Canon-McMillan School District

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Canon-McMillan School District
Map of Washington County Pennsylvania School Districts.png
One North Jefferson Avenue
Canonsburg, Pennsylvania 15317
United States
Type Public
Motto Commitment To Excellence
Established 1954
Superintendent Michael Dainels
Grades K-12
Enrollment 5168
 • Kindergarten 355
 • Grade 1 397
 • Grade 2 358
 • Grade 3 359
 • Grade 4 346
 • Grade 5 373
 • Grade 6 363
 • Grade 7 390
 • Grade 8 317
 • Grade 9 402
 • Grade 10 335
 • Grade 11 389
 • Grade 12 361
Color(s) Blue and Gold
Fight song Victory March
Athletics conference WPIAL, PIAA
Mascot Scottish Highlander
Nickname Big Macs
Newspaper CM Times
Yearbook Elmanac

The Canon-McMillan School District is a public school district covering the Borough of Canonsburg and Cecil Township and North Strabane Township in Washington County, Pennsylvania. The district operates one High School (9th-12th), one Middle School (7th-8th), two Intermediate Schools (5th-6th) and seven Elementary Schools (K-4th).

District information[edit]

The Canon-McMillan School District is the largest school district in Washington County in terms of enrollment, and is in division AAAAAA WPIAL for most of its athletic programs. The district's mascot is the "Big Mac", similar to another common mascot called a Highlander which is typically displayed as a soldier of a Scottish regiment. Canon-McMillan’s school colors are blue and gold, while the alternate colors are white and black. Notable persons have attended district schools such as New York Giants' superstar running back Doug Kotar, local singer Bobby Shawn and U.S Soccer goalkeeper Archie Strimel. Athletically, Canon Mac has been known as a wrestling powerhouse for decades. Most recently, the school has also been known as as WPIAL and PA state powers in boys and girls soccer. Their Varsity Girls Soccer team won the PIAA AAAA State Championship in 2016 and was State runner- up in 2014. Boys soccer won WPIAL championships in 2012 and 2015. Their Varsity softball team won the PIAA State Championship in 2013, and WPIAL Championship in 2012 & 2013. Their Varsity baseball team won the PIAA State Championship in 2008 and their varsity hockey team won the Penguins Cup in 2010 and 2015. The school's wrestling team has won WPIAL titles in 1983, 1985, 1991, 1993, 1995, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013. In 2012, the wrestling team took home their 1st PIAA State Championship Title in the school's history before winning the state championship again in 2013. In 1992, 2011 and 2012 the team won the State Individual Tournament by collecting the most points.


Canon-McMillan was founded on September 15, 1954 in a merger between the Canonsburg, Cecil Township, and North Strabane Township schools. Canon-Mcmillan was formally known as Canonsburg High school and Cecil High School when the name was changed. The district is named after John Canon and John McMillan.


  • Canon-McMillan High School
  • Canonsburg Middle School
  • North Strabane Intermediate School
  • Cecil Intermediate School
  • Borland Manor Elementary School
  • Cecil Elementary School
  • First Street Elementary School
  • Hills-Hendersonville Elementary School
  • Muse Elementary School
  • South Central Elementary School
  • Wylandville Elementary School


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.[1] 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.[2]

Academic achievement[edit]

In 2011, the Canon-McMillan School District ranked 99th of 498 Pennsylvania school district. The ranking was based on five years of student academic performance on the PSSAs for math, reading, writing and three years of science.[3]

  • 2010 - 100th
  • 2009 - 94th [4]
  • 2008 - 120th
  • 2007 - 161st [5]

Graduation rate[edit]

In 2011, the Canon-McMillan School District's graduation rate was 96%.[6] In 2010, the Pennsylvania Department of Education issued a new, 4-year cohort graduation rate. Canon-McMillan School District's rate was 93% for 2010.[7]

High school[edit]

Canon-McMillan High School ranked 53rd for academic achievement of the 11th graders in 2011.[12] The enrollment was 1,490 pupils in 2010.[13]

  • 56th out of 105 western Pennsylvania high schools.[14]
  • 45th out of 123 western Pennsylvania high schools, by the Pittsburgh Business Times in 2009, for academic achievement as reflected by three years of 11th grade results on: math, reading, writing and one year of science PSSAs.[15]
11th Grade Reading:
  • 2011 - 81% on grade level, (6% below basic). State - 69.1% of 11th graders are on grade level.[16]
  • 2010 - 75%, (10% below basic). State - 66% [17]
  • 2009 - 65.6%, State - 65%[18]
  • 2008 - 67% (15% below basic), State - 65%[19]
  • 2007 - 73% (12% below basic). State - 65%[20]
11th Grade Math:
  • 2011 - 65%, on grade level (14% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 60.3% of 11th graders are on grade level.[21]
  • 2010 - 61%, (19% below basic). State - 59% [22]
  • 2009 - 43.6%, State - 56%.[23]
  • 2008 - 58% (20% below basic). State - 56% [24]
  • 2007 - 53% (22% below basic). State - 53% [25]
11th Grade Science:
  • 2011 - 49% on grade level (10% below basic). State - 40% of 11th graders were on grade level. .[26]
  • 2010 - 49%, (9% below basic). State - 39%
  • 2009 - 47%, State - 40%[27]
  • 2008 - 46%, State - 39%

College remediation: According to a Pennsylvania Department of Education study released in January 2009, 28% of the Canon-McMillan Senior High School graduates required remediation in mathematics and or reading before they were prepared to take college level courses in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education or community colleges.[28] 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.[29] 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.

Graduation requirements[edit]

Canon-McMillan School Board requires that students earn 26 credits to graduate, including: 4 credits English, 4 credits math, including algebra and geometry, 4 credits social studies and 3 credits in science.[30] 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.[31]

By Pennsylvania State School Board regulations, beginning with the graduating class in 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 must count for at least one-third of the final course grade.[32]

Dual enrollment[edit]

The high school does not offer 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. For several years, the state offered a small grant to assist students in costs for tuition, fees and books.[33] Under the Pennsylvania Transfer and Articulation Agreement, many Pennsylvania colleges and universities accept these credits for students who transfer to their institutions.[34]

Middle school[edit]

In 2009, the 8th grade was ranked 37th out of 141 western Pennsylvania middle schools based on three years of student academic achievement in PSSAs in: reading, math writing and one year of science.[35] (Includes schools in: Allegheny County, Beaver County, Butler County, Fayette County, Westmoreland County, and Washington County In 2008, the school's eighth grade ranked 65th. In 2011, the school was awarded the Pennsylvania Schools to Watch award and re-designated in 2014.[36]

Special education[edit]

In December 2009, the district administration reported that 665 pupils or 13.6% of the district's pupils received Special Education services.[37]

In order to comply with state and federal laws, the school district engages in identification procedures to ensure that eligible students receive an appropriate educational program consisting of special education and related services, individualized to meet student needs. At no cost to the parents, these services are provided in compliance with state and federal law; and are reasonably calculated to yield meaningful educational benefit and student progress.[38] To identify students who may be eligible for special education, various screening activities are conducted on an ongoing basis. These screening activities include: review of group-based data (cumulative records, enrollment records, health records, report cards, ability and achievement test scores); hearing, vision, motor, and speech/language screening; and review by the Special Education administration. When screening results suggest that the student may be eligible, the District seeks parental consent to conduct a multidisciplinary evaluation. Parents who suspect their child is eligible may verbally request a multidisciplinary evaluation from a professional employee of the District or contact the Special Education Department.[39]

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.[40]

Canon-McMillan School District received a $1,914,116 supplement for special education services in 2010.[41]

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. 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.[42]

Gifted education[edit]

The District Administration reported that 256 or 5.54% of its students were gifted in 2010.[43] 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 to request an evaluation. All requests for evaluation must be made in writing. The district has 60 calendar days to complete the student's gifted evaluation. 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 are also considered for eligibility.[44]


In 2007, the district employed 288 teachers. The average teacher salary in the district was $51,581 for 181 instructional days and 190 days worked.[45]

Canon-McMillan School District administrative costs per pupil in 2008 was $735.84 per pupil. The administrative spending ranks 270th out of 500 school districts in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The lowest administrative cost per pupil in Pennsylvania was $398 per pupil.[46] In August 2011, the School Board granted a one-year medical sabbatical to Superintendent Helen McCracken, who receive one half her salary and medical coverage while on leave. Additionally, she will continue to accrue benefits towards her state pension.[47]

In 2008, the district administration reported spending $11,162 per pupil which ranked 382nd among Pennsylvania's 501 school districts.[48]

In 2010, the district employed 452 teachers. The average teacher salary in the district was $49,951 for 187 days worked. The beginning salary was $37,000, while the highest salary was $140,000.[49] Teachers work a 7-hour 30 minutes day, with one planning period and a paid 30 minute lunch included. Hours worked may not exceed 37.5 per week. Additionally, the teachers receive: a defined benefit pension, health insurance ($15 per month co pay (individual coverage)), dental insurance, life insurance, professional development reimbursement, 2 paid personal days, 10 paid sick days which accumulate, paid days of bereavement leave and many other benefits. The district offers an extensive retirement/longevity package.[50] The Board and teachers' union agreed to a new on a contract for 2009-2012.[51] According to Rep. Glen Grell, a trustee of the Pennsylvania Public School Employees’ Retirement System Board of Trustees, a 40-year educator can retire with a pension equal to 100 percent of their final salary.[52][53]

In April 2011, the Pennsylvania Auditor General conducted a performance audit of the district. The findings were reported to the administration and the school board by state audit officials.[54]

Reserves In 2008, the district reported a $1,738,440 in an unreserved-undesignated fund balance. The designated fund balance was reported as zero.[55]

The district is funded by a combination of: a local 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 individual's level of wealth.[56]

State basic education funding[edit]

In 2011-12, the Canon-McMillan School District will receive $10,565,041 in state Basic Education Funding.[57] Additionally, the district will receive $186,189 in Accountability Block Grant funding.[58] The enacted Pennsylvania state Education budget includes $5,354,629,000 for the 2011-2012 Basic Education Funding appropriation. This amount is a $233,290,000 increase (4.6%) over the enacted State appropriation for 2010-2011. 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.[59] Districts experienced a reduction in funding due to the loss of federal stimulus funding, which ended in June 2011.

In 2010, the district reported that 1,022 pupils received a free or reduced-price lunch due to the family meeting the federal poverty level.

For the 2010-11 budget year, the Canon-McMillan School District was allotted a 6.79% increase in Basic Education Funding for a total of $11,642,089. The highest increase in Washington County was provided to Charleroi School District which received a 9.90% increase. One hundred fifty Pennsylvania school districts received the base 2% increase. The highest increase in 2010-11 went to Kennett Consolidated School District in Chester County which received a 23.65% increase in state funding.[60] The amount of increase each school district receives is set by the Governor and the Secretary of Education as a part of the state budget proposal given each February.[61]

In the 2009-2010 budget year the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a 5.07% increase in Basic Education funding for a total of $10,901,889. The state Basic Education funding to the Canon-McMillan School District in 2008-09 was $10,375,074.64. The highest increase in Washington County went to Burgettstown Area School District which received a 6.45% increase. Eleven Washington County school districts received a state basic education funding increase of less than 5% in 2009-10. Muhlenberg School District of Berks County received an increase of 22.31 percent. Sixteen school districts received an increase in funding of over 10 percent in 2009.[62]

In 2008, the administration reported that 1,034 students received a free or reduced-price lunch based on the federal poverty levels.

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, Canon-McMillan School District applied for and received $505,364, in addition to all other state and federal funding. The district used the funding to provide full-day kindergarten and to provide tutoring for struggling pupils.[63]

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. Canon-McMillan School District did not apply in 2006-07. In 2007-08, the district received $418,229. In 2008-09, the district received 75,562 for a total funding of $493,791.[64]

Federal Stimulus funding[edit]

The district received an extra $3,612,311 in ARRA - Federal Stimulus money to be used in specific programs like special education and meeting the academic needs of low-income students. The grant was for the 2009-10 and 2010-11 school years.[65]

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 up to million additional federal dollars for improving student academic achievement.[66] Participation required the administration, the school board and the local teachers' union to sign an agreement to prioritize improving student academic success.[67] In Pennsylvania, 120 public school districts and 56 charter schools agreed to participate.[68] 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.[69]

Common Cents state initiative[edit]

The Canon-McMillan School District School Board chose to 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.[70] After the review of the information, the district was not required to implement the recommended cost savings changes.

Real estate taxes[edit]

In 2011, the Canon-McMillan School Board set the property taxes rate at 105.4100 mills for the 2011-12 school year.[71] A mill is $1 of tax for every $1,000 of a property's assessed value. 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. 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. Additionally, service related, disabled US military veterans may seek an exemption from paying property taxes. Pennsylvania school district revenues are dominated by two main sources: 1) Property tax collections, which account for the vast majority (between 75-85%) of local revenues; and 2) Act 511 tax collections, which are around 15% of revenues for school districts.[72]

  • 2010-11 - 105.4100 mills [73]
  • 2009-10 - 101.8500 mills [74]
  • 2008-09 - 97.0000 mills [75]
  • 2007-08 - 94.5000 mills [76]

Act 1 Adjusted index[edit]

The Act 1 of 2006 Index regulates the rates at which each school district can raise property taxes in Pennsylvania. Districts are not allowed to raise taxes above that index unless they allow voters to vote by referendum, or they seek an exception from the state Department of Education. The base index for the 2011-2012 school year is 1.4 percent, but it 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, increasing rising health care 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.[77]

The School District Adjusted Index for the Canon-McMillan School District 2006-2007 through 2010-2011.[78]

  • 2006-07 - 4.7%, Base 3.9%
  • 2007-08 - 4.1%, Base 3.4%
  • 2008-09 - 5.3%, Base 4.4%
  • 2009-10 - 5.0%, Base 4.1%
  • 2010-11 - 3.5%, Base 2.9%
  • 2011-12 - 1.7%, Base 1.4% [79][80]
  • 2012-13 - 2.1%, Base - 1.7% [81]

For the 2011-12 school year, the Canon-McMillan School Board sought 2 exceptions: special education costs and pension costs.[82] For the district's 2010-11 budget year, the Canon-McMillan School Board did not seek exceptions to the Index limit.[83][84]

Each year, the school district 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 publisher each year by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.[85]

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.[86] The Board sought exceptions for pension costs and special educations costs for the 2010-11.[87] Shikellamy School Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed the Act 1 index for the budget, in 2009-10.[88]


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External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°14′59″N 80°11′37″W / 40.249746°N 80.193725°W / 40.249746; -80.193725