Berlin Brothersvalley School District

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Berlin Brothersvalley School District
Map of Somerset County Pennsylvania School Districts.png
1025 Main Street
Berlin, Somerset, Pennsylvania 15530
United States
Type Public
Superintendent Mrs. Margie Zorn
Principal Mr. Bill Deal( High School)
Principal Mr. Martin Mudry (Middle School)
Principal Ms. Pamela Webreck (Elementary)
Grades K-12
Enrollment 869 (2010–11)
 • Kindergarten 47
 • Grade 1 45
 • Grade 2 65
 • Grade 3 46
 • Grade 4 69
 • Grade 5 75
 • Grade 6 74
 • Grade 7 72
 • Grade 8 81
 • Grade 9 85
 • Grade 10 76
 • Grade 11 77
 • Grade 12 56
 • Other Enrollment projected to decline to 700 in 2019
Color(s) Royal Blue and White
Mascot Mountaineers
Rival Meyersdale

The Berlin Brothersvalley School District covers New Baltimore and Allegheny Township, Fairhope Township and Northampton Township in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. The school district consists of three schools all connected by an underground tunnel. The district encompasses 165.5 square miles. According to a 2006 local census, it serves a resident population of 5,633. According to District officials, in school year 2005–06 the BBSD provided basic educational services to 961 pupils through the employment of 76 teachers, 49 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 5 administrators.


School Grade Level Principal
Berlin-Brothersvalley Elementary School Grades K-4 Ms. Pamela Webreck
Berlin Brothersvalley Middle School Grades 5–8 Mr. Martin Mudry
Berlin Brothersvalley High School Grades 9–12 Mr. Bill Deal

Academic achievement[edit]

Berlin Brothersvalley School District was ranked 193rd out of 493 Pennsylvania school districts evaluated in 2010 by the Pittsburgh Business Times. The ranking was based on three years of student academic performance on the reading, writing, math and two years of science PSSAs.[1]

2009 – 202nd
2008 – 181st out of 497 school districts
2007 – 226th out of 501 school districts.[2]

In 2009, the academic achievement of the students of the Berlin Brothersvalley School District was in the 71st percentile among 500 Pennsylvania school districts. Scale – (0–99; 100 is state best)[3]

Graduation Rate

  • 2010 – 80%[4][5]
  • 2009 – 86%
  • 2007 – 80%[6]

Berlin Brothersvalley has had the highest drop out rate among Somerset County schools since 2006.[7]

Senior high school[edit]

PSSA Results
11th Grade Reading
2010 – 75% on grade level. In Pennsylvania, 67% of 11th graders on grade level.[8]
2009 – 59%, State – 65%
2008 – 54%, State – 65%[9]

11th Grade Math:
2010 – 71% on grade level. In Pennsylvania, 59% of 11th graders on grade level.[10]
2009 – 63%, State – 56%[11]
2008 – 57%, State – 56%

11th Grade Science:
2010 – 44% on grade level. State – 39% of 11th graders were on grade level.
2009 – 25%, State – 40%[12]
2008 – 30%, State – 39%[13]

Graduation requirements[edit]

The Berlin Brothersvalley School Board has determined that a pupil must earn 26 credits to graduate, including: Math 3 credits, English 4 credits, Social Studies 3 credits, Science 3 credits, Physical Education 1 credit, Health 1 credit, Graduation Project 0.5 credit, Computer Science 1.5 credits, Concentration Pathway 6 credits and 3 electives. Credits earned in Dual Enrollment count towards high school graduation.[14]

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.[15] The Berlin Brothersvalley High School Graduation Project Online Manual is posted online. The project focuses on career exploration.[16]

Beginning with the class of 2015, students must take the Keystone Exams in reading and math.[17]

Challenge Program[edit]

The Challenge Program, Inc. offers $250.00 cash incentives to Berlin Brothervalley HS 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 will be eligible to win $250.00.[18]

Dual enrollment[edit]

The high school does not offer the state's dual enrollment program. This state-funded program permits high school students to take courses, at higher education institutions, to earn college credits. Students remain enrolled at their high school. The courses count towards high school graduation requirements and towards earning a college degree. The students continue to have full access to activities and programs at their high school. The college credits are offered at a deeply discounted rate. The state offers a small grant to assist students in costs for tuition, fees and books.[19] Under the Pennsylvania Transfer and Articulation Agreement, many Pennsylvania colleges and universities accept these credits for students who transfer to their institutions.[20]

College remediation rate[edit]

According to a Pennsylvania Department of Education study released in January 2009, 23% of the Berlin Brothersvalley Senior 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.[21] 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.[22] 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.

Middle school[edit]

Eighth grade[edit]

2010 – 90% on grade level. In Pennsylvania, 81% of 8th graders on grade level. (81 pupils enrolled)
2009 – 81%, State – 80% (76 pupils)
2008 – 80%, State – 78% (78 pupils)

2010 – 91% on grade level. In Pennsylvania, 75% of 8th graders are on grade level.
2009 – 80%, State – 71%[23]
2008 – 83%, State – 70%

2010 – 59% on grade level. State – 57% of 8th graders were on grade level.
2009 – 68%, State – 55%.
2008 – 58%, State – 52%

Seventh grade[edit]

2010 – 79% on grade level. In Pennsylvania, 73% of 7th graders are on grade level. (72 pupils enrolled)
2009 – 77%, State – 71% (81 pupils enrolled)
2008 – 75%, State – 70% (77 pupils enrolled)

2010 – 94% on grade level. In Pennsylvania, 77% of 7th graders are on grade level.
2009 – 88%, State – 75%
2008 – 77%, State – 70%

Sixth grade[edit]

6th Grade Reading:
2010 – 79% on grade level. State: 68% of 6th graders were on grade level. (80 pupils enrolled)
2009 – 73%, State – 67%
2008 – 78%, State – 67%

6th Grade Math:
2010 – 94% on grade level. State – 78% of 6th graders were on grade level.
2009 – 91%, State – 75%
2008 – 88%, State −72%

Fifth grade[edit]

5th Grade Reading:
2010 – 65% on grade level. State – 64% of 5th graders were on grade level. (70 pupils enrolled)
2009 – 71%, State – 64%
2008 – 61%, State – 61%[24]

5th Grade Math:
2010 – 76% on grade level. State – 74% of 5th graders were on grade level.
2009 – 84%, State – 73%
2008 – 85%, State – 73%

Elementary School[edit]

Fourth grade[edit]

4th Grade Reading:
2010 – 84% on grade level. State – 72% of 4th graders were on grade level. (70 pupils enrolled)
2009 – 73%, State – 72%[25]
2008 – 61%, State – 70%

4th Grade Math:
2010 – 94% on grade level. State – 84% of 4th graders were on grade level.
2009 – 85%, State – 81
2008 – 81%, State – 79%

4th Grade Science:
2010 – 91% on grade level. State – 81% of 4th graders were on grade level.
2009 – 100%, State – 83%
2008 – 92%, State – 81%

Third grade[edit]

3rd Grade Reading:
2010 – 76% on grade level. State – 75% of 3rd graders were on grade level. (67 pupils enrolled)
2009 – 91%, State – 77%
2008 – 85%, State – 77%

3rd Grade Math:
2010 – 88% on grade level. State – 84% of 3rd graders were on grade level.
2009 – 91%, State – 81%
2008 – 90%, State – 80%

Bullying policy[edit]

In 2009, the administrative reported there were 6 incidents of bullying in the district.[26][27]

The Berlin Brothersvalley School Board prohibits bullying by district students and faculty.[28] The board's policy defines bullying and cyberbullying. The Board directs that complaints of bullying shall be investigated promptly, and corrective action shall be taken when allegations are verified. No reprisals or retaliation shall occur as a result of good faith reports of bullying.[29] The board expects staff members to be responsible to maintain an educational environment free from all forms of bullying. 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.[30] 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.[31]

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.[32]

Special education[edit]

In December 2009, the district administration reported that 130 pupils or 14% of the district's pupils received Special Education services.[33]

By law the District engages in identification procedures to ensure that eligible students receive an appropriate educational program consisting of special education and related services, individualized to meet student needs. At no cost to the parents, these services are provided in compliance with state and federal law; and are reasonably calculated to yield meaningful educational benefit and student progress. To identify students who may be eligible for special education, various screening activities are conducted on an ongoing basis. These screening activities include: review of group-based data (cumulative records, enrollment records, health records, report cards, ability and achievement test scores); hearing, vision, motor, and speech/language screening; and review by the Instructional Support Team or Student Assistance Team. When screening results suggest that the student may be eligible, the District seeks parental consent to conduct a multidisciplinary evaluation. Parents who suspect their child is eligible may verbally request a multidisciplinary evaluation from a professional employee of the District or contact the Department of Special Education. Services are provided through the IU8.[34]

Wellness policy[edit]

Berlin Brothersvalley School Board established a district wellness policy.[35] 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.[36] 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. Each building principal or designee reports to the Superintendent regarding compliance in his/her school.

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


The school district is governed by 9 individually elected board members (serve four-year terms), the Pennsylvania State Board of Education, the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the Pennsylvania General Assembly.[37][38] 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 "D" 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.[39]


In 2009, the district reported employing over 70 teachers with a salary range of $34,000 to $83,000 for a 183-day school year.[40] Additionally, the teachers receive a defined benefit pension, health insurance, professional development reimbursement, personal days – 2, sick days – 10, and other benefits. Teachers are paid for extra instructional services at an hourly rate.[41]

In 2007, the district employed 71 teachers. The average teacher salary in the district was $42,831 for 183 days worked.[42] 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.[43]

Berlin Brothersvalley School District administrative costs per pupil in 2008 was $747.67 per pupil. This ranked 260th for per pupil administrative spending in the state. The lowest administrative cost per pupil in Pennsylvania was $398 per pupil.[44]

In 2008, the district administration reported spending $11,229 per pupil which ranked 374th among Pennsylvania's 501 school districts.[45]

In January 2009, the Pennsylvania Auditor General conducted a performance audit of the district. Multiple issues were cited. The findings were reported to the administration and the school board.[46]

Reserves In 2008, the district reported a $1,108,288 in an unreserved-undesignated fund balance. The designated fund balance was reported as zero.[47]

The district is funded by a combination of: a local income tax, a property tax, a real estate transfer tax, coupled with substantial funding from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the annual Title 1 grants from the federal government. 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 person's wealth.[48]

State basic education funding[edit]

For the 2010–11 budget year, the Berlin Brothersvalley School District was allotted a 2.52% increase in Basic Education Funding for a total of $5,290,405. The highest increase in Somerset County was provided to: North Star School District and Somerset Area School District both of which received a 2.82% 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.[49] The amount of increase each school district receives is set by the Governor and the Secretary of Education as a part of the state budget proposal given each February.[50]

In the 2009–2010 budget year, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a 3.26% increase in Basic Education Funding for a total of $5,160,557. Somerset Area School District received a 4.87%. The state Basic Education Funding to the district in 2008–09 was $4,997,872. Ninety Pennsylvania school districts received a 2% increase. Muhlenberg School District in Berks County received a 22.31% increase in state basic education funding in 2009.[51]

Accountability Block Grants[edit]

Beginning in 2004–2005, the state launched the Accountability Block Grant school funding. This program has provided $1.5 billion to Pennsylvania’s school districts. The Accountability Block Grant program requires that its taxpayer dollars are focused on specific interventions that are most likely to increase student academic achievement. These interventions include: teacher training, all-day kindergarten, lower class size K-3rd grade, literacy and math coaching programs that provide teachers with individualized job-embedded professional development to improve their instruction, before or after school tutoring assistance to struggling students, For 2010–11 the district applied for and received $166,661 in addition to all other state and federal funding. The Berlin Brothersvalley School District uses the funding to increase instructional time, to reduce class size in K-3rd grade, to provide teacher training and to develop new curriculum.[52][53]

Education Assistance grant[edit]

The state's Education Assistance Program 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 Berlin Brothersvalley District received $21,092.[54]

Federal Stimulus grant[edit]

The district received an extra $676,092 in ARRA – Federal Stimulus money to be used in specific programs like special education and meeting the academic needs of low-income students.[55] The funding is for the 2009–10 and 2010–2011 school years.[56]

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 321 students qualified for free or reduced-price lunch due to low family income in 2008.[57]

Race to the Top Grant[edit]

School district officials applied for the Race to the Top federal grant which will mean hundreds of thousands of additional federal dollars for improving student academic achievement.[58] The administration, school board and teachers' union prioritized free resources to improve student success over local control. 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.[59][60][61]

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. Berlin Brothersvalley School District did not apply in 2006–07. In 2007–08 the school received $109,661 and in 2008–09 it received $45,413 for a total of $155,074.[62]

Common Cents state initiative[edit]

The Berlin Brothersvalley 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.[63] After the review of the information, the district was not required to implement the recommended cost savings changes.

Real estate taxes[edit]

Property tax rates in 2010 were set at 26.0200 mills.[64] 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 the region.

  • 2009 – 25.0000 mills.[65]
  • 2008 – 25.0000 mills[66]

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 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 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.[67]

The School District Adjusted Index for the Berlin Brothersvalley School District 2006–2007 through 2011–2012.[68]

2006–07 – 5.5%, Base 3.9%
2007–08 – 4.8%, Base 3.4%
2008–09 – 6.2%, Base 4.4%
2009–10 – 5.8%, Base 4.1%
2010–11 – 4.1%, Base 2.9%
2011–12 – 2.0%, Base 1.4%

The Berlin Brothersvalley School Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed the Act 1 Index for the budget year 2010–2011.[69] 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.[70]

Property tax relief[edit]

In 2010, the Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief from gambling for the Berlin Brothersvalley School District was $141 per approved permanent primary residence. In the district, 1,520 property owners applied for the tax relief.[71] 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 Somerset County, 47% of eligible property owners applied for property tax relief in 2009.[72] In Somerset County, the highest amount of tax relief in 2010, went to Shanksville-Stonycreek School District at $211. The highest property tax relief in Pennsylvania went to the residents of Chester Upland School District of Delaware County who received $632 per approved homestead.[73] This was the third year they were the top recipient.

Additionally, the Pennsylvania Property Tax/Rent Rebate program is provided for low income Pennsylvanians aged 65 and older; widows and widowers aged 50 and older; and people with disabilities age 18 and older. The income limit is $35,000 for homeowners. The maximum rebate for both homeowners and renters is $650. Applicants can exclude one-half (1/2) of their Social Security income, consequently, individual with income much 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.[74]

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%).[75]


The district's enrollment is in the bottom 8% in Pennsylvania. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, there are fewer than 870 students enrolled in K-12. The senior class of 2011 has 72 students, while the class of 2010 had 68 students. Enrollment is projected to continue to decline by another 170 students to 700 by the 2018 academic year.[76] The administrative infrastructure and mandate related costs per pupil are very high. With limited local taxation resources, opportunities for students are limited.[77]

A study was done in 2004, examining consolidating school administration of Meyersdale Area School District with Berlin Brothersvalley School District administration. The projected savings was over $1,000,000. The study also examined a consolidation with Rockwood Area School District and with Shade-Central City School District each of the proposals yielded significant savings for local taxpayers.[78] The study noted that consolidation could significantly decrease school administrative costs for the communities while significantly improving offerings to students.

Rural Pennsylvania school enrollment is projected to decrease 8 percent by 2011. The most significant enrollment decline is projected to be in western Pennsylvania, where rural school districts may have a 16 percent decline. 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).[79]

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. Less than 95 of Pennsylvania's 501 school districts have enrollment below 1250 students, in 2007.[80] This results in excessive school administration bureaucracy and not enough course diversity.[81] In a survey of 88 superintendents of small districts, 42% of the 49 respondents stated that they thought consolidation would save money without closing any schools.[82]


The district offers a variety of clubs, activities and sports. Eligibility for participation is determined by school board policy.[83]

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.[84][85]


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  77. ^ School District Consolidation Fact Sheet Archived October 19, 2014, at the Wayback Machine.
  78. ^ Pennsylvania Legislative Budget and Finance Committee, Study of the Cost Effectiveness of Consolidating Pennsylvania School Districts, 2007 Part 2 page 41, page 251, page 260. Archived January 3, 2014, at the Wayback Machine.
  79. ^ "Research Analyzes Rural School District Enrollment and Building Capacity", The Center for Rural Pennsylvania. October 2009
  80. ^ Pennsylvania Legislative Budget and Finance Committee, Study of the Cost Effectiveness of Consolidating Pennsylvania School Districts, 2007.
  81. ^ Rendell, E. & Soderberg, M. (2009). Pennsylvania school district consolidation. 2009–10 Executive Budget Fast Facts. Pennsylvania Office of the Governor.
  82. ^ Study of the cost-effectiveness of consolidating Pennsylvania districts. New York: Standard & Poor’s School Evaluation Services. 2007, p. 6.
  83. ^ Berlin Brothersvalley School Board Policy Manual: Extracurricular Policy 122 and Interscholastic Athletics Policy 123
  84. ^ Home-Schooled, Charter School Children Can Participate in School District Extracurricular Activities, Pennsylvania Office of the Governor Press Release, November 10, 2005 Archived October 23, 2014, at the Wayback Machine.
  85. ^ Extracurricular Participation By Home Education Students Policy 137.1 Archived July 19, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.

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