Big Beaver Falls Area School District

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Big Beaver Falls Area School District
Map of Beaver County Pennsylvania School Districts.png
Address
1503 Eighth Avenue
Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, 15010
United States
Coordinates 40°45′25″N 80°19′16″W / 40.757081°N 80.3211225°W / 40.757081; -80.3211225 (District office)Coordinates: 40°45′25″N 80°19′16″W / 40.757081°N 80.3211225°W / 40.757081; -80.3211225 (District office)
District information
Type Public
Motto Once a Tiger, Always a Tiger
Grades Pre-Kindergarten-12
Established 1867 (1867)
Superintendent Dr. Donna Nugent
Asst. Superintendent(s) Peggy Lavery
School board Cynthia Cook (President), Clifford Alford, Tom Karczewski, Dr. Todd Allen, Terri Ellinwood, R. Scott Pagley, Dick Attisano, Susan Smith, Ron Miller
Schools

4 total:

  • Beaver Falls High School
  • Beaver Falls Middle School
  • Big Beaver Elementary School
  • Central Elementary School
Budget Increase $26,306,494[1]
District ID 4203630[2][3]
Students and staff
Students 1,698 [3]
Teachers 120[3]
Staff 220[3]
Student-teacher ratio 14:1[3]
District mascot Tigers
Colors      Orange
     Black
Other information
Website www.tigerweb.org

The Big Beaver Falls Area School District is a midsized, suburban public school district in Beaver County, Pennsylvania, United States. It serves the City of Beaver Falls, the Boroughs of Big Beaver, Eastvale, Homewood, Koppel and New Galilee and White Township. The district encompasses approximately 22 square miles (57 km2). According to 2000 federal census data, it serves a resident population of 15,260 people. In 2009, the district residents’ per capita income was $14,937, while the median family income was $33,942.[4] In the Commonwealth, the median family income was $49,501[5] and the United States median family income was $49,445, in 2010.[6] According to District officials, in school year 2009-10 the Big Beaver Falls Area School District provided basic educational services to 1,746 pupils through the employment of 157 teachers, 96 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 11 administrators. Big Beaver Falls Area School District received more than $14.3 million in state funding in school year 2009-10.

The district operates: two elementary schools, a middle school and a high school.

Schools[edit]

  • Big Beaver Elementary School (K-5th)
  • Central Elementary School (K-5th)
  • Beaver Falls Middle School (6th-8th)
  • Beaver Falls High School (9th-12th)

Governance[edit]

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.[7] 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.[8]

Academic achievement[edit]

Big Beaver Falls Area School District was ranked 316th out of 498 Pennsylvania school districts by the Pittsburgh Business Times in 2012. The ranking was based on student academic achievement as demonstrated on five years of the PSSAs for: reading, writing math and three years of science.[9]

  • 2011 - 336th[10]
  • 2010 - 321st[11]
  • 2009 - 315th
  • 2008 - 348th
  • 2007 - 364 out of 500 school districts.[12]

In 2012, the Pittsburgh Business Times also reported an Overachievers Ranking for 498 Pennsylvania school districts. Big Beaver Falls Area School District ranked first in the Commonwealth. In 2011, the district also was first.[13] 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."[14]

Big Beaver Falls Area School District was ranked 70th out of 105 western Pennsylvania school districts in 2012. The Pittsburgh Business Times ranking was based on the last three years of student academic performance on the PSSAs on: math, reading, writing and science.[15]

  • 2011 - 70th
  • 2010 - 69th
  • 2009 - 70th
  • 2008 - 75th

In 2009, the academic achievement of the students of Big Beaver Falls Area School District was in the 47 percentile among 500 Pennsylvania school districts. Scale - (0-99; 100 is state best)[16]

Graduation rate[edit]

In 2011, the graduation rate was 93%.[17] In 2010, the Pennsylvania Department of Education issued a new, 4-year cohort graduation rate. Big Beaver Falls High School's rate was 82.71% for 2010.[18]

According to traditional graduation rate calculations

High school[edit]

Beaver Falls High School is located at 1701 8th Avenue, Beaver Falls. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, the school reported an enrollment of 562 pupils in grades 9th through 12th, with 331 pupils eligible for a federal free or reduced-price lunch. The school employed 45 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 12:1.[23] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 9 teachers were rated "Non‐Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[24]

In 2012, Beaver Falls High School ranked 90th out of 123 high schools in the western Pennsylvania region. In 2011, the High School ranked 97th. In 2009, Beaver Falls High School's 11th grade ranked 89th out of 123 western Pennsylvania high schools based on three years of results in PSSAs on: reading, math writing and one year of science.[25]

In 2012 Beaver Falls High School achieved AYP status. In 2011 the school was in Warning status due to lagging achievement in reading and math.[26]

PSSA Results
11th Grade Reading
  • 2011 - 69% on grade level, (16% below basic). State - 69.1% of 11th graders are on grade level.[27]
  • 2010 - 57%, (23% below basic). State - 66%[28]
  • 2009 - 60% (18% below basic). State - 65%[29]
  • 2008 - 66%, State - 65%[30]
  • 2007 - 52%, State - 65%[31]
11th Grade Math:
  • 2011 - 52% on grade level (24% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 60.3% of 11th graders are on grade level.[32]
  • 2010 - 46% (37% below basic). State - 59%
  • 2009 - 52% (27%, State - 56%[33]
  • 2008 - 51%, State - 56%
  • 2007 - 55%, State - 53%

11th Grade Science:

  • 2011 - 24% on grade level (28% below basic). State - 40% of 11th graders were on grade level.[34]
  • 2010 - 22% (23% below basic). State - 39%
  • 2009 - 45% (23% below basic), State - 40%
  • 2008 - 27%, State - 39%

In 2009, US News and World report ranked 21,000 public high schools, in the United States, based on three factors. First, the schools were analyzed for the number of students who achieved above the state average on the reading and math tests in 2008. 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. Seventy Pennsylvania high schools achieved ranking bronze, silver or gold rating. Fifty three Pennsylvania high schools achieved bronze.[35] Beaver Falls Area High School achieved Bronze ranking. Two high schools in Beaver County achieved inclusion in the ranking. After 2009, the school was not recognized by US News.& World Report in the ranking.

College Remediation[edit]

According to a Pennsylvania Department of Education study released in January 2009, 33% of Big Beaver Falls Area 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.[36] 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.[37] 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.

Dual enrollment[edit]

The high school offers a dual enrollment program. 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.[38] Under the Pennsylvania Transfer and Articulation Agreement, many Pennsylvania colleges and universities accept these credits for students who transfer to their institutions.[39]

For the 2009-10 funding year, the school district received a state grant of $19,577 for the program.[40]

SAT scores[edit]

From January to June 2011, 67 Big Beaver Falls Area students took the SAT exams. The district's Verbal Average Score was 443. The Math average score was 449. The Writing average score was 419.[41] Pennsylvania ranked 40th among states with SAT scores: Verbal - 493, Math - 501, Writing - 479.[42] 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.[43]

Graduation requirements[edit]

Big Beaver Falls Area School Board has determined that a pupil must earn 27 credits to graduate, including: math 4 credits, English 4 credits, social studies 4 credits, science 3 credits, Physical Education 2 credits, Health 1/2 credit, Communications 1/2 credit, computers 1 credit and electives 5 credits.[44] Any student scoring Below Basic on the 11th grade PSSA Math and/or Reading Assessment is required to take a PSSA Math and/or Reading Class in order to graduate.

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.[45] Completion of the project earns the student one credit towards graduation.

By Pennsylvania 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.[46][47][48] 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.[49] Individual student, school or district reports were not made public, although they were reported to district officials by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

Middle school[edit]

Beaver Falls Middle School is located at 1601 8th Avenue, Beaver Falls. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, the school reported an enrollment of 356 pupils in grades 6th through 8th, with 249 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school employed 34teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 10:1.[50] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of the teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[51]

In 2011 and 2010, Beaver Falls Middle School achieved AYP status under No Child Left Behind.[52]

In 2012, Beaver Falls Middle School 8th grade ranked 108th among 149 eighth grades in the western region of Pennsylvania. In 2011, the school's 8th grade ranked 117th.[53] In 2009, the 8th grade ranked 113th out of 141 western Pennsylvania middle schools based on three years of results in PSSAs in: reading, math writing and science.[54] (Includes schools in: Allegheny County, Beaver County, Butler County, Fayette County, Westmoreland County, and Washington County)

PSSA Results:

8th Grade Science:

  • 2011 - 61% on grade level (19% below basic). State – 58.3% of 8th graders were on grade level.
  • 2010 - 48% (34% below basic). State – 57%[62]
  • 2009 - 36% (31% below basic). State - 55%[63]
  • 2008 - 34% (34% below basic). State - 52%[64]
  • 2007 - tested, but results not made public.

In 2012, Beaver Falls Middle School 7th grade ranked 71st among 148 seventh grades in the western region of Pennsylvania. In 2011, the school's 7th grade ranked 75th out of 106 schools ranked.[65] In 2009, the 7th grade ranked 113th.

In 2012, Beaver Falls Middle School 6th grade ranked 65th among 202 sixth grades in the western region of Pennsylvania. In 2011, the sixth grade ranked 65th locally. In 2010, the school's 6th grade ranked 80th out of 106 local schools.[66] In 2009, the 6th grade ranked 113th in the region.

Elementary schools[edit]

Big Beaver Elementary School is located at 588 Friendship Drive, Darlington. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, the school reported an enrollment of 343 pupils in grades kindergarten through 5th, with 223 pupils received a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school employed 24 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 14:1.[67] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of the teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[68] In 2010 and 2011, Big Beaver Elementary School achieved AYP status even though the reading scores did not achieved AYP.[69]

4th Grade Science
  • 2011 - 95%, 71% advanced. State – 82.9%
  • 2010 - 96%, 48% advanced. State - 81%
  • 2009 - 93%, 53% advanced. State - 83%
  • 2008 - 98%, 48% advanced. State - 81%

Central Elementary School is located at 805 15th Street, Beaver Falls. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, the school reported an enrollment of 491 pupils in grades preschool through 5th, with 370 pupils eligible for a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school employed teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 14:1.[73] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of the teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[74]

In 2010 and 2011, Central Elementary School achieved AYP status.[75]

4th Grade Science
  • 2011 - 95%, 75% advanced. State – 82.9%
  • 2010 - 96%, 55% advanced. State - 81%
  • 2009 - 90%, 48% advanced. State - 83%
  • 2008 - 90%, 61% advanced. State - 81%

Special education[edit]

In December 2010, the district administration reported that 219 pupils or 12.6% of the district's pupils received Special Education services. In 2009, the district reported 240 pupils or 13.5% of students were identified as needing special education services with 43% having a specific learning disability.[80]

In order to comply with state and federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act rules and regulations, the Big Beaver Falls Area 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 .[81] To identify students who may be eligible for special education services, 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 Big Beaver Falls Area School District obtains 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 district's Special Education Department.[82][83]

In 2010, the state of Pennsylvania provided $1,026,815,000 for 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.[84] 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.[85] The state requires each district to have a three-year special education plan to meet the unique needs of its special education students.[86] Overidentification of students, in order to increase state funding, has been an issue in the Commonwealth. Some districts have more than 20% of its students receiving special education services while others have 10% supported through special education.[87]

Big Beaver Falls Area School District received a $1,208,280 supplement for special education services in 2010.[88] For the 2011-12 school year, 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.[89]

Gifted education[edit]

The Big Beaver Falls Area School District Administration reported that 73 or 4.07% of its students were gifted in 2009.[90] 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.[91][92][93]

Budget[edit]

In 2009, the district reported employing 210 teachers and administrators with an average salary of $51,064 and a top salary of $110,188.[94] Additionally, the teachers receive a defined benefit pension, health insurance, dental insurance, vision insurance, life insurance, professional development reimbursement, paid personal days, 10 paid sick days, and other benefits.[95][96] In 2011, the average teacher salary BBFASD was $60,499.81 a year, while the cost of the benefits teachers receive was $17,568.50 per employee, for a total annual average teacher compensation of $88,068.31.[97] According to a study conducted at the American Enterprise Institute, in 2011, public school teachers’ total compensation is roughly 50 percent higher than they would likely receive in the private sector.[81] The study found that the most generous benefits that teachers receive are not accounted for in many studies of compensation, including: pension, retiree health benefits and job security.

In 2007, the district employed 144 teachers with the average teacher salary in the district at $47,830 for 180 days worked.[98] 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.[99] Additionally, the teachers receive a defined benefit pension, health insurance, professional development reimbursement, personal days, sick days, and other benefits.[100]

In 2008, Big Beaver Falls Area School District administration reported that per pupil spending was $12,596 which ranked 212th among Pennsylvania's 501 school districts. In 2010 the per pupil spending had increased to $13,408.55.[101] Among the states, Pennsylvania’s total per pupil revenue (including all sources) ranked 11th at $15,023 per student, in 2008-09.[102] In 2007, the Pennsylvania per pupil total expenditures was $12,759.[103]

The district administrative costs in 2008 were $830.02 per pupil. This ranked 159th among Pennsylvania's 500 school public school districts. The lowest administrative cost per pupil in Pennsylvania was $398 per pupil.[104] 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.[105] Superintendents and administrators receive a benefit package commensurate with that offered to the district's teachers' union.

Reserves In 2008, the district reported a balance of zero in an unreserved-designated fund. The unreserved-undesignated fund balance was reported as $1,456,293.00.[106] In 2010, Big Beaver Falls Area Administration reported an increase to $1,923,248.00 in the unreserved-undesignated fund while the unreserved-designated fund had a balance of zero. Pennsylvania 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.[107]

In January 2012, the Pennsylvania Auditor General conducted a performance audit of the district. The findings were reported to the school board and administration.[108]

The district is funded by a combination of: a local earned income tax, a property tax, 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. 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 income level.

State basic education funding[edit]

In 2011-12, the district received a $9,888,315 allocation, of state Basic Education Funding.[109][110] Additionally, the School District received $158,506 in Accountability Block Grant funding. The enacted Pennsylvania state Education budget included $5,354,629,000 for the 2011-2012 Basic Education Funding appropriation. This amount is a $233,290,000 increase (4.6%) over the enacted State appropriation for 2010-2011.[111] The highest increase in state basic education funding was awarded to Duquesne City School District, which got a 49% increase in state funding for 2011-12.[112] In 2010, the Big Beaver Falls Area School District reported that 1,165 of its students received free or reduced-price lunches, due to the family meeting the federal poverty level.[113]

In the 2010-2011 budget year, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a 2.50% increase in Basic Education Funding for a total of $10,6868,722. Among the districts in Beaver County, the highest increase went to Midland Area School District which got a 7.57% 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.[114] The state's hold harmless policy regarding state basic education funding continued where a district received at least the same amount as the year before, even where 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 districts at a far greater rate than others.

In the 2009-2010 budget year, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a 5.26% increase in Basic Education Funding for a total of $10,408,438 to Big Beaver Falls Area School District. Among the districts in Beaver County, the highest increase went to Big Beaver Falls Area, while seven county district were allotted the base 2% increase. The state Basic Education Funding to the district in 2008-09 was $9,888,315.04. Ninety PA public school districts received a base 2% increase. Muhlenberg School District in Berks County received a 22.31% increase in state basic education funding in 2009.[115] The amount of increase each school district receives was set by Governor Edward G. Rendell and the Secretary of Education Gerald Zahorchak, as a part of the state budget proposal.[116] According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 1,130 district students received free or reduced-price lunches due to low family income in the 2007–2008 school year.[117]

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 $430,226 in addition to all other state and federal funding. The district uses the funding to provide full-day kindergarten and to reform the high school curriculum.[118][119]

PreK Counts grant[edit]

Big Beaver Falls Area School District receives state funding to provide a preschool at the elementary school. For the 2011 school year, Pre-K Counts was funded at the 2010 levels of $83.6 million statewide in Governor Tom Corbett's proposed budget,. The state also supplements the federal Head Start preschool program with an additional $37.6 million. Pre-K Counts funding was initiated during the Rendell administration. In 2007-08 the state funded Pre-K Counts at $75 million. Big Beaver Falls Area School District received funding in 2007-08.[120] In 2009-10 Big Beaver Falls Area School district received $134,300 to provide preschool to 19 children.[121][122]

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. The Big Beaver Falls Area School District received $154,153 in 2006-07. In 2007-08 the district received an additional $250,000. The district did not apply for funding in 2008-09.[123] In Beaver County the highest award was given to Freedom Area School District at $476,723. The highest funding statewide was awarded to the Philadelphia City School District in Philadelphia County - $9,409,073. In 2010, Classrooms for the Future program funding was curtailed statewide due to a massive state financial crisis.

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 Big Beaver Falls Area School District received $115,566.[124]

Education Alliance grant[edit]

Big Beaver Elementary received an Educational Alliance Grant to improve student performance in mathematics and science. The $500 grant, presented by Tri-State Petroleum and Exxon Mobil through the Exxon Mobil Educational Alliance Program, was used for incentive and motivational activities in math and science. The grant funds facilitated science and invention projects that were displayed at Portfolio Night in the spring and provided incentives for the school's “Battles of Facts” in science and math.

Literacy grant[edit]

Big Beaver Falls Area School District was not awarded a competitive literacy grant. The funding is for improving reading skills birth through 12th grade. The grant required the district to develop a lengthy literacy plan, which included outreach into the community. The funds come from a Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy grant, also referred to as the Keystones to Opportunity grant It is a five-year, competitive federal grant program designed to assist local education agencies in developing and implementing local comprehensive literacy plans. Of the 329 pre-applications by school districts reviewed by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, only 148 entities were invited to submit a full application. In Beaver County a single school district (Aliquippa School District) was awarded this grant funding.[125] The funds must be used for teacher training, student screening and assessment, targeted interventions for students reading below grade level and research-based methods of improving classroom instruction and practice. Pennsylvania was among six other states, out of the 35 that applied, to be awarded funding. Pennsylvania received $38 million through the federal program. The Department of Education reserved 5% of the grant for administration costs at the state level.

School Improvement Grant[edit]

In the summer of 2011, the district applied for and was awarded over $3 million in School Improvement grants.[126] The school district receives $1 million a year for 3 years. 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 Beaver Falls High 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.[127] The district hired Mary Beth Leeman as Chief Turnaround Officer. Two other administrators will be hired using the grant funding.[128]

Federal Stimulus grant[edit]

The district received $1,875,019 in ARRA - Federal Stimulus money to be used in specific programs like special education and meeting the academic needs of low-income students.[129] > The funding was limited to the 2009-10 and 2010-2011 school years.[130] 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]

School district officials did not apply for the Race to the Top federal grant which would have brought the district over one million dollars in additional federal dollars for improving student academic achievement.[131] 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.[132] Pennsylvania was not approved in the first round of the grant. The failure of districts to agree to participate was cited as one reason that Pennsylvania was not approved. A second round of state RTTT application judging will occur in June 2010.[133]

Real estate taxes[edit]

Property tax rates in 2011-12 were set by the Big Beaver Falls Area School Board at 62.0000 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.[134] 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 government property. 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 # Act 511 tax collections, which are around 15% of revenues for school districts.[135] When a public school district includes municipalities in two counties, each of which has different rates of property tax assessment, a state board of equalization adjusts the tax rates between the counties.[136] In 2010, miscalculations by the board were widespread in the Commonwealth and adversely impacted funding for many school districts.[137]
  • 2010-11 - 61.0000 mills[138]
  • 2009-10 - 61.0000 mills.[139]
  • 2008-09 - 61.0000 mills.[140]
  • 2007-08 - 59.0000 mills.[141]
  • 2006-07 - 59.0000 mills.[142]

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 was 1.4 percent. 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.[143] In June 2011, the Pennsylvania General Assembly eliminated six of the ten exceptions to the Act 1 Index.[144] The following 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.[145][146]

The School District Adjusted Index for the Big Beaver Falls Area School District 2006-2007 through 2011-2012.[147]

  • 2006-07 - 5.8%, Base 3.9%
  • 2007-08 - 5.1%, Base 3.4%
  • 2008-09 - 6.6%, Base 4.4%
  • 2009-10 - 6.2%, Base 4.1%
  • 2010-11 - 4.4%, Base 2.9%
  • 2011-12 - 2.1%, Base 1.4%
  • 2012-13 - 2.6%, Base 1.7%[148]

For the 2012-13 budget year, Big Beaver Falls 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 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.[149]

For the 2011-12 school year, the Big Beaver Falls Area School Board did not apply for an exception to exceed the Act 1 Index. Each year, the 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 annually, by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.[150]

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.[151]

Property tax relief[edit]

In 2010, the Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief from gambling for the Big Beaver Falls Area School District was $352 per approved permanent primary residence. In the district, 2,823 property owners applied for the tax relief.[152] The relief was subtracted from the total annual school property tax bill. Property owners must 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. In Beaver County, only 64% of eligible property owners applied for property tax relief in 2009.[153] In Beaver County, the highest amount of school property tax relief in 2010, went to property owners in Aliquippa School District. 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.[154] 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.[155]

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%).[156]

Wellness policy[edit]

Big Beaver Falls Area School Board established a district wellness policy in Fall 2005.[157] 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 District's Wellness Policy, established a Wellness Committee to coordinate its implementation, and set forth guidelines. The policy was in response to state mandates and federal legislation (P.L. 108 – 265). The law dictates that each school district participating in a program authorized by the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act (42 U.S.C. 1751 et seq) or the Child Nutrition Act of 1966 (42 U.S.C. 1771 et seq) "shall establish a local school wellness policy by School Year 2006."

The legislation placed the responsibility of developing a wellness policy at the local level so the individual needs of each district can be addressed. According to the requirements for the Local Wellness Policy, school districts must set goals for nutrition education, physical activity, campus food provision, and other school-based activities designed to promote student wellness. Additionally, districts were required to involve a broad group of individuals in policy development and to have a plan for measuring policy implementation. Districts were offered a choice of levels of implementation for limiting or prohibiting low nutrition foods on the school campus. In final implementation these regulations prohibit some foods and beverages on the school campus.[158] The Pennsylvania Department of Education required the district to submit a copy of the policy for approval.

Highmark Healthy High 5 grant[edit]

In 2011, each of the schools in Big Beaver Falls Area School District received funding through a Highmark Healthy High 5 grant. Big Beaver Area High School received $9,917 which was used to fund the Beaver Falls Mountain Bike Program. Big Beaver Elementary School received $9,999 which funded the "Big Beaver Fitness Tigers" program for all students in grades K-5. The Beaver Falls Middle School received $9,364 to fund the Tiger Pride Training Program. Finally, Central Elementary School received $9,995 to fund Central Cardio Kids exercise program.[159] 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.

Extracurriculars[edit]

The district offers a variety of clubs, activities and sports.

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.[160]

Athletics[edit]

The athletic director for the men's and women's programs is James Carbone. The main mascot for the district athletic teams is the Tiger and their colors are orange and black. Big Beaver Falls Area is a PIAA District 7 school, and most sports compete in the Class AA division level (with the exception of golf, which competes in the Class AAAA level).[161]

The Tigers compete in the following sports:

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External links[edit]