Ephrata Area School District

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Ephrata Area School District
Location
Ephrata, Pennsylvania
Lancaster County

United States
District information
GradesK-12th
SuperintendentDr. Brian M. Troop
Students and staff
Students3,995
Teachers252
Other information
WebsiteEphrata School District
Map of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania Public School Districts. Ephrata Area School District is in pink in the center of the top (north-most) edge of the map.

The Ephrata Area School District is a midsized, suburban, public school district located in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, US. Ephrata Area School District encompasses approximately 44 square miles. At the 2000 federal census it served a resident population of 30,458. In 2009 the district residents' annual per capita income was US$19,574, while the median family income was $51,151 a year.[1] According to District officials, in school year 2007–08, the Ephrata Area School District provided basic educational services to 4,000 pupils. The district employed 316 teachers, 199 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 16 administrators in 2009. Ephrata Area School District received more than $14.3 million in state funding in school year 2007–08. The district is a member of Lancaster-Lebanon Intermediate Unit (IU) 13.

Statistical snapshot[edit]

2016 SAT: average scores
Lancaster County schools
School district Reading Math Writing Total
Cocalico 514 524 495 1534
Columbia Borough 460 448 427 1335
Conestoga Valley 515 511 479 1505
Donegal 515 508 492 1515
Eastern Lancaster County 526 524 493 1544
Elizabethtown Area 529 532 495 1556
Ephrata Area 525 526 496 1546
Hempfield 535 556 505 1595
Lampeter-Strasburg 524 533 511 1567
Lancaster 425 436 407 1268
Manheim Central 507 510 483 1501
Manheim Township 539 553 515 1608
Penn Manor 516 523 483 1521
Pequea Valley 531 526 492 1549
Solanco 509 512 471 1492
Warwick 537 539 507 1584
County average 513 516 484 1514
Pennsylvania average 481 485 458 1424
U.S. average 494 508 482 1484
Each test section is out of a score of 800 points.
Source: Public School SAT Scores, PA Department of Education [1]
U.S. Average Source: 2016 SAT Report, CollegeBoard [2]
Ephrata Area School District
Schools 8
Students 3995
Full Time Teachers 252
Student/Teacher Ratio 16:1
Male students 2009
Female students 1986
Native American students 4
Asian students 77
Hispanic students 86
Black students 700
White (non-Hispanic) students 3954
Pre-Kindergarten 1
Kindergarten 287
1st Grade 287
2nd Grade 241
3rd Grade 297
4th Grade 309
5th Grade 322
6th Grade 317
7th Grade 292
8th Grade 291
9th Grade 392
10th Grade 323
11th Grade 341
12th Grade 291

Source: Local School Directory[2]

Schools[edit]

Academic achievement[edit]

Ephrata Area School District was ranked 163rd out of 498 Pennsylvania School Districts in 2011 by the Pittsburgh Business Times. The ranking was based on five years of student academic performance based on the PSSA's on reading, mathematics and writing, as well as, three years of science.[3]

  • 2010 – 160th
  • 2009 – 155th
  • 2008 – 173rd
  • 2007 – 206th

In 2009, the academic achievement of the students of Ephrata Area School District was in the 48th percentile of Pennsylvania's 500 school districts. Scale (0–99; 100 is state best).[4]

Graduation rate[edit]

In 2010, the Pennsylvania Department of Education issued a new, 4-year cohort graduation rate. Ephrata Area School District's rate was 86% for 2010.[5]

  • 2010 – 95%[6]
  • 2009 – 94%
  • 2008 – 94%[7]
  • 2007 – 94%[8]
  • 2006 – 98%[9]

Washington Education Center[edit]

In January 2011, the Pennsylvania Department of Education identified the Washington Education Center as being in the bottom 5% of the state's public schools, for student academic achievement. According to the report, just 7.69% of the pupils were on grade level in both math and reading.[10] In 2011, the school board changed the classification of the school to a second high school in the school district. For a time, this alternative school permitted students from other school districts to attend, but it terminated that policy in 2010. Washington Education Center graduated 70 students in 2009. It serves as an alternative education, senior high school. The school was required, by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, to revise its programming to comply with the state-mandated 990 hours of attendance for students at public schools in 2010.[11] In 2010, twenty four of the school's teachers have emergency certification.[12] Washington Educational Center is on Marshall Street in Ephrata Borough. It opened in October 1999, in the vacant former Washington Elementary School, as an alternative for students that could not complete the requirements of a traditional brick-and-mortar education. The new status means that, upon successful completion or requirements, students will receive an Ephrata High School diploma.

2010 PSSA results
  • 11th grade Reading – 14% on grade level, 50% below basic. State – 66% 11th graders in PA on grade level.[12]
  • 11th grade Mathematics – 0 students on grade level, 100% below basic. State – 59%
  • 11th grade Science – 0 students on grade level, 45% below basic. State – 39%

Ephrata Senior High School[edit]

In 2010, the senior high school is in Making Progress: in School Improvement I status due to lagging student achievement. In 2009, the school was in School Improvement I AYP status due to chronic low student achievement.[13]

11th Grade Reading

  • 2010 – 74% on grade level (9% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 66% of 11th graders are on grade level.[14]
  • 2009 – 66% (19% below basic), State – 65%[15]
  • 2008 – 66% (14% below basic), State – 65%[16]
  • 2007 – 71% (12% below basic), State – 65%[17]
  • 2006 – 65% (19% below basic), State – 65%
  • 2005 – 62% (25% below basic), State – 65%

11th Grade Math:

  • 2010 – 77%, on grade level (11% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 59% of 11th graders are on grade level.[18]
  • 2009 – 66% (18% below basic). State – 56%.
  • 2008 – 70% (17% below basic), State – 56%
  • 2007 – 64% (17% below basic), State – 53%
  • 2006 – 62% (22% below basic), State – 52%
  • 2005 – 55% (25% below basic), State – 51%

11th Grade Science:

  • 2010 – 55% on grade level (10% below basic). State – 39% of 11th graders were on grade level.
  • 2009 – 54% (11% below basic). State – 40%[19]
  • 2008 – 36%, State – 39%

College remediation: According to a Pennsylvania Department of Education study released in January 2009, 31% of Ephrata Area 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.[20] 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.[21] 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 has offered a dual enrollment program since 2007. The program is open to seniors at Ephrata Senior High School. Up to six credits a semester may be taken.[22] 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. Ephrata Area School District has concurrent agreements for Dual Enrollment with: Franklin and Marshall College, Pennsylvania State University – Berks Campus, Millersville University and Harrisburg Area Community College – Lancaster Campus. The state offers a small grant to assist students in costs for tuition, fees and books.[23] Under the Pennsylvania Transfer and Articulation Agreement, many Pennsylvania colleges and universities accept these credits for students who transfer to their institutions.[24]

For the 2009–10 funding year, the school district received a state grant of $6,484 for the program.[25] For the 2010–11 school year, $5,608.00 was received from the PDE.[26] For 2011–12, there are no state grants available, however the program continues. Parents and students are responsible for paying all costs associated with the course.

Graduation requirements[edit]

The Ephrata Area school Board has determined that students must earn 23 credits to graduate, including: English 4 credits, Social Studies 3 credits, Mathematics 4 credits, Science 3 credits, Physical Education and health 2 credits, Computer 0.5 credits Arts or Humanities 2 credits, Consumer skills 0.5 credits, Safety Education 0.5 credits and Electives 3.5 credits.[27][28]

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.[29] At Ephrata Area School District the graduation project must be completed, in order to attend prom, participate in senior activity day and the graduation ceremony.

By Pennsylvania School Board regulations, for the graduating class of 2016, students must demonstrate successful completion of secondary level course work in Algebra I, Biology, English Composition, and Literature for which the Keystone Exams serve as the final course exams. Students’ Keystone Exam scores shall count for at least one-third of the final course grade.[30]

Middle school[edit]

In 2009 and 2010 the school achieved AYP status.[31] The attendance rate was 95% in 2009 and 2010.[32]

‘’’PSSA Results:’’’

8th Grade Science:

  • 2010 – 63% on grade level (17% below basic). State – 57% of 8th graders were on grade level.[37]
  • 2009 – 68% (13% below basic), State – 55%[38]
  • 2008 – 68% (18% below basic), State – 52%[39]

Elementary schools[edit]

  • Akron Elementary School – made AYP in 2009 & 2010 | Report Card 2010 [3][permanent dead link]
  • Clay Elementary School – made AYP in 2009 & 2010 | Report Card 2010 [4][permanent dead link]
  • Fulton Elementary School – made AYP in 2009 & 2010 | Report Card 2010 [5][permanent dead link]
  • Highland Elementary School – made AYP in 2009 & 2010 | Report Card 2010

Budget[edit]

In 2007, the Ephrata Area School District employed 256 teachers. The average teacher salary in the district was $50,677 for 180 days worked.[40] In addition to a defined benefit pension, health insurance, life insurance, vision insurance, dental insurance, professional development reimbursement, 10 paid sick days which accumulate, 2 paid personal days, 1 paid emergency leave day and a variety of other benefits. In 2009, the district employed over 420 teachers with a salary range of $45,985 to $141,395.[41] The average salary was $57,113.[42] Employees on sabbatical leave still receive hospitalization and health insurance, life insurance, accidental death and dismemberment insurance, and dental insurance and tuition reimbursement. Teachers receive a bonus on retirement in 2010 – 2015 of $180 per year teaching service and $45 for each unused sick day. The Board granted the local union a maximum of eight (8) paid school days (no more than four (4) of which may be taken at any one time) per school year for employees to attend meetings or workshops (including the Pennsylvania State Education Association and the National Education Association conventions). The union reimburses the School District the amount of the current per diem substitute salary per day for each employee participating in the meeting or workshop[43]

The district's administrative costs per pupil was $825.39 in 2008. This ranked 163rd in Pennsylvania for administrative spending. The lowest administrative cost per pupil in Pennsylvania was $398 per pupil.[44]

In 2008, the district's per pupil spending was $11,868. This ranked 288th in 500 Pennsylvania public school districts.[45]

Reserves – In 2008, the district reported an unreserved designated fund balance of $7,558,976 and an unreserved-undesignated fund balance of $4,430,778.[46] In 2010 the reserves had increased to an unreserved designated fund balance of $7,558,976 and an unreserved-undesignated fund balance of $4,430,778.[47]

In December 2010, the Pennsylvania Auditor General conducted a performance audit of the district. Findings were reported to the school board and administration. Specifically, the district was cited for Failure to Report Mileage and Pupil Data to the Department of Education in accordance with reporting guidelines resulting in unverifiable reimbursements and for certification deficiencies.[48]

The district is funded by a combination of: a local earned income tax, a property tax, a real estate transfer tax, coupled with substantial funding from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the federal government. Grants can provide an opportunity to supplement school funding without raising local taxes. In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, pension and Social Security income are exempted from state personal income tax and local earned income tax, regardless of the individual's wealth.[49]

State basic education funding[edit]

In 2011–12, the district will receive $8,686,957 in state Basic Education Funding.[50][51] Additionally, the district will receive $192,518 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. 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.[52] Districts experienced a reduction in funding due to the loss of federal stimulus funding which ended in 2011.

In 2010, the district reported that 1,167 pupils received a free or reduced-price lunch due to the family meeting the federal poverty level.

For the 2010–11 school year, the Pennsylvania Department of Education allocated Ephrata Area School District a 4.22% increase in Basic Education Funding for a total of $9,029,531. Among Lancaster County school districts, the highest increase was 18.51% increase given to Conestoga Valley School District. One hundred fifty school districts in Pennsylvania received a 2% increase for 2010–11. The highest increase, in state Basic Education Funding, in 2010–11 went to Kennett Consolidated School District in Chester County which received a 23.65% increase in state funding.[53]

In the 2009–2010 budget year the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a 3.94% increase in Basic Education funding for Ephrata Area School District a total of $9,029,531. The state Basic Education funding to the district in 2008–09 was $8,686,956.69. The highest increase in Lancaster County went to Columbia Borough School District which received 8.61% increase in 2009–10. Muhlenberg School District of Berks County received an increase of 22.31 percent. Sixteen school districts, in Pennsylvania, received an increase in funding of over 10 percent in 2009. Ninety school districts received the base 2% increase.[54] The amount of increase each school district receives is determined by the Governor and the Secretary of Education through the allocation set in the budget proposal made in February each year.[55]

In 2009, the district reported having 871 students participating in the federal free and reduced-price lunch program due to low family income.[56]

Accountability Block Grant[edit]

The state provides additional education funding to schools, in the form of Accountability Block Grants. The use of these funds is strictly targeted on specific state approved uses designed to improve student academic achievement. Ephrata Area School District uses its $522,541 to fund all day kindergarten, to fund teacher training through coaching and paying for conferences. These annual funds are in addition to the state's basic education funding and all federal funding.[57] School Districts must apply each year for Accountability Block Grants.[58] In 2009–10, the state provided $271.4 million in Accountability Block grants, with $199.5 million of it going to providing all-day kindergarten.[59]

Classrooms for the Future grant[edit]

The Classroom for the Future state program provided districts with hundreds of thousands of extra state funding to buy laptop computers for each core curriculum high school class (English, Science, History, Mathematics) and paid for mandatory teacher training to optimize the computers' use in the classroom for improving instruction. The program was funded from 2006–2009. Ephrata Area School District administration did not apply for the grant in 2006–07 nor in 2007–08. For the 2008–09, school year the district received $188,223. Of the 501 public school districts in Pennsylvania, 447 of them received Classrooms for the Future grant awards.[60]

Environmental Education Grant[edit]

The Environmental Education Grant Program was established by the Environmental Education Act of 1993, which mandates that 5 percent of all pollution fines and penalties collected annually by the Department of Environmental Protection be set aside for environmental education. In 2010, Ephrata Area School District was awarded $3000 to purchase air quality monitoring equipment and education resources to conduct ozone level studies for the chemistry and environmental science classes.[61]

Federal Stimulus grant[edit]

Ephrata Area School District received an extra $3,062,938 in ARRA – Federal Stimulus money to be used only in specific programs like special education and meeting the academic needs of low-income students.[62] This funding is for the 2009–10 and 2010–2011 school years.

Race to the Top grant[edit]

Ephrata Area School District officials did not apply for the Race to the Top federal grant which would have brought the district over $1 million in additional federal funding for improving student academic achievement.[63] Participation required the administration, the school board and the local teachers' union to sign an agreement to prioritize improving student academic success.[64] In Pennsylvania, 120 public school districts and 56 charter schools agreed to participate.[65] Pennsylvania was not approved for the grant. According to then Governor Rendell, failure of districts to agree to participate was cited as one reason that Pennsylvania was not approved.[66]

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.[67] 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 2010–2011 were set at 19.0200 mills.[68] A mill is $1 of tax for every $1,000 of a property's assessed value. Irregular property reassessments have become a serious issue in the Commonwealth, as it creates a significant disparity in taxation within a community and across a region. Property taxes, in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, apply only to real estate – land and buildings. The property tax is not levied on cars, business inventory, or other personal property. Certain types of property are exempt from property taxes, including: places of worship, places of burial, private social clubs, charitable and educational institutions and 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.[69]

  • 2009–10 – 18.5200 mills[70]
  • 2008–09 – 18.0900 mills[71]
  • 2007–08 – 17.2000 mills.[72]

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 permitted to raise taxes above that index, unless they allow voters to vote by referendum, or they seek an exception from the Pennsylvania 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.[73] With the 2011 state education budget, the General Assembly voted to end most of the Act 1 exceptions leaving only special education costs and pension costs. The cost of construction projects will go to the voters for approval via ballot referendum.[74]

The School District Adjusted Index for the Ephrata Area School District 2006–2007 through 2011–2012.[75]

  • 2006–07 – 4.7%, Base 3.9%
  • 2007–08 – 4.1%, Base 3.4%
  • 2008–09 – 5.2%, Base 4.4%
  • 2009–10 – 4.8%, Base 4.1%
  • 2010–11 – 3.4%, Base 2.9%
  • 2011–12 – 1.7%, Base 1.4%

For the 2011–12 school year, the Ephrata Area School Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed the Act 1 Index. Each year the Ephrata Area 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.[76]

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.[77]

Ephrata Area School Board applied for exceptions to exceed the Act 1 index for the budgets in 2010–11.[78] In 2009, The Ephrata Area School Board did not apply for exceptions.[79] 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.[80]

Property tax relief[edit]

In 2011, property tax relief for 7,896 approved residents of Ephrata Area School District was set at $130.[81] The highest property tax relief in Lancaster County was awarded to qualified residents of Lancaster School District who received $425. In 2009, the Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief from gambling for the Ephrata Area School District was $133 per approved permanent primary residence. In the district, 7,651 property owners applied for the tax relief.[82] The relief was subtracted from the total annual school property tax bill. Property owners apply for the relief through the county Treasurer's office. Farmers can qualify for a farmstead exemption on building used for agricultural purposes. The farm must be at least 10 contiguous acres (40,000 m2) and must be the primary residence of the owner. Farmers can qualify for both the homestead exemption and the farmstead exemption.[83]

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.[84]

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%).[85]

Extracurriculars[edit]

The district offers a wide variety of clubs, activities and an extensive sports program. Eligibility to participate is determined by school board policies. If an athlete fails two or more courses on a weekly report, he/she will be ineligible to participate in contests for a period of one week. They may continue to practice. If an athlete fails two or more subjects for a marking period, the athlete is ineligible to participate in contests for the first fifteen school days of the next marking period.[86][87] Ephrata High School and Ephrata Middle School are members of the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association.

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.[88]

Comparison to other Lancaster County school districts 2006[edit]

Pennsylvania System of School Assessment
2016-2017 Average PSSA exam scores for Lancaster County schools
School district Elementary Reading Elementary Math Elementary Science Intermediate Math Intermediate Reading Intermediate Science
Cocalico 78% 53% 91% 74% 38% 62%
Columbia Borough 50% 35% 80% 41% 15% 29%
Conestoga Valley 72% 52% 81% 71% 46% 60%
Donegal 69% 51% 79% 60% 41% 66%
Eastern Lancaster County 67% 49% 87% 69% 49% 60%
Elizabethtown Area 72% 62% 86% 66% 48% 63%
Ephrata Area 73% 60% 85% 61% 46% 51%
Hempfield 76% 62% 88% 73% 48% 70%
Lampeter-Strasburg 82% 67% 86% 74% 56% 61%
Lancaster 55% 44% 70% 36% 16% 31%
Manheim Central 73% 57% 88% 63% 51% 72%
Manheim Township 83% 75% 91% 79% 57% 71%
Penn Manor 73% 65% 86% 68% 46% 64%
Pequea Valley 71% 57% 89% 57% 27% 50%
Solanco 57% 50% 86% 62% 35% 56%
Warwick 74% 44% 82% 73% 44% 71%
Source: [6]

References[edit]

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  48. ^ Pennsylvania Auditor General Office (December 2010). "EPHRATA AREA SCHOOL DISTRICT LANCASTER COUNTY PENNSYLVANIA PERFORMANCE AUDIT REPORT".
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