Avella Area School District
|Avella Area School District|
|1000 Avella Road
Avella, Pennsylvania, Washington County, 15312-2109
|School board||9 locally elected members|
|Superintendent||Dr. Janell Logue-Belden, salary $95,000 2012 |
|Administrator||Shola, Laura, Business Manager|
|Principal||Beck, Timothy, salary $82,500|
|Principal||Cyril Walther (2013)|
|Staff||44.50 non teaching staff|
|Age||5 years old to 21 years old special education|
|Pupils||633 pupils 2013|
|• Grade 1||48|
|• Grade 2||43|
|• Grade 3||45|
|• Grade 4||43|
|• Grade 5||46|
|• Grade 6||57|
|• Grade 7||43|
|• Grade 8||68|
|• Grade 9||57|
|• Grade 10||54|
|• Grade 11||45|
|• Grade 12||42|
|• Other||Enrollment projected to remain about 640 through 2019|
|Color(s)||Blue and Gold|
|Per pupil spending||$13,822 (2008)|
|Per pupil spending||$20,096.86 (2010) ranked 21st in state|
The Avella Area School District is a diminutive, rural public school district serving less than 680 students in grades K-12. Approximately 30 miles southwest of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the school district's two schools are located on a beautiful rural campus that also facilitates a state certified day care and preschool. The district covers the Borough of West Middletown and Cross Creek Township, Hopewell Township and Independence Township in Washington County, Pennsylvania. The district is headquartered in the unincorporated Village of Avella. The Avella Area School District encompasses approximately 73 square miles (190 km2). According to 2000 federal census data, it served a resident population of 4,497. By 2010, the district's population declined to 4,210 people. In 2009, the district residents' per capita income was $17,193, while the median family income was $42,246. In the Commonwealth, the median family income was $49,501  and the United States median family income was $49,445, in 2010. By 2013, the median household income in the United States rose to $52,100.
According to District officials, in school year 2007–08 the Avella Area School District provided basic educational services to 670 pupils. The District employed: 63 teachers, 35 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 4 administrators. In school year 2009-10, the Avella Area School District provided basic educational services to 636 pupils. It employed: 62 teachers, 36 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 4 administrators. Avella Area School District received more than $6 million in state funding in school year 2009-10.
- 1 Mission
- 2 Governance
- 3 Academic achievement
- 3.1 District AYP status history
- 3.2 Graduation rate
- 3.3 High school
- 3.4 Junior high school
- 3.5 Avella Elementary Center
- 4 Bullying policy
- 5 Wellness policy
- 6 Special education
- 7 Budget
- 7.1 State basic education funding
- 7.2 Federal Stimulus funding
- 7.3 Common Cents state initiative
- 7.4 Real estate taxes
- 7.5 Enrollment and Consolidation
- 8 Extracurriculars
- 9 Local Educational Resources
- 10 Notable alumni
- 11 References
- 12 External links
The mission of the Avella Area School District is to promote responsible citizenship and the pursuit of educational excellence for every student.
Avella Area School District is governed by 9 individually elected board members (serving 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 2013, Avella Area School District ranked 327th of 498 Pennsylvania school district. The ranking was based on the last three years of student academic performance on the PSSAs for math, reading, writing and science. The ranking was based on student academic achievement as demonstrated on the last three years of the PSSAs for: reading, writing, math and science. The PSSAs are given to all children in grades 3rd through 8th and the 11th grade in high school. Adapted examinations are given to children in the special education programs.
- 2012 - 337th
- 2011 - 354th
- 2010 – 334th 
- 2009 – 299th
- 2008 – 382nd
- 2007 – 352nd out of 501 school district for student academic achievement.
- Western region ranking
- 2012 - 71st
- 2010 - 68th
- 2009 – 68th
- 2008 – 79th
- Overachiever statewide ranking
In 2013, the Pittsburgh Business Times also reported an Overachievers Ranking for 498 Pennsylvania school districts. Avella Area School District ranked 279th. In 2012, the District was ranked 217th.  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."
In 2009, the academic achievement of the students of the Avella Area School District was in the bottom 25th percentile among 500 Pennsylvania school districts. Scale – (0–99; 100 is state best)
District AYP status history
In 2012, Avella Area School District achieved AYP status. In 2011, Avella Area School District achieved Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). In 2011, 94 percent of the 500 Pennsylvania public school districts achieved the No Child Left Behind Act progress level of 72% of students reading on grade level and 67% of students demonstrating on grade level math. In 2011, 46.9 percent of Pennsylvania school districts achieved Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) based on student performance. An additional 37.8 percent of Pennsylvania public school districts made AYP based on a calculated method called safe harbor, 8.2 percent on the growth model and 0.8 percent on a two-year average performance. School District achieved AYP status each year from 2005 to 2010, while in 2004 the District was in Warning status due to lagging student achievement.
In 2012, Avella Area School District's graduation rate was 89%. In 2011, the District's graduation rate was 92%. In 2010, the Pennsylvania Department of Education issued a new, 4-year cohort graduation rate. Avella Junior Senior High School's rate was 83% for 2010.
- Under former calculation formula
Avella Area Junior Senior High School is located at 1000 Avella Road, Avella. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, the School reported an enrollment of 311 pupils in grades 7th through 12th, with 129 pupils eligible for a federal free or reduced price lunch due to the family meeting the federal poverty level. The school employed 27 teachers yielding a student-teacher ratio of 11:1. According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.
- Local ranking
In 2012, Avella Area Junior Senior High School ranked 73rd out of 123 western Pennsylvania high schools by the Pittsburgh Business Times. In 2011, the School ranked 84th out of 123 western Pennsylvania high schools. In 2010, the School ranked 86th out of 123 western Pennsylvania high schools. In 2009, it ranked 75th out of 123 western Pennsylvania high schools.
- AYP status
In 2012, Avella Area Junior Senior High School declined to Warning AYP status due to chronic low student academic achievement in reading and mathematics. In 2011, the School achieved AYP status using Safe Harbor.
US News and World Report ranked 21,000 public high schools, in the United States, based on three factors in 2009. First, the schools were analyzed for the number of students who achieved above the state average on the reading and math tests. Then they considered how the economically disadvantaged students performed against the state average. Finally, they considered the participation rate and the performance of students in college readiness by examining Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate test data. Avella Area High School was ranked Bronze. Seventy Pennsylvania high schools achieved bronze, silver or gold rating. Fifty three Pennsylvania high schools achieved bronze. The district was dropped from the ranking in 2010 and 2011.
- PSSA Results
- 11th Grade Reading:
- 2012 - 63% on grade level, (25% below basic). State - 67% of 11th graders are on grade level.
- 2011 - 74% (12% below basic). State - 69.1% 
- 2010 – 73%, State - 67% 
- 2009 – 73%, State – 65%.
- 2008 – 83%, State – 65%
- 2007 – 54%, State – 65%
- 11th Grade Math:
- 2012 - 47%, on grade level (32% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 59% of 11th graders are on grade level.
- 2011 - 59%, (21% below basic). State - 60.3%
- 2010 – 53%, State - 59%
- 2009 – 54%, State – 56% 
- 2008 – 80%, State – 56%
- 2007 – 40%, State – 53%
11th Grade Science:
- 2012 - 48% on grade level (12% below basic). State - 42% of 11th graders were on grade level.
- 2011 - 46% (10% below basic). State - 40% 
- 2010 – 36%, State – 39% 
- 2009 – 35%, State – 40%
- 2008 – 41%, State – 40%
College remediation rate
According to a Pennsylvania Department of Education study released in January 2009, 44% of the Avella Area High School graduates required remediation in mathematics and or reading before they were prepared to take college level courses in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education or community colleges. Less than 66% of Pennsylvania high school graduates, who enroll in a four-year college in Pennsylvania, will earn a bachelor's degree within six years. Among Pennsylvania high school graduates pursuing an associate degree, only one in three graduate in three years. Per the Pennsylvania Department of Education, one in three recent high school graduates who attend Pennsylvania's public universities and community colleges takes at least one remedial course in math, reading or English.
The Board requires that each candidate for graduation earn twenty-six credits. The following minimum courses in grades 9 through 12 are a requirement for graduation in a home education program: four years of English; three years of mathematics; three years of science; three years of social studies; two years of arts and humanities.
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. Effective with the graduating class of 2017, the Pennsylvania State Board of Education eliminated the state mandate that students complete a culminating project in order to graduate.
By Pennsylvania School Board regulations, beginning with the class of 2017, public school students must demonstrate successful completion of secondary level course work in Algebra I, Biology, and English Literature by passing the Keystone Exams. The exam is given at the end of the course. Keystone Exams replace the PSSAs for 11th grade. Students have several opportunities to pass the exam, with those who do not able to perform a project in order to graduate. For the class of 2019, a Composition exam will be added. For the class of 2020, passing a civics and government exam will be added to the graduation requirements. In 2011, Pennsylvania high school students field tested the Algebra 1, Biology and English Lit exams. The statewide results were: Algebra 1 38% on grade level, Biology 35% on grade level and English Lit - 49% on grade level. Individual student, school or district reports were not made public, although they were reported to district officials by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Students identified as having special needs and qualifying for an Individual Educational Program (IEP) may graduate by meeting the requirements of their IEP.
The Challenge Program, Inc. offers $250.00 cash incentives to Avella Area High School sophomores, juniors, and seniors who excel in the categories of: Academic Improvement, Attendance, Community Service and Academic Excellence. The program partners with businesses to motivate students both in and out of the classroom by encouraging good habits in students that will last throughout their education and into their future careers. For the 2010–2011 school year, the top 10% of students in each of the categories were eligible to win $250.00.
The high school offers a dual enrollment program in association with Community College of Allegheny County. 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, including the graduation ceremony. The college credits are offered at a deeply discounted rate. The state offers a small grant to assist students in costs for tuition, fees and books. Under the Pennsylvania Transfer and Articulation Agreement, many Pennsylvania colleges and universities accept these credits for students who transfer to their institutions. For the 2009–10 funding year, the school district received a state grant of $5,438 for the program.
In 2012, 33 Avella Area School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 495. The Math average score was 472. The Writing average score was 463. The statewide Verbal SAT exams results were: Verbal 491, Math 501, Writing 480. In the USA, 1.65 million students took the exams achieving scores: Verbal 496, Math 514, Writing 488. According to the College Board the maximum score on each section was 800, and 360 students nationwide scored a perfect 2,400.
In 2011, 33 Avella Area School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 475. The Math average score was 471. The Writing average score was 449. Pennsylvania ranked 40th among states with SAT scores: Verbal - 493, Math - 501, Writing - 479. In the United States, 1.65 million students took the exam in 2011. They averaged 497 (out of 800) verbal, 514 math and 489 in writing.
Junior high school
In 2011, the 8th grade ranked 114th out of 149 western PA school district 8th grades. In 2010, the 8th grade was ranked 87th out of 106 western Pennsylvania 8th grades based on four years of results in PSSAs in: reading, math writing and two years of science. In 2009, the 8th grade ranked 88th out of 141 western Pennsylvania schools based on three years of results in PSSAs in: reading, math writing and one year of science. (Includes schools in: Allegheny County, Beaver County, Butler County, Fayette County, Westmoreland County, and Washington County
- PSSA Results
- 8th Grade Reading:
- 2012 - 79% on grade level (7% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 79% of 8th graders on grade level.
- 2011 - 78% (5% below basic). (36 pupils) State - 81.8%
- 2010 – 79%, State – 81% (63 pupils enrolled)
- 2009 – 73%, State – 80.9%
- 2008 – 79%, State – 78%
- 2007 – 77%, State – 75%
- 8th Grade Math:
- 2012 - 77% on grade level (12% below basic). State - 76% 
- 2011 - 76% (8% below basic). State - 76.9%
- 2010 – 65%, State – 75%
- 2009 – 47%, State – 71%
- 2008 – 75%, State – 70%
- 2007 – 77%, State – 67%
- 8th Grade Science:
- 2012 - 56% on grade level (20% below basic). State - 59%
- 2011 - 55% (19% below basic). State – 58.3%
- 2010 – 39%, State - 57%
- 2009 – 39%, State – 55%
- 2008 – 49%, State – 50%
In 2012, Avella Area's 7th grade academics ranked 94th locally. In 2011, the seventh grade ranked 107th out of 148 western Pennsylvania region 7th grades.
- 2012 - 71% (11% below basic). State – 76%
- 2011 - 71% (15% below basic). State – 76%
- 2010 – 68%, State - 73%
- 2009 – 67%, State – 71%
- 2008 – 66%, State – 70%
- 2012 - 79% (8% below basic). State - 80%
- 2011 - 75% (10% below basic). State - 78.6%
- 2010 – 71%, State - 77%
- 2009 – 70%, State – 75%
- 2008 – 60%, State – 70%
Avella Elementary Center
Avella Elementary Center is located at 1000 Avella Road, Avella. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2011, the School reported an enrollment of 317 pupils in grades kindergarten through 6th, with 138 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced price lunch due to family poverty. The school is a federally designated Title I school. The school employed 28 teachers yielding a student-teacher ratio of 11:1. According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Avella Area School District has provided all-day kindergarten since 2003, using over $135,000 annual Accountability block grants to partially fund the program.
A cumulative record is maintained for each student from entrance into school through the twelfth grade. All material in each cumulative record is confidential. All students and their parents/guardians have the right to examine the student’s cumulative record and to challenge or correct any information they believe to be inaccurate. FERPA: Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act-The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act affords parents and students over 18 years of age (“eligible students”) certain rights with respect to the student’s education records.
In both 2011 and 2012, Avella Elementary Center achieved AYP status.
6th Grade Reading:
- 2012 - 80% (7% below basic). State - 68%
- 2011 - 82% (10% below basic). State - 69.9%
- 2010 – 76%, State – 68% (51 pupils enrolled)
- 2009 – 75%, State – 67%
- 2008 – 87%, State – 67%
6th Grade Math:
- 2012 - 85% (5% below basic). State - 77%
- 2011 - 79% (7% below basic). State - 78.8%
- 2010 – 85%, State – 78%
- 2009 – 84%, State – 75%
- 2008 – 80%, State −72%
5th Grade Reading:
- 2012 - 72% on grade level (7% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 65% of 5th graders are on grade level.
- 2011 - 73% (8% below basic) (37 pupils enrolled). State - 67.3%
- 2010 – 65%, State – 64% (41 pupils enrolled)
- 2009 – 67%, State – 64%
- 2008 – 76%, State – 61%
- 2007 – 50%, State – 60%
5th Grade Math:
- 2012 - 64% (11% below basic). State - 73%
- 2011 - 83% (8% below basic). State - 74%
- 2010 – 78.9%, State – 74%
- 2009 – 79%, State – 73%
- 2008 – 64%, State – 73%
- 2007 – 77%, State – 71% 
4th Grade Reading:
- 2012 - 77% (8% below basic). State - 72%
- 2011 - 90% (5% below basic). State – 73.3%
- 2010 – 77%, State – 72% (40 pupils enrolled)
- 2009 – 76%, State – 72%
- 2008 – 67%, State – 70%
4th Grade Math:
- 2012 - 90% (3% below basic). State - 82%
- 2011 - 92%, 57% advanced, (0% below basic). State – 85.3%
- 2010 – 97%, State – 84%
- 2009 – 84%, State – 81%
- 2008 – 97%, State – 79%
4th Grade Science:
- 2012 - 92%, (3% below basic). State - 82%
- 2011 - 95%, (0% below basic). State – 82.9%
- 2010 – 95%, State – 81% 
- 2009 – 95%, State – 83%
- 2008 – 91%, State – 81%
3rd Grade Reading:
- 2012 - 79% (12% below basic). State - 74% 
- 2011 - 83%, (5% below basic), (41 pupils enrolled). State – 77.2%
- 2010 – 83%, State – 75% (47 pupils enrolled)
- 2009 – 81%, State – 77%
- 2008 – 87%, State – 77%
3rd Grade Math:
- 2012 - 88%, (0% below basic). State - 80%
- 2011 - 95%, (0% below basic). State – 83.5%
- 2010 – 87%, State – 84%
- 2009 – 85%, State – 81%
- 2008 – 89%, State – 80%
The Avella Area School Board has provided the district's antibully policy online. All Pennsylvania schools are required to have an anti-bullying policy incorporated into their Code of Student Conduct. The policy must identify disciplinary actions for bullying and designate a school staff person to receive complaints of bullying. The policy must be available on the school's website and posted in every classroom. All Pennsylvania public schools must provide a copy of its anti-bullying policy to the Office for Safe Schools every year, and shall review their policy every three years. Additionally, the district must conduct an annual review of that policy with students. The Center for Schools and Communities works in partnership with the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime & Delinquency and the Pennsylvania Department of Education to assist schools and communities as they research, select and implement bullying prevention programs and initiatives.
Education standards relating to student safety and antiharassment programs are described in the 10.3. Safety and Injury Prevention in the Pennsylvania Academic Standards for Health, Safety and Physical Education.
Avella Area School Board established a district wellness policy in June 2006 – Policy 246. The policy deals with nutritious meals served at school, the control of access to some foods and beverages during school hours, age appropriate nutrition education for all students, and physical education for students K-12. The policy is in response to state mandates and federal legislation (P.L. 108 – 265). The law dictates that each school district participating in a program authorized by the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act (42 U.S.C. 1751 et seq) or the Child Nutrition Act of 1966 (42 U.S.C. 1771 et seq) "shall establish a local school wellness policy by School Year 2006."
The legislation placed the responsibility of developing a wellness policy at the local level so the individual needs of each district can be addressed. According to the requirements for the Local Wellness Policy, school districts must set goals for nutrition education and physical education that are aligned with the Pennsylvania State Academic Standards for Health, Safety and Physical Education, 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. The policy requires that the Superintendent or designee shall report to the Board on the district’s compliance with law and policies related to student wellness. The Pennsylvania Department of Education required the district to submit a copy of the policy for approval.
Avella Area School District offers a free school breakfast and free or reduced-price lunch to children in low income families. All students attending the school can eat breakfast and lunch. Children from families with incomes at or below 130 percent of the federal poverty level are provided a breakfast and lunch at no cost to the family. Children from families with incomes between 130 and 185 percent of the federal poverty level can be charged no more than 30 cents per breakfast. A foster child whose care and placement is the responsibility of the State or who is placed by a court with a caretaker household is eligible for both a free breakfast and a free lunch. Runaway, homeless and Migrant Youth are also automatically eligible for free meals. The meals are partially funded with federal dollars through the United States Department of Agriculture.
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. 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 the lunch.
Avella Area 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. Nurses also monitor each child's weight.
In December 2012, Avella Area School District administration reported that 118 pupils or 19.6% of the district's pupils received Special Education services, with 35% of its identified students had a specific learning disability. In December 2010, the District administration reported that 137 pupils or 21% of the district's pupils received Special Education services.
In order to comply with state and federal laws, the school district engages in identification procedures to ensure that eligible students receive an appropriate educational program consisting of special education and related services, individualized to meet student needs. At no cost to the parents, these services are provided in compliance with state and federal law; and are reasonably calculated to yield meaningful educational benefit and student progress. To identify students who may be eligible for special education, various screening activities are conducted on an ongoing basis. These screening activities include: review of group-based data (cumulative records, enrollment records, health records, report cards, ability and achievement test scores); hearing, vision, motor, and speech/language screening; and review by the Special Education administration. 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 Director of Special Education.
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. The Special Education funding structure is through the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) funds and state appropriations. IDEA funds are appropriated to the state on an annual basis and distributed through intermediate units (IUs) to school districts, while state funds are distributed directly to the districts. Total funds that are received by school districts are calculated through a formula. The Pennsylvania Department of Education oversees four appropriations used to fund students with special needs: Special Education; Approved Private Schools; Pennsylvania Chartered Schools for the Deaf and Blind; and Early Intervention. The Pennsylvania Special Education funding system assumes that 16% of the district’s students receive special education services. It also assumes that each student’s needs accrue the same level of costs. Over identification of students, in order to increase state funding, has been an issue in the Commonwealth. Some districts have more than 20% of its students receiving special education services while others have 10% supported through special education. The state requires each public school district and charter school to have a three-year special education plan to meet the unique needs of its special education students. In 2012, the Obama Administration's US Department of Education issued a directive that schools include students with disabilities in extracurricular activities, including sports.
Avella Area School District received a $539,555 supplement for special education services in 2010. For the 2011-12, 2012–13 and 2013-14 school years, all Pennsylvania public school districts received the same level of funding for special education that they received in 2010-11. This level funding is provided regardless of changes in the number of pupils who need special education services and regardless of the level of services the respective students required. Additionally, the state provides supplemental funding for extraordinarily impacted students. The District must apply for this added funding.
Avella Area School District reported having 34 students who were identified as gifted. This was 5.35% of the total enrollment. The District Administration reported that 25 or 3.52% 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 a variety of AP courses. 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.
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.
In 2011, the average teacher salary in Avella Area School District was $54,339 a year, while the cost of the benefits teachers received was $18,781 per employee, for a total annual average teacher compensation of $73,120. The District employed 59 teachers with an average salary of $54,199 and a top salary of $95,000.
In 2009 the Avella Area School District reported employing 70 teachers with a salary range of $32,000 to $96,160. In addition to salary, Avella Area teachers receive a benefits package which includes: health insurance, dental insurance, vision insurance, life insurance, 3 paid personal days, 10 paid sick days (which accumulate without limit), reimbursement for college courses and other benefits. There is an early retirement incentive program that pays a maximum of $12,400.
In 2007, the Avella Area School District employed 59 teachers. The average teacher salary in the district was $47,051 for 180 days worked.
Avella Area School District administrative costs per pupil in 2008 was $1,128 per pupil. The administrative spending ranks 32nd out of all 500 public school districts in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The lowest administrative cost per pupil in Pennsylvania was $398 per pupil. In 2005, the school board awarded a five-year contract to Wayde Killmeyer to be superintendent with an initial salary of $88,000 a year and a 3% annual raise coupled with potential merit raises. Additionally, an extensive benefit package was included in the contract. The Pennsylvania School Boards Association keeps statistics on salaries of public school district employees in Pennsylvania. According to the association, the average salary for a superintendent for the 2007–08 school year was $122,165.
Per Pupil spending In 2008, Avella Area School District administration reported spending $13,822 per pupil which ranked 115th among Pennsylvania's 501 school districts. In 2010, Avella Area School District’s per pupil spending had increased to $20,096.86. In 2011, Pennsylvania’s per pupil spending was $13,467, ranking 6th in the United States. In 2007, the Pennsylvania per pupil total expenditures was reported as $12,759.
The U.S. Census Bureau reported that Pennsylvania spent $8,191 per pupil in school year 2000-01. In 2007, the Pennsylvania per pupil total expenditures was reported as $12,759. Among the fifty states, Pennsylvania’s total per pupil revenue (including all sources) ranked 11th at $15,023 per student, in 2008-09. Pennsylvania’s total revenue per pupil rose to $16,186 ranking 9th in the nation in 2011.
Audit In September 2010, the Pennsylvania Auditor General conducted a performance audit of the district. The findings were reported to the administration and the school board by state officials.
Reserves In 2008, the Avella Area School District reported a $1,768,573 in an unreserved-undesignated fund balance. The designated fund balance was reported as $128,044. In 2010, Avella Area School District Administration reported an increase to $2,104,976 in its reserves fund balance. 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. By 2013, reserves held by Pennsylvania public school districts, as a whole, had increased to over $3.8 billion.
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 Avella 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 Avella Area School District's schools. The 2012 tuition rates are Elementary School -$10,271.16, High School - $12,067.18.
Avella Area School District is funded by a combination of: an earned income tax 0.5%, a property tax, two per capita taxes totaling $15 each year, a real estate transfer tax 0.5%, coupled with substantial funding from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the federal government. Grants can provide an opportunity to supplement school funding without raising local taxes. Interest earnings on accounts also provide nontax income 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. 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.
State basic education funding
For the 2013-14 school year, the Avella Area School District will receive a 0.9% increase or $4,221,891 in Pennsylvania Basic Education Funding. This is $ more than its 2012-13 state BEF to the District. Additionally, Avella Area School District will receive $49,953 in Accountability Block Grant funding to focus on academic achievement and level funding for special education services. Among the public school districts in Mercer County, Hermitage School District received the highest percentage increase at 2.2%. 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. The state funded the PSERS (Pennsylvania school employee pension fund) with $1,017,000,000 and Social Security payments for school employees of $495 million.
For the 2012-13 school year, the Avella Area School District received $$4,185,343. 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. Avella Area School District will receive $49,953 in Accountability Block Grant funding. The state also provided a $544.4 million payment for School Employees’ Social Security and $856 million for School Employees’ Retirement fund called PSERS. 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, Avella Area School District received $4,185,343 in state Basic Education Funding. Additionally, the District received $49,957 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.
For the 2010–11 budget year, the Avella Area School District was allotted a 2.00% increase in Basic Education Funding for a total of $4,386,333. The highest increase in Washington County was provided to Charleroi School District which received a 9.90% increase. One hundred fifty Pennsylvania school districts received the base 2% increase. The highest increase in 2010–11 went to Kennett Consolidated School District in Chester County which received a 23.65% increase in state funding. Fifteen (15) Pennsylvania public school districts received a BEF increase of greater than 10%. The state's hold harmless policy regarding state basic education funding continued where each district received at least the same amount as it received the prior school year, even when enrollment had significantly declined. The amount of increase each school district received was set by Governor Edward Rendell and then Secretary of Education Gerald Zahorchak, as a part of the state budget proposal given each February. This was the second year of Governor Rendell’s policy to fund some public school districts at a far greater rate than others.
In the 2009–2010 budget year the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a 2.75% increase in Basic Education funding for a total of $4,300,326 to Avella Area School District. The highest increase, among Washington County public school district, went to Burgettstown Area School District which received a 6.45% increase. Eleven Washington County school districts received an increase of less than 5% in 2009–10. Muhlenberg School District of Berks County received an increase of 22.31 percent. Sixteen Pennsylvania public school districts received an increase in funding of over 10 percent in 2009. The amount of increase each school district received was set by Governor Edward G. Rendell and the Secretary of Education Gerald Zahorchak, as a part of the state budget proposal.
The state Basic Education funding to the Avella Area School District in 2008–09 was $4,185,343.34. In 2008, the administration reported that 221 students received a free or reduced-price lunch based on the federal poverty levels.
The total estimated Fund Balance, Revenues, and other financing for the 2009–10 budget was $26,394,191.
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 $135,584 in addition to all other state and federal funding. The Avella Area School District uses the funding to provide full-day kindergarten for 34 students for the sixth year.
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. Avella Area School District did not apply for funding in 2006–07 or 2007–08. In 2008–09, the District received $74,691. Among the public school districts in Washington County the highest award was given to Canon-McMillan School District which received $493,791. The highest funding statewide was awarded to Philadelphia City School District in Philadelphia County - $9,409,073. The grant program was discontinued by Governor Edward Rendell as part of the 2009-10 state budget.
Environmental Education Grant
The Environmental Education Grant Program was established by the Environmental Education Act of 1993, which mandates that 5 percent of all pollution fines and penalties collected annually by the Department of Environmental Protection be set aside for environmental education. In 2009, Avella Area School District was awarded $3000 to develop six hands on lessons for use in the annual Stewardship Day events.
Avella Area School District did not participate in: 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 federal 21st Century Learning grants.
Federal Stimulus funding
Race to the Top grant
School district officials did not apply for the Race to the Top federal grant which would have brought the district hundreds of thousands of additional federal dollars for improving student academic achievement. Participation required the administration, the school board and the local teachers' union to sign an agreement to prioritize improving student academic success. In Pennsylvania, 120 public school districts and 56 charter schools agreed to participate. Pennsylvania was not approved for the grant. The failure of districts to agree to participate was cited as one reason that Pennsylvania was not approved.
Common Cents state initiative
The Avella Area 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
Avella Area School Board set property tax rates in 2013 at 120.88 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. 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. 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. 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.
- 2012 - 120.8800 mills.
- 2011 - 120.8800 mills.
- 2010 - 119.0000 mills.
- 2009-10 – 115.0000 mills.
- 2008-09 – 115.0000 mills.
- 2007-08 – 114.5000 mills.
- 2006-07 - 107.0000 mills.
- 2005-06 - 104.0000 mills.
The average yearly property tax paid by Washington County residents amounts to about 2.54% of their yearly income. Washington County ranked 928th out of the 3143 United States counties for property taxes as a percentage of median income. 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. 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%).
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. In June 2011, the Pennsylvania General Assembly passed legislation eliminating six of the exceptions to the Act 1 Index. 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. 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.
The School District Adjusted Index for the Avella Area School District 2006–2007 through 2011–2012.
For the 2013-14 budget year, Avella Area School Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed their Act 1 Index limit. For the school budget year 2013-14, 311 Pennsylvania public school districts adopted a resolution certifying that tax rates would not be increased above their index. Another 171 school districts adopted a preliminary budget leaving open the option of exceeded the Index limit. For the exception for pension costs, 89 school districts received approval to exceed the Index in full while others received a partial approval of their request. For special education costs, 75 districts received approval to exceed their tax limit. For the pension costs exception, 169 school districts received approval to exceed the Index. Eleven Pennsylvania public school districts received an approval for grandfathered construction debts.
For the 2012-13 budget year, Avella Area School Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed the Act 1 Index. For 2012-2013, 274 school districts adopted a resolution certifying that tax rates would not be increased above their index; 223 school districts adopted a preliminary budget leaving open the option of exceeded the Index limit. For the exception for pension costs, 194 school districts received approval to exceed the Index. For special education costs, 129 districts received approval to exceed the tax limit.
For the 2011–12 school year, the Avella Area School Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed the Act 1 Index. Each year, the Avella Area 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 published in the fall of each school 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 Avella Area 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 2010, property tax relief for 2,428 approved residents of Avella Area School District was set at $197 for 1278 approved homesteads. In 2009, the Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief from gambling for the Avella Area School District was $192 per approved permanent primary residence. In the district, 1,311 property owners applied for the tax relief. In Washington County, the highest tax relief went to Washington School District at $407 in 2009 and $414 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 Washington County, 73% 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 Avella Area School District is among the lowest 8% in Pennsylvania. Department of Education enrollment projections do not anticipate a growth 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.
Avella Area School District offers a wide variety of clubs, activities and an extensive, costly sports program for 311 pupils in grades 7th through 12th. Eligibility for participation is determined by school board policy and in compliance with standards set by the Pennsylvania interscholastic Athletics Association (PIAA).
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.
The District funds:
- Junior High School Sports
According to PIAA directory July 2013 
Local Educational Resources
Meadowcroft Rockshelter is an archaeological site overlooking Cross Creek (a tributary of the Ohio River) and is the oldest known Native American cultural site. A team from the University of Pittsburgh, led by James M. Adovasio excavated 19,000-year-old Woodland, Archaic, and Paleoindian remains. It was given the name Meadowcroft from the nearby Meadowcroft Village historical park.
The Avella Area Public Library is a member of the Washington County Library system, serving the Avella Area School District, West Middletown Boro, Cross Creek, Hopewell, and Independence Townships.
The AD White Research Society is located in downtown Avella, Pennsylvania in the newly restored 1905 Avella Train Station. Named after A.D. White, a well known school superintendent, lecturer, author, genealogist, and historian, the center's primary objectives are to promote interest in regional and family history, to inspire individuals to record the genealogy of families from which they descend as well as human interest stories about the dangers and hardships they or their ancestors endured, and to provide a permanent public archive for those valuable documents.
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