Allentown School District

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Allentown School District
Lehigh county - Allentown.png
Location of Allentown School District in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania
31 South Penn Street
Allentown, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania 18105
United States
Coordinates Coordinates: 40°36′11″N 75°27′57″W / 40.60315°N 75.46597°W / 40.60315; -75.46597 (ASD Administration offices)
Closed Jackson Elementary School closed 2010
School board 9 locally elected members
Superintendent C. Russell Mayo, Ed.D (contract 2012-2017) $170,000 (2012)[1]
School number 484-765-4000

Dr Tina M Belardi, Chief Academic Officer ADSVA (contract 2012-2017)
Dr John R Clark, Chief Financial Officer
David M. Wildonger, Chief Operations Officer
Kristin Kruger, Executive Director of Instruction
Christina Mazzella, Executive Director of Human Resources< Karen Baurkot, Director of Assessment
Robin Powlus, Assistant Director of Assessment
Ellen O'Brien, Director of Child Nutrition
Kimberly Golden Benner, Director of Communications
Michael G. Makhoul, Director of Educational Operations
Kathleen Gill, Director of ESOL & World Languages

Kimberly Walck, Director of Grants & Development
David Elcock, Director of Human Resources
Keith Falko, Director of Instructional Initiatives
Jennifer Ramos, Director of Literacy
Kelly M. Murray, Ed.D., Director of Science, Tech, Engineering & Math
Belinda Miller, Director of Special Education
Troy Price, Director of Special Projects
Thomas Derhammer, Director of Technology

Dr. Marie Bey, ASDVA Asst Director
Staff 1,212 non teacher staff members[2]
Faculty 1,061 teachers 2011
Grades preschool-12
Age 3 years old preschool to 21 years old special ed. students

16,966 pupils (2013-2014) [3]
17,560 pupils includes 200 preschool (2011-2012)[4]
17,962 pupils includes 220 preschool (2010-2011)[5]
18,504 students includes 212 preschool (2006-07)[6][7]

17,521 pupils includes 249 preschool (2004-05)[8]
 • Kindergarten 1,470 (2012), 1,277 (2009)
 • Grade 1 1,461 (2012), 1,412
 • Grade 2 1,402 (2012), 1,428
 • Grade 3 1,378 (2012), 1,419
 • Grade 4 1,360 (2012), 1,441
 • Grade 5 1,403, (2012), 1,391
 • Grade 6 1,290 (2012), 1,338
 • Grade 7 1,260 (2012), 1,175
 • Grade 8 1,241 (2012), 1,207
 • Grade 9 1,317 (2012), 1,403
 • Grade 10 1,217 (2012), 1,326
 • Grade 11 1,029 (2012), 1,069
 • Grade 12 966 (2012), 1,060 (2009)
 • Other Enrollment projected to be 18,468 pupils in 2015[9]
Language English

$257.4 million 2014-2015[10]
$246,068,643 (2013-2014)[11]
$234.5 million (2012-2013)
$228,509,123 (2011-2012)
$231,023,962 (2010-2011)
$212,752,890 (2009-2010)

$200,418,768 (2008-2009)[12]
Per pupil spending $10,012 (2008)
Per pupil spending $11,952.95 (2010)[13]
A map of Allentown School District in relation to other school districts in Lehigh County

The Allentown School District is a large, urban public school district located in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, in the United States. The District is one of the 500 public school districts of Pennsylvania. Serving most of the city of Allentown, it is the fourth largest school district in Pennsylvania, with 17,962 students, with 15.7% White, 17.4% Black, 64.4% Hispanic, 1.4% Asian, 0.17% Native American.[14] The School District of the City of Allentown encompasses approximately 17 square miles (44 km2). According to 2010 federal census data, the Allentown School District serves a resident population of 118,032.[15] Per the US Census Bureau data, it served a resident population of 106,630 in 2000. In 2009, the per capita income was $16,282, while the median family income was $37,356.[16] In the Commonwealth, the median family income was $49,501 [17] and the United States median family income was $49,445, in 2010.[18] By 2013, the median household income in the United States rose to $52,100.[19]

Per school district officials, during the 2010 school year, the Allentown School District provided basic educational services to 17,962 pupils through the employment of 1,456 teachers, 1,084 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 110 administrators. In 2010, according to District officials, the District provided basic educational services to 17,465 pupils. The District employed: 1,433 teachers, 899 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 96 administrators. Allentown School District received $112.3 million in state funding in the 2009-10 school year. High school students may choose to attend Lehigh Career & Technical Institute for vocational training. The Carbon-Lehigh Intermediate Unit IU21 [1] provides the District with a wide variety of services like specialized education for disabled students and hearing, speech and visual disability services and professional development for staff and faculty.



The Allentown Public School District (ASD) dates to 1828. The Commonwealth Education Act of 1824 provided that children of those families unable to pay for private instruction were to be provided education at the expense of the county. Records of the borough of Northampton (Allentown) and the townships of Salisbury paid a total of $421.71 for education of children in 1828. In 1833, Northampton Borough paid $434.77. Both boys and girls from families in the lower income brackets were permitted to attend any one of the approved private schools in the borough.[20]

The next step in the ASD's development happened in 1834 with the Model Public School Act. The act provided that school districts, with the approval of the local electorate, could be formally established for the education of all boys and girls, regardless of race or creed. A meeting of the citizens of Northampton on 12 September called for a referendum of the school issue to establish a local school district. The referendum was passed by the voters, 137 to 1.[20]

During the initial period following passage of the referendum, all boys and girls of the borough attended the privately run schools in Northampton. Tuition was $10 to $20 per term per student, depending on the number of subjects taken. The tuition was paid for by the school district.[20]

On 16 April 1836, an act of the Pennsylvania Legislature changed the name of the community from Nortampton to – Allentown.[21] The first public school building began with the purchase of a tract of land at Walnut and Union Streets, along Front Street on 30 August 1837. Here the "Mingo School" was built on land purchased for $50 to accommodate the pupils from the eastern part of the borough. The first teacher was hired in 1838. By 1841, three of the six teachers in the ASD were women. In 1858, a larger school was built on Turner Street, just to the west of Eighth Street.[20]

Until 1858, primary and secondary education was taught in the same school. That year, Mr. R. W. McAlpine took a group of 14 older students to the Garber-Horne Building, which had been the home of the North American Homeopathic School of Healing Arts at South Penn Street, near the present Allentown School District Administration Building. This was the beginning of Allentown High School. The first class was fourteen pupils, equally divided by boys and girls.[22] In 1859, by a vote of 6 to 2, a separate high school was established, one for boys and one for girls. It was located at the Presbyterian Sunday School. Augustus Armagnac was named teacher for the male students, and Hannah L. Romig for the female students.[20] The first commencement was held in May, 1869 in the Presbyterian Church on North Fifth Street. The first graduating class was three students.[22]


With the division between primary and secondary schools, as the city grew, a primary grammar school was erected in each ward of the borough. Each of these schools was under the supervision of the ward. in January, 1866 the various ward district leaders called for a consolidation of the various schools into one school district as a central authority, this led to the formation of the unified Allentown School District. This unification also led eventually to a unified city government, and within a year, legislation was proposed in Harrisburg by Lehigh County State Senator George P. Shall to incorporate Allentown as a city.[21]

During the period 1859 to 1894 secondary school classes were held separately for boys and girls. The classes for boys were held in the Leh's store building on Hamilton Street, and the girls' classes were held in the Sunday School rooms of the First Presbyterian Church on North Fifth Street.[20] Classes were transferred to the Fourth Ward Wolf Building from 1880 to 1894. Classes were moved in 1895 to a new building built exclusively as a high school erected at the site of the "Old Central School", at Lumber and Turner streets. However, it became overcrowded with students and in 1913 five rooms of the Herbst School Building were used for the freshman class of 1918.[22] In 1917 the current main building at 17th and Turner was completed, and Allentown High School was moved and consolidated into its current building. With the opening of school, it housed grades 9-12 until 1928.[20][23]

20th century[edit]

In the 20th century, the city expanded east and west of the Lehigh River, and south into Salisbury Township south of the Little Lehigh. The annexation of Bridgetown in 1911 (now the 14th Ward), and Rittersville in 1920 (now the 15th Ward) expanded the city east to its current boundary with Bethlehem along Club Avenue. In East Allentown, the Moser Elementary School opened in 1917, Ritter Elementary in 1925 and the Midway Manor 1947.[24]

In 1907, the 12th Ward was established on land south of the Little Lehigh. Jefferson Elementary had begun as a one-room brick schoolhouse built by the Salisbury Township School District in 1858 on the north side of Auburn Street. In 1910 it was replaced by a two-story ten-room brick building and adjacent playground at the intersection of South 8th Street and St. John Street to accommodate the students in South Allentown. The establishment of the 16th Ward along Susquehanna Street in what was called Aineyville in 1920 led to the District taking over Roosevelt Elementary which was built in 1910 by Salisbury.[20]

In 1922, the 17th Ward was created and the western boundary of the city was expanded to what is now Cedar Crest Boulevard from 17th Street. At the time there were no houses west of 22d Street and all students went to Jackson Elementary at 15th and Liberty street, built in 1911. A new school Muhlenberg, was built on 21st Street in 1928 to accommodate this western growth. Muhlenberg was supposed to be a junior high school, but the population increased too quickly and it was designated an elementary school.[20][25]

A third level of schools, "Junior High Schools" (today's Middle Schools) were established in 1925 for grades six, seven and eight. The Central School building, which was used as Allentown High School from 1893-1916 was renovated and expanded with two additional buildings and was converted to a Junior High School. Francis D. Raub Elementary School opened in 1923 in the west end of the city. In 1925 it was also converted. In the 1st Ward, the Harrison grammar school for boys and the Morton grammar school for girls was consolidated, and in 1927, Harrison-Morton Junior High School was established. From the 1929-1930 school year, the Junior High Schools began teaching 7th though 9th grade with the adoption of the 6-3-3 plan, and Allentown High School taught 10th though 12th grade. In 1951, the Chew Street wing of Central was torn down and replaced by a playground.[20][26]

1n 1929, Jack Coffield Stadium for interscholastic football was opened directly behind the main building of Allentown High School. Interscholastic football had begun in 1896, the team playing on any open field that was available.[27] In 1930 the Annex, the Little Palestra for the basketball team, and the famous "tunnel" were added to Allentown High School which provided an indoor connection with the main building.[20] Coffield Stadium was replaced by the larger Allentown School District Stadium in 1948.[27] In 1958 the Linden Street Annex was constructed and the vocational students from the Nineteenth Street and Hunsicker Buildings were again brought back to the main campus.[20] In 1940, half-day Kindergarten classes were added to the primary schools. In 1970, these were expanded to full-day classes.

After World War II, the expansion of the 12th Ward to include the wartime Convair Field and the wartime housing built for its workers led to the construction of Lehigh Parkway school in 1949. Students had previously attended school in homes. Also the 19th Ward acquisition in 1949 of the land southwest of Lehigh Street and including Mountainville led to the construction of a fourth Junior High School, South Mountain in 1951 and the Hiram Dodd Elementary School in 1956.[20]

As the city grew the need for a second high school was inevitable, and in May 1929, the ASD paid $51,000 for a large tract of land at Irving and East Washington Streets in East Allentown. The land was purchased for a new Junior High School to accommodate students east of the Lehigh River. However plans were changed, and 27 years later, on 21 May 1956, ground was broken for the new Louis E. Dieruff High School, named in honor of the educator and administrator who had given 44 years of service to the district. The school was opened in September 1959, and Allentown High School changed its name to William Allen High School in 1960.[28]

A major realignment of the Junior High School boundaries occurred for the 1967-1968 school year with the closure of Central and the opening of the new Trexler Junior High School. At the same time Central became a citywide "Sixth Grade Center", with the primary grammar schools being realigned to grades K through 5. All sixth grade students in the ASD were sent to Central. In December 1967, Central suffered a massive fire when the oldest part of the building, built in 1893 as Allentown High School, was completely gutted. It was replaced with a new wing by 1969.[26] 1973 saw the opening of the William Allen High School Physical Education facility, built on the site of the former Coffied Football Field, replacing the Little Plaestra gym and swimming pool. In 1975, a Library-Science Center was built on the site of the Little Palestra.[20][23]

For the 1981-1982 school year, the "Middle School" concept was adopted by the ASD. Central was realigned to become a K-5 grade elementary school; Harrison-Morton; Raub; South Mountain and Trexler were renamed "Middle Schools" and taught grades six through eight. William Allen and Dieruff High Schools re-introduced the freshmen (9th grade) class and became 4-year high schools.[23]

21st century[edit]

In the early 2000s, the ASD built three new facilities: the Luis A. Ramos Elementary School, the first new elementary school in the ASD in over 50 years; the Clifford S. Bartholomew Building at William Allen High School, and the Michael P. Mellinger Wing at Louis E. Dieruff High School.[29]

  • Luis A. Ramos Elementary School accommodates 750 students, 40 classrooms, a cafeteria, library and other facilities. It replaced the Jackson Elementary School which was built in 1911.[29]
  • Clifford S. Bartholomew Building replaced the old St. Cloud Street building, along with an open field that had been the site of the Mack and Farr buildings, torn down in 1973. In addition, the main William Allen HS building was upgraded with the addition of two new dance studios, renovation to art rooms, the gym and the Black Box Theater.[29]
  • Louis E. Dieruff High School’s Michael P. Mellinger Wing includes 24 additional classrooms, a separate entrance and security system, a nurse's suite, a media center, cafeteria, and physical education space, lockers and classrooms.[29]

The ASD Virtual Academy was established in 2014, providing virtual online classes, along with a full-time Cyber school.[30] The ASD Newcomer Academy, established in 2011, provides classes in Spanish for students from 8-12th grade who are learning English as a second language.[31]


Map all coordinates using: OpenStreetMap · Google Maps
Download coordinates as: KML · GPX

High schools[edit]

106 North 17th Street
Map location: 40°35′54″N 075°29′39″W / 40.59833°N 75.49417°W / 40.59833; -75.49417 (William Allen High School)
Established 1858. Current building erected 1916, Renovations/Additions: 1930, 1942, 1956, 1972, 1979, 1980, 1992, 2010[32]
School AYP Overview: Declined to Corrective Action II 6th Year in 2012.[33]
815 N. Irving Street
Map location: 40°37′17″N 075°26′28″W / 40.62139°N 75.44111°W / 40.62139; -75.44111 (Louis E. Dieruff High School)
Erected 1959. Renovations/Additions: 1964, 1975, 2010[34]
School AYP Overview: Declined to Corrective Action II 5th Year in 2012.[35]
  • Building 21 Allentown
265 Lehigh Street
Map location: 40°35′57″N 075°25′04″W / 40.59917°N 75.41778°W / 40.59917; -75.41778 (Building 21 Allentown)
Opened 2015. Building 21 Allentown is an experimental high school which is planned to focus on building passion among students through career exploration. Building 21 students spend their mornings studying core subjects such as math and English, but their afternoons will allow them to work on projects that engage them. These could include internships at law firms, work at medical facilities and shadowing business owners. The students are drawn from throughout the Allentown School District. Initially 150 students were selected for the first ninth-grade class. It is planned to add a new grade class each year until 2018 when the school will offer a four-year (9th though 12th grade) curriculum.[36]

Middle schools[edit]

Elementary schools[edit]

Specialized facilities[edit]

Public Charter Schools[edit]

Allentown School Board must approve and supervise local public charter schools which operate within its attendance area. The Board has approved several charter schools including: Roberto Clemente Charter School and Lincoln Leadership Academy Charter School (approved 2012, renewed 2012). In the fall of 2013, several entities applied to the Board for approval to operate charter schools in the Allentown School District, including: Executive Education Academy Charter School, Arts Academy Elementary Charter School, Computer Aid Inc. Learning Academy Charter School and LVenture Charter School.[63][64] In Pennsylvania students may also choose to attend a public, cyber charter school. These cyber charter schools are supervised by the Pennsylvania Department of Education and are open to all students in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania


The Allentown School District offers a wide variety of clubs, activities and an extensive athletic program at each high school and middle school. The District spent $2,515,444 on student activities (excluding transportion costs and facility costs) in the 2013-2014 school year.[65] Eligibility to participate is determined by the school board and the PIAA.[66][67] Both Allentown School District public high schools, William Allen High School and Louis E. Dieruff High School, compete athletically in the Lehigh Valley Conference.

According to Pennsylvania’s Safety in Youth Sports Act, all sports coaches, paid and volunteer, are required to annually complete the Concussion Management Certification Training and present the certification before coaching.[68][69]

By Pennsylvania law, all K-12 students residing 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.[70]

Interscholastic Sports[edit]

High School[edit]

Both William Allen (Canaries) and Dieruff (Huskies) High Schools compete in the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference in District XI of the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA).

Coaches receive compensation as outlined in the teachers' union contract. When athletic competition exceeds the regular season, additional compensation is paid.[71]

Varsity athletic sports supported are:

Middle School[edit]

The ASD Middle Schools offer the following team sports:

  • Harrison-Morton (Minute Men)
  • Raub (Indians)
  • Trexler (Bulldogs)
  • South Mountain (Mountaineers)

According to PIAA directory July 2013 [72]

Academic achievement[edit]

In its 2010 School Improvement Grants application to the federal government, the Pennsylvania Department of Education identified the following Allentown District Schools as Persistently Low Achieving Schools: Central Elementary School; Francis D Raub Middle School; Harrison-Morton Middle School; Jefferson Elementary School; Louis Dieruff High School; Sheridan Elementary School; Trexler Middle School; Union Terrace Elementary School; and William Allen High School.[73] Central Elementary School was cited by the Pennsylvania Department of Education as one of the lowest 5% persistently lowest-achieving schools in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.[74]

Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit Program[edit]

In April 2014, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) released its annual report on lowest achieving schools in the Commonwealth. It identified seventeen Allentown School District schools as among the lowest achieving schools for reading and mathematics. The schools were: Central Elementary School, Cleveland Elementary School, Francis D. Raub Middle School, Harrison-Morton Middle School, Hiram W Dodd Elementary School, Jefferson Elementary School, Louis E. Dieruff High School, Luis A Ramos Elementary School, McKinley Elementary School, Mosser Elementary School, Roosevelt Elementary School, Sheridan Elementary School, South Mountain Middle School, Trexler Middle School, Union Terrace Elementary School, William Allen Senior High School, and Washington Elementary School.[75]

In July 2012, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) released a report identifying seventeen Allentown School District schools as among the lowest achieving schools for reading and mathematics in 2011 and 2012. Eleven of the District's elementary schools, all four middle schools and both high schools were all among the 15% lowest achieving schools in the Commonwealth. Parents and students may be eligible for scholarships to transfer to another public or nonpublic school through the state's Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit Program passed in June 2012.[76] The scholarships are limited to those students whose family's income is less than $60,000 annually, with another $12,000 allowed per dependent. Maximum scholarship award is $8,500, with special education students receiving up to $15,000 for a year's tuition.[77] Parents pay any difference between the scholarship amount and the receiving school's tuition rate. Students may seek admission to neighboring public school districts. Each year the PDE publishes the tuition rate for each individual public school district.[78] In Lehigh County on werely Allentown Schools among the lowest-achieving schools in 2011 and 2012. According to the report, parents in 414 public schools (74 school districts) were offered access to these scholarships. For the 2012-13 school year, eight public school districts in Pennsylvania had all of their schools placed on the list including: Sto-Rox School District, Chester Upland School District, Clairton City School District, Duquesne City School District, Farrell Area School District, Wilkinsburg Borough School District, William Penn School District and Steelton-Highspire School District.[79] In 2014, Monessen City School District had all its schools on the list. Funding for the scholarships comes from donations by businesses which receive a state tax credit for donating.

State-wide academic ranking[edit]

The Allentown School District was ranked 486th out of 498 Pennsylvania school districts, in 2013, by the Pittsburgh Business Times.[80] The ranking was based on student academic achievement on the last three years of PSSA results in: reading, writing, mathematics and science.[81] 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. Writing exams were given to children in 5th, 8th and 11th grades.

  • 2012 - 485th [82]
  • 2011 - 483rd[83]
  • 2010 – 482nd [84]
  • 2009 – 481st
  • 2008 – 480th[85]
  • 2007 – 485th[86]
Overachiever statewide ranking

In 2013, the Pittsburgh Business Times also reported an Overachievers Ranking for 498 Pennsylvania school districts. Allentown School District ranked 250th. In 2012, the District was 86th. [87] The editor describes the ranking as: "a ranking answers the question - which school districts do better than expectations based upon economics? This rank takes the Honor Roll rank and adds the percentage of students in the district eligible for free and reduced-price lunch into the formula. A district finishing high on this rank is smashing expectations, and any district above the median point is exceeding expectations."[88]

In 2009, the academic achievement of the students of the Allentown School District was in the 2nd percentile among 500 Pennsylvania school districts. Scale (0-99; 100 is state best) [89]

Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP History[edit]

In 2012, Allentown School District declined to Corrective Action II 5th Year level in AYP status due to chronically low student achievement. The District failed to achieve any of the academic metrics measured in graduation, reading or math.[90] Only two of the District's schools achieved AYP status in 2012.[91]

  • 2011, declined to Corrective Action II 4th Year level in AYP status due to chronic, low student achievement in reading and math as well as an unsatisfactory graduation rate.
  • 2010 - declined to Corrective Action II 3rd Year level in AYP status due to chronically low student achievement.[92]
  • 2009 - declined to Corrective Action II 2nd Year level in AYP status[93]
  • 2008 - declined to Corrective Action II level in AYP status[94]
  • 2007 - declined to Corrective Action I level in AYP status[95]
  • 2006 - Making Progress in School Improvement Level II
  • 2005 - declined to School Improvement Level II[96]
  • 2004 - declined to School Improvement Level I
  • 2003 - Warning AYP status due to lagging student achievement in reading and mathematics

Graduation rate[edit]

The "four-year cohort graduation rate" shows that 612 of 1,576 students who entered Allen and Dieruff high schools as freshmen in 2006-07 dropped out before getting a diploma in the 2009-10 school year.[97]

In 2012, Allentown City School District's graduation rate was 66%. In 2011, the District's graduation rate was 62.8%.[98] In 2010, the Pennsylvania Department of Education issued a new, 4-year cohort graduation rate. Allentown School District's rate was 62.71% for 2010.[99]

According to traditional graduation rate calculations:

Graduation requirements[edit]

The Allentown Area School Board has determined that a student must earn 22.5 credits to graduate, including: English 4 credits, Math 3 credits, Social Studies 3.5 credits, Science 3 credits, Arts and Humanities 2 credits, Physical Education 0.8 credits, Health .5 credits, Computer application .5 credits, graduation project .2 credits and electives 5 credits.[103]

For the Graduating Classes of 2012-2014, students must demonstrate PSSA (Pennsylvania System of School Assessment) proficiency in reading, mathematics, and writing. A student who does not attain proficiency on the 11th grade PSSA tests in reading, mathematics, and writing will graduate if he/she successfully completes one of the alternatives: pass the retest of the PSSAs; score at least 900 as a combined total of the verbal and mathematics sections on the SATs; obtain a senior year grade point average (GPA) of at least 2.0; or achieve the level of proficiency determined through their IEP process.[104]

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.[105] At Allentown School District the requirements include a written paper to be completed by the first semester of the student’s senior year and an oral presentation to be given during his/her senior year.

By Pennsylvania State School Board regulations, for the graduating class 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.[106][107]

College remediation[edit]

According to a Pennsylvania Department of Education study released in January 2009, 48% of Allentown School District 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.[108] 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.[109] 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.

Academic reforms[edit]

In 2010, the school board hired former Pennsylvania Secretary of Education, Dr. Gerald Zahorchak D.Ed., as Superintendent of Schools. In 2011, he proposed a wide-ranging set of reforms called 2011-2012 Program of Studies and Related Curtailment Plan. After a contentious debate, within the district and with the community, the Allentown Board of School Directors approved the plan in March 2011.[110] As a part of the plan a significant realignment of resources would be undertaken for the 2011-12 school year. This resulted in the reduction of professional staff through furlough, termination or demotion in the following areas: 84 elementary positions, 121 secondary positions and 42 student support positions were eliminated. Some position were not replacing retirements and some were furloughed.[111] The cuts are based on seniority and certification area and amounted to 18% of the district's employees.[112]

Under the plan, AP courses are taught, as dual enrollment courses, by local college professors. Some courses at the high schools were cut.

Special education[edit]

In December 2010, the district administration reported that 2,545 pupils or 13.6% of the district's pupils received Special Education services.[113]

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.[114]

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.[115]

Allentown School District received a $9,147,139 supplement for special education services in 2010.[116]

Gifted education[edit]

The District Administration reported that 650 or 3.72% of its students were gifted in 2009.[117] By law, the district must provide mentally gifted programs at all grade levels. 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.[118]

School safety[edit]

The Allentown School District administration reported there were 3,047 incidents related to school safety in the district in 2012. This resulted in 96 arrests. There were 4 sexual assaults and 6 indecent exposure events. Bullying was also significant, with 200 instances being reported district wide.[119][120]

The federal No Child Left Behind Act established the Unsafe School Choice Option.[121] Each state that receives federal funds was mandated to establish a statewide policy requiring that a student at a "persistently dangerous" public school be allowed to transfer/enroll in a safe public school. The policy permitted a student who becomes the victim of a violent criminal offense, while in or on the grounds of any public school that he or she attends, to transfer to a safe public school. Each year since 2006, the Pennsylvania Department of Education has released a list of Persistently Dangerous Schools. While the district reports multiple serious crimes on students in several years, Allentown School District schools have not been noted on the Persistently Dangerous Schools lists.[122]

The Allentown School Board has provided the district's antibully policy online.[123] Pupils are urged to report bullying to the build Principal.[124] 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.[125] 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.[126]

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.[127]

Safe School grant[edit]

In 2013, Allentown School District was awarded $25,000 in a state Safe Schools Targeted Grant. The maximum of $25,000 grants were awarded through a competitive application process.[128] The funds must be used for research based interventions, like: peer mediation, staff training in managing behavioral issues and creating a positive school climate.

School Resource Officer and Police Officer grant[edit]

In 2014, Pennsylvania began a grant program providing funding for programs to address school violence and security. Eligible schools and municipalities could apply for up to $60,000 for a school resource officer and up to $40,000 for a school police officer.[129] Allentown School District did not participate.[130]


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.[131]

In 2012, the average teacher salary in Allentown School District was $63,480 a year, while the cost of the benefits teachers received was $19,845per employee, for a total annual average teacher compensation of $83,325.93[132] In 2012, the District employed 1,433 teachers and administrators, with an average salary of $64,055 and a top salary of $170,000.[133]

In 2009, Allentown School District reported employing 1,399 teachers with an average salary of $55,986 for 180 student instruction days. The highest salary was $156,832 while the starting salary was $41,206.[134] In 2008 the union and school board agreed to a five-year contract which set annual raises at 4.5%. In addition the teachers receive: a defined benefit pension, health insurance, professional development reimbursement, several paid personal days, 10 paid sick days which accumulate, paid bereavement leave days and many other benefits.[135] According to Rep. Glen Grell, a trustee of the Public School Employees’ Retirement System Board of Trustees, a 40-year educator can retire with a pension equal to 100 percent of their final salary.[136][137]

In 2007, the Allentown City School District employed 897 teachers working 180 days pupil instruction. The average teacher salary in the district was $54,317. The average teacher salary in Pennsylvania was $49,596.[138] 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.[139]

Per pupil spending Allentown School District administrative costs per pupil in 2008 was $534.24 per pupil. The lowest administrative cost per pupil in Pennsylvania was $398 per pupil.[140] The Pennsylvania School Boards Association collects and maintains statistics on salaries of public school district employees in Pennsylvania. According to the association's report, the average salary for a superintendent, for the 2007-08 school year, was $122,165. Superintendents and administrators receive a benefit package commensurate with that offered to the district's teachers' union.[141] According to PSBA, the median Superintendent salary rose to over $130,000 in 2011.[142] In 2011, then Superintendent Gerald Zahorchak's salary was $195,000. In 2012, former Superintendent Gerald Zahorchak's compensation was $195,000. The District Superintendent's salary was $166,416. In 2013, the salary of the Allentown School District superintendent was $170,000. No compensation was reported for Zahorchak. In 2013, the District reported employing 70 administrators and managers with salaries ranging from $83,873 a year to $132,259, with 25 being paid over $100,000 a year.[143]

In 2008, per pupil spending at Allentown City School District was ranked 475th in the state at $10,012 for each child.[144] In 2012 the District's per pupil spending was $11,952.95. In 2011, Pennsylvania’s per pupil spending was $13,467, ranking 6th in the United States.[145] In 2007, the Pennsylvania per pupil total expenditures was reported as $12,759.[146]

Reserves In 2008, the Allentown City School District reported an unreserved designated fund balance of $1.8 million and an unreserved-undesignated fund balance of $3,112,620.[147] Allentown City School District reported a total of $19,694,023 in reserve accounts. The District also reported $ 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.[148] In 2005, the total reserve funds held by Pennsylvania public school districts was $1.9 billion.[149] By 2013, reserves held by Pennsylvania public school districts, as a whole, had increased to over $3.8 billion.[150]

Audit In December 2010, the Pennsylvania Auditor General conducted a performance audit on the district. Several serious findings were reported to the school board and administration.[151] In September 2013, the District was audited again with serious issues continuing. It found several teachers lacked necessary certification to teach the classes they were providing.[152] It was noted the District had engaged in interest swaps which had caused significant financial costs for the District.

Tuition Students who live in the District's attendance area may choose to attend one of Pennsylvania's 157 public charter schools. A student living in a neighboring public school district or a foreign exchange student may seek admission to Area School District. For these cases, the Pennsylvania Department of Education sets an annual tuition rate for each school district. It is the amount the public school district pays to a charter school for each resident student that attends the charter and it is the amount a nonresident student's parents must pay to attend the District's schools. The 2012 tuition rates are Elementary School -$7,803.88, High School - $9,858.67.[153]

The Allentown School District is funded by a combination of: a local tax on earned income 0.5%, two per capita taxes totaling $10 a year, a property tax, a real estate transfer tax 0.5%, coupled with substantial funding from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the federal government. Grants have provided an opportunity to supplement school funding without raising local taxes. Interest earnings on accounts also provide nontax income or losses to the District. In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, pension income and Social Security income are exempted from state personal income tax and local earned income tax, regardless of the level of the individual’s personal wealth.[154] 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.[155]

State basic education funding[edit]

According to a report from Representative Todd Stephens office, School District receives 52.3% of its annual revenue from the state.[156]

For the 2013-14 school year, Allentown School District received an 11% increase or $96,447,585 in Pennsylvania Basic Education Funding. This is $9,578,514 more than its 2012-13 state BEF to the District. Additionally, Allentown School District received $1,517,850 in Accountability Block Grant funding to focus on academic achievement and level funding for special education services. Among the public school districts in Lehigh County, Allentown School District received the highest percentage increase in BEF. The District has the option of applying for several other state and federal grants to increase revenues. The Commonwealth’s budget increased Basic Education Funding statewide by $123 million to over $5.5 billion. Most of Pennsylvania’s 500 public school districts received an increase of Basic Education Funding in a range of 0.9% to 4%. Eight public school districts received exceptionally high funding increases of 10% to 16%. The highest increase in state funding was awarded to Austin Area School District which received a 22.5% increase in Basic Education Funding.[157] The highest percent of state spending per student is in the Chester-Upland district, where roughly 78 percent comes from state coffers. In Philadelphia, it is nearly 49 percent.[158] As a part of the education budget, the state provided the PSERS (Pennsylvania school employee pension fund) with $1,017,000,000 and Social Security payments for school employees of $495 million.[159]

For the 2012-13 school year, the Allentown School District received $86,869,071.[160] 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. Allentown School District received $1,517,850 in Accountability Block Grant funding to focus on academic achievement. The state also provided a $544.4 million payment for School Employees’ Social Security and $856 million for School Employees’ Retirement fund called PSERS.[161] 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, the Allentown School District received $82,853,825 in state Basic Education Funding.[162][163] Additionally, the district will receive $1,517,850 in Accountability Block Grant funding. 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.[164]

In 2010, the district reported that 13,582 pupils received a free or reduced-price lunch due to their family meeting the federal poverty level.

For the 2010-11 budget year, the Allentown City School District received a 2% increase in state basic education funding for a total of $86,617,733. In Lehigh County, the highest increase went to Whitehall-Coplay School District which received a 7.98% increase in state funding. One hundred fifty school districts in Pennsylvania received a 2% base increase for budget year 2010-11. The highest increase in the state was awarded to Kennett Consolidated School District of Chester County which was given a 23.65% increase in state basic education funding.[165] 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.[166]

In the 2009-2010 budget year, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a 13.47% increase in Basic Education funding for a total of $84,919,833. Two county school districts received increases of over 13% in Basic Education Funding in 2009-10. Whitehall-Coplay School District received a 15.17% increase. In Pennsylvania, 15 school districts received Basic Education Funding increases in excess of 10% in 2009. Muhlenberg School District in Berks County received the highest with a 22.31% increase in funding.[167] The amount of increase each school district received was determined by the Governor Edward Rendell and the Secretary of Education Gerald Zahorchak through the allocation set in the state budget proposal made in February each year.[168]

The state's Basic Education Funding to the Allentown City School District in 2008-09 was $74,839,642.57. In 2008, the Allentown School District reported that 13,821 pupils received a free or reduced-price lunch due to their family meeting the federal poverty level.

Accountability Block Grant[edit]

The state provides additional education funding to schools in the form of Accountability Block Grants. The use of these funds is strictly focused on specific state approved uses designed to improve student academic achievement. Allentown City School District uses its $4,119,825 to fund extensive teacher training through using teacher coaches, to provide all-day kindergarten, to extend the instruction time and to provide teacher training. These annual funds are in addition to the state's basic education funding.[169] Schools Districts apply each year for Accountability Block Grants.[170] In 2009-10, the state provided $271.4 million in Accountability Block grants $199.5 million went to providing all-day kindergartens.[171]

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. Allentown City School District did not apply for funding in 2006-07. In 2007-08 the district received $1,753,891. For the 2008-09, school year the district received $320,008. Of the 501 public school districts in Pennsylvania, 447 of them received Classrooms for the Future grant awards. In May 2008, 30 Allen High School laptops were stolen for a loss of over $34,000.[172][173]

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 School District received $1,306,542.[174]

Other grants[edit]

The Allentown School District did not participate in: Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection's Environmental Education annual grants, PA Science Its Elementary grants (discontinued effective with 2009-10 budget by Governor Rendell), Education Assistance Grants, 2012 Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy grant, nor the 2012 and 2013 Pennsylvania Hybrid Learning Grants.[175]

School Improvement Grant[edit]

In the summer of 2011, the district applied for and was awarded over $3 million in School Improvement grants. Four of the district's schools were eligible for funding due to poor student achievement, including Mosser ES, Sheridan ES, and Union Terrace ES. The grant stipulates the funds be used for improving student achievement using one of four federally dictated strategies. The strategies are: transformation, turnaround, restart with new faculty and administration or closure of failing schools. Allentown School District schools received funding for transformation of South Middleton Middle School. Transformation calls for a change in faculty and administration evaluations, mandated training in proven teaching techniques and rigorous curriculum change that focuses on student achievement.[176][177]

In 2010 the district received $15 million in federal School Improvement grants. The district removed several principals as required by the grants. They were given other jobs within the district.[178]

Federal stimulus grant[edit]

The Allentown City School District received $10 million ARRA, as Federal stimulus money to be used in specific programs, like special education, and meeting the academic needs of low-income students.[179][180] The funding was limited to the 2009-10 and 2010-2011 school years.[181] Due to the temporary nature of the funding, schools were repeatedly advised to use the funds for one time expenditures like: acquiring equipment, making repairs to buildings, training teachers to provide more effective instruction or purchasing books and software.

Race to the Top grant[edit]

Allentown School District officials applied for the federal Race to the Top grant which would have provided several million dollars, in additional federal funding, to improve student academic achievement.[182] 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.[183] 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.[184][185][186]

21st Century Learning grant[edit]

In July 2012, Allentown School District received a federal grant which is run by the PDE. The grant calls for the establishment and sustainability of community learning centers that provide additional educational services to students in high-poverty and low-performing schools. The grant was competitive. Applications for the grants were reviewed and scored by a panel of representatives from the educational field and professional grant writers. The Allentown School District received $350,000. While 101 entities applied for the funding, only 66 were approved including eight charter schools. The funding is for the 2012-13 fiscal year.[187]

Real estate taxes[edit]

Property tax rates in 2013-14 were set by the school board at 17.3155 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.[188] Property taxes, in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, apply only to real estate - land and buildings. The property tax is not levied on cars, business inventory, or other personal property. Certain types of property are exempt from property taxes, including: places of worship, places of burial, private social clubs, charitable and educational institutions and all government property (local, state and federal). Additionally, service related, disabled US military veterans may seek an exemption from paying property taxes. 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, which are around 15% of revenues for school districts.[189] When a Pennsylvania public school district includes municipalities in two counties, each of which has different rates of property tax assessment, a state board equalizes the tax rates between the counties.[190] 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.[191]

The average yearly property tax paid by Lehigh County residents amounts to about 4.39% of their yearly income. Lehigh County ranked 149th out of the 3143 United States counties for property taxes as a percentage of median income.[200] 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.[201] 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%).[202]

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 permitted to raise property taxes above their annual Act 1 Index unless they either: allow Districts voters to approve the increase through a vote by referendum or they receive an exception from the Pennsylvania Department of Education. The base index for the school year is published by the PDE in the fall of each year. Each individual school district’s Act 1 Index can be adjusted higher, depending on a number of factors, such as local property values and the personal income of district residents. Originally, Act 1 of 2006 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.[203]

In June 2011, the Pennsylvania General Assembly passed legislation eliminating six of the exceptions to the Act 1 Index.[204] 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.[205][206] 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.[207]

The School District Adjusted Index history for the Allentown School District:

For the 2013-14 budget year Allentown School Board applied for three exceptions to exceed their Act 1 Index limit: School Construction Grandfathered Debt, special education costs and rapidly escalating teacher pension costs. For the school budget year 2013-14, 311 Pennsylvania public school districts adopted a resolution certifying that tax rates would not be increased above their index. Another 171 school districts adopted a preliminary budget leaving open the option of exceeded the Index limit. For the exception for pension costs, 89 school districts received approval to exceed the Index in full while others received a partial approval of their request. For special education costs, 75 districts received approval to exceed their tax limit. For the pension costs exception, 169 school districts received approval to exceed the Index. Eleven Pennsylvania public school districts received an approval for grandfathered construction debts.[212]

For the 2012-13 budget year, Allentown School Board applied for three exceptions to exceed the Act 1 Index: School Construction Grandfathered Debt, special education costs and escalating teacher pension costs. For 2012-2013, 274 school districts adopted a resolution certifying that tax rates would not be increased above their index; 223 school districts adopted a preliminary budget leaving open the option of exceeded the Index limit. For the exception for pension costs, 194 school districts received approval to exceed the Index. For special education costs, 129 districts received approval to exceed the tax limit.[213]

For the 2011-12 school year, the Allentown School Board applied for three exceptions to exceed the Act 1 Index: School Construction Grandfathered Debt, special education costs and escalating teacher pension costs. Each year, the Allentown 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 2011-2012 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.[214]

For the budget in 2010-11, the Allentown School Board applied for two exceptions to exceed the Act 1 index: special education costs and escalating teacher pension costs.[215]

For the 2009-10 school budget, the Allentown School Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed the Index.[216] 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.[217]

Property tax relief[edit]

In 2012, in the Allentown School District, 18,246 approved homestead properties received $528.[218] 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 (40,000 m2) and must be the primary residence of the owner. Farmers can qualify for both the homestead exemption and the farmstead exemption. The amount of property tax relief each Pennsylvania public school district receives is announced by the PDE in May of each year. The amount of tax relief is dependent on the total tax revenue collected on the casino slots in the previous year. Thirty five percent of the slots tax revenues are used for property tax relief. In Lehigh County, the highest tax relief went to Allentown School District.[219] The highest property tax relief provided, among Pennsylvania school districts, goes to the homesteads of Chester Upland School District in Delaware County which received $632 per approved homestead in 2010. Chester-Upland School District has consistently been the top recipient since the programs inception.[220] The tax relief was started by Governor Rendell with passage of the gaming law legalizing table games in casinos. Rendell promised taxpayers substantial property tax relief from legalized gambling. In Lehigh County, 76.15% of eligible property owners applied for property tax relief in 2009. This was a midrange participation rate among Pennsylvania counties.[221]

In Pennsylvania, the homestead exclusion reduces the assessed values of homestead properties, reducing the property tax on these homes. The homestead exclusion allows homeowners real property tax relief of up to one half of the median assessed value of homesteads in the taxing jurisdiction (county, school district, city, borough, or township).[222]

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 still qualify for a rebate. Individuals must apply annually for the rebate. This tax rebate can be taken in addition to Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief. In 2012, the Pennsylvania Secretary of the Treasury reported issuing more than half a million property tax rebates totaling $238 million.[223] The Property tax/rent rebate program is funded by revenues from the Pennsylvania Lottery. In 2012, these property tax rebates were increased by an additional 50 percent for senior households in the state, so long as those households have incomes under $30,000 and pay more than 15% of their income in property taxes.[224]

Wellness policy[edit]

Allentown School Board established a district wellness policy in 2006.[225] 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." Most districts identified the superintendent and school foodservice director as responsible for ensuring local wellness policy implementation.[226]

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.[227] The Pennsylvania Department of Education required the district to submit a copy of the policy for approval.

The Allentown School District offers both a free school breakfast and a 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.[228] The meals are partially funded with federal dollars through the United States Department of Agriculture.[229]

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.[230] In order to comply with the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 all US public school districts are required to raise the price of their school lunches to $2.60 regardless of the actual cost of providing the lunch.[231] In 2014, President Obama ordered a prohibition of advertisements for unhealthy foods on public school campuses during the school day.[232]

Allentown School District provides health services as mandated by the Commonwealth and the federal government. Nurses are available in each building 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. Students can be excluded from school unless they comply with all the State Department of Health’s extensive immunization mandates. School nurses monitor each pupil for this compliance.[233] Nurses also monitor each child's weight.

In 2011, the City of Allentown’s Health Bureau awarded $50,000 under a national grant called ACHIEVE, "Action Communities for Health, Innovation and Environmental Change" to increase "active" time within the District’s physical education classes.

In 2013, Allentown School District is participating in a regional Health Information Exchange which will make the students private medical information broadly available in the region. In the Lehigh Valley, the Children's Care Alliance is leading the initiative. Parents will ba asked for consent to place their child's information in the exchange.[234]

Highmark Healthy High 5 grant[edit]

In 2011, the Allentown School District received funding through a Highmark Healthy High 5 grant. Twenty two of the district's schools received grant of $6,900 or less which was used to fund the SPARK program (Sports Play and Active Recreation for Kids). SPARK requires that Physical Education must devote at least 50% of class time to moderate to vigorous activity.[235] 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.

The Highmark Foundation awarded a $105,000 grant to Sacred Heart Hospital to sustain operations of school-based health centers (SBHCs) in five Allentown School District elementary schools. These SBHCs provide primary care services and a medical home for predominantly uninsured students and their families. The grant partially funded salaries for two certified nurse practitioners, two medical assistants and an administrative/business liaison for two years. The family health centers are located in: Jefferson Elementary School, Roosevelt Elementary School, Sheridan Elementary School, Mosser Elementary School and Dodd Elementary School.


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External links[edit]