Elk Lake School District

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Elk Lake School District
Elklakesd.jpg
Address
2380 Elk Lake School Road, Springville
[Dimock Township, Pennsylvania]]
Pennsylvania, Susquehanna County, Wyoming County 18844
United States
Information
Type Public school district
Established 1957
Superintendent

Dr Kenneth F Cuomo $118,895, contract July 1, 2014-June 30, 2019[1][2]

Dr. William Bush (salary $99,837 in 2012)
Administrator

Mrs Jeannie L Rogers, Business Manager and right to Know Officer
Pamela D Staats $101,965 (2014)

Kevin Jones Maintenance Supervisor, $43,876 (2014)
Principal Mallery, Brian, MS $109,000 (2014), ($99,374 in 2012)
Principal vacant (2015) Cuomo, Kenneth, HS ($108,409 in 2012)
Principal Mr. Marc T Weisgold $85,000 (2014),[3] former Pirone, Charles, ES ($99,610 in 2012)
Head teacher Staats, Pamela Special Education Director ($94,475 in 2012)
Faculty 106 teachers [4]
Enrollment

1,255 pupils (2014)[5]
1,255 pupils 2013[6]
1,363 pupils enrolled (2010) [7]

1,479 pupils (2006-07)
 • Kindergarten 107 (2013), 87 (2010)
 • Grade 1 98 (2013), 96
 • Grade 2 96 (2013), 83
 • Grade 3 112(2013), 103
 • Grade 4 77 (2013), 109
 • Grade 5 92 (2013), 110
 • Grade 6 90 (2013), 107
 • Grade 7 95 (2013), 106
 • Grade 8 115 (2013), 108
 • Grade 9 99 (2013), 126
 • Grade 10 95 (2013), 89
 • Grade 11 85 (2013), 123
 • Grade 12 94 (2013), 115 (2010)
 • Other Enrollment projected to be 1,498 pupils in 2019
Budget

$20,126,000 (2015-16)[8]
$18,547,149.82 (2014-15)[9]

$17.6 million (2012-13)[10]
Website
Map of Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania School Districts
Map of Wyoming County, Pennsylvania School Districts

Elk Lake School District is a small, rural, K-12 public school district with its only building located on State Route 3019 in Dimock, Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania. It covers Auburn Township, Middletown Township, Rush Township, Dimock Township, and Springville Township in Susquehanna County, along with Meshoppen Borough and Meshoppen Township in Wyoming County. The Elk Lake School District encompasses approximately 197 square miles (510 km2). According to 2000 federal census data, Elk Lake School District serves a resident population of 7,735 people. In 2009, the district residents’ per capita income was $15,355, while the median family income was $38,385.[11] In the Commonwealth, the median family income was $49,501 [12] and the United States median family income was $49,445, in 2010.[13] In 2006, the district students are 97% white, less than 1% Asian, less than 1% black and 2% Hispanic.[14] According to District officials, in school year 2007-08 the Elk Lake School District provided basic educational services to 1,388 pupils through the employment of 114 teachers, 62 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 10 administrators.

Elk Lake School District operates two schools: an elementary school and a junior senior high school. They are both in one building, connected by a natatorium used by both. The district also offers a taxpayer funded Head Start program for preschoolers.[15]

History[edit]

The Elk Lake School District was founded in 1957 as a joint school district, replacing the six main districts and "one room schoolhouses" in the district's seven civil subdivisions (six townships and one borough) in Susquehanna and Wyoming County. The schools had been located in Auburn Township, Dimock Township, Middletown Township, Rush Township, Springville Township and Meshoppen (one school served Meshoppen Borough and Meshoppen Township). The school was legally reorganized on July 1, 1966 as a single fourth-class school district.[16]

Academic achievement[edit]

Elk Lake School District was ranked 295th out of 498 Pennsylvania school districts in 2012 by the Pittsburgh Business Times. The ranking was based on student academic performance on the last three years of PSSAs for: reading, writing, math and science.[17] 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 - 295th
  • 2010 - 274th [18]
  • 2009 - 303rd
  • 2008 - 318th
  • 2007 - 355th out of 501 Pennsylvania school districts.[19]

In 2009, the academic achievement, of the students in the Elk Lake School District, was in the 53rd percentile among all 500 Pennsylvania school districts Scale (0-99; 100 is state best) [20]

District AYP status history

In 2012, Elk Lake School District achieved AYP status.[21] In 2011, Elk Lake 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 Pennsylvania public school districts made AYP based on a calculated method called safe harbor, 8.2 percent on the growth model and 0.8 percent on a two-year average performance.[22] Elk Lake School District achieved AYP status each year from 2004 to 2009, while in 2003 the Elk Lake School District was in Warning status due to lagging student achievement.[23]

Graduation rate[edit]

In 2012, Elk Lakes School Districts' graduation rate was 87%. In 2011 Elk Lakes School Districts' graduation rate was 85%.[24] In 2010, the Pennsylvania Department of Education issued a new, 4-year cohort graduation rate. Elk Lake School District's rate was 84% for 2010.[25]

According to traditional graduation rate calculations:

  • 2010 - 88% [26]
  • 2009 - 93%
  • 2008 - 90% [27]
  • 2007 - 90% [28]

Junior Senior High School[edit]

Elk Lake Junior Senior High School is located at 2210 Elk Lake School Road, Springville. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, the school reported an enrollment of 649 pupils in grades 7th through 12th, with 223 pupils eligible for a federal free or reduced-price lunch. The school is a federally designated Title I school. The school employed 53 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 12:1.[29] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 3 teachers were rated "Non‐Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[30]

In 2012, Elk Lake Junior Senior High School declined to Warning AYP status due to chronic, low student achievement in both reading and mathematics. The school missed all academic metrics measured in 2012. In 2011, Elk Lake Junior Senior High School achieved AYP status.[31] In 2010, the school achieved AYP status. In 2009, the school was in Warning Status due to chronic low reading achievement.[32]

PSSA Results
11th Grade Reading
  • 2012 - 68% on grade level, (19% below basic). State - 67% of 11th graders are on grade level.[33]
  • 2011 - 64% (19% below basic). State - 69.1% [34]
  • 2010 - 57% (28% below basic). State - 66% [35]
  • 2009 - 62% (23% below basic), State - 65% [36]
  • 2008 - 50% (18% below basic), State - 65%[37]
  • 2007 - 67% (16% below basic), State - 65% [38]
11th Grade Math
  • 2012 - 63% on grade level (19% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 59% of 11th graders are on grade level.[39]
  • 2011 - 55% (23% below basic). State - 60.3%
  • 2010 - 50% (28% below basic). State - 59%
  • 2009 - 47% (23% below basic). State - 56%
  • 2008 - 42% (30.9% below basic). State - 56% [40]
  • 2007 - 50% (20% below basic). State - 53%
11th Grade Science
  • 2012 - 47% on grade level (11% below basic). State - 42% of 11th graders were on grade level.
  • 2011 - 51% (9% below basic). State - 40%
  • 2010 - 39% (15% below basic). State - 39%
  • 2009 - 50% (14% below basic). State - 40%
  • 2008 - 30% (8% below basic). State - 39%

Science in Motion Elk Lake Junior Senior High School took advantage of a state program called Science in Motion which brought college professors and sophisticated science equipment to the school to raise science awareness and to provide inquiry-based experiences for the students. The Science in Motion program was funded by a state appropriation and cost the school nothing to participate.[41] Wilkes University provided the service to Elk Lake students.

College remediation[edit]

According to a Pennsylvania Department of Education study released in January 2009, 15% of Elk Lake 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.[42] 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.[43] 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 the Pennsylvania dual enrollment program. This state program permits high school students to take courses, at local higher education institutions, to earn college credits. Elk Lake has partnered with Keystone College, Lackawanna College and Luzerne County Community College. 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.[44] Under the Pennsylvania Transfer and Articulation Agreement, many Pennsylvania colleges and universities accept these credits for students who transfer to their institutions.[45] 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.[46] In 2008, the district received a $277,000 state grant to be used to assist students with tuition, fees and books.[47] In 2010, the district received $167,128.

SAT scores[edit]

In 2012, 45 Elk Lake School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 504. The Math average score was 511. The Writing average score was 476. 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.

From January to June 2011, 212 Elk Lake School District students took the SAT exams. The district's Verbal Average Score was 519. The Math average score was 527. The Writing average score was 492.[48] Pennsylvania ranked 40th among states with SAT scores: Verbal - 493, Math - 501, Writing - 479.[49] 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.[50]

Graduation requirements[edit]

The Elk Lake School District School Board has established that 26 credits are required for graduation, including English 4 credits, Social Studies 4 credits, Science 3 credits, Math 4 credits, Health 0.67 credit, Physical Education 1.33 credit, Driver Training 0.33 credit, Graduation Project 1 credit and Elective courses 7.67 credits.[51]

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.[52][53]

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.[54][55][56] 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.[57] 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.[58] 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.

Junior high school[edit]

8th Grade Science
  • 2012 - 73% on grade level (11% below basic). State - 59%
  • 2011 - 58% (20% below basic). State – 58.3%
  • 2010 - 64% (20% below basic). State - 57%.
  • 2009 - 59%, State - 54% [63]
  • 2008 - 60%, State - 52% [64]

Elementary School[edit]

Elk Lake Elementary School is located at. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2011, the school reported an enrollment of 720 pupils in grades kindergarten through 6th, with 339 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school is Title I School-Wide. The school employed 53 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 13:1.[65] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[66] The attendance rate was 94% in 2010 and 2009.

4th Grade Science
  • 2012 - 79%, (4% below basic). State - 82%
  • 2011 - 85%, (5% below basic). State - 82.9%
  • 2010 - 77%, 37% advanced, State - 81%
  • 2009 - 80%, 34% advanced, State - 83%
  • 2008 - 89%, 42% advanced, State - 81%

Special education[edit]

In December 2010, Elk Lake School District administration reported that 189 pupils or 13.8% of the district's pupils received Special Education services, with 50% of identified students having a specific learning disability. In December 2009, the district administration reported that 200 pupils or 14% of the district's pupils received Special Education services.[71]

The District engages in identification procedures to ensure that eligible students receive an appropriate educational program consisting of special education and related services, individualized to meet student needs. At no cost to the parents, these services are provided in compliance with state and federal law; and are reasonably calculated to yield meaningful educational benefit and student progress. To identify students who may be eligible for special education, various screening activities are conducted on an ongoing basis. These screening activities include: review of group-based data (cumulative records, enrollment records, health records, report cards, ability and achievement test scores); hearing, vision, motor, and speech/language screening; and review by the Instructional Support Team or Student Assistance Team. When screening results suggest that the student may be eligible, the District seeks parental consent to conduct a multidisciplinary evaluation. Parents who suspect their child is eligible may verbally request a multidisciplinary evaluation from a professional employee of the District or contact the Special Education Department.[72]

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.[73] 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.[74] 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.[75] 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.[76] In 2012, the Obama Administration's US Department of Education issued a directive that schools include students with disabilities in extracurricular activities, including sports.[77]

Elk Lake School District received a $893,729 supplement for special education services in 2010.[78] 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.[79][80]

In 2007, Elk Lake School District was identified by the Pennsylvania Department of Education for Least Restrictive Environment monitoring. Two hundred thirty Pennsylvania public school districts were selected in 2006-07. The district received an alert letter from the PDE - Bureau of Special Education.[81] School districts were placed in one of three categories: Tier 1, Tier 2 or Tier 3. Elk Lake School District was placed in Tier 3. The monitoring is a product of the PDE addressing its voluntary settlement in Gaskin V. Pennsylvania which ordered that special education students spend most of their school day (80%) in regular education classrooms with supplementary aids and services to assist funded by the taxpayers.[82][83][84][85]

Gifted education[edit]

Elk Lake School District Administration reported that 15 or 1.09% of its students were gifted in 2009.[86] By law, Elk Lake School District must provide mentally gifted programs at all grade levels. The primary emphasis is on enrichment and acceleration of the regular education curriculum through a push in model with the gifted instructor in the classroom with the regular instructor. This approach permits such specialized instructional strategies as tiered assignments, curriculum compacting, flexible grouping, learning stations, independent projects and independent contracts. Students identified as gifted attending the High School have access to honors and advanced placement courses, and dual enrollment with local colleges. The referral process for a gifted evaluation can be initiated by teachers or parents by contacting the student’s building principal and requesting an evaluation. All requests must be made in writing. To be eligible for mentally gifted programs in Pennsylvania, a student must have a cognitive ability of at least 130 as measured on a standardized ability test by a certified school psychologist. Other factors that indicate giftedness will also be considered for eligibility.[87]

Bullying policy[edit]

The Elk Lake School District administration reported there were 2 incidents of bullying in the district in 2009.[88][89]

The Elk Lake School Board has provided the district's antibully policy online.[90] 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.[91] 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.[92]

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.[93]

In 2015, Elk Lake started the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program to help students understand and prevent bullying. Every other Wednesday, students in the high school meet up with there Olweus groups and discuss problems, watch videos or do activities which will help them with bullying in the future. Elementary students also do rallies to get in the spirit. The bullying theme is "heroes," teaching students anyone can be a hero and stand up to a bully. The school's class play, written by senior Kevin Burns, also embodies this theme and is entitled "Heroes."[94] Their motto is "Stand Up, Speak Out, Be Someone’s Superhero!” [95]

Enrollment[edit]

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education enrollment reports, there were 1381 students enrolled in K-12 in 2009–10 school year at Elk Lake School District. There were 108 students in the Class of 2009. The district's class of 2010 had 88 students. Enrollment is projected to remain low at 1392 students through 2020, with the class of 2020 having 92 pupils.<[96] A study of Pennsylvania public school spending, conducted by Standard and Poor's, showed that districts with fewer than 500 students spent an average of $9,674 per pupil in operating costs. As districts got larger, their per-pupil spending tended to decrease, until it reaches an average of $8,057 among districts with 2,500 ñ 2,999 students. Operating expenditures included costs for instruction, instructional staff support, pupil support, general administration, school administration, transportation, food services, operations and maintenance, and other costs. Additionally, the study found that many larger Pennsylvania public school districts provide certain academic programs that some smaller districts do not offer. Statewide Pennsylvania Department of Education reported a decline of over 51,000 students from 2000 to 2010.

According to a 2009 public school district administration consolidation proposal by Governor Edward Rendell, the excessive administrative overhead dollars could be redirected to improve lagging academic achievement, to enrich the academic programs or to reduce property taxes.[97] Consolidation of two central administrations into one would not require the closing of any schools. The Governor's proposal called for the savings to be redirected to improving lagging reading and science achievement, to enriching the academic programs or to reducing residents' property taxes.[98] In March 2011, the Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants released a report finding that the state would save hundreds of millions of tax dollars, by cutting the number of school administrations in half through consolidation, with no impact on programs offered to students.[99]

Budget[edit]

Pennsylvania public school districts budget and expend funds according to procedures mandated by the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE). An annual operating budget is prepared by school district administrative officials. A uniform form is furnished by the PDE and submitted to the board of school directors for approval prior to the beginning of each fiscal year on July 1.

Under Pennsylvania’s Taxpayer Relief Act, Act 1 of the Special Session of 2006, all school districts of the first class A, second class, third class and fourth class must adopt a preliminary budget proposal. The proposal must include estimated revenues and expenditures and the proposed tax rates. This proposed budget must be considered by the Board no later than 90 days prior to the date of the election immediately preceding the fiscal year. The preliminary budget proposal must also be printed and made available for public inspection at least 20 days prior to its adoption. The board of school directors may hold a public hearing on the budget, but are not required to do so. The board must give at least 10 days’ public notice of its intent to adopt the final budget according to Act 1 of 2006.[100]

In 2011, the average teacher salary in Elk Lake School District was $55,950 a year, while the cost of the benefits teachers receive was $16,924 per employee, for a total annual average teacher compensation of $72,874.[101]

In 2009, Elk Lake School District reported employing over 130 teachers with a starting salary of $35,500 for 180 days for pupil instruction. The average teacher salary was $52,602 while the maximum salary is $96,915.[102] As of 2007, Pennsylvania ranked in the top 10 states in average teacher salaries. When adjusted for cost of living Pennsylvania ranked fourth in the nation for teacher compensation.[103] Additionally, Elk Lake School District teachers receive a defined benefit pension, health insurance, dismemberment insurance, life insurance, professional development reimbursement, paid personal days, 10 sick days, bereavement leave - 3 days, additional emergency leave with pay and other benefits. Teachers are paid extra if they are required to work outside of the regular school day. Sabbatical leaves pay 50% of salary.[104] According to State Rep. Glen Grell, a trustee of the Pennsylvania Public School Employees’ Retirement System Board, a 40-year educator can retire with a pension equal to 100 percent of their final salary.[105]

In 2007, Elk Lake School District employed 100 teachers. The average teacher salary in the district was $50,132 for 180 school days worked.[106] This was the highest average teacher salary by district in Susquehanna County in 2007.

Elk Lake School District administrative costs per pupil in 2008 was $774.10 per pupil. The district is ranked 230th out of 500 in Pennsylvania for administrative spending. The lowest administrative cost per pupil in Pennsylvania was $398 per pupil.[107]

Per pupil spending In 2008, Elk Lake School District reported spending $11,796 per pupil. This ranked 296th in the commonwealth.[108] In 2010 the per pupil spending Elk Lake School District had increased to $13,709.64.[109] Among the fifty states, Pennsylvania’s total per pupil revenue (including all sources) ranked 11th at $15,023 per student, in 2008-09.[110] In 2007, the Pennsylvania per pupil total expenditures was $12,759.[111] The U.S. Census Bureau reports that Pennsylvania spent $8,191 per pupil in school year 2000-01.[112]

Reserves

In 2009, Elk Lake School District reported $1,469,219in a unreserved-undesignated fund balance. The designated fund balance was reported as $367,305.[113] In 2010, Elk Lake School District Administration reported an increase to $1,448,166 in the unreserved-undesignated fund balance. The District reported $1,806,257 in its unreserved-designated fund in 2010. 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.[114]

Audit In January 2010, the Pennsylvania Auditor General conducted a performance audit of the Elk Lake School District. Findings were reported to the administration and school board.[115]

Tuition Students who live in the Elk Lake School District's attendance area may choose to attend one of Pennsylvania's 157 public charter schools. A student living in a neighboring public school district or a foreign exchange student may seek admission to 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 - $8,210.78, High School - $9,758.89.[116][117]

Elk Lake School 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.[118] In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, pension and Social Security income are exempted from state personal income tax and local earned income tax regardless of the individual's wealth.[119]

State basic education funding[edit]

For the 2012-13 school year, Elk Lake School District received $6,557,496.[120] 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. Elk Lake School District received $103,619. The Commonwealth also provided a $544.4 million payment for School Employees’ Social Security and $856 million for School Employees’ Retirement fund called PSERS.[121]

In 2011-12, Elk Lake School District received a $6,453,877.42 allocation of state Basic Education Funding.[122][123] Additionally, the Elk Lake School District received $103,619 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.[124] 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.[125] In 2010, the district reported that 581 students received free or reduced-price lunches, due to the family meeting the federal poverty level.[126]

For 2010-11 the Elk Lake School District received a 2.82% increase in state Basic Education Funding resulting in a $7,009,123 payment.[127] This was the highest increase in BEF in Susquehanna County. Kennett Consolidated School District in Chester County received the highest increase in the state at 23.65% increase in funding for the 2010-11 school year. One hundred fifty school districts received the base 2% increase in 2010-11. 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 receives is determined by Governor Edward Rendell and then Secretary of Education Gerald Zahorchak, through the allocation set in the state budget proposal made in February each year.[128] This was the second year of Governor Rendell’s policy to fund some districts at a far greater rate than others.

In the 2009-2010 budget year the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a 5.63% increase in Basic Education funding for a total of $6,817,129 to Elk Lake School District. The district also received supplemental funding for English language learners, Title 1 federal funding for low-income students, for district size, a poverty supplement from the commonwealth and more.[129] This was the highest increase in Susquehanna County for the 2009-10 school year. Among the 500 school districts in Pennsylvania, Muhlenberg School District in Berks County received the highest with a 22.31% increase in funding.[130] 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.[131][132] The state's Basic Education Funding to the District in 2008-09 was $6,453,877.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 534 Elk Lake School District students received free or reduced-price lunches due to low family income in the 2007-2008 school year.[133]

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 Elk Lake School District applied for and received $281,247 in addition to all other state and federal funding. The district used the funding to provide full-day kindergarten for the 5th year.[134][135]

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. Elk Lake School District did not apply for a grant. Of the 501 public school districts in Pennsylvania, 447 of them received Classrooms for the Future grant awards.[136] In Susquehanna County the highest award was given to Montrose Area School District - $337,927. The highest funding statewide was awarded to Philadelphia City School District in Philadelphia County - $9,409,073. In 2010, Classrooms for the Future funding was curtailed statewide due to a massive state financial crisis.

Other grants[edit]

Elk Lake School District did not participate in: PA DEP Environmental Education grants, Science Its Elementary grants, Education Assistance Grants, the 2012 Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy Grant, nor the 21st Century learning grants.

Federal Stimulus grant[edit]

Elk Lake School District received an extra $455,865 in ARRA - Federal Stimulus money to be used in specific programs like Title 1, special education and meeting the academic needs of low-income students.[137] The funding was for the 2009-10 and 2010-11 school years.[138] Due to the temporary nature of the funding, schools were repeatedly advised to use the funds for one-time expenditures like: acquiring equipment, making repairs to buildings, training teachers to provide more effective instruction or purchasing books and software.

Race to the Top grant[edit]

Elk Lake School District officials did not apply for the Race to the Top federal grant which would have brought the district nearly $1 million additional federal dollars for improving student academic achievement.[139][140] Participation required the administration, the school board and the local teachers' union to sign an agreement to prioritize improving student academic success.[141] In Pennsylvania, 120 public school districts and 56 charter schools agreed to participate.[142] 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.[143]

Common Cents state initiative[edit]

The Elk Lake School Board chose 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.[144] After the review of the information, the district was not required to implement any of the recommended cost savings changes.

Real estate taxes[edit]

The Elk Lake School Board set property tax rates in 2012-2013 at 37.4800 mills for property owners in Susquehanna County. Wyoming County property owners - 42.400 mills. A mill is $1 of tax for every $1,000 of a property's assessed value. Irregular property reassessments have become a serious issue in the commonwealth as it creates a significant disparity in taxation within a community and across a region. Pennsylvania public school district revenues are dominated by two main sources: 1) Property tax collections, which account for the vast majority (between 75-85%) of local revenues; and 2) Act 511 tax collections (Local Tax Enabling Act), which are around 15% of revenues for school districts.[145] 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.

When the school district includes municipalities in two counties each of which has different rates of property tax assessment, a state board equalizes the tax rates between the counties. Elk Lake School District is an example of a split district.[146] In 2010, miscalculations by the State Tax Equalization Board (STEB) were widespread in the Commonwealth and adversely impacted funding for many public school districts, including those that did not cross county borders.[147]

  • 2011-12 - Susquehanna County - 35.8000 mills. Wyoming County - 44.2000 mills.
  • 2010-11 - Susquehanna County - 35.8300 mills. Wyoming County - 46.8000 mills.[148]
  • 2009-10 - Susquehanna County - 35.8800 mills. Wyoming County - 48.1500 mills.[149]
  • 2008-09 - Susquehanna County - 35.6720 mills. Wyoming County - 45.8700 mills.[150]
  • 2007-08 - Susquehanna County - 33.5230 mills. Wyoming County - 49.1650 mills.
  • 2006-07 - Susquehanna County - 32.0000 mills. Wyoming County - 47.7000 mills.
  • 2005-06 - Susquehanna County - 31.3000 mills. Wyoming County - 44.3000 mills.

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.[151] The average yearly property tax paid by Susquehanna County residents amounts to about 3.66% of their yearly income. Susquehanna County is ranked 331st of the 3143 United States counties for property taxes as a percentage of median income. Wyoming County 3.73% of yearly income,304th ranked [152]

Act 1 Adjusted index[edit]

The Act 1 of 2006 Index regulates the rates at which each school district can raise property taxes in Pennsylvania. Districts are not authorized to raise taxes above that index unless they allow voters to vote by referendum, or they seek an exception from the state Department of Education. The base index for the 2011-2012 school year is 1.4 percent, but the Act 1 Index can be adjusted higher, depending on a number of factors, such as property values and the personal income of district residents. Act 1 included 10 exceptions, including: increasing pension costs, increases in special education costs, a catastrophe like a fire or flood, increase in health insurance costs for contracts in effect in 2006 or dwindling tax bases. The base index is the average of the percentage increase in the statewide average weekly wage, as determined by the PA Department of Labor and Industry, for the preceding calendar year and the percentage increase in the Employment Cost Index for Elementary and Secondary Schools, as determined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the U.S. Department of Labor, for the previous 12-month period ending June 30. For a school district with a market value/personal income aid ratio (MV/PI AR) greater than 0.4000, its index equals the base index multiplied by the sum of .75 and its MV/PI AR for the current year.[153] In June 2011, the Pennsylvania General Assembly eliminated six exceptions to the Act 1 Index.[154] 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.[155][156]

The School District Adjusted Index for the Elk Lake School District 2006-2007 through 2010-2011.[157]

For the 2012-13 budget year, Elk Lake School Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed the Act 1 Index. For 2012-2013, 274 school districts adopted a resolution certifying that tax rates would not be increased above their index; 223 school districts adopted a preliminary budget leaving open the option of exceeded the Index limit. For the exception for pension costs, 194 school districts received approval to exceed the Index. For special education costs, 129 districts received approval to exceed the tax limit.[160]

For the 2011-12 school year, the Elk Lake School Board did not apply for an exception to exceed the Act 1 Index. Each year, the Elk Lake School Board has the option of adopting either 1) a resolution in January certifying they will not increase taxes above their index or 2) a preliminary budget in February. A school district adopting the resolution may not apply for referendum exceptions or ask voters for a tax increase above the inflation index. A specific timeline for these decisions is published annually, by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.[161]

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.[162]

Elk Lake School Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed the Act 1 index for the budgets in 2009-10 or in 2010-11.[163][164] 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.[165]

Property tax relief[edit]

In 2009, the Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief from gambling for the Elk Lake School District was $163 per approved permanent primary residence. In the district, 2,086 property owners applied for the tax relief.[166] The tax relief was subtracted from the total annual school property on the individual's 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. The Pennsylvania Auditor General found that 48% of property owners applied for tax relief in Susquehanna County.[167] In Susquehanna County, the highest property tax relief in 2009 was awarded to the approved property owners in Blue Ridge School District at $377. 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.[168] This was the second year Chester Upland School District was the top recipient.

Additionally, the Pennsylvania Property Tax/Rent Rebate program is provided for low income Pennsylvanians aged 65 and older; widows and widowers aged 50 and older; and people with disabilities age 18 and older. The income limit is $35,000 for homeowners. The maximum rebate for both homeowners and renters is $650. Applicants can exclude one-half (1/2) of their Social Security income, consequently individuals who have income substantially 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.[169]

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%).[170]

Natural Gas Well and Evacuation Drill[edit]

In 2008, Superintendent Bill Bush signed a gas lease with Cabot Oil. The school district received initial payment of $127,500 for the lease and receives royalties on a regular basis.[171] With an increase in resources, the school has made some changes. During the summer before the 2010-2011 school year, each classroom was equipped with a SMARTBoard.[172] Also, the school is considering switching its oil-fired heating system to one that uses natural gas. In addition to these changes, there have been changes in safety procedures.

On Friday, October 8, 2010, the Elk Lake School District held a comprehensive evacuation drill. This involved transporting 1400 people, including staff, students, and faculty members, to the neighboring school district, Montrose Area School District. According to school officials, the drill was a great success. Although it is widely speculated that this drill is in response to the presence of a natural gas well that is only several hundred yards away from the school, Superintendent Bush denies any claims that this is true.[173]

Activities[edit]

The Elk Lake School District offers a variety of clubs, activities and an extensive and costly sports program. Eligibility for participation is determined by school board policy and PIAA regulations.[174] Activities at the school include: Ski Club, Key Club, Future Business Leaders of America, Speech and Debate, Concert Band, Chorus, Starry Knights, Scholastic Bowl, D.A.R.E., and Theater and Drama.[175]

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 home schooled, 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.[176]

ELwarriorsW.jpg

Sports[edit]

The District funds:

Junior High School Sports

According to PIAA directory July 2012 [177]

The varsity boys' basketball team won two PIAA State Championships, in 1969 and 1977, the latter team going undefeated with a state record of 36 wins.[178]

In 2008, the varsity boys Cross Country team won the PIAA AA State Championship. In 2010, both the boys and girls varsity cross country teams placed second (both to Holy Redeemer) at the PIAA District II meet. One of the top runners on the boys team was injured prior to the District meet. Just two weeks after the District II meet, both teams placed first in the state meet, a feat which has only been accomplished by one other team.[179]

In 2009, Elk lake also sent their wrestling team to states after they upset Lake-Lehman 35-33.[180]

Community swimming - Elk Lake High School also offers open swim on Tuesday and Wednesday nights from 6:30 P.M. until 8:30 P.M.[181]

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Coordinates: 41°44′04″N 76°02′16″W / 41.73442°N 76.03775°W / 41.73442; -76.03775