Clarion-Limestone Area School District

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Clarion-Limestone Area School District
Map of Clarion County Pennsylvania School Districts.png
Address
4091 C-L School Road
Strattanville, Pennsylvania, Clarion County, Jefferson County 16258
United States
Information
Type Public
Superintendent Mike Stimac ($98,000 2009)
Faculty 74.50 teachers (2011)
Grades K-12
Age 5 years old to 21 years old for special education
Pupils 964 (2011) [1]
 • Kindergarten 64
 • Grade 1 61
 • Grade 2 53
 • Grade 3 65
 • Grade 4 61
 • Grade 5 86
 • Grade 6 64
 • Grade 7 78
 • Grade 8 106
 • Grade 9 85
 • Grade 10 97
 • Grade 11 80
 • Grade 12 83
 • Other Enrollment projected to decline to 647 by 2019 [2]
Mascot Lions
Budget $14,965,686 (2012)
Per pupil Spending $10,722 (2008)
Per pupil Spending $12,359.51 (2010)
Website

The Clarion-Limestone Area School District is a small, rural, public school district which spans portions of two counties. In Clarion County, it serves the Borough of Strattanville and Clarion Township, Limestone Township and Millcreek Township. In Jefferson County it serves the Borough of Corsica and Union Township. The Clarion-Limestone Area School District encompasses approximately 117 square miles (300 km2). According to 2000 federal census data, it serves a resident population of 7,173. In 2009, the District residents' per capita income was $17,013, while median family income was $38,633 per year. Per school district officials, in school year 2007-08 the Clarion-Limestone Area School District provided basic educational services to 1,045 pupils; employing 86 teachers, 33 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 5 administrators. In 2010, Clarion-Limestone Area School District employed: 86 teachers, 33 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 5 administrators.

Clarion-Limestone Area School District operates two schools; Clarion-Limestone Jr/Sr High School (7th-12th) and Clarion-Limestone Elementary School (K-6th).

The Clarion-Limestone Area School District received the honorable mention for 2011 Building Community through Rural Education Award from the Penn State University Center on Rural Education and Communities (CREC) and the Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools.[3]

All these statistics are vital and conducive to progress in the educational system of America. However, Clarion-Limestone offers more than numbers and faculty with decorated resumes. The solid light brown bricks of the elementary and high school fail to keep quiet about the many memories which happen within their comforting classrooms. The lessons taught here are not only educational, and they are not bound to teacher student interactions. Custodians, administrators, guest visitors, coaches, librarians, receptionists, bus drivers and many other persons who interact with the students show great enthusiasm for their care, protection, and happiness. For generations, children who grew up here can gladly speak of how they were taught how to behave, how to react, how to share, how to resolve conflict, how to find joy, how to make mistakes yet recover, how to find love within a world which struggles to see the power of love. Clarion-Limestone is a school with character, with integrity, with passion, with tears, with laughter, with heroines and heroes.

Governance[edit]

Clarion-Limestone Area 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.[4] The district is divided into three regions. Three board members are elected from each region. Region 1 is Clarion Township. Region 2 is Limestone Township. Region 3 is Millcreek Township and Union Township. 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.[5]

Clarion-Limestone Area School District is part of the Riverview Intermediate Unit 6 region. The intermediate unit provides services to special education students. Occupational training is provided by the district and through the Clarion County Career Center.

Academic achievement[edit]

Clarion-Limestone Area School District was ranked 129th out of the 498 Pennsylvania school districts in 2012, by the Pittsburgh Business Times. The ranking was based on the last three years of student academic performance on the reading, writing, mathematics and science PSSAs.[6] The PSSAs are given to all children in grades 3rd through 8th and the 11th grade in high school. Adapted examinations are given to children in the special education programs.

  • 2011 - 186th [7]
  • 2010 - 213th [8]
  • 2009 - 183rd
  • 2008 - 168th
  • 2007 - 191st out of 501 school districts.[9]
District AYP status history

In 2003 through 2012, Clarion-Limestone Area School District achieved Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). In 2011, 94 percent of the 500 Pennsylvania public school districts achieved the No Child Left Behind Act progress level of 72% of students reading on grade level and 67% of students demonstrating on grade level math. In 2011, 46.9 percent of Pennsylvania school districts achieved Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) based on student performance. An additional 37.8 percent of 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.[10][11]

Graduation rate[edit]

In 2012, Clarion-Limestone Area School District’s graduation rate was 86%.[12] In 2011, the district's graduation rate was 83%. In 2010, the Pennsylvania Department of Education issued a new, 4-year cohort graduation rate. Clarion-Limestone Area High School's rate was 84% for 2010.[13]

Former AYP graduation rate:

High school[edit]

Clarion-Limestone Area Junior Senior High School is located at 4091 Cl School Road, Strattanville. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, the school reported an enrollment of 498 pupils in grades 7th through 12th, with 145 pupils eligible for a federal free or reduced-price lunch. The school employed 36 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 13:1.[17] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[18]

In 2011 and 2012, Clarion-Limestone Area Junior Senior High School achieved AYP status.

In 2012, Clarion-Limestone Area Junior Senior High School was recognized by US News and World Report as a Bronze level high school in a nationwide school ranking.[19] The study was conducted by American Institutes for Research which examined how many students attained performance levels that exceed statistical expectations given the school's relative level of student poverty, as measured by state accountability test scores for all the school's students in the core subjects of reading and math. The study also examined the success rate for the school's least advantaged student groups (e.g., black, Hispanic, and economically disadvantaged students) that exceed state averages. The study included 752 high schools in Pennsylvania, including traditional public schools, public charter schools and public magnet schools.[20] In Pennsylvania, 136 public high schools achieved a Bronze rating in 2012; 49 achieved a silver rating and 7 received a gold rating. The highest ranking went to Julia R. Masterman Laboratory and Demonstration School in the School District of Philadelphia in Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania.

PSSA Results;
11th Grade Reading
  • 2012 - 63% on grade level, (19% below basic). State - 67% of 11th graders are on grade level.[21]
  • 2011 - 70% (19% below basic). State - 69.1% [22]
  • 2010 - 72%, State - 65%[23]
  • 2009 - 76%, State - 65% [24]
  • 2008 - 71%, State - 65% [25]
  • 2007 - 71%, State - 65% [26]
11th Grade Math
  • 2012 - 63% on grade level (19% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 59% of 11th graders are on grade level.[27]
  • 2011 - 59% (20% below basic). State - 60.3% [28]
  • 2010 - 58%, State - 59%
  • 2009 - 50%, State - 56%
  • 2008 - 55%, State - 55%
  • 2007 - 61%, State - 53%
11th Grade Science
  • 2012 - 43% on grade level (15% below basic). State - 42% of 11th graders were on grade level.[29]
  • 2011 - 40% (16% below basic). State - 40% [30]
  • 2010 - 46% (9% below basic). State - 39% [31]
  • 2009 - 49%, State - 40%
  • 2008 - 41%, State - 39% [32]

College remediation[edit]

According to a Pennsylvania Department of Education study released in January 2009, 23% of Clarion-Limestone Area High School graduates required remediation in mathematics and or reading before they were prepared to take college level courses in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education or community colleges.[33] 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.[34] 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]

The school board has determined that in order to graduate from Clarion-Limestone School District a student must earn 24 credits, including: English 4 Credits, Mathematics 3 Credits, Science 3 Credits, Social Studies 3 Credits, Arts and/or Humanities 2 Credits, Health and Physical Education 1 Credit and Special Interest Elective 8 Credits.

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.[35]

Beginning with the class of 2016, students must take the Keystone Exams in literature, Algebra 1 and Geometry.[36]

Dual enrollment[edit]

Clarion-Limestone High School offers a dual enrollment program to seniors. They can participate in a dual enrollment program with Clarion University. High school students earn college credits at a deeply discounted rate for tuition, while remaining in high school. A grant from the state assists students with associated costs like textbooks and college fees. The students continue to have full access to activities and programs at their high school.[37] Under the Pennsylvania Transfer and Articulation Agreement, many Pennsylvania colleges and universities accept these credits for students who transfer to their institutions.[38] The Pennsylvania College Credit Transfer System reported in 2009, that students saved nearly $35.4 million by having their transferred credits count towards a degree under the new system.[39] Students, that reside in the district, who attend a private nonpublic school, charter school or are homeschooled are eligible to participate in this program.

For the 2009-10 funding year, the school district received a state grant of $10,090 for the program.[40]

SAT scores[edit]

In 2012, 54 Clarion-Limestone Area School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 504. The Math average score was 510. 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, 44 Clarion-Limestone Area School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 494. The Math average score was 499. The Writing average score was 480.[41] Pennsylvania ranked 40th among states with SAT scores: Verbal - 493, Math - 501, Writing - 479.[42] In the United States, 1.65 million students took the exam in 2011. They averaged 497 (out of 800) verbal, 514 math and 489 in writing.[43]

Eighth Grade[edit]

8th Grade Reading
  • 2012 - 94%, 69% advanced. State - 79% [44]
  • 2011 - 93%, 65% advanced. State - 81.8%
  • 2010 - 91%, 66% advanced. State - 81% (103 pupils enrolled)
  • 2009 - 76%, State - 80% (82 pupils enrolled)
8th Grade Math
  • 2012 - 92%, 55% advanced. State - 76%
  • 2011 - 89%, 61% advanced. State - 76.9%
  • 2010 - 82%, 52% advanced. State - 75%
  • 2009 - 68%, State - 71%
8th Grade Science
  • 2012 - 75% on grade level (6% below basic). State - 59%
  • 2011 - 66% (18% below basic). State – 58.3%
  • 2010 - 57% (19% below basic). State - 57%

Seventh Grade[edit]

7th Grade Reading
  • 2012 - 81% (4% below basic). State – 76%
  • 2011 - 82% (6% below basic). State – 76%
  • 2010 - 78% (12% below basic). State - 73% (75 pupils enrolled)
  • 2009 - 62%, State - 71%
7th Grade Math
  • 2012 - 88% on grade level 56% advanced. State - 80%
  • 2011 - 95%, 65% advanced. State - 78.6%
  • 2010 - 84%, 61% advanced. State - 77%
  • 2009 - 73%, State - 75%

Elementary school[edit]

Clarion-Limestone Elementary School is located at 4091 Cl School Road, Strattanville. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2011, the School reported an enrollment of 465 pupils in grades kindergarten through 6th, with 173 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. Clarion-Limestone Elementary School is a Title 1 school. The school employed 38 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 12:1.[45] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, teachers were rated "Non‐Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[46] In 2011 and 2012, Elementary School achieved AYP status.[47]

4th Grade Science
  • 2012 - 93%, 67% advanced. State - 82%
  • 2011 - 97%, 74% advanced. State - 82.9%
  • 2010 - 100%, 82.8% advanced. State - 81%

Special education[edit]

In December 2010, the District administration reported that 151 pupils or 15% of the district's pupils received Special Education services, with 33.8% of the identified students having a specific learning disability.[49] In December 2009, the District administration reported that 162 pupils or 15.6% of the district's pupils received Special Education services, with 37% of the identified students having a specific learning disability. Special education services in the Commonwealth are provided to students from ages three years to 21 years old. In the 2010-11 school year, the total student enrollment was more than 1.78 million students with approximately 275,000 students eligible for special education services. Among these students 18,959 were identified with mental retardation and 21,245 students with autism.[50] The largest group of stduents are identified as Specific Learning Disabilities 126,026 students (46.9 percent) and Speech or Language Impairments with 43,542 students (16.2 percent).

In order to comply with state and federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act rules and regulations, 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 .[51] To identify students who may be eligible for special education services, various screening activities are conducted on an ongoing basis. These screening activities include: review of group-based data (cumulative records, enrollment records, health records, report cards, ability and achievement test scores); hearing, vision, motor, and speech/language screening; and review by the Special Education administration. When screening results suggest that the student may be eligible, the 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 district's Special Education Department.[52][53]

In 2010, the state of Pennsylvania provided $1,026,815,000 for special education services. This funding is in addition to the state's basic education per pupil funding, as well as, all other state and federal funding.[54] The Special Education funding structure is through the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) funds and state appropriations. IDEA funds are appropriated to the state on an annual basis and distributed through intermediate units (IUs) to school districts, while state funds are distributed directly to the districts. Total funds that are received by school districts are calculated through a formula. The Pennsylvania Department of Education oversees four appropriations used to fund students with special needs: Special Education; Approved Private Schools; Pennsylvania Chartered Schools for the Deaf and Blind; and Early Intervention. The Pennsylvania Special Education funding system assumes that 16% of the district’s students receive special education services. It also assumes that each student’s needs accrue the same level of costs.[55] 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.[56] 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.[57]

Clarion-Limestone Area School District received a $613,798 supplement for special education services in 2010.[58] For the 2011-12 and 2012-13 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.[59][60]

Gifted education[edit]

The District Administration reported that 63 or 5.77% of its students were gifted in 2009. The highest percentage of gifted students reported among all 500 public school districts and 100 public charter schools in Pennsylvania was North Allegheny School District with 15.5% of its students identified as gifted.[61] By law, the district must provide mentally gifted programs at all grade levels. The referral process for a gifted evaluation can be initiated by teachers or parents by contacting the student’s building principal and requesting an evaluation. All requests must be made in writing. To be eligible for mentally gifted programs in Pennsylvania, a student must have a cognitive ability of at least 130 as measured on a standardized ability test by a certified school psychologist. Other factors that indicate giftedness will also be considered for eligibility.[62][63]

Enrollment[edit]

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, there are less than 1000 students enrolled in K-12. There were 80 students in the Class of 2009. The class of 2010 has 83 students. Enrollment in Clarion-Limestone School District is projected to continue to decline by another 150 students by 2015.[64] Clarion-Limestone Area School District employs 8 administrators, 89 teachers and 40 full and part-time staff members. Clarion-Limestone Area School District administrative costs per pupil was $744 per pupil in 2008. The lowest administrative cost per pupil in Pennsylvania was $398 per pupil.[65] With limited resources, opportunities for students at the high school are limited.

A study of small Pennsylvania school districts, by Standard and Poors, proposed that a consolidation of the administration with adjacent school districts would achieve substantial administrative cost savings. The study examined Clarion-Limestone consolidating with Brookville Area School District and found over $800,000 in savings would be achieved.[66] In 2009, Governor Rendell proposed that the excessive administrative overhead dollars saved through consolidation, be redirected to improve lagging academic achievement, to enrich the academic programs or to substantially reduce property taxes.[67] Consolidation of central administrations into one would not require the closing of any schools.[68] In September 2009, the Clarion-Limestone Area School Board rejected a proposal to consolidate with Clarion Area School District.[69] Local residents are urging the school board to consider consolidation with the Clarion Area School District. Clarion School District's enrollment was less than 800 pupils in 2010.[70]

Over the next 10 years, rural Pennsylvania school enrollment is projected to decrease 8 percent. The most significant enrollment decline is projected to be in western Pennsylvania, where rural school districts are expected to have a 16 percent decline. More than 40 percent of elementary schools and more than 60 percent of secondary schools in western Pennsylvania are projected to experience significant enrollment decreases (15 percent or greater).[71] As the enrollment declines, per pupil administrative costs of the schools will continue to rise. In March 2011, the Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants Fiscal Responsibility Task Force released a report which found that consolidating school district administrations with one neighboring district would save the Commonwealth $1.2 billion without forcing the consolidation of any schools.[72] The study noted that while the best school districts spent 4% of the annual budget on administration, others spend over 15% on administration.[73]

Pennsylvania has one of the highest numbers of public school districts in the nation at 500 in 2013. In Pennsylvania, 80% of the school districts serve student populations under 5,000, and 40% serve less than 2,000. This results in excessive school administration bureaucracy and not enough course diversity.[74] In a survey of 88 superintendents of small districts, 42% of the 49 respondents stated that they thought consolidation would save money without closing any schools.[75]

Budget[edit]

In 2011, the average teacher salary in Clarion-Limestone Area School District was $51,767 a year, while the cost of the benefits teachers receive was $19,097 per employee, for a total annual average teacher compensation of $70,864.[76]

In 2009, Clarion-Limestone Area School District reported employing 90 teachers and administrators with a median salary of $51,625 and a top salary of $96,000.[77] The teacher’s work day is 7.5 hours with a 30-minute duty-free lunch and a daily preparation period. There are 183 with days in the contract year. Additionally, the teachers receive a defined benefit pension, health insurance (teachers contribute $12 per pay), 100% professional development reimbursement, 2 paid personal days, 10 paid sick days, dental insurance, life insurance, 5 paid bereavement days, and other benefits.Part-time employees receive all the benefits a full-time employee receives.[78]

In 2007, Clarion-Limestone Area School District employed 83 teachers, the average teacher salary in the district was $47,514 for 180 days worked.[79] In 2009, Clarion-Limestone Area School District employed over 80 teachers with a salary range of $38,871 to $92,000.[80]

In 2008, Clarion-Limestone Area School District reported the per pupil spending at $10,722.[81] In 2010, Clarion-Limeston's per pupil spending had increased to $12,359.51 [82] Among the states, Pennsylvania’s total per pupil revenue (including all sources) ranked 11th at $15,023 per student, in 2008-09.[83] In 2007, the Pennsylvania per pupil total expenditures was $12,759.[84] The U.S. Census Bureau reports that Pennsylvania spent $8,191 per pupil in school year 2000-01.[85]

Clarion-Limestone Area School Board reported that in 2008 the District had $908,838 in reserves.[86] In 2010, Clarion-Limestone Area Administration reported an increase to $1,481,779.00 in the unreserved-undesignated fund balance and $958,500.00 in the unreserved-designated fund. 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.[87]

In February 2009, the Pennsylvania Auditor General conducted a performance audit of the Clarion-Limestone Area School District. The findings were reported to the school board and the administration. In 2012, the Pennsylvania Auditor General conducted another performance audit. It found that a review of minutes of meetings of the District’s board of directors from July 1, 2008 through June 30, 2011, showed a conflict of interest issue. Specifically, a board member had voted for transportation contracts for a company owned by his brother. He also voted for the monthly motion to pay the transportation bills to his brother’s company. The total paid under these contracts was $286,630.[88]

In the 2010-11 budget, the board reported funding as follows: Local sources - $4,291,231, State sources - $7,899,050, Federal sources - $953,251.[89]

Students who live in the District's attendance area may choose to attend one of Pennsylvania's 157 public charter schools. A student living in a neighboring public school district or a foreign exchange student may seek admission to Clarion-Limestone Area School District. For these cases, the Pennsylvania Department of Education sets an annual tuition rate for each school district. It is the amount the public school district pays to a charter school for each resident student that attends the charter and it is the amount a nonresident student's parents must pay to attend the District's schools. The 2012 tuition rates are Elementary School - $9,120, High School - $9,387[90]

Clarion-Limestone Area School District is funded by a combination of taxes, including a 1% local earned income tax, a property tax, a real estate transfer tax - 0.5%, coupled with substantial funding from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the federal government. In Pennsylvania, pension income and social security income is exempt from state income tax and local earned income tax regardless of the amount of the individual's wealth.[91]

State basic education funding[edit]

For the 2012-13 school year, Clarion-Limestone Area School District received $4,903,414.[92] 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 program. Clarion-Limestone received $61,835 in Accountability Block grant funds. The state also provided a $544.4 million payment for School Employees’ Social Security and $856 million for School Employees’ Retirement fund called PSERS.[93] This amount is a $21,823,000 increase (0.34%) over the 2011-2012 appropriations for Basic Education Funding, School Employees' Social Security, Pupil Transportation, Nonpublic and Charter School Pupil Transportation. Since taking office, Corbett’s first two budgets have restored more than $918 million in support of public schools, compensating for the $1 billion in federal stimulus dollars lost at the end of the 2010-11 school year.

In 2011-12, Clarion-Limestone Area School District received a $4,841,294, allocation, of state Basic Education Funding.[94][95] Additionally, Clarion-Limestone Area School District received $61,835 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.[96] 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.[97]

For the 2010-11 school year, the state provided the district with a 3.92% increase in basic education funding for a total of $5,275,285 to the Clarion-Limestone Area School District.[98] Among Clarion County public school districts, this was the highest increase in state funding for 2010-11. One hundred fifty Pennsylvania public school districts received the base 2% increase in state funding. Fifteen school districts received an increase above 10% with Kennett Consolidated School District of Chester County receiving the highest - a 23.65% increase in state basic education funding. 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 each school district receives is determined by then Secretary of Education Gerald Zahorchak and then Governor Edward Rendell in the annual general fund budget.[99] This was the second year of Governor Rendell’s policy to fund some districts at a far greater rate than others.

In the 2009-10 budget year, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a 4.83% increase in Basic Education Funding for $5,076,457 to Clarion-Limestone Area School District. This was a 2 percentage points higher increase, in Basic Education Funding, than most other school districts in Clarion County received. Muhlenberg School District in Berks County received a 22.31% increase in state basic education funding in 2009, which was the largest increase awarded.[100] Ninety Pennsylvania public school districts received a 2% increase. 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 given each February.[101] 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.[102][103]

The state Basic Education Funding to the District in 2008-09 was $4,841,293.59.

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), along with other specialized equipment and provided funding for teacher training to optimize the use of the computers. The program was funded from 2006-2009. Clarion-Limestone Area School District did not apply to participate and consequently, did not receive any funding over the three-year period of the program.[104]

Other grants[edit]

The District did not participate in the following grants: Science Its Elementary grants, Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy grant, Education Assistance grants, Department of Education Environmental Education and Stewardship grants, nor 21st Century Community Learning Centers Grants.

Common Cents state initiative[edit]

The school board elected to not participate in the Pennsylvania Department of Education Common Cents program. The program called for the state to audit the district, at no cost to local taxpayers, to identify ways the district could save tax dollars.[105] After the review of the information, the district was not required to implement the recommended cost savings changes.

Federal Stimulus funding[edit]

The District received $878.499 in ARRA - Federal Stimulus money to be used in specific programs like special education and meeting the academic needs of low-income students.[106] The funding was limited to the 2009-10 and 2010-2011 school years.[107] 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. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, Clarion-Limestone Area School District had 327 students receiving free or reduced-price lunches due to low family income in the 2007-2008 school year. This funding was for the 2009-2011 school years.

Race to the Top grant[edit]

School district officials failed to apply for the Race to the Top federal grant which would have brought the district millions in additional federal dollars for improving student academic achievement.[108] 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.[109] 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.[110]

Real estate taxes[edit]

Property tax rates for 2012-13 were set at 55.8900 mills for residents of Clarion County and 56.2200 mills for Jefferson County residents. 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. 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.[111] Property taxes, in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, apply only to real estate - land and buildings. The property tax is not levied on cars, business inventory, or other personal property. Certain types of property are exempt from property taxes, including: places of worship, places of burial, private social clubs, charitable and educational institutions and government property. Additionally, service related, disabled US military veterans may seek an exemption from paying property taxes. Pennsylvania school district revenues are dominated by two main sources: 1) Property tax collections, which account for the vast majority (between 75-85%) of local revenues; and 2) Act 511 tax collections, which are around 15% of revenues for school districts.[112]

Public school districts located in more than one county, like Clarion-Limestone, are required to apportion the tax levy based on the market value in each county as determined by the State Tax Equalization Board pursuant to section 672.1 of the School Code. As a result, the tax rate increases are not the same for each county in a multi-county school district.[113] 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.[114]

  • 2011-12 - Clarion County 55.1300 mills and 26.2600 mills for Jefferson County.[115]
  • 2010-11 - Clarion County 53.8600 mills and 26.5300 mills for Jefferson County.[116]
  • 2009-10 - Clarion County 53.8900 mills and 26.4200 mills for Jefferson County.[117]
  • 2008-09 - Clarion County 67.5500 mills and 25.5100 mills for Jefferson County.[118]
  • 2007-08 - Clarion County 63.4500 mills. 24.7800 mills for Jefferson County.[119]
  • 2006-07 - Clarion County 60.5500 mills. 24.1900 mills for Jefferson County.[120]
  • 2005-06 - Clarion County 58.5500 mills. 23.5800 mills for Jefferson County.[121]

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.[122] The average yearly property tax paid by Clarion County residents amounts to about 2.2% of their yearly income. Clarion County is ranked 1252nd out of the 3143 United States counties for property taxes as a percentage of median income. The average yearly property tax paid by Jefferson County residents amounts to about 2.52% of their yearly income. Jefferson County is ranked 949th out of all United States counties for property taxes as a percentage of median income.[123]

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 2010-2011 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, 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.[124] In June 2011, the Pennsylvania General Assembly eliminated six of the ten exceptions to the Act 1 Index.[125] 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.[126][127]

The School District Adjusted Index for the Clarion-Limestone Area School District 2006-2007 through 2011-2012.[128]

For the 2010-11 budget year the school board did not seek any exceptions to exceed the Act 1 Index.[131] 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.[132]

Property tax relief[edit]

In 2009, the Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief from gambling for the Clarion-Limestone Area School District was $183 per approved permanent primary residence. In the district, 1805 property owners applied for the tax relief. This was the highest property tax relief allotted in Clarion County in 2009.[133] The relief was subtracted from the total annual school property tax bill. Property owners apply for the relief through the county Treasurer's office. Farmers can qualify for a farmstead exemption on building used for agricultural purposes. The farm must be at least 10 contiguous acres (40,000 m2) and must be the primary residence of the owner. Farmers can qualify for both the homestead exemption and the farmstead exemption. In Clarion County, 47.86% of eligible property owners applied for property tax relief in 2009. In Jefferson County, 42% have sought the property tax relief exemption.[134] 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 2009 and $641 in 2010.[135] CUSD was the top recipient every year since the program began.. The Pennsylvania Auditor General's office reported that 47% of eligible property owners, in Clarion County, applied for the property tax relief.[136]

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%).[137]

Bullying Policy[edit]

The Clarion-Limestone Area School administration reported 8 incidents of bullying occurring in the schools in 2009.[138][139]

The Clarion-Limestone Area School Board prohibits bullying by district students and faculty. A policy defines bullying and cyberbullying. The Board directs that complaints of bullying shall be investigated promptly, and corrective action shall be taken when allegations are verified. No reprisals or retaliation shall occur as a result of good faith reports of bullying.[140] The board expects staff members to be responsible to maintain an educational environment free from all forms of bullying. All Pennsylvania schools are required to have an anti-bullying policy incorporated into their Code of Student Conduct. The policy must identify disciplinary actions for bullying and designate a school staff person to receive complaints of bullying. The policy must be available on the school's website and posted in every classroom. All Pennsylvania public schools must provide a copy of its anti-bullying policy to the Office for Safe Schools every year, and shall review their policy every three years. Additionally, the district must conduct an annual review of that policy with students.[141] 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.[142]

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.[143]

Wellness policy[edit]

Clarion-Limestone School Board established a district wellness policy in 2006 - Policy 246.[144] The policy deals with nutritious meals served at school, the control of access to some foods and beverages during school hours, age appropriate nutrition education for all students, and physical education for students K-12. The policy is in response to state mandates and federal legislation (P.L. 108 - 265). The law dictates that each school district participating in a program authorized by the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act (42 U.S.C. 1751 et seq) or the Child Nutrition Act of 1966 (42 U.S.C. 1771 et seq) "shall establish a local school wellness policy by School Year 2006."

The legislation placed the responsibility of developing a wellness policy at the local level so the individual needs of each district can be addressed. According to the requirements for the Local Wellness Policy, school districts must set goals for nutrition education, physical activity hat are aligned with the Pennsylvania State Academic Standards for Health, Safety and Physical Education, campus food provision, and other school-based activities designed to promote student wellness. Additionally, districts were required to involve a broad group of individuals in policy development and to have a plan for measuring policy implementation. Districts were offered a choice of levels of implementation for limiting or prohibiting low nutrition foods on the school campus. In final implementation these regulations prohibit some foods and beverages on the school campus.[145]

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

Highmark Healthy High 5 grant[edit]

In 2009, Clarion-Limestone Area School District received funding through a Highmark Healthy High 5 grant. Clarion-Limestone Area Elementary School received $10,000 which was used in support of the FLEX (Forming Lifelong Energy eXperiences) Program.[146] Clarion-Limestone Area Elementary School also received an Active School Grant for $10,000 to und cost of physical fitness equipment and instructors for HOPSports program, circuit training, step aerobics and yoga. Beginning in 2006, Highmark Foundation engaged in a 5-year, $100 million program to promote lifelong healthy behaviors in children and adolescents through local nonprofits and schools.

Extracurriculars[edit]

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.[147]

The district offers a wide variety of clubs, activities and sports. Eligibility for participation is determined by school board policy.[148][149]

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