Blue Mountain School District

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Blue Mountain School District
Map of Schuylkill County Pennsylvania School Districts.png
Address
685 Red Dale Road, P.O. Box 188
Orwigsburg, Pennsylvania, Schuylkill County 17961-0188
United States
Information
Type Public
School board 9 elected members
Superintendent

Dr David H Helsel, salary $146,500 (2016)[1] (Contract January 12, 2016 - June 30, 2020)

former superintendent Dr. Robert Urzillo, salary $132,500 (2012), $136,475 (2013)[2]
Administrator

Mrs Angel A Green, Business Manager
Mrs Michelle A Diekow, former Business Manager
Musitano, Frank, salary $117,300
Witmer-Belding, Gwendolyn, salary $95,962
Rossi, Kenneth, salary $87,472

Ritschel, Jeffry, salary $87,270
Principal

Mark D Cesari, BMEES

Katherine A Hubiak, VP
Principal McGonigle, James, MS salary $97,469
Principal

Renninger, Heath, BMWES, BMECS, salary $84,240

Kristin N Frederick, ESVP
Principal

Mr Kevin Berger, HS

Mr Kenneth S Rossi, HSVP
Staff 192.66 non teaching staff
Faculty 204 teachers (2012)[3]
Grades K-12
Age 5 years old to 21 years old for special education
Pupils

2,648 pupils (2015)[4]
2,834 pupils (2013),[5]
2,877 pupils 2011
3,037 pupils (2009-10)[6]

2,979 pupils (2005-06)[7]
 • Kindergarten 190 (2014),[8] 222 (2010)
 • Grade 1 192 (2014), 227
 • Grade 2 189 (2014), 220
 • Grade 3 214 (2014), 232
 • Grade 4 199 (2014), 231
 • Grade 5 207 (2014), 213
 • Grade 6 232 (2014), 239
 • Grade 7 196 (2014), 227
 • Grade 8 233 (2014), 259
 • Grade 9 236 (2014), 247
 • Grade 10 165 (2014), 257
 • Grade 11 190 (2014), 230
 • Grade 12 206 (2014), 233 (2010)
Language English
Color(s) Blue and White
Mascot Eagles
Budget

$40,765,577 (2016-17)[9]
$37,534,107 (2013-14)
$36,700,193 (2012-13)

$39,174,309 (2010-11)[10]
Per pupil spending

$10,688 (2008) spending ranked 140th in state
$12,250.55 (2010)

$17,396.49 (2014-15) spending ranked 82nd in state
Website

The Blue Mountain School District is a midsized, rural public school district in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania. The District is one of the 500 public school districts of Pennsylvania. The District serves the Boroughs of Auburn, Cressona, Deer Lake, New Ringgold and Orwigsburg and Wayne Township, East Brunswick Township, North Manheim Township and West Brunswick Township in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania. Blue Mountain School District encompasses approximately 125 square miles (320 km2). According to 2000 federal census data, it served a resident population of 19,436. By 2010, the district's population was 20,463 people, making it a District of the Third Class.[11][12] The educational attainment levels for the Blue Mountain School District population (25 years old and over) were 88.6% high school graduates and 22.5% college graduates.[13] The District is one of the 500 public school districts of Pennsylvania.

According to the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, 24.1% of the District’s pupils lived at 185% or below the Federal Poverty Level [1] as shown by their eligibility for the federal free or reduced price school meal programs in 2012.[14] In 2009, the Blue Mountain School District residents’ per capita income was $21,212, while the median family income was $36,276.[15] In Schuylkill County, the median household income was $45,012.[16] In the Commonwealth, the median family income was $49,985[17] and the United States median family income was $49,445, in 2010.[18] By 2013, the median household income in the United States rose to $52,100.[19] In 2014, the median household income in the USA was $53,700.[20]

Blue Mountain School District officials reported that, in school year 2007-08, the Blue Mountain School District provided basic educational services to 2,983 pupils. It employed: 224 teachers, 148 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 24 administrators. According to District officials, in school year 2009-10 the Blue Mountain School District provided basic educational services to 2,877 pupils. It employed: 219 teachers, 136 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 26 administrators. Blue Mountain School District received more than $12.6 million in state funding in school year 2009-10.

Blue Mountain School District operates: Blue Mountain High School, Blue Mountain Middle School, Cressona Elementary School, Blue Mountain Elementary East School, Blue Mountain Elementary West School and Blue Mountain Virtual Academy (founded 2016). School colors are blue and white. Blue Mountain High school students may choose to attend Schuylkill Technology Centers for training in construction and mechanical trades as well as various other careers.. The Schuylkill Intermediate Unit IU29 provides the district with a wide variety of services like: specialized education for disabled students and hearing; speech and visual disability services; mandated training on recognizing and reporting child abuse; background checks for prospective employees and professional development for staff and faculty.

Governance[edit]

Blue Mountain School District is governed by 9 individual, locally elected, board members (serve four-year terms), the Pennsylvania State Board of Education, the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the Pennsylvania General Assembly.[21] 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, (renamed Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in December 2015) which mandates the district focus its resources on student success in acquiring reading and math skills.[22] The school board is required by state law to post a financial report on the district in its website by March of each school year.[23]

The Superintendent and Business Manager are appointed by the school board. The Superintendent is the chief administrative officer with overall responsibility for all aspects of operations, including education and finance. The Business Manager is responsible for budget and financial operations. Neither of these officials are voting members of the School Board. The School Board enters into individual employment contracts for these positions. These contracts must be in writing and are subject to public discloure under the state’s Right to Know Act. In Pennsylvania, public school districts are required to give 150 days notice to the Superintendent and Business Manager regarding renewal of their employment contracts.[24] Pursuant to Act 141 of 2012 which amended the Pennsylvania School Code, all school districts that have hired superintendents on/after the fall of 2012 are required to develop objective performance standards and post them on the district’s website.[25]

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.[26]

Academic achievement[edit]

In 2015, Blue Mountain School District ranked 175th out of 493 Pennsylvania public school districts, by the Pittsburgh Business Times.[27] The ranking is based on the last 3 years of student academic achievement as demonstrated by PSSAs results in: reading, writing, math and science and the three Keystone Exams (literature, Algebra 1, Biology I) in high school.[28] Three school districts were excluded because they do not operate high schools (Saint Clair Area School District, Midland Borough School District, Duquesne City School District). The PSSAs are given to all children in grades 3rd through 8th. Adapted PSSA examinations are given to children in the special education programs. Writing exams were given to children in 5th and 8th grades.[29]

  • 2014 - 151st[30]
  • 2013 - 115th[31]
  • 2012 - 133rd[32]
  • 2010 - 137th[33]
  • 2009 - 140th
  • 2008 - 104th
  • 2007 - 90th of 500 school districts in Pennsylvania.[34]
Overachievers Ranking

In 2013, the Pittsburgh Business Times reported an Overachievers Ranking for 498 Pennsylvania school districts. Blue Mountain School District ranked 347th. The paper 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."[35]

  • 2012 - 376th
  • 2010 - 364th
  • 2009 - 369th

In 2009, the academic achievement, of the students in the Blue Mountain School District, was in the 67th percentile among all 500 Pennsylvania school districts Scale (0-99; 100 is state best).[36]

District AYP history[edit]

In 2006 through 2012, Blue Mountain School District achieved Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) status.[37] 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.[38]

  • 2005 - Making Progress in School Improvement 1
  • 2004 - School Improvement 1
  • 2003 - Warning status due to lagging student achievement.[39]

Graduation rate[edit]

In 2015, Blue Mountain School District’s graduation rate was 90.17%.[40]

  • 2014 - 90.68%
  • 2013 - 90%.[41]
  • 2012 - 94%.[42]
  • 2011 - 90%.[43]
  • 2010 - 90% the Pennsylvania Department of Education issued a new, 4-year cohort graduation rate.[44]
According to traditional graduation rate calculations

High school[edit]

Blue Mountain High School is located at 1076 West Market Street, Schuylkill Haven. In 2015, enrollment was reported as 795 pupils in 9th through 12th grades, with 22% of pupils eligible for a free lunch due to the family meeting the federal federal poverty level. Additionally, 20.7% of pupils received special education services, while 5.9% of pupils were identified as gifted.[48] The school employed 58 teachers.[49] Per the PA Department of Education, 100% of the teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.[50]

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, the school reported an enrollment of 978 pupils in grades 9th through 12th, with 164 pupils eligible for a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to the family meeting the federal poverty level. The school employed 70 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 13:1.[51] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 1 teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[52]

2015 School Performance Profile

Blue Mountain High School achieved 82.1 out of 100. Reflects on grade level reading, mathematics and science achievement. The PDE reported that 84% of the High School’s students were on grade level in reading/literature. In Algebra 1, 77% of students showed on grade level skills at the end of the course. In Biology I, just 64% demonstrated on grade level science understanding at the end of the course.[53] Statewide, 53 percent of schools with an eleventh grade achieved an academic score of 70 or better. Five percent of the 2,033 schools with 11th grade were scored at 90 and above; 20 percent were scored between 80 and 89; 28 percent between 70 and 79; 25 percent between 60 and 69 and 22 percent below 60. The Keystone Exam results showed: 73 percent of students statewide scored at grade-level in English, 64 percent in Algebra I and 59 percent in biology.[54][55]

2014 School Performance Profile

Blue Mountain High School achieved 86.8 out of 100. Reflects on grade level reading, mathematics and science achievement. In reading/literature, 88.48% of pupils were on grade level. In Algebra 1, 81% showed on grade level skills. In Biology, just 65% demonstrated on grade level science understanding at the end of the course.[56][57] Statewide, the percentage of high school students who scored proficient and advanced in Algebra I increased to 39.7% to 40.1%. The percentage of high school students who scored proficient and advanced in reading/literature declined to 52.5%. The percentage of high school students who scored proficient and advanced in biology improved from 39.7% to 41.4%.[58]

2013 School Performance Profile

Blue Mountain High School achieved 82.1 out of 100. Reflects on grade level reading, mathematics and science achievement. In reading/literature -84% were on grade level. In Algebra 1, 72% showed on grade level skills. In Biology, 37.8% showed on grade level science understanding.[59] According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 2,181 public schools (less than 73 percent of Pennsylvania public schools), achieved an academic score of 70 or higher. Pennsylvania 11th grade students no longer take the PSSAs. Instead, they now take the Keystone Exams at the end of the associated course.

AYP History

In 2012, Blue Mountain High School achieved Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) status.[60] In 2011, Blue Mountain High School declined to Warning AYP status.[61] From 2003 to 2010, Blue Mountain High School achieved AYP status each school year.[62]

PSSA Results

Pennsylvania System of School Assessments, commonly called PSSAs are No Child Left Behind Act related examinations which were administered from 2003 through 2012, in all Pennsylvania public high schools. The exams were administered in the Spring of each school year. The goal was for 100% of students to be on grade level or better in reading and mathematics, by the Spring of 2014. The tests focused on the state's Academic Standards for reading, writing, mathematics and science. The Science exam included content in science, technology, ecology and the environmental studies. The mathematics exam included: algebra I, algebra II, geometry and trigonometry. The standards were first published in 1998 and are mandated by the Pennsylvania State Board of Education.[63]

In 2013, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania changed its high school assessments to the Keystone Exams in Algebra 1, Reading/literature and Biology1. The exams are given at the end of the applicable course, rather than all in the spring of the student's 11th grade year.[64] The state announced the change in 2010 and made it in order to comply with Governor Edward G. Rendell's agreement to change to the national Common Core standards.[65]

11th Grade Reading
  • 2012 - 81% on grade level (7% below basic). State - 67% of 11th graders are on grade level.[66]
  • 2011 - 72% (15% below basic). State - 69.1% [67]
  • 2010 - 76%, State - 67%[68]
  • 2009 - 74%, State - 65% [69]
  • 2008 - 68%, State - 65%[70]
  • 2007 - 74%, State - 65%[71]
11th Grade Math
  • 2012 - 67% on grade level (15% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 59% of 11th graders are on grade level.[72]
  • 2011 - 59% (24% below basic). State - 60.3%[73]
  • 2010 - 64%, State - 59%[74]
  • 2009 - 55%, State - 56%[75]
  • 2008 - 57%, State - 55%[76]
  • 2007 - 61%, State - 53%[77]
11th Grade Science
  • 2012 - 64% on grade level (5% below basic). State - 42% of 11th graders were on grade level.[78]
  • 2011 - 49% (14% below basic). State - 40%[79]
  • 2010 - 46%, State - 39%
  • 2009 - 50%, State - 40%[80]
  • 2008 - 48%, State - 39%[81]
  • 2007 - students field tested. Results withheld from the public by PDE.

Science in Motion Blue Mountain High School took advantage of a state program called Science in Motion which brought college professors and sophisticated science equipment to the school to raise science awareness and to provide inquiry-based experiences for the students. The Science in Motion program was funded by a state appropriation and cost the school nothing to participate.[82] Wilkes University provides the experiences to schools in the region.

College remediation[edit]

According to a Pennsylvania Department of Education study released in January 2009, 22% of Blue Mountain 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.[83] 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.[84] 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 Blue Mountain 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.[85] Under the Pennsylvania Transfer and Articulation Agreement, many Pennsylvania colleges and universities accept these credits for students who transfer to their institutions.[86]

For the 2009-10 funding year, Blue Mountain School District received a state grant of $25,373 for the program.[87] In 2010, Governor Edward Rendell eliminated the grants to students, from the Commonwealth, due to a state budget crisis.

Graduation requirements[edit]

Among Pennsylvania's 500 public school districts, graduation requirements widely vary. The School Board has determined that a pupil must earn 22 credits for the Class of 2015 (and beyond) to graduate, including: math 3 credits, English 4 credits, social studies 4 credits, science 3 credits, Physical Education 2 credits, Arts and Humanities 1.5 credits and electives 3.5 credits.[88]

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.[89] At Blue Mountain High School, the project requires a typed research paper that crosses at least three different standards areas, and be a minimum of ten pages.[90] 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.[91]

By Pennsylvania School Board regulations, beginning with the class of 2019,[92] public school students must demonstrate successful completion of secondary level course work in Algebra I, Biology, and English Literature by passing the Commonwealth's Keystone Exams.[93] The exams are given at the end of each course. Keystone Exams replace the PSSAs for 11th grade.[94] Students have several opportunities to pass the exam, with those who do not able to perform a project in order to graduate.[95][96] Students identified as having special needs and qualifying for an Individual Educational Program (IEP) may graduate by meeting the requirements of their Individual Education Plan (IEP).

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.[97] 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.[98] Individual student, school or district reports were not made public, although they were reported to district officials by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

SAT scores[edit]

In 2014, 154 Blue Mountain School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 504. The Math average score was 511. The Writing average score was 491.[99][100] Statewide in Pennsylvania, Verbal Average Score was 497. The Math average score was 504. The Writing average score was 480. The College Board also reported that nationwide scores were: 497 in reading, 513 in math and 487 in writing.[101] In 2014, 1,672,395 students took the SATs in the United States.

In 2013, 163 Blue Mountain School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 510. The Math average score was 513. The Writing average score was 496. The College Board reported that statewide scores were: 494 in reading, 504 in math and 482 in writing. The nationwide SAT results were the same as in 2012.[102]

In 2012, 156 Blue Mountain School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 507. The Math average score was 516. The Writing average score was 497. 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, 165 Blue Mountain School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 500. The Math average score was 506. The Writing average score was 474.[103] Pennsylvania ranked 40th among states with SAT scores: Verbal - 493, Math - 501, Writing - 479.[104] 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.[105]

The Pennsylvania Department of Education which compared the SAT data of students in rural areas of Pennsylvania to students in urban areas. From 2003 to 2005, the average total SAT score for students in rural Pennsylvania was 992, while urban students averaged 1,006. During the same period, 28 percent of 11th and 12th graders in rural school districts took the exam, compared to 32 percent of urban students in the same grades. The average math and verbal scores were 495 and 497, respectively, for rural students, while urban test-takers averaged 499 and 507, respectively. Pennsylvania’s SAT composite score ranked low on the national scale in 2004. The composite SAT score of 1,003 left Pennsylvania ranking 44 out of the 50 states and Washington, DC.[106]

AP Courses[edit]

In 2013, Blue Mountain High School offered 9 Advanced Placement (AP) courses at a higher cost than regular courses. Students have the option of taking College Board approved courses and then taking the College Board's examination in the Spring. Students, who achieve a 3 or better on the exam, may be awarded college credits at US universities and colleges. Each higher education institution sets its own standards about what level of credits are awarded to a student based on their AP exam score. Most higher education give credits for scores of 4 or 5. Some schools also give credits for scores of 3. High schools give credits towards graduation to students who take the school's AP class. At Blue Mountain High School 17% of students who took an AP course at the school earned a 3 or better on the exam.[107]

In 2015, Blue Mountain offered 19 AP courses with just 29% of pupils earning a 3 or better on the AP exam given by the College Board.[108]

Middle school[edit]

Blue Mountain Middle School is located at 685 Red Dale Road, Orwigsburg. In 2015, enrollment was 660 pupils, in grades 6th through 8th, with 24.8% of pupils eligible for a free lunch due to family poverty. Additionally, 20.7% of pupils received special education services, while 3% of pupils were identified as gifted.[109] According to a 2014 report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[110]

In 2013, Blue Mountain Middle School reported an enrollment of 668 pupils, with 27.5% coming from a low income home.[111] According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2011, the school reported an enrollment of 630 pupils in grades 6th through 8th, with 123 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school is not a federally designated Title I school. Blue Mountain Middle School employed 45 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 13:1.[112] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 1 teacher was rated "Non‐Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[113] In 2010, the attendance rate at the school was 95%. In 2011 and 2012, the attendance rate was 94%.

2015 School Performance Profile

The PDE withheld SPP scores. It was reported that 64% of 8th grade students at Blue Mountain Middle School students were on grade level in reading on the PSSAs given in April 2015. In math/Algebra 1, 24% of 8th grade students showed on grade level skills. In science, 67% of the school’s 8th graders demonstrated on grade level science understanding. No eighth grade writing scores were reported. In 7th grade, 73% were on grade level in reading, while 27% showed on grade level math skills. Among 6th graders, 69% were on grade level in reading and 28% were on grade level in mathematics.[114] Statewide 58% of eighth (8th) graders were on grade level in reading, while 29% demonstrated on grade level math skills. Pennsylvania 7th graders were 58% on grade level in reading and 33% demonstrated on grade level math skills. Among sixth (6th) graders, 60.7% were reading on grade level, while 39.7% demonstrated on grade level math skills. Statewide 61.9% of fifth (5th) graders were on grade level in reading, while 42.8% demonstrated on grade level math skills.[115]

2014 School Performance Profile

Blue Mountain Middle School achieved 82.7 out of 100. Reflects on grade level reading, mathematics and science achievement. In reading/literature, 79% were on grade level. In Algebra 1/Math, 70.5% showed on grade level mathematics skills. In Science, 77% of 8th graders showed on grade level science understanding. In writing, 86% of the 8th grade students demonstrated on grade level writing skills.[116]

2013 School Performance Profile

Blue Mountain Middle School achieved 80.1 out of 100. Reflects on grade level reading, writing, mathematics and science achievement. In reading, 74% of the students were on grade level. In Mathematics, 75.8% of the students showed on grade level skills. In Science, 80% of the 8th graders demonstrated on grade level understanding. In writing, 79.7% of the 8th grade students were on grade level.[117]

AYP History

In 2009 through 2012, Blue Mountain Middle School achieved Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) status each school year.[118] In both 2007 and 2008, Blue Mountain Middle School declined to Warning status due to lagging student academic achievement.[119] From 2003 to 2007, Blue Mountain Middle School achieved Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) status each school year.

PSSA results

Sixth and seventh grades have been tested in the spring of each school year, in reading and mathematics since 2006. Eighth graders are tested in: reading, writing, mathematics and science. Beginning in the Spring of 2013, eighth graders, who are enrolled in Algebra I take the Keystone Exam for Algebra I at the end of the course. The testing of 8th grade in reading and mathematics began in 1999, as a state initiative.[120] Testing in science began in 2007. The goal is for 100% of students to be on grade level or better in reading and mathematics, by the Spring of 2014. The tests focus on the state's Academic Standards for reading, writing, mathematics and science.[121] The standards were published in 1998 and are mandated by the Pennsylvania State Board of Education.[122] In 2014, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania adopted the Pennsylvania Core Standards - Mathematics.[123]

8th Grade Reading
  • 2012 - 87% on grade level 64% advanced (3% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 79% of 8th graders on grade level.[124]
  • 2011 - 95%, 69% advanced. State - 81.8%[125]
  • 2010 - 88%, State - 81%
  • 2009 - 85%, State - 80.9% [126]
  • 2008 - 86%, State - 78%[127]
  • 2007 - 78%, State - 75%[128]
8th Grade Math
  • 2012 - 79% on grade level (6% below basic). State - 76% [129]
  • 2011 - 84% (4% below basic). State - 76.9% [130]
  • 2010 - 73%, State - 75%
  • 2009 - 73%, State - 71% [131]
  • 2008 - 69%, State - 70%[132]
  • 2007 - 80%, State - 67%
8th Grade Science
  • 2012 - 79% on grade level (8% below basic). State - 59%
  • 2011 - 85% (3% below basic). State – 58.3%
  • 2010 - 69%, State - 57% [133]
  • 2009 - 73%, State - 55%[134]
  • 2008 - 70%, State - 52% [135]
Dropout Early Warning System

In 2013, Blue Mountain School District did not implement a no cost dropout prevention Early Warning System and Interventions Catalog at the junior high school.[136] The process identifies students at risk for dropping out by examining the pupil’s: attendance, behavior and course grades. Interventions are implemented to assist at-risk pupils to remain in school. The program is funded by federal and private dollars.[137]

Cressona Elementary School[edit]

Cressona Elementary School is located at 45 Wilder Street, Cressona. In 2015, the School's enrollment was 164 pupils in grades 4th and 5th, with 28.6% of pupils receiving a federal free or reduced price meals due to family poverty. Additionally, 21% of the pupils receive special education services, while 0.6% are identified as gifted.[138] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of the teachers were rated highly qualified under No Child Left Behind.[139] The school is not a federally designated Title I school.

In 2013, Cressona Elementary School reported an enrollment of 170 pupils, with 27.65% coming from low income homes.[140] According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2012, the school reported an enrollment of 170 pupils in 4th grade and 5th grade.[141] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[142] In 2011-12, Cressona Elementary School was reorganized from Kindergarten to 5th grade to provide just 4th and 5th grades.

2015 School Performance Profile

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 63% of 5th grade students at Cressona Elementary School were on grade level in reading on the PSSAs given in April 2015. In mathematics, 52% of 5th grade students showed on grade level skills. No fifth grade writing scores were reported. In 4th grade, 80% were on grade level in reading, while just 55% showed on grade level math skills. In science, 88% of fourth graders showed on grade level understanding.[143] Statewide 61.9% of fifth (5th) graders were on grade level in reading, while 42.8% demonstrated on grade level math skills. Pennsylvania 4th graders were 58.6% on grade level in reading and 44.4% demonstrated on grade level math skills. In science, 77.3% of fourth graders showed on grade level understanding.[144]

2014 School Performance Profile

Cressona Elementary School achieved a score of out of 100. The score reflects on grade level: reading, science, writing and mathematics achievement. In 2013-14, only 72% of the students were reading on grade level (grades 4th and 5th). In math, 91% were on grade level (4th-5th grades). In 4th grade science, 91% of the pupils demonstrated on grade level understanding. In writing, 84% of 5th grade pupils demonstrated on grade level skills.[145]

2013 School Performance Profile

Cressona Elementary School achieved a score of 87.7 out of 100. The score reflects on grade level: reading, science, writing and mathematics achievement. In 2012-13, 78% of the students were reading on grade level in grades. In math, 92% were on grade level. In 4th grade science, just 98.7% of the pupils demonstrated on grade level understanding. In writing, 83% of 5th grade pupils demonstrated on grade level writing skills.[146]

AYP HIstory

From 2003 through 2012, Cressona Elementary School achieved Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) status each school year.[147]

In 2012, only 80% of the students were reading on grade level in grades 4th and 5th. In math, 94% of the students in 4th and 5th grades were on grade level and 58% scored advanced. In 4th grade science, 99% of the pupils were on grade level, with 60% achieving advanced understanding.[148]

Blue Mountain Elementary East School[edit]

Blue Mountain Elementary East School is located at 675 Red Dale Road, Orwigsburg. In 2015, the School's enrollment was 682 pupils in grades kindergarten through 5th, with 26.8% of pupils receiving a federal free or reduced price meals due to family poverty. Additionally, 15.8% of the pupils receive special education services, while 2.9% are identified as gifted.[149] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of the teachers were rated highly qualified under No Child Left Behind. The school provides full day kindergarten.[150] The school is a federally designated Title I school.

In 2013, the school reported an enrollment of 686 pupils, with 25.8% of pupils from low income homes.[151] The school is a federally designated Title I school. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2011, the school reported an enrollment of 720 pupils in grades kindergarten through 5th, with 145 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school was a federally designated Title I school. The school employed 49 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 14:1.[152] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[153]

2015 School Performance Profile

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 51% of 5th grade students at Blue Mountain Elementary East School were on grade level in reading on the PSSAs given in April 2015. In mathematics, 66% of 5th grade students showed on grade level skills. No fifth grade writing scores were reported. In 4th grade, just 41% were on grade level in reading, while just 35% showed on grade level math skills. In science, 76% of fourth graders showed on grade level understanding. Among third (3rd) graders, 48% were on grade level in reading and 46% were on grade level in mathematics.[154] Statewide 61.9% of fifth (5th) graders were on grade level in reading, while 42.8% demonstrated on grade level math skills. Pennsylvania 4th graders were 58.6% on grade level in reading and 44.4% demonstrated on grade level math skills. In science, 77.3% of fourth graders showed on grade level understanding. Among Pennsylvania third (3rd) graders, 62% were reading on grade level, while 48.5% demonstrated on grade level math skills.[155]

2014 School Performance Profile

Blue Mountain Elementary East School achieved a score of 88 out of 100. The score reflects on grade level: reading, science, writing and mathematics achievement. In 2013-14, only 26% of the students were reading on grade level in grades 3rd through 5th. In 3rd grade, 73% of the pupils were reading on grade level. In math, 78% were on grade level (3rd-5th grades). In 4th grade science, just 92% of the pupils demonstrated on grade level understanding. In writing, 83% of 5th grade pupils demonstrated on grade level skills.[156]

2013 School Performance Profile

Blue Mountain Elementary School East achieved a score of 89 out of 100. The score reflects on grade level: reading, science, writing and mathematics achievement. In 2012-13, only 71% of the students were reading on grade level in grades 3rd through 5th. In 3rd grade, just 79% of the pupils were reading on grade level. In math, 82% were on grade level (3rd-5th grades). In 4th grade science, 88% of the pupils demonstrated on grade level understanding. In writing, 81% of 5th grade pupils at Blue Mountain Elementary East School demonstrated on grade level skills.[157]

AYP History

In 2012, Blue Mountain Elementary East School declined to Warning Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) status, due to lagging reading achievement. In 2011, Blue Mountain Elementary East School achieved AYP status.[158] Blue Mountain Elementary East School was also in Warning AYP status in 2010 and 2008 due to low academic achievement.

In 2012, only 74% of the students were reading on grade level in grades 3rd through 5th, with 13% below basic. In math, 83% of the students in 3rd through 5th grades were on grade level and 47% scored advanced. In 4th grade science, 96% of the pupils were on grade level, with 63% achieving advanced.[159]

In 2011, 87% of the 3rd grade students were reading on grade level, with 8% below basic. In math, 89% of the students in 3rd grades were on grade level and 38% scored advanced. In 4th grade science, 88% of the pupils were on grade level, with 50% achieving advanced.[160]

Blue Mountain Elementary West School[edit]

Blue Mountain Elementary West School is located at 1383 Long Run Road, Friedensburg. In 2015, the School's enrollment was 345 pupils in grades kindergarten through 3rd, with 31% of pupils receiving a federal free or reduced price meals due to family poverty. Additionally, 15.9% of the pupils receive special education services, while 0.5% are identified as gifted.[161] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of the teachers were rated highly qualified under No Child Left Behind. The school provides full day kindergarten.[162] The school is a federally designated Title I school.

In 2013, Blue Mountain Elementary West School reported an enrollment of 372 pupils, with 30% coming from low income homes.[163] According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2012, the school reported an enrollment of 362 pupils in grades kindergarten through 3rd, with 70 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty.[164] 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.[165] Principal - Heath W. Renninger, Assistant Principal - Andrea J. Renninger. Blue Mountain Elementary West School was reorgainzed in 2011-12 from K-5 to providing Kindergarten to 3rd grades. The school provides full day kindergarten.

2015 School Performance Profile

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 86% of 3rd grade students at Blue Mountain Elementary West School were on grade level in reading on the PSSAs given in April 2015. In mathematics, 59% of 3rd grade students showed on grade level skills.[166] Among Pennsylvania third (3rd) graders, 62% were reading on grade level, while 48.5% demonstrated on grade level math skills.[167]

2014 School Performance Profile

Blue Mountain Elementary West School achieved a score of 83.2 out of 100. The score reflects on grade level: reading and mathematics achievement. In 2013-14, only 74% of the students were reading on grade level in 3rd grade. In math, 81% were on grade level (3rd grades), with 80% showing advanced achievement.[168]

2013 School Performance Profile

Blue Mountain Elementary School West achieved a score of 88.2 out of 100. The score reflects on grade level: reading and mathematics achievement. In 2012-13, the 3rd grade had 83.5% of the pupils reading on grade level. In math, 91% of 3rd graders were on grade level, with 47.25% showing advanced math skills.[169]

AYP History

In 2012, Blue Mountain Elementary West School achieved AYP status.[170]

In 2012, 89% of the students were reading on grade level in 3rd grade. In math, 100% of the students in 3rd grade were on grade level and 72% scored advanced.[171]

Wellness policy[edit]

Blue Mountain School Board established a district wellness policy in 2006 - Policy 246.[172] 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. According to the policy, the Superintendent shall annually report to the Board on the district’s compliance with law and policies related to student wellness. 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, 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.[173] The Pennsylvania Department of Education required the district to submit a copy of the policy for approval.

Blue Mountain School District offers both 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.[174] The meals are partially funded with federal dollars through the United States Department of Agriculture.[175]

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.[176] In order to comply with the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 all US public school districts are required to raise the price of their school lunches to $2.60 regardless of the actual cost of providing the lunch.[177] The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 mandates that Districts raise their full pay lunch prices every year until the price of non-subsidized lunches equals the amount the federal government reimburses schools for free meals. That subsidy in 2013-2014 was $2.93. In 2015, federal reimbursement rates were: $3.07 per meal for students who are income-eligible for free lunches and $2.67 for those who qualify for a reduced price. School lunch participation nationally dropped from 31.6 million students in 2012 to 30.4 million in 2014, according to the federal Department of Agriculture. Pennsylvania statistics show school lunch participation dropped by 86,950 students in the same two years, from 1,127,444 in 2012 to 1,040,494 in 2014.[178]

In 2014, President Barack Obama ordered a prohibition of advertisements for unhealthy foods on public school campuses during the school day.[179][180] The US Department of Agriculture requires that students take milk as their beverage at lunch. In accordance with this law, any student requesting water in place of milk with their lunch must present a written request, signed by a doctor, documenting the need for water instead of milk.[181][182]

Blue Mountain 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.[183][184] Nurses also monitor each child's weight.[185]

In 2016, the Pennsylvania Department of Health distributed to each Pennsylvania high school the overdose antidote drug naloxone in a nasal spray. School nurses were also provided with educational materials and training developed by the National Association of School Nurses.[186] The cost was covered by a grant from a private foundation.[187]

The District participated in Highmark Healthy High 5 Health eTools for Schools which enabled mobile data collection of health and physical fitness screening data on students K-12 in a database held by InnerLink, Inc. in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Health eTools for Schools also provided interdisciplinary research-based curriculum in nutrition, physical education and physical activity to participating districts. The program was discontinued in 2013.[188]

Special education[edit]

In December 2015, the District administration reported that 496 pupils or 18.9% of the district's pupils received Special Education services, with 56.7% of the identified students having a specific learning disability.[189]

In December 2012, Blue Mountain School District administration reported that 528 pupils or 18.2% of the District's pupils received Special Education services, with 56% of identified students having a specific learning disability. In December 2009, the district administration reported that 484 pupils or 16.1% of the district's pupils received Special Education services.[190]

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 Supervisor of Special Education.[191]

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.[192] 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.[193] 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.[194] In 2012, the Obama Administration's US Department of Education issued a directive that schools include students with disabilities in extracurricular activities, including sports.[195]

Blue Mountain School District received a $1,460,241 supplement for special education services in 2010.[196] 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.[197][198] Additionally, the state provides supplemental funding for extraordinarily impacted students. The District must apply for this added funding.

Gifted education[edit]

The District Administration reported that 127 or 4.33% of its students were gifted in 2009.[199] 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 through a push in model with the gifted instructor in the classroom with the regular instructor. This approach permits such specialized instructional strategies as tiered assignments, curriculum compacting, flexible grouping, learning stations, independent projects and independent contracts. Students identified as gifted attending the High School have access to honors and advanced placement courses, and dual enrollment with local colleges. The referral process for a gifted evaluation can be initiated by teachers or parents by contacting the student’s building principal and requesting an evaluation. All requests must be made in writing. To be eligible for mentally gifted programs in Pennsylvania, a student must have a cognitive ability of at least 130 as measured on a standardized ability test by a certified school psychologist. Other factors that indicate giftedness will also be considered for eligibility.[200]

Bullying policy[edit]

The Blue Mountain School District administration reported there were no incidents of bullying in the district in 2012. There were 2 cases of sexual harassment.[201] The District administration reported there were 2 incidents of bullying in the district in 2009.[202][203] The credibility of these reports is unfortunately less than plausible, with most students witnessing this many incidents daily.

The Blue Mountain School Board has provided the district's antibully policy online.[204] 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.[205] 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.[206]

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.[207]

Budget[edit]

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.[208]

In 2013, the average teacher salary in Blue Mountain School District was $56, 567 a year.[209] The District employed 300 teachers with a top salary of $136,475.[210][211] Pennsylvania teacher salaries (2013–14) are searchable in a statewide database provided by TribLive News.[212] Blue Mountain School District teacher and administrator retirement benefits are equal to at least 2.00% x Final Average Salary x Total Credited Service. (Some teachers benefits utilize a 2.50% benefit factor.)[213] After 40 years of service, Pennsylvania public school teachers and administrators can retire with 100% of the average salary of their final 3 years of employment. 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. 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.[214] In 2014-15, the state mandated District contribution to the teacher pension fund rose to 21.40% of employee salaries and in 2015-16 it rose again to 25.84% of total District salaries.[215]

In 2011, the average teacher salary in Blue Mountain School District was $52,475 a year, while the cost of the benefits teachers received was $18,923 per employee, for a total annual average teacher compensation of $71,398.[216] The Blue Mountain School District employed 241 teachers and administrators with a top salary of $132,500.

In 2009, Blue Mountain School District employed 250 teachers and administrators with an average teacher salary of $55,759. The top salary was $143,065. The contract has a 188-day year with 180 student days. Teachers work 7.5 hours a day, with a duty-free lunch and daily preparation period. Additionally, the District's teachers receive a defined benefit pension, health insurance, life insurance, professional development reimbursement, 2 paid emergency leave days, 3 paid personal days, 10 paid sick days which accumulate, 5 paid bereavement days, and many other benefits. Teachers receive additional payment for work beyond the classroom and the regular work day.[217] According to Rep. Glen Grell, a trustee of the state teacher retirement fund, a 40-year educator can retire with a pension equal to 100 percent of their final salary.[218] Lead teachers receive additional cash compensation each year.

In 2007, Blue Mountain School District employed 200 teachers. The average teacher salary in the district was $50,799 for 180 days worked.[219] 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.[220]

Administrative spending

Blue Mountain School District administrative costs was $690.85 per pupil in 2008. The lowest administrative cost per pupil in Pennsylvania was $398 per pupil.[221] In August 2010, Blue Mountain School Board awarded a 5-year contract to Robert Urzillo with an initial salary of $132,500 a year plus an extensive benefits package including state pension. He became superintendent in February 2011.[222]

Per pupil spending In 2008, Blue Mountain School District reported spending $10,688 per pupil. This ranked 423rd among the 500 school districts in the commonwealth.[223] In 2010, the District’s per pupil spending had increased to $12,250.55.[224] In 2011, Pennsylvania’s per pupil spending was $13,467, ranking 6th in the United States.[225] In 2007, the Pennsylvania per pupil total expenditures was reported as $12,759.[226] The U.S. Census Bureau reported that Pennsylvania spent $8,191 per pupil in school year 2000-01.[227]

Among the fifty states, Pennsylvania’s total per pupil revenue (including all sources) ranked 11th at $15,023 per student, in 2008-09.[228] Pennsylvania’s total revenue per pupil rose to $16,186 ranking 9th in the nation in 2011.[229]

Reserves In 2008, Blue Mountain School District reported a $2,128,458.00 in an unreserved-undesignated fund balance. The designated fund balance was reported as zero.[230] In 2012, the District's reserves were $3,346,548. By 2013, the District reported reserves of $3,346,548.[231] In 2014-15, Blue Mountain School District reported having $7,376,160 in reserves.[232] 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.[233] By 2013, reserves held by Pennsylvania public school districts, as a whole, had increased to over $3.8 billion.[234]

Audits In January 2013, the Pennsylvania Auditor General's office conducted a performance audit of the districts. Serious findings were reported to the School Board and Administration. It reported that in reviewing BMSD administrative employment contracts, Act 93, collective bargaining agreements and payroll records found wages for employees have been improperly reported as eligible retirement wages to Pennsylvania School Employees’ Retirement System for the 2008-09, 2009–10, 2010–11 and 2011-12 school years. This significantly raised pension payments for the individuals involved and increased the local district taxpayers liability for those pensions.[235] In August 2009, the Pennsylvania Auditor General conducted a performance audit of the district. Findings were reported to the administration and school board.[236]

Tuition Students who live in the Blue Mountain School 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 Blue Mountain 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 Blue Mountain School District's schools. The 2012 tuition rates are Elementary School - $8,263.33, High School - $8,508.62.[237]

Blue Mountain School District is funded by a combination of: a local earned income tax - 1%, an Occupation Assessment - $230, a property tax, a real estate transfer tax - 1%, a Occupational Privilege Tax - $10,00,[238] a Business Privilege tax coupled with substantial funding from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the federal government.[239] 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.[240] The average Pennsylvania public school teacher pension in 2011 exceeded $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.[241] Effective 2016, active duty military are also exempted from paying the local earned income taxes in Pennsylvania.[242][243]

State basic education funding[edit]

According to a report from Representative Todd Stephens office, Blue Mountain School District receives 29.5% of its annual District revenue from the state.[244]

In December 2014, the Pennsylvania Education Funding Reform Commission conducted a hearing.[245] The commission developed a new basic education funding formula which sets a new way to distribute state basic education dollars. It abolished the practice of "hold harmless" funding, which gave districts at least the same as they got the previous school year regardless of declining enrollment. The plan became law in June 2016 (House Bill 1552).[246][247][248]

For the 2016-17 school year, Blue Mountain School District received $8,045,938 in Basic Education Funding (BEF) from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. This is a 2.3% increase over 2015-16 funding to the District. The highest percentage of BEF increase in Schuylkill County was 4.8% awarded to Shenandoah Valley School District under the state’s Basic Education Funding formula. For the 2016-17 school year, Pennsylvania increased its public education spending to a record high of $5,895 billion. It was a $200 million increase, 3.51% increase over the 2015-16 appropriation.[249] The state also funded Ready to Learn grants at $250 million and Special Education funding received a $20 million increase.[250] The state also paid $492 million to the school employee social security fund and another $2.064 billion to the teacher’s pension fund.[251]

'For the 2015-16 school year', Governor Tom Wolf released a partial Basic Education Funding of $3,812,714 to Blue Mountain School District, in January 2016.[252] This was part of $10.3 billion in school funding withheld from the public schools, by the Governor since the summer of 2015.[253] The dispersement did not follow the new Basic Education Fair Funding formula which had been established by the Pennsylvania General Assembly in June 2015.[254] Ten (10) Pennsylvania school districts received no increase in Basic Eductaion funding under Governor Wolf.[255][256]

In compliance with a legislative mandate that was passed with veto proof majorities in the PA House and Senate,[257] the final BEF funding was determined for 2015-16, in April 2016. Blue Mountain School District received $7,868,587 in Basic Education Funds for the 2015-16 school year. This was a 1.75% increase yielding a $135,372 increase over the previous school year funding. The District also received an increase to $354,683 in Ready to Learn funding from the state.[258]

For the 2014-15 school year, Blue Mountain School District received $$7,733,215 in state Basic Education Funding grant. The District also received $271,209 in new Ready To Learn Block grant. The State’s enacted Education Budget included $5,526,129,000 for the 2014-2015 Basic Education Funding.[259] The Education budget also included Accountability Block Grant funding at $100 million and $241 million in new Ready to Learn funding for public schools that focus on student achievement and academic success. The State paid $500.8 million to Social Security on the school employees behalf and another $1.16 billion to the state teachers pension system (PSERS). In total, Pennsylvania’s Education budget for K-12 public schools is $10 billion. This was a $305 million increase over 2013-2014 state spending and the greatest amount ever allotted by the Commonwealth for its public schools.[260]

For the 2013-14 school year, the Blue Mountain School District received a 2.2% increase or $7,737,636 in Pennsylvania Basic Education Funding. This is $166,408 more than its 2012-13 state BEF to the District. Additionally, Blue Mountain School District received another $117,620 in Accountability Block Grant funding to focus on academic achievement and level funding for special education services. Among the public school districts in Schuylkill County, Saint Clair Area School District and Blue Mountain both 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.[261] 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.[262]

For the 2012-13 school year, the Blue Mountain School District received $7,571,313.30.[263] 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. Blue Mountain School District received $117,620 in ABG 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.[264] 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 the 2011-12 budget cycle, Blue Mountain School District received a $7,574,238 allocation, of state Basic Education Funding.[265][266] Additionally, the Blue Mountain School District received $117,620 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 was a $233,290,000 increase (4.6%) over the enacted State appropriation for 2010-2011.[267] The highest increase in state basic education funding was awarded to Duquesne City School District of Allegheny County, which got a 49% increase in state funding for 2011-12.[268] In 2010, the district reported that 882 students received free or reduced-price lunches, due to the family meeting the federal poverty level.[269]

For the 2010-11 budget, Blue Mountain School District received a 5.70% increase in state Basic Education Funding resulting in a $8,350,890 payment.[270] The highest increase in BEF in Schuylkill County went to Minersville Area School District which received 9.96%. Kennett Consolidated School District in Chester County received the highest increase in the state at 23.65% increase in funding for the 2010-11 school year. One hundred and fifty school districts received the base 2% increase in state basic education 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.[271]

In the 2009-10 budget year, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a 6.65% increase in Basic Education funding for a total of $7,900,615 to the Blue Mountain School District. The District also received supplemental funding for English language learners, Title 1 federal funding for low-income students, for district size, a poverty supplement from the commonwealth and more.[272] Shenandoah Valley School District received the highest increase in Schuylkill County getting a 14.50% increase in basic education funding, for the 2009-10 school year. Among the 500 school districts in Pennsylvania, Muhlenberg School District in Berks County received the highest with a 22.31% increase in funding.[273] 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.[274] According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Pennsylvania spent $7,824 Per Pupil in the year 2000. This amount increased up to $12,085 by the year 2008.[275][276]

The state Basic Education funding to the district in 2008-09 was $7,407,775.44. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 481 students received free or reduced-price lunches due to low family income in the 2007-2008 school year.[277]

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 Blue Mountain School District applied for and received $319,251 in addition to all other state and federal funding. The district used the funding to provide full-day kindergarten for the seventh year.[278][279]

Ready to Learn grant[edit]

Beginning in the 2014-2015 budget, the State funded a new Ready to Learn Grant (RTL) for public schools. A total of $100 million is allocated through a formula to districts based on the number of students, level of poverty of community as calculated by its market value/personal income aid ratio (MV/PI AR) and the number of English language learners. Ready to Learn Block Grant funds may be used by the Districts for: school safety; Ready by 3 early childhood intervention programs; individualized learning programs; and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs.[280] Blue Mountain School District received $271,209 in Ready to Learn Grant dollars in addition to State Basic Education funding, Special Education funding, transportation reimbursement, reimbursement for Social Security payments for employees and other state grants which the district must apply to receive. Blue Mountain School District's RTL funding increased for 2016-17.

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. Blue Mountain School District did not apply for funding in 2006-07 nor 2007-08. For the 2008-09, school year the district received $148,630 in state funding.[281] Among the public school districts in Schuylkill County, the highest award was given to North Schuylkill School District which received $245,673. 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. Of the 501 public school districts in Pennsylvania, 447 of them received Classrooms for the Future grant awards, while 50 never applied for funding. The grant program was discontinued by Governor Edward Rendell as part of the 2009-10 state budget.

Environmental Education Grant[edit]

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 2012, Blue Mountain School District was awarded $3,000.

Other grants[edit]

Blue Mountain School District did not participate in: PA Science Its Elementary grants (discontinued effective with 2009-10 budget by Governor Rendell),[282] Education Assistance Grants, 2012 Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy grant;[283] 2012 and 2013 Pennsylvania Hybrid Learning Grants;[284] Project 720 High School Reform grants[285] (discontinued effective with 2011-12 budget); nor the federal 21st Century Learning grants.

Federal grants[edit]

Blue Mountain School District received an extra $1,645,505 in ARRA - Federal Stimulus money to be used in specific programs like special education and meeting the academic needs of low-income students.[286] The funding was limited to the 2009-10 and 2010-11 school years.[287] 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]

Blue Mountain 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.[288] 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.[289] 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.[290]

Title II grants[edit]

The Federal government provides annual grants to schools to be used to improve the quality of teacher instructions to pupils. The goal is to provide each child in public schools with “High Quality” teachers and principals as defined by the state.[291] The funds are sent to the state Department of Education which distributes them to each school district and charter school.[292] Beginning in 2002, the federal funding committed to Title II was $3,175,000,000.

Public school district administrations must apply to the state annually for the Title II funds. In 2012-13, Blue Mountain School District received $95,882 in federal Title II funding.[293] In 2014-15, Blue Mountain School District applied for and received $91,216.[294]

English language learners grant[edit]

The Federal government provides annual grants to schools to assist in educating immigrant children and children who are identified as limited English proficient.[295] Upon registering for school a language survey is done for all new enrollment pupils, typically in kindergarten or preschool. They identify the primary language spoken at home. This data is collected and submitted to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, which in turn notifies the federal government.[296]

In 2012-13, Blue Mountain School District received $2,987 in Title III funding for English language learners.[297] For 2014-15, Area School District received $1,711 in Title III funding.[298]

Common Cents state initiative[edit]

The Blue Mountain School Board did 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.[299] After the review of the information, the district was not required to implement the recommended cost savings changes.

Real estate taxes[edit]

Blue Mountain School Board set property tax rates in 2016-17 at 37.254 mills.[300] 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 (Local Tax Enabling Act), which are around 15% of revenues for school districts.[301] 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.[302] 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.[303]

The average yearly property tax paid by Schuylkill County residents amounts to about 2.84% of their yearly income. Schuylkill County ranked 700th out of the 3143 United States counties for property taxes as a percentage of median income.[314] 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.[315] 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%).[316]

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 authorized 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.[317] In June 2011, the Pennsylvania General Assembly passed legislation eliminating six of the exceptions to the Act 1 Index.[318] 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.[319][320] 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 Blue Mountain School District 2006-2007 through 2010-2011.[321]

For the 2016-17 budget year, Blue Mountain School Board did not apply for any exceptions to exceed the District's Act 1 Index limit.[331] Statewide 299 school districts adopted a resolution to not exceed their Act I index in 2016-17.

For the 2015-16 budget year, Blue Mountain School Board did not apply for any exceptions to exceed their Act 1 Index limit. For the school budget 2015-16, 310 Pennsylvania public school districts adopted a resolution certifying that tax rates would not be increased above its Act 1 Index limit. Another 187 school districts adopted a preliminary budget leaving open the option of exceeding the Index limit. Regarding the pension costs exception, 172 school districts received approval to exceed the Index limit in full, while others received a partial approval of their request. For special education costs, 119 districts received approval to exceed their tax limit. No Pennsylvania public school districts received an approval for the grandfathered construction debts exception.[332]

For the 2014-15 budget year, Blue Mountain School Board applied for two exceptions to exceed their Act 1 Index limit: increasing special education costs and escalating teacher pension costs. In 2014-15, all Pennsylvania school districts were required to make a 21.4% of payroll payment to the teacher’s pension fund (PSERS).[333] For the school budget 2014-15, 316 Pennsylvania public school districts adopted a resolution certifying that tax rates would not be increased above its Act 1 Index limit. Another 181 school districts adopted a preliminary budget leaving open the option of exceeding the Index limit. Districts may apply for multiple exceptions each year. For the pension costs exception, 163 school districts received approval to exceed the Index in full, while others received a partial approval of their request. For special education costs, 104 districts received approval to exceed their tax limit. Seven Pennsylvania public school districts received an approval for the grandfathered construction debts exception.[334]

For the 2013-14 budget year, Blue Mountain 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.[335]

For the 2012-13 budget year, Blue Mountain School Board applied for two exceptions to exceed the Act 1 Index: teacher pensions and special education costs. For 2012-2013, 274 school districts adopted a resolution certifying that tax rates would not be increased above their index; 223 school districts adopted a preliminary budget leaving open the option of exceeded the Index limit. For the exception for pension costs, 194 school districts received approval to exceed the Index. For special education costs, 129 districts received approval to exceed the tax limit.[336]

For the 2011-12 school year, Blue Mountain School Board applied for an exception to exceed the Act 1 Index due to its escalating teacher pension costs. Each year, the Blue Mountain School Board has the option of adopting either: 1) a resolution in January certifying they will not increase taxes above their index or 2) a preliminary budget in February. A school district adopting the resolution may not apply for referendum exceptions or ask voters for a tax increase above the inflation index.

According to a state report, for the 2011-12 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.[337]

The Blue Mountain School Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed the Act 1 index for the budgets in 2010-11.[338] 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.[339]

Property tax relief[edit]

In 2011, the Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief from gambling for the Blue Mountain School District was $124 per approved permanent primary residence. In the district, 6,176 property owners applied for the tax relief.[340] In 2009, the Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief from gambling for the Blue Mountain School District was $126 per approved permanent primary residence. In the district, 6,056 property owners applied for the tax relief.[341] In Schuylkill County, the highest amount went to Schuylkill Haven Area School District set at $195. The tax relief was subtracted from the total annual school property tax bill. Property owners apply for the relief through the county Treasurer's office. Farmers can qualify for a farmstead exemption on building used for agricultural purposes. The farm must be at least 10 contiguous acres (40,000 m2) and must be the primary residence of the owner. Farmers can qualify for both the homestead exemption and the farmstead exemption.[342] Pennsylvania awarded the highest property tax relief to residents of the Chester-Upland School District in Delaware County at $632 per homestead and farmstead in 2010.[343] This was the second 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 individuals who have income substantially greater 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.[344]

Extracurriculars[edit]

Blue Mountain School District offers a variety, activities and interscholastic sports. Eligibility for participation is determined by the school board.[345][346][347]

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.[348]

Sports[edit]

The District funds:

Middle School Sports

According to PIAA directory July 2013 [349]

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