2007 - 61% (18% below basic), State - 67%
6th Grade Reading:
- 2010 - 76% on grade level (9% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 68% of 6th graders are on grade level.
- 2009 - 74% (7% below basic), State - 67%
- 2008 - 59% (19% below basic), State - 67%
- 2007 - 62% (15% below basic), State - 63%
6th Grade Math:
- 2010 - 72% on grade level (14% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 78% of 6th graders are on grade level.
- 2009 - 71% (7% below basic), State - 75%
- 2008 - 61% (22% below basic), State - 72%
- 2007 - 63% (17% below basic), State - 69%
5th Grade Reading:
- 2010 - 65% on grade level, Boys 59%/Girls 71% (12% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 64% of 5th graders are on grade level.
- 2009 - 71%, Boys 67%/Girls 75% (11% below basic), State - 64%
- 2008 - 52% (17% below basic), State - 62%
- 2007 - 51% (26% below basic), State - 60%
5th Grade Math:
- 2010 - 74% on grade level, Boys 79%/Girls 69%, (6% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 74% of 5th graders are on grade level.
- 2009 - 63% Boys 61%/Girls 67% (15% below basic), State - 73%
- 2008 - 47% (13% below basic), State - 73%
- 2007 - 61% (14% below basic), State - 71%
In accordance with state and federal laws, 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. Some Special Education services are provided by Westmoreland Intermediate Unit #7.
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.
Yough School District received a $1,374,469 supplement for special education services in 2010.
The District Administration reported that 78 or 3.34% 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. Students identified as gifted attending the High School have access to 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.
Yough School Board has provided the district's antibully policy online. All Pennsylvania schools are required, by state law, 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 are mandated to send a copy of its anti-bullying policy to the Office for Safe Schools every year, and to review their antibullying policy every three years. Additionally, the district must conduct an annual review of the antibullying 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 2009, the district reports employing over 170 teachers with a starting salary of $40,440 for 180 days for pupil instruction and 190 days total (7 inservice days and 3 clerical days). The average teacher salary was $52,507 while the superintendent's salary is $110,000. 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. The Yough teachers work 7 hours 30 minutes per day with a 30-minute paid lunch period. Teachers receive daily preparation periods. Additionally, Yough School District teachers receive a defined benefit pension, health insurance, professional development reimbursement, 3 paid personal days, 10 sick days and other benefits. Teachers in the Yough School District have one of the highest cost share contributions in the state for health care. Teachers are paid extra for certain duties, if they are required to work outside of the regular school day. When a teacher takes a sabbatical leave they are paid 50% of their salary and receive taxpayer paid benefits, and continue to pay their health care cost share. The union receives 12 days to conduct union business, in which the cost of those days are reimbursed to the district by the union. 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, as so long as a total of five teachers are willing to retire at a time. Any less than five teachers cannot retire at a time, according to the current teachers contract.
In 2007, the district employed 70 teachers. The average teacher salary in the district was $50,267 for 180 school days worked.
Yough School District administrative costs per pupil in 2008 was $699.74 per pupil. The district is ranked 319th out of 500 in Pennsylvania for administrative spending. The lowest administrative cost per pupil in Pennsylvania was $398 per pupil. Administrators in the Yough School District were granted a 4 percent pay increase for the 2010-11 school year.
In 2008, Yough School District reported spending $18,008 per pupil. This ranked 23rd in the commonwealth.
In 2009, the district reported $2,864,419 in an unreserved-undesignated fund balance. The designated fund balance was reported as zero.
In January 2010, the Pennsylvania Auditor General conducted a performance audit of the district. Findings were reported to the administration and school board.
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 and Social Security income are exempted from state personal income tax and local earned income tax regardless of the individual's wealth. Pennsylvania school district local 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.
State basic education funding
For the 2010-11 budget year, the Yough School District was allotted a 7.40% increase in Basic Education Funding for a total of $10,282,464. This was the highest increase provided to a school district in Westmoreland County. One hundred fifty Pennsylvania school districts received the base 2% increase. The highest increase, among all Pennsylvania school Districts, in 2010-11 was awarded 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 set by the Governor and the Secretary of Education as a part of the state budget proposal given each February.
In the 2009-2010 budget year the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a 6.19% increase in Basic Education funding for a total of $9,574,418. The state Basic Education funding to the Yough School District in 2008-09 was $9,016,004.71. The highest increase in Westmoreland County went to Southmoreland School District which received a 6.44% increase. Fourteen Westmoreland County school districts received an increase of less than 6% in 2009-10. Muhlenberg School District of Berks County received an increase of 22.31 percent. In Pennsylvania, sixteen school districts received an increase in funding of over 10 percent in 2009.
In 2008, the administration reported that 853 students received a free or reduced-price lunch based on the federal poverty levels.
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 2010-11 the district applied for and received $439,526 in addition to all other state and federal funding. The Yough School District uses the funding to provide increased instructional time, to provide all-day kindergarten for the 5th year, and to maintain low class size K-3rd grade.
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 program was funded from 2006-2009. Yough School District did not apply for funding in 2006-07 or 2007-08. In 2008-09, the district received $132,621.
Federal Stimulus funding
Common Cents state initiative
The Yough 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
Yough School Board set property tax rates in 2011 at 75.6000 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.
- 2010-11 - 75.6000 mills.
- 2009-10 - 75.6000 mills.
- 2008-09 - 75.6000 mills.
- 2007-08 - 71.8200 mills.
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 and the adjusted index for each district are publicly announced by the Pennsylvania Department of Education In September each year. 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.
The School District Adjusted Index for the Yough School District 2006-2007 through 2010-2011.
2006-07 - 5.4%, Base 3.9%
2007-08 - 4.7%, Base 3.4%
2008-09 - 6.1%, Base 4.4%
2009-10 - 5.7%, Base 4.1%
2010-11 - 4.0%, Base 2.9%
2011-12 - 2.0%, Base 1.4%
For the 2011-12 school year the Yough School Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed the Act 1 Index. Each year, the Yough School Board has the option of adopting either 1) a resolution in January certifying they will not increase taxes above their index or 2) a preliminary budget in February. A school district adopting the resolution may not apply for referendum exceptions or ask voters for a tax increase above the inflation index. A specific timeline for these decisions is publisher each year by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.
According to a state report, for the 2011-2012 school year budgets, 247 school districts adopted a resolution certifying that tax rates would not be increased above their index; 250 school districts adopted a preliminary budget. Of the 250 school districts that adopted a preliminary budget, 231 adopted real estate tax rates that exceeded their index. Tax rate increases in the other 19 school districts that adopted a preliminary budget did not exceed the school district’s index. Of the districts who sought exceptions 221 used the pension costs exemption and 171 sought a Special Education costs exemption. Only 1 school district sought an exemption for Nonacademic School Construction Project, while 1 sought an exception for Electoral debt for school construction.
The Yough School Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed the Act 1 Index for the budget year 2010-2011. 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 2011, property tax relief for 4902 approved residents of Yough School District was set at $157 for approved homesteads. In 2010, the relief was $157 for 4880 homesteads. In 2009, the Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief from gambling for the Yough School District was $158 per approved permanent primary residence. In the district, 4,856 property owners applied for the tax relief. In Westmoreland County, the highest tax relief went to New Kensington–Arnold School District at $302 in 2009 and $300 in 2010. The greatest tax relief in Pennsylvania went to the Chester Upland School District of Delaware County set at $632 in 2009 and $641 in 2010. 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 Westmoreland County, 62% of eligible property owners applied for property tax relief in 2009.
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 people who have an income of 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.
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
The enrollment at Yough School District is among the lowest 12% in Pennsylvania. Department of Education enrollment projections anticipate a further decline in enrollment for the next decade. A Standard and Poors study found that an optimal school district size, to conserve administrative costs, was 3000 pupils. Consolidation of administrations with an adjacent school district would achieve substantial administrative cost savings for people in both communities. According to a 2009 proposal by Governor Edward Rendell, the excessive administrative overhead dollars could be redirected to improving high school student academic achievement, enriching the curriculum programs or to reducing local property taxes.
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). Pennsylvania Department of Education data shows that from 1999-2000 to 2008-09 there has been a 12 percent increase in public school staff even as there was a 1 percent decline in enrollment. Pennsylvania schools added 17,345 professional employees and 15,582 support workers over this time, while enrollment declined by 26,960. Total public school enrollment in 2009 was 1,787,351 pupils.
Pennsylvania has one of the highest numbers of school districts in the nation. In Pennsylvania, 80% of the school districts serve student populations under 5,000, and 40% serve less than 2,000. This results in excessive school administration bureaucracy and not enough course diversity. In a survey of 88 superintendents of small districts, 42% of the respondents stated that they thought consolidation would save money without closing any schools.
Yough competes in the WPIAL athletic conference. The district provides a wide variety of clubs activities and sports. Eligibility to participate is set in school board policies.
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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