Derry Township School District

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Derry Township School District
Map of Dauphin County Pennsylvania School Districts.png
Address
30 East Granada Avenue, P.O. Box 898
Hershey, Pennsylvania, Dauphin County, 17033
United States
Information
School board 9 elected members
Superintendent Dr. Richard Faidley
Grades K-12
Age range 5 to 21 years
Pupils 3537 pupils (2009-10)
Kindergarten 201
Grade 1 319
Grade 2 259
Grade 3 246
Grade 4 264
Grade 5 278
Grade 6 259
Grade 7 297
Grade 8 276
Grade 9 299
Grade 10 258
Grade 11 300
Grade 12 281
Mascot Trojans
Budget $55.3 million (2013-14)[1]

$52 million (2012-13)[2]
$52.9 million (2011-12)
$50,700,506 (2009-10)[3]

Tuition for nonresident and charter school students ES - $9,236.94, HS - $9,632.21 [4]
Per pupil Spending $14,693 (2008)
Per pupil Spending $13,438.17 (2010)
Website

The Derry Township School District is a midsized, suburban public school district which serves Derry Township in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania. The district includes the unincorporated Village of Hershey. Derry Township encompasses approximately 27 square miles (70 km2). According to 2000 federal census data, it serves a resident population of 21,273. In 2009 the district residents' per capita income was $16,811, while the median family income was $40,063.[5] Per school district officials, in school year 2007-08 the Derry Township School District provided basic educational services to 3,492 pupils through the employment of 267 teachers, 216 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 21 administrators.

The district operates five schools: Hershey High School (9th-12th), Hershey Middle School (6th-8th), Hershey Intermediate Elementary School (4th-5th), Hershey Primary Elementary School (2nd-3rd) and Hershey Early Childhood Center (K-1st).

Governance[edit]

Derry Township 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.[6] The federal government controls programs it funds like Title I funding for low-income children in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and the No Child Left Behind Act, which mandates the district focus resources on student success in acquiring reading and math skills.

The Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy Alternatives Sunshine Review gave the school board and district administration a "D-" for transparency based on a review of "What information can people find on their school district's website". It examined the school district's website for information regarding; taxes, the current budget, meetings, school board members names and terms, contracts, audits, public records information and more.[7]

The district is served by the Capital Area Intermediate Unit 15 which offers a variety of services, including a completely developed K-12 curriculum that is mapped and aligned with the Pennsylvania Academic Standards (available online), shared services, a group purchasing program and a wide variety of special education and special needs services.

Academic achievement[edit]

Derry Township School District was ranked 31st out of 500 Pennsylvania public school districts in 2013, by the Pittsburgh Business Times.[8] The ranking was based on the last 3 years of student academic performance on the PSSAs for math, reading, writing and science, with the current year given the most weight.[9] 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.

  • 2012 - 37th [10]
  • 2011 - 42nd[11]
  • 2010 - 31st [12]
  • 2009 - 36th
  • 2008 - 36th
  • 2007 - 23rd out of 500 districts.[13]

In 2012, the Pittsburgh Business Times reported an Overachievers Ranking for 497 Pennsylvania school districts. Derry Township School District ranked 238th.[14] In 2011, the district ranked 204th. 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." [15]

  • 2010 - 223rd.[16]
  • 2009 - 219th

Graduation rate[edit]

In 2012, Derry Township's graduation rate was 96%.[17] In 2011, the District's graduation rate was 97%.[18] In 2010, the Pennsylvania Department of Education issued a new, 4-year cohort graduation rate. Hershey High School's rate was 96% for 2010.[19]

According to traditional graduation rate calculations:

High school[edit]

Hershey High School is located at 550 Homestead Road, Hershey. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, the school reported an enrollment of 1,147 pupils in grades 9th through 12th, with 118 pupils eligible for a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to the family meeting the federal poverty level. The school employed 79 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 14:1.[25] 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.[26]

In 2010 through 2012, Hershey High School achieved AYP status under No Child Left Behind.[27]

PSSA Results
11th Grade Reading:
  • 2012 - 82% on grade level (8% below basic). State - 67% of 11th graders are on grade level.[28]
  • 2011 - 88% (3% below basic). State - 69.1% [29]
  • 2010 - 76%, State - 66% [30]
  • 2009 - 75%, State - 65% [31]
  • 2008 - 85%, State - 65% [32]
  • 2007 - 85%, State - 65%
11th Grade Math:
  • 2012 - 72% on grade level (11% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 59% of 11th graders are on grade level.
  • 2011 - 81% (5% below basic). State - 60.3%
  • 2010 - 71%, State - 59% [33]
  • 2009 - 75%, State - 56%[34]
  • 2008 - 82%, State - 56%
  • 2007 - 75%, State - 53% [23]
11th Grade Science:
  • 2012 - 72% on grade level (4% below basic). State - 42% of 11th graders were on grade level.[35]
  • 2011 - 72% (3% below basic). State - 40%
  • 2010 - 61%, State - 39%
  • 2009 - 57%, State - 40%
  • 2008 - 65%, State - 39% [36]

College remediation According to a Pennsylvania Department of Education study released in January 2009, 31% of Derry Township School District graduates required remediation in mathematics and or reading before they were prepared to take college level courses in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education or community colleges.[37] 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.[38] Per the Pennsylvania Department of Education, one in three recent high school graduates who attend Pennsylvania's public universities and community colleges takes at least one remedial course in math, reading or English.

Dual enrollment[edit]

The high school offers a dual enrollment program. This state program permits high school students to take courses, at local higher education institutions, to earn college credits. Students remain enrolled at their high school. The courses count towards high school graduation requirements and towards earning a college degree. The students continue to have full access to activities and programs at their high school. 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.[39] Under the Pennsylvania Transfer and Articulation Agreement, many Pennsylvania colleges and universities accept these credits for students who transfer to their institutions.[40] 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.[41] For the 2009-10 funding year, the school district received a state grant of $1628 for the program. In 2010, Governor Edward Rendell eliminated the grants to students, from the Commonwealth, due to a state budget crisis.

Graduation requirements[edit]

Derry High School has a graduation requirement that includes: English 4.25 credits, Math 3 credits, Science - 3 credits, Social Studies - 3 credits, Computers - .5 credit, Health, Physical Education and Drivers Ed - 1.33 credits, Electives 8.5 credits and Arts 2 credits.[42] 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.[43][44] Effective with the graduating class of 2017, the Pennsylvania Board of Education eliminated the state mandate that students complete a culminating project in order to graduate.[45]

By Pennsylvania School Board regulations, beginning with the class of 2017, public school students must demonstrate successful completion of secondary level course work in Algebra I, Biology, and English Literature by passing the Keystone Exams.[46][47][48] 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.[49] 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.[50] Individual student, school or district reports were not made public, although they were reported to district officials by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Students identified as having special needs and qualifying for an Individual Educational Program (IEP) may graduate by meeting the requirements of their IEP.

SAT scores[edit]

In 2012, 224 Derry Township School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 554. The Math average score was 563. The Writing average score was 546. 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, 260 Derry Township School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 533. The Math average score was 553. The Writing average score was 521.[51] Pennsylvania ranked 40th among states with SAT scores: Verbal - 493, Math - 501, Writing - 479.[52] 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.[53]

Middle school[edit]

Hershey Middle School is located at 500 Homestead Road, Hershey. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2011, the school reported an enrollment of 870 pupils in grades 6th through 8th, with 134 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school employed 68 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 12:1.[54] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 5 teachers were rated "Non‐Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[55]

In 2010 through 2012, Hershey Middle School achieved AYP status.[56]

8th Grade Reading:
  • 2012 - 94% on grade level, 77% advanced. In Pennsylvania, 79% of 8th graders on grade level.[57]
  • 2011 - 93% (2% below basic). State - 81.8%
  • 2010 - 94%, State - 81% [58]
  • 2009 - 92%, State - 80.9%[59]
  • 2008 - 92%, State - 78%
  • 2007 - 86%, State - 75% [60]
8th Grade Math:
  • 2012 - 90% on grade level, 68% advanced. State - 76% [61]
  • 2011 - 91% (1% below basic). State - 76.9%
  • 2010 - 90%, State - 75%
  • 2009 - 87%, State - 71% [62]
  • 2008 - 85%, State - 70%
  • 2007 - 86%, State - 67%
8th Grade Science:
  • 2012 - 84% on grade level (3% below basic). State - 59% of 8th graders were on grade level.
  • 2011 - 83% (5% below basic). State – 58.3%
  • 2010 - 83%, State - 57%
  • 2009 - 83%, State - 55%
  • 2008 - 81%, State - 50% [63]

Hershey Intermediate Elementary School[edit]

Hershey Intermediate Elementary School is located at 450 Homestead Road, Hershey. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2011, the school reported an enrollment of 546 pupils in grades 4th and 5th, with 77 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school employed 36 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 15:1.[54] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[64]

In 2010 through 2012, Hershey Intermediate Elementary School achieved AYP status. The attendance rate was 95% in 2011 and 96% in 2010.[65] Hershey Intermediate Elementary School Academic Achievement Report Card 2009 [1]

4th Grade Science
  • 2012 - 92%, 54% advanced. State - 82%
  • 2011 - 92%, 50% advanced. State - 82.9%

Hershey Primary Elementary School[edit]

Hershey Primary Elementary School is located at 450 Homestead Road, Hershey. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2011, the school reported an enrollment of 571 pupils in grades 2nd and 3rd, with 92 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school employed 40 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 14:1.[66] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[67]

In 2012, Hershey Primary Elementary School declined to Warning status. In 2011 and 2010, the School achieved AYP status. The attendance rate was 95% in 2011 and 96% in 2010.[68] The attendance rate was 96% in 2011 and in 2010.[69]

Hershey Primary Elementary School Academic Achievement Report Card 2009 [2] | report Card 2010 [3]

Wellness policy[edit]

Derry Township School Board established a district wellness policy in June 2006 - Student Wellness Policy 246.[71][72] 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 public school 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.[73] The Pennsylvania Department of Education required the District to submit a copy of the policy for approval.

Derry Township School District offers 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.[74] The meals are partially funded with federal dollars through the United States Department of Agriculture.[75] In June 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.[76]

Bullying Policy[edit]

In 2009, the Derry Township School District reported 7 incidents of bullying in the previous school year.[77][78]

The school board prohibits bullying by district students and employees. A policy approved in March 2009 defines bullying and cyberbullying - Policy 249. 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.[79] 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.[80] District administration are required to annually provide the following information with the district's Safe School Report: the board’s bullying policy, a report of bullying incidents in the school district, and information on the development and implementation of any bullying prevention, intervention or education programs. 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.[81]

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.[82]

Special education[edit]

In December 2010, the district administration reported that 391 pupils or 10.7% of the district's pupils received Special Education services, with 40% of identified students having a specific learning disability. In December 2009, the district administration reported that 387 pupils or 10.7% of the district's pupils received Special Education services.[83][84]

In order to comply with state and federal laws, the Derry Township 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.[85] 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 Director of Special Education.[86] The district has a Parent Advisory Council for Children with Special Needs which is an outreach program to families with special needs children.

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.[87]

Derry Township School District received a $1,396,991 supplement for special education services in 2010.[88]

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. This level funding is provided regardless of changes in the number of pupils who need special education services and regardless of the level of services the respective students required.[89]

Gifted education[edit]

The District Administration reported that 166 or 4.67% of its students were gifted in 2009.[90] By law, the district must provide mentally gifted programs at all grade levels. The referral process for a gifted evaluation can be initiated by teachers or parents by contacting the student’s building principal and requesting an evaluation. All requests must be made in writing. To be eligible for mentally gifted programs in Pennsylvania, a student must have a cognitive ability of at least 130 as measured on a standardized ability test by a certified school psychologist. Other factors that indicate giftedness will also be considered for eligibility.[91]

Budget[edit]

In 2011, the average teacher salary in Derry Township School District was $56,476.49 a year, while the cost of the benefits teachers receive was $15,028 per employee, for a total annual average teacher compensation of $71,505.35.[92] 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.[93]

In 2009 the district reported employing over 300 teachers with a salary range of a starting at $40,281 [94] to $130,000.[95] In 2009, the professional employee contract required a modest annual contribution towards the employee's health insurance plan $296 for a single person, $770 for family coverage.[96][97]

In 2007, the district employed 230 teachers. The average teacher salary in the district was $53,419 for 180 days worked.[98] According to the report, Derry Township teachers were the highest paid in Dauphin County in 2007.[99]

Per pupil spending Derry Township School District administrative costs per pupil in 2008 was $810 per pupil. The lowest administrative cost per pupil in Pennsylvania was $398 per pupil.[100] The Pennsylvania School Board Association tracks salaries for Pennsylvania public school employees. It reports that in 2008 the average superintendent salary in Pennsylvania was $122,165.[101] In July 2004, the school board hired Linda C. Brewer as Superintendent, with an initial salary of $115,000; minimum 3.5% annual raise, plus maximum 3% merit bonus.[102] In 2009, Brewer's salary was reported by the district as $142,166.[103] Superintendent Brewer is retired in February 2011. In April 2011, the school board awarded a contract to Richard Faidley as superintendent at $142,000 for four years.[104]

In 2008, Derry Township School District reported spending $14,693 per pupil. This ranked 72nd out of 501 school districts in Pennsylvania.[105]

Audit In January 2011, the Pennsylvania Auditor General office conducted a performance audit of the district. Findings, including certification irregularities, were reported to the school board and school administration.[106]

In 2006, Pennsylvania Auditor General Jack Wagner conducted an audit of the school district. The report faulted the school board for a confidentiality clause which held much of a termination agreement from public disclosure. Auditors found that Derry Township School District terminated John DiSanti, superintendent in October 2003 with eight months remaining on the 41 month contract initially signed in February 2001.[107] Terms of the buyout included: $88,000 in salary, $23,352 for 50 unused vacation days, $7,710 for health benefits, $3,500 for attending professional conferences, and $350 per month for office expenses.[108]

Reserves In 2008, Derry Township School District reported an unreserved designated fund balance of $1,500,000.00 and an unreserved-undesignated fund balance of $3,881,984.00.[109] In 2012, the Administration reported the District had over $6.7 million in reserve funds.[110]

The Derry Township School District is funded by a combination of: a local earned income tax, a property tax, a real estate transfer tax - 0.5%, and grants, coupled with substantial funding from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the federal government. In Pennsylvania, both pension income and social security income are exempt from Pennsylvania personal income tax and local earned income tax, regardless of the individual's level of wealth.[111]

State basic education funding[edit]

For the 2013-14 school year, Derry Township School District received a 5.4% increase or $2,183,957 in Pennsylvania Basic Education Funding, which is $111,935 more than its 2012-13 state BEF to the District. Additionally, Derry Township School District received $64,464 in Accountability Block Grant funding to focus on academic achievement and level funding for special education services. 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 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.[112] The state also funded the PSERS (Pennsylvania school employee pension fund) with $1,017,000,000 and Social Security payments for school employees of $495 million.[113]

For the 2012-13 school year, Derry Township School District received $2,136,425.[114] The Governor's Executive Budget for 2012-2013 includes $9.34 billion for kindergarten through 12th grade public education, including $5.4 billion in basic education funding, which is an increase of $49 million over the 2011-12 budget. The state also provides $100 million for the Accountability Block grant. Derry Township School District received $64,464 in Accountability Block Grant funding to focus on academic achievement. The state will also provide $544.4 million for School Employees’ Social Security and $856 million for School Employees’ Retirement fund called PSERS. [115] 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 the 2011-12 school year, Derry Township School District received $2,070,099 in state Basic Education Funding.[116] Additionally, the District received $64,454 in Accountability Block Grant funding. 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.[117] 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.[118] In 2009, the administration reported that 441 students received a free or reduced-price lunch based on the federal poverty levels.

In 2010-11 school year, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided the Derry Township School District a 9.10% increase in basic education funding for a total of $2,236,803. In Dauphin County, the highest increase in BEF went to Susquehanna Township School District which received a 15.89% increase. One hundred fifty school districts in Pennsylvania received a base 2% increase. Fifteen Pennsylvania school districts received an increase in funding over 10% in 2010. In Dauphin County, Susquehanna Township School District received the highest increase in BEF a 15.89% increase. The highest increase went to Kennett Consolidated School District in Chester County which was 23.65% in BEF for 2010.[119] 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.[120]

In the 2009-2010 budget year, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a 4.79% increase in Basic Education Funding to Derry Township School District, for a total of $2,049,859. The state Basic Education Funding to the district in 2008-09 was $1,956,105.18. Fifteen Pennsylvania school districts received an increase in funding over 10% in 2009. 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.[121] Seven Dauphin County school districts received increases of over 4.5% in Basic Education Funding in 2009-10. Susquehanna Township School District received an 10.66% increase. In Pennsylvania, over 15 school districts received Basic Education Funding increases in excess of 10% in 2009. Muhlenberg School District in Berks County received the highest with a 22.31% increase in funding.[122] The amount of increase each school district received was determined by Governor Edward G. Rendell and the Secretary of Education Gerald Zahorchak through the allocation set in the state budget proposal made in February each year.[123]

Accountability Block Grants[edit]

Beginning in 2004-2005, the state launched the Accountability Block Grant school funding. This program has provided $1.5 billion to Pennsylvania’s school districts. The Accountability Block Grant program requires that its taxpayer dollars are focused on specific interventions that are most likely to increase student academic achievement. These interventions include: teacher training, all-day kindergarten, lower class size K-3rd grade, literacy and math coaching programs that provide teachers with individualized job-embedded professional development to improve their instruction, before or after school tutoring assistance to struggling students. For 2010-11, the district applied for and received $174,945 in addition to all other state and federal funding. The district uses the funding to provide Professional Teacher Education and to hire coaches to teach the teachers.[124][125]

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. Derry Township School District applied to participate receiving $126,270 in 2007-08 and $90,873 in 2008-09 for a total of $217,143.[126]

Other grants[edit]

Derry Township School District did not participate in: Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection's Environmental Education annual grants, PA Science Its Elementary grants (discontinued effective with 2009-10 budget by Governor Rendell), Education Assistance Grants, 2012 Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy grant, 2012 and 2013 Hybrid Learning Grants,[127] nor the federal 21st Century Learning grants.

Federal Stimulus grant[edit]

The district received an extra $751,240 in ARRA - Federal Stimulus money to be used in specific programs like special education and meeting the academic needs of low-income students.[128] This federal funding was limited to the 2009-10 and 2010–2011 school years.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 300 students received free or reduced-price lunches due to low family income in the 2007-2008 school year.[121]

Race to the Top[edit]

Derry Township School District officials did not apply for the Race to the Top federal grant which could have brought the district hundreds of thousands of additional federal dollars for improving student academic achievement.[129] 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.[130] 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.[131]

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.[132] After the review of the information, the district was not required to implement the recommended cost savings changes.

Real estate taxes[edit]

Property tax rates in 2013-14 were set at 17.5541 mills.[133] 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.[134]

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.[141] The average yearly property tax paid by Dauphin County residents amounts to about 3.48% of their yearly income. Dauphin County is ranked 382nd of the 3143 United States counties for property taxes as a percentage of median income.[142]

Act 1 Adjusted index[edit]

The Act 1 of 2006 Index regulates the rates at which each school district can raise property taxes in Pennsylvania. Districts are not allowed to raise taxes above that index unless they allow voters to vote by referendum, or they seek an exception from the state Department of Education. The base index for the 2011-2012 school year 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.[143]

The School District Adjusted Index for the Derry Township School District 2006-2007 through 2011-2012.[144]

For the 2013-14 budget year, Derry Township School Board applied for two (2) exceptions to exceed the Act 1 Index: teacher pension costs and special education costs. For 2013-2014, 311 Pennsylvania public school districts adopted a resolution certifying that tax rates would not be increased above their index; 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 the tax limit. For the exception for pension costs, 169 school districts received approval to exceed the Index. Eleven districts received an approval for grandfathered construction debts.[147]

For the 2012-13 budget year, Derry Township School Board applied for two exceptions to exceed the Act 1 Index: teacher pension costs and special education costs. For 2012-2013, 274 Pennsylvania public school boards adopted a resolution certifying that tax rates would not be increased above their Act 1 of 2006 index limit; 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.[147]

For the 2011-12 school year, the Derry Township School Board applied for two exceptions to exceed the Act 1 Index: the rising cost of teacher's pension payment to the state and for special education costs. The PDE approved both exceptions. Each year the Derry Township School Board has the option of adopting either 1) a resolution in January certifying they will not increase taxes above their index or 2) a preliminary budget in February. A school district adopting the resolution may not apply for referendum exceptions or ask voters for a tax increase above the inflation index. A specific timeline for these decisions is publisher each year by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.[148]

According to a state report, for the 2011-2012 school year budgets, 247 school districts adopted a resolution certifying that tax rates would not be increased above their index; 250 school districts adopted a preliminary budget. Of the 250 school districts that adopted a preliminary budget, 231 adopted real estate tax rates that exceeded their index. Tax rate increases in the other 19 school districts that adopted a preliminary budget did not exceed the school district’s index. Of the districts who sought exceptions 221 used the pension costs exemption and 171 sought a Special Education costs exemption. Only 1 school district sought an exemption for Nonacademic School Construction Project, while 1 sought an exception for Electoral debt for school construction.[149]

For the 2009-10 and the 2010-11 budget years, the Derry Township School Board did not seek an exception to raise property taxes above the index.[150] 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.[151]

Property tax relief[edit]

In 2011, property tax relief for 2,695 approved residents of Derry Township School District was set at $122.[152]

In 2009, the Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief from gambling for the Derry Township School District was $125 per approved permanent primary residence. In the district, 5,280 property owners applied for the tax relief. In Dauphin County, the highest amount of tax relief in 2009, went to Harrisburg School District (Pennsylvania) at $446.[153] 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. In Dauphin County, 68.71% of eligible property owners applied for property tax relief in 2009.[154] 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.[155]

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 with income substantially more than $35,000, may still qualify for a rebate. Individuals must apply annually for the rebate. This can be taken in addition to Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief.

Property taxes in Pennsylvania are relatively high on a national scale. According to the Tax Foundation, Pennsylvania ranked 11th in the U.S. in 2008 in terms of property taxes paid as a percentage of home value (1.34%) and 12th in the country in terms of property taxes as a percentage of income (3.55%).[156]

Extracurriculars[edit]

Derry Township School District offers a wide variety of clubs, activities and sports. Eligibility to participate is determined by school board policies.[157]

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.[158]

Sports[edit]

The Derry Township School District funds:

Middle School Sports

According to PIAA directory July 2013 [159]

National Recognition[edit]

On April 14, 2013, it was announced that Derry Township School District had been named a grand prize winner of the 19th annual Magna Awards program in the enrollment category of under 5,000 students. The Magna Awards program, sponsored by the National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) American School Board Journal (ASBJ) and supported by Sodexo, recognizes districts across the country for outstanding programs that advance student learning and encourage community involvement in schools. Derry Township received a $4,000 contribution at NSBA’s 73rd Annual Conference in San Diego. DTSD won the grand prize for its COCOA Principles program which aims to prepare students to be global citizens. COCOA Principles, which stands for Community, Opportunity, Citizenship, Ownership and Academics, has encouraged the entire community, not just students to be more inclusive, respectful and responsible citizens. Students seen reflecting the program’s principles are nominated for awards and high school graduation projects must identify the COCOA principle the student is modeling.[160]

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Coordinates: 40°16′26″N 76°39′10″W / 40.27389°N 76.65264°W / 40.27389; -76.65264