Halifax Area School District

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Halifax Area School District
Map of Dauphin County Pennsylvania School Districts.png
Location
3940 Peters Mountain, Halifax, Pennsylvania 17032
Dauphin County
United States
Information
Type Public school district
School board 9 locally elected serve 4 year terms
Superintendent

Michele M. Orner (contract August 4, 2014 to August 3, 2017)[1]
Robert E Hassinger, former super, salary $111,700 (2013)[2]

James P. Dull, Superintendent
Administrator Mr Michael Bower, Business Manager
Staff 108 non teaching staff members
Faculty 96.0 (on FTE basis)
Grades Preschool to 12
Enrollment

1,053 pupils (2015)[3]
1,054 pupils (2014),[4]
1,077 pupils (2013),[5]
1,185 pupils (2009)[6]

1181 pupils (2006)[7]
 • Kindergarten 83 (2013), 88 (2010)
 • Grade 1 83 (2013), 106
 • Grade 2 80 (2013), 87
 • Grade 3 82 (2013), 84
 • Grade 4 92 (2013), 102
 • Grade 5 90 (2013), 61
 • Grade 6 80 (2013) 98
 • Grade 7 94 (2013), 97
 • Grade 8 62 (2013), 89
 • Grade 9 100 (2013), 92
 • Grade 10 78 (2013), 92
 • Grade 11 76 (2013), 96
 • Grade 12 76 (2013), 88 (2010)
 • Other Enrollment to decline to 1,080[6]
Student to teacher ratio 12.3
Budget

$19.8 million (2016-17)
$19,601,527 (2015-16)[8]
$19,090,417 (2014-15)[9]
$17,919,080 (2013-14)[10]

$17,582,943 (2012-13)[11]
$17.7 million (2011-12)[12]
Website

The Halifax Area School District is a small, suburban, public school district located in Halifax, Pennsylvania in Dauphin County. The District served 1,143 students in preschool to grade 12 in 2012.[13] Halifax Area School District encompasses approximately 83 square miles (210 km2). The District serves residents of: Halifax Borough, Halifax Township, Jackson Township and Wayne Township. According to 2000 federal census data, Halifax Area School District served a resident population of 7,366 people. By 2010, the District's population increased to 7,606 people.[14]

According to the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, 30.8% of the District’s pupils lived at 185% or below the Federal Poverty Level [1] as shown by their eligibility for the federal free or reduced price school meal programs in 2012.[15] In 2009, the District residents’ per capita income was $19,609, while the median family income was $50,256.[16] In Dauphin County, the median household income was $54,066.[17] In the Commonwealth, the median family income was $49,501[18] and the United States median family income was $49,445, in 2010.[19] By 2013, the median household income in the United States rose to $52,100.[20] In 2014, the median household income in the USA was $53,700.[21]

Per Halifax Area School District officials, in school year 2005-06, the District provided basic educational services to 1,256 pupils through the employment of 106 teachers, 149 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 13 administrators. In 2010, the District provided basic educational services to 1,246 pupils. It employed: 108 teachers, 86 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 12 administrators during the 2009-2010 school year. Halifax Area School District received $8 million in state funding in the 2009-10 school year.

Governance[edit]

Halifax Area School District is governed by 9 individually elected board members (serve four-year terms), the Pennsylvania State Board of Education, the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the Pennsylvania General Assembly.[22] 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, (renamed Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in December 2015) which mandates the district focus resources on student success in acquiring reading and math skills.[23] The school board is required by state law to post a financial report on the district in its website by March of each school year.[24]

The Superintendent and Business Manager are appointed by the school board. The Superintendent is the chief administrative officer with overall responsibility for all aspects of operations, including education and finance. The Business Manager is responsible for budget and financial operations. Neither of these officials are voting members of the School Board. The School Board enters into individual employment contracts for these positions. These contracts must be in writing and are subject to public discloure under the state’s Right to Know Act. In Pennsylvania, public school districts are required to give 150 days notice to the Superintendent and Business Manager regarding renewal of their employment contracts.[25] Pursuant to Act 141 of 2012 which amended the Pennsylvania School Code, all school districts that have hired superintendents on/after the fall of 2012 are required to develop objective performance standards and post them on the district’s website.[26] In Pennsylvania, public school districts are required to give 150 days notice to the Superintendent regarding renewal of the employment contract.[25]

On June 25, 2015 the Halifax Area School District's Board of Directors confirmed that Dr. Michele M. Orner received a rating of Satisfactory for the 2014-2015 school year.[27]

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.[28]

Schools[edit]

  • Enders-Fisherville Elementary School (grades Preschool, kindergarten, first)
  • Halifax Area Elementary School (grades 2-5)
  • Halifax Area Middle School (grades 6-8)
  • Halifax Area High School (grades 9-12)

High school students may choose to attend Dauphin County Technical School for training in the construction and mechanical trades. School aged residents may attend the Capital Area School for the Arts which is an arts charter school located in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Students may also choose to attend Capital Area Online Learning Association (CAOLA) online education programs. The service is operated by the Capital Area Intermediate Unit 15. Halifax Area School 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]

Halifax Area School District was ranked 239th out of 498 Pennsylvania School Districts, in 2015, by the Pittsburgh Business Times.[29] The ranking is based on the last 3 years of student academic achievement as demonstrated by PSSAs results in: reading, writing, math and science and the three Keystone Exams (literature, Algebra 1, Biology I) in high school.[30] Three Pennsylvania school districts were excluded because they do not operate high schools (Saint Clair Area School District, Midland Borough School District, Duquesne City School District). The PSSAs are given to all children in grades 3rd through 8th. Adapted PSSA examinations are given to children in the special education programs. Writing exams were given to children in 5th and 8th grades.

In October 2015, Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale reported that one school in the District is among the 561 academically challenged schools that have been overlooked by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Halifax Area Elementary School was on the list.[37][38] He also reported the Pennsylvania Department of Education failed to take any action to remediate the poorly performing schools to raise student academic achievement or to provide them with targeted professional assistance.[39]

Overachievers Ranking

In 2012, the Pittsburgh Business Times reported an Overachievers Ranking for 498 Pennsylvania school districts. Halifax Area ranked 481st. 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."[40]

  • 2011 - 459th
  • 2010 - 474th
  • 2009 - 408th

In 2009, the student academic achievement of the Halifax Area School District fell in the 40th percentile among PA's 500 school districts.[41]

District AYP status history[edit]

In 2012, Halifax Area School District declined to Warning Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) status.[42] In 2011, Halifax Area School District achieved AYP status. In 2011, 94 percent of the 500 Pennsylvania public school districts achieved the No Child Left Behind Act progress level of 72% of students reading on grade level and 67% of students demonstrating on grade level math. In 2011, 46.9 percent of Pennsylvania school districts achieved Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) based on student performance. An additional 37.8 percent of school districts made AYP based on a calculated method called safe harbor, 8.2 percent on the growth model and 0.8 percent on a two-year average performance.[43] Halifax Area School District achieved AYP status each year from 2003 to 2010.[44]

Graduation rate[edit]

In 2015, the District’s graduation rate was 88.7%.[45]

  • 2014 - 89.61%.[46]
  • 2013 - 86.60%.[47]
  • 2012 - 87%.[48]
  • 2011 - 91% [49]
  • 2010 - 86%, the Pennsylvania Department of Education issued a new, 4-year cohort graduation rate.[50]
Former calculation graduation rate

High school[edit]

Halifax Area High School is located at 3940 Peters Mountain Road, Halifax. In 2015, enrollment was reported as 304 pupils in 9th through 12th grades, with 31.9 of pupils eligible for a free lunch due to family poverty. Additionally, 13% of pupils received special education services, while 2.3% of pupils were identified as gifted.[54] In 2014, enrollment was reported as 298 pupils in 9th through 12th grades, with 29.5% of pupils eligible for a free lunch due to family federal poverty level. Additionally, 15% of pupils received special education services, while 2.35% of pupils were identified as gifted. The school employed 28 teachers.[55] Per the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 5% of the teachers were rated "Non‐Highly Qualified" under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2011, the school reported an enrollment of 374 pupils in grades 9th through 12th, with 79 pupils eligible for a federal free or reduced price lunch due to the family meeting the federal poverty level. The school employed 31 teachers yielding a student-teacher ratio of 12:1.[56] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 11% teachers were rated Non‐Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[57]

2015 School Performance Profile

Halifax Area High School declined to 75.6 out of 100. Reflects on grade level reading, mathematics and science achievement.The Pennsylvania Department of Education reported that 75.6% of the High School’s students were on grade level in reading/literature. In Algebra 1, 63% of students showed on grade level skills at the end of the course. In Biology I, 64% demonstrated on grade level science understanding at the end of the course.[58] Statewide, 53 percent of schools with an eleventh grade achieved an academic score of 70 or better. Five percent of the 2,033 schools with 11th grade were scored at 90 and above; 20 percent were scored between 80 and 89; 28 percent between 70 and 79; 25 percent between 60 and 69 and 22 percent below 60. The Keystone Exam results showed: 73 percent of students statewide scored at grade-level in English, 64 percent in Algebra I and 59 percent in biology.[59][60]

2014 School Performance Profile

Halifax Area High School achieved 82.6 out of 100. Reflects on grade level reading, mathematics and science achievement. In reading/literature - 69% were on grade level. In Algebra 1, 84% showed on grade level skills. In Biology, 65% demonstrated on grade level science understanding at the end of the course.[61] Statewide, the percentage of high school students who scored proficient and advanced in Algebra I increased to 39.7% to 40.1%. The percentage of high school students who scored proficient and advanced in reading/literature declined to 52.5%. The percentage of high school students who scored proficient and advanced in biology improved from 39.7% to 41.4%.[62]

2013 School Performance Profile

Halifax Area High School achieved 78.4 out of 100. Reflects on grade level reading, mathematics and science achievement. In reading/literature - just 67.21% were on grade level. In Algebra 1 65.6% showed on grade level skills. In Biology, 52% showed on grade level science understanding.[63] According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 2,181 public schools (less than 73 percent of Pennsylvania public schools), achieved an academic score of 70 or higher.

AYP History[edit]

In 2012, Halifax Area High School declined to Warning Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) status due to missing all 4 academic metrics measured. In 2011, the Halifax Area High School achieved AYP status through exceptions despite continued low student achievement. In 2010, Halifax Area High School was in Warning status due to low student achievement in reading and mathematics.[64] In 2009, Halifax Area high School achieved AYP status. In 2008, Halifax Area High School declined to Warning AYP status due to lagging student achievement in reading and math.

PSSA Results

Pennsylvania System of School Assessments, commonly called PSSAs are No Child Left Behind Act related examinations which were administered from 2003 through 2012, in all Pennsylvania public high schools. The exams were administered in the Spring of each school year. The goal was for 100% of students to be on grade level or better in reading and mathematics, by the Spring of 2014. The tests focused on the state's Academic Standards for reading, writing, mathematics and science. The Science exam included content in science, technology, ecology and the environmental studies. The mathematics exam included: algebra I, algebra II, geometry and trigonometry. The standards were first published in 1998 and are mandated by the Pennsylvania State Board of Education.[65] In 2013, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania changed its high school assessments to the Keystone Exams in Algebra 1, Reading/literature and Biology1. The exams are given at the end of the course, rather than all in the spring of the student's 11th grade year.[66]

11th Grade Reading
  • 2012 - 69% on grade level, (16% below basic). 67% of 11th graders are on grade level.[67]
  • 2011 - 75%, (17% below basic). State - 69% [68]
  • 2010 - 78%, State - 67% [69]
  • 2009 - 77%, State - 65% [70]
  • 2008 - 68%, State - 65% [71]
11th Grade Math
  • 2012 - 47% on grade level (27% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 59% of 11th graders are on grade level.[72]
  • 2011 - 64%, (17% below basic). State - 60.3%
  • 2010 - 47%, State - 59%
  • 2009 - 47%, State - 59%
  • 2009 - 51%, State - 56%
  • 2008 - 26%, State - 56%
11th Grade Science
  • 2012 - 32% on grade level (7% below basic). State - 42% of 11th graders were on grade level.
  • 2011 - 37%, (13% below basic). State - 40%
  • 2010 - 28%, State - 39% [73]
  • 2009 - 41%, State - 40%
  • 2008 - 28%, State - 39%

Science in Motion Halifax Area High School did not take 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.[74] Cedar Crest College provided the enrichment experiences to schools in the region.

College Remediation[edit]

According to a Pennsylvania Department of Education study released in January 2009, 35% of Halifax 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.[75][76] 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.[77] 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]

Halifax Area 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.[78] Under the Pennsylvania Transfer and Articulation Agreement, many Pennsylvania colleges and universities accept these credits for students who transfer to their institutions.[79] 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.[80] For the 2009-10 funding year, the school district received a state grant of $1,921 for the program.

Graduation requirements[edit]

The Halifax Area School Board has determined that a student must earn 26 credits to graduation.[81]

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.[82] At Halifax Area School District the project has students explore careers.[83] Effective with the graduating class of 2017, the Pennsylvania State Board of Education eliminated the state mandate that students complete a culminating project in order to graduate.[84]

By Pennsylvania School Board regulations, beginning with the class of 2018, public school students must demonstrate successful completion of secondary level course work in Algebra I, Biology, and English Literature by passing the Keystone Exams.[85] The exam is given at the end of the course. Keystone Exams replace the PSSAs for 11th grade.[86]

Students have several opportunities to pass the exam. Those who do not pass after several attempts can perform a project in order to graduate.[87][88] 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.[89] 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.[90] 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 2014, 42 Halifax Area School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 506. The Math average score was 517. The Writing average score was 501.[91] Statewide in Pennsylvania, Verbal Average Score was 497. The Math average score was 504. The Writing average score was 480. The College Board also reported that nationwide scores were: 497 in reading, 513 in math and 487 in writing.[92]

In 2013, 46 Halifax Area School District students' SAT Verbal Average Score was 498. The Math average score was 501. The Writing average score was 483. The College Board reported Pennsylvania students who took the test scored 494 Verbal, 504 Math and just 482 in Writing. The highest possible score is 800 on each of the exams. The nationwide scores in all three subjects, which averaged Verbal 496, Mathematics 514 and Writing 488.

In 2012, 51 Halifax Area School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 506. The Math average score was 517. The Writing average score was 500. 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, 47 Halifax Area students took the SAT exams. The district's Verbal Average Score was 485. The Math average score was 491. The Writing average score was 500.[93] Pennsylvania ranked 40th among states with SAT scores: Verbal - 493, Math - 501, Writing - 479.[94] 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.[95]

AP Courses[edit]

In 2014, Halifx Area High School offered 2 Advanced Placement (AP) courses at a higher cost than regular courses. The fee for each AP Exam is $91 (2014).[96] The school normally retains $9 of that fee as a rebate to help with administrative costs. In 2012, the fee was $89 per test per pupil. Students have the option of taking College Board approved courses and then taking the College Board's examination in the Spring. Students, who achieve a 3 or better on the exam, may be awarded college credits at US universities and colleges. Each higher education institution sets its own standards about what level of credits are awarded to a student based on their AP exam score. Most higher education give credits for scores of 4 or 5. Some schools also give credits for scores of 3. High schools give credits towards graduation to students who take the school's AP class. At Halifax Area High School 37% of students who took an AP course earned a 3 or better on the exam.[97] In 2015, HAHS offered 5 AP courses. Just 30% of pupils who took the courses achieved a 3 or better on the associated AP exam given by the College Board.

Middle school[edit]

Halifax Area Middle School is located at 3940 Peters Mountain Road, Halifax. In 2015, enrollment was 258 pupils, in grades 6th through t8h, with 41% of pupils eligible for a free lunch due to family poverty. Additionally, 19.77% of pupils received special education services, while 1.5% of pupils were identified as gifted.[98] According to a 2014 report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[99] In 2014, enrollment was 260 pupils, in grades 6th through 8th, with 34% of pupils eligible for a free lunch due to family poverty. Additionally, 19% of pupils received special education services, while 2.69% of pupils were identified as gifted.[100] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 98% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.[101] In 2013, the enrollment was 236 pupils in grades 6th through 8th, with 36% coming from a low income family.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2011, Halifax Area Middle School reported an enrollment of 248 pupils in grades 6th through 8th, with 64 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced price lunch due to family poverty. The school employed 24 teachers yielding a student-teacher ratio of 10:1.[102] 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.[103]

2015 School Performance Profile

The PDE reported that 54% of 8th grade students at Halifax Area Middle School students were on grade level in reading on the PSSAs given in April 2015. In math/Algebra 1, just 13% of 8th grade students showed on grade level skills math skills. In science, 66% of the school’s 8th graders demonstrated on grade level science understanding. No eighth grade writing scores were reported. In 7th grade, 52% were on grade level in reading, while 23% showed on grade level math skills. Among 6th graders, 56% were on grade level in reading and 23.5% were on grade level in mathematics.[104] Statewide 58% of eighth (8th) graders were on grade level in reading, while 29% demonstrated on grade level math skills. Pennsylvania 7th graders were 58% on grade level in reading and 33% demonstrated on grade level math skills. Among sixth (6th) graders, 60.7% were reading on grade level, while 39.7% demonstrated on grade level math skills. Statewide 61.9% of fifth (5th) graders were on grade level in reading, while 42.8% demonstrated on grade level math skills.[105]

2014 School Performance Profile

Halifax Area Middle School achieved 77.4 out of 100. Reflects on grade level reading, mathematics and science achievement. In reading/literature - 74% were on grade level. In Algebra 1/Math, 77.9% showed on grade level mathematics skills. In Science, 67% of 8th graders showed on grade level science understanding. In writing, 73.8% of the 8th grade students demonstrated on grade level writing skills.[106]

2013 School Performance Profile

Halifax Area Middle School achieved 89.3 out of 100. Reflects on grade level reading, mathematics, writing and science achievement.[107] In reading 84% were reading on grade level. In mathematics 75% of pupils demonstrated on grade level skills. In writing 83% of students were on grade level. For science, 77.97% of pupils showed on grade level understanding.

AYP history

In 2012, Halifax Area Middle School achieved AYP status.[108] In 2011, Halifax Area Middle School achieved AYP status. In 2010, the Middle School achieved AYP status.[109] From 2003 through 2008, Halifax Area Middle School achieved AYP status each year.

PSSA results

Sixth and seventh grades have been tested in reading and mathematics since 2006. Eighth graders are tested in: reading, writing, mathematics and Science. Beginning in the Spring of 2013, eighth graders, who are enrolled in Algebra I take the Keystone Exam for Algebra I at the end of the course. The testing of 8th grade in reading and mathematics began in 1999, as a state initiative.[110] Testing in science began in 2007. The goal is for 100% of students to be on grade level or better in reading and mathematics, by the Spring of 2014. The tests focus on the state's Academic Standards for reading, writing, mathematics and science.[111] The standards were published in 1998 and are mandated by the Pennsylvania State Board of Education.[65] In 2014, the Commonwealth adopted the Pennsylvania Core Standards - Mathematics.[112]

8th Grade Science
  • 2012 - 72% on grade level (12% below basic). State – 59%
  • 2011 - 61%, (13% below basic). State – 58.3%
  • 2010 - 68%, State - 57%
  • 2009 - 62%, State - 54%
  • 2008 - 56%, State - 52%[118]

Halifax Elementary School[edit]

Halifax Area Elementary School is located at 3940 Peters Mountain Road, Halifax. In 2015, the School's enrollment was 312 pupils in grades second through 5th, with 39.7% of pupils receiving a federal free or reduced price meals due to family poverty. Additionally, 12.8% of the pupils receive special education services, while 1.2% are identified as gifted.[120] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of the teachers were rated highly qualified under No Child Left Behind.[121] The school is a federally designated Title I school.

In 2014, Halifax Area Elementary School's enrollment was 317 pupils in grades 2nd through 5th, with 32% of pupils receiving a federal free or reduced price meals due to family poverty. Additionally, 13.8% of the pupils receive special education services, while less than 1% are identified as gifted.[122] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of the teachers were rated highly qualified under No Child Left Behind.[123] The school is a federally designated Title I school. In 2013, enrollment was 344 students in grades 2nd through 5th, with 35% of pupils from low income families.[124]

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, the school reported an enrollment of 357 pupils in grades second through 5th, with 113 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school employed 25 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 14:1.[125] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[126]

2015 School Performance Profile

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 51% of 5th grade students at Halifax Area Elementary School were on grade level in reading on the PSSAs given in April 2015. In mathematics, just 36% of 5th grade students showed on grade level skills. No fifth grade writing scores were reported. In 4th grade, 56% were on grade level in reading, while 45% showed on grade level math skills. In science, 85% of fourth graders showed on grade level understanding. Among third (3rd) graders, 74% were on grade level in reading and 60% were on grade level in mathematics.[127] Statewide 61.9% of fifth (5th) graders were on grade level in reading, while 42.8% demonstrated on grade level math skills. Pennsylvania 4th graders were 58.6% on grade level in reading and 44.4% demonstrated on grade level math skills. In science, 77.3% of fourth graders showed on grade level understanding. Among Pennsylvania third (3rd) graders, 62% were reading on grade level, while 48.5% demonstrated on grade level math skills.[128]

2014 School Performance Profile

Halifax Area Elementary School achieved a score of 69.8 out of 100. The score reflects on grade level: reading, science, writing and mathematics achievement. In 2013-14, only 68% of the students were reading on grade level in grades 3rd through 5th. In 3rd grade, 77.9% of the pupils were reading on grade level. In math, 80.5% were on grade level (3rd-5th grades). In 4th grade science, 92% of the pupils demonstrated on grade level understanding. In writing, 25.3% of 5th grade pupils demonstrated on grade level skills.[129]

2013 School Performance Profile

Halifax Area Elementary School achieved 76.3 out of 100. The score reflects on grade level: reading, science, writing and mathematics achievement. In 2012-13, only 69.65% of the students were reading on grade level in grades 3rd through 5th. In math, 79.38% were on grade level. In 4th grade science, 80% of the pupils demonstrated on grade level understanding. In writing only 54.55% of pupils were on grade level.[130]

AYP history

In 2012, Halifax Area Elementary School declined to Warning AYP status due to missing 3 of 8 academic metrics. In 2011 and 2010, the school achieved AYP status.[131]

PSSA results

Each year, in the Spring, the 3rd graders take the PSSAs in math and reading. The fourth grade is tested in reading, math and science. The fifth grade is evaluated in reading, mathematics and writing. PSSAs are No Child Left Behind Act related examinations, which were administered beginning 2003 to all Pennsylvania public school students in grades 3rd-8th.[132] The goal was for 100% of students to be on grade level or better in reading and mathematics, by the Spring of 2014.[133][134][135] The tests focused on the state's Academic Standards for reading, writing, mathematics and science. The Science exam is given to 4th grades and includes content in science, technology, ecology and the environmental studies.[136]

4th Grade Science
  • 2012 - 81%, (6% below basic), State – 82%
  • 2011 - 79%, (1% below basic), State – 82.9%
  • 2010 - 83%, State - 81%
  • 2009 - 86%, State - 83%
  • 2008 - 91%, State - 81%

Enders-Fisherville Elementary School[edit]

Enders-Fisherville Elementary School is located at 791 Enders Road, Halifax. In 2015, Enders-Fisherville Elementary School's enrollment declined to 164 pupils in grades preschool through 1st, with 42.7% of pupils receiving a federal free or reduced price meals due to family poverty. Additionally, 17% of the pupils receive special education services, while none are identified as gifted. In 2014, Enders-Fisherville Elementary School's enrollment was 179 pupils in grades preschool through 1st, with 32.9% of pupils receiving a federal free or reduced price meals due to family poverty. Additionally, 15.6% of the pupils receive special education services, while 0.56% are identified as gifted.[141] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of the teachers were rated highly qualified under No Child Left Behind. The school provides full day preschool to 4 year olds and full day kindergarten.[142] The school is a federally designated Title I school.

In 2013, Enders-Fisherville Elementary School reported an enrollment of 166 pupils in preschool through first grade, with 39% of pupils from low income families. The school provided full day kindergarten and taxpayer funded preschool.[143]

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, Enders-Fisherville Elementary School reported an enrollment of 164 pupils in taxpayer funded preschool through first grade, with 34 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school employed 17 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 9:1.[144] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[145] The school has provided full day kindergarten to all of its pupils in 2003.

Halifax Area School District has provided full-day kindergarten for more than a decade.[146] and taxpayer funded preschool for five years.[147] Proponents of full day kindergarten claim it will reduce special education numbers and it will raise primary student academic achievement in reading.[148] Those outcomes have not been realized in the Halifax Area School District. Reading achievement in particular has not improved.[149]

PreK Counts grant[edit]

Halifax Area School District receives state grants to provide taxpayer funded preschool at the elementary school. For the 2011 school year, Pre-K Counts was funded at the 2010 levels of $83.6 million statewide in Gov. Tom Corbett's proposed budget. The state also supplements the federal Head Start preschool program with an additional $37.6 million. Pre-K Counts funding was initiated during the Rendell administration. In 2007-08 the state funded Pre-K Counts at $75 million. Halifax Area School District received also funding in 2007-08.[150] In 2009-10, Halifax Area School District received $165,236 to provide preschool to 30 children.[151][152] For the 2013-14 school year, Halifax Area received a state Pre K Counts grant of $176,550.[153] This grant was brought to the district in 2009-2010 school term. The project was spearheaded by Penny Lenig-Zerby the Assistant to the Superintendent.

Special education[edit]

In December 2013, Halifax Area School District administration reported that 16.62% of the district's pupils received Special Education services. In December 2011, Halifax Area School District administration reported that 174 pupils or 15.1% of the district's pupils received Special Education services, with 44.8% of identified students having a specific learning disability. In December 2010, Halifax Area School District administration reported that 182 pupils or 15% of the district's pupils received Special Education services, with 39% of identified students having a specific learning disability.[154] In 2009, 195 Halifax Area School District pupils were receiving special education services. Special education services in the Commonwealth are provided to students from ages three years to 21 years old. In the 2010-2011 school year, the total student enrollment was more than 1.78 million students with approximately 275,000 students eligible for special education services. Among these students 18,959 were identified with mental retardation and 21,245 students with autism.[155] The largest group of students are identified as Specific Learning Disabilities 126,026 students (46.9 percent) and Speech or Language Impairments with 43,542 students (16.2 percent).

In 2007, Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Gerald Zahorchak testified before the Pennsylvania House Education Committee regarding full day kindergarten and preschool. He claimed that districts which offered these programs would see a significant decrease in special education students due to early identification and early intervention. He asserted the high cost of full day kindergarten and preschool would be recouped by Districts in lower special education costs.[156] Halifax Area has seen an increase in the percentage of special education students it serves, without the savings.

In 2010, the state of Pennsylvania provided $1,026,815,000 for Special Education services. This funding is in addition to the state's basic education per pupil funding, as well as, all other state and federal funding.[157] 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.[158] The state requires each district to have a three-year special education plan to meet the unique needs of its special education students.[159] Overidentification 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.[160] 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.[161] In 2012, the Obama Administration's US Department of Education issued a directive requiring schools include students with disabilities in extracurricular activities, including sports.[162]

Halifax Area School District received a $713,134 supplement for special education services in 2010.[163] For the 2011-12, 2012–13 and 2013-14 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 was 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.[164][165] For the 2014-2015 school year, Halifax Area School District received an increase to $728,859 from the Commonwealth for special education funding.[166] Additionally, the state provides supplemental funding for extraordinarily impacted students. The District must apply for this added funding.

Gifted education[edit]

The District Administration reported that 26 or 2.19% of its students were gifted in 2009. The highest percentage of gifted students reported among all 500 school districts and 100 public charter schools in Pennsylvania was North Allegheny School District with 15.5% of its students identified as gifted.[167] 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.[168][169]

Wellness policy[edit]

Halifax Area School Board established a district-wide Student Wellness Policy in 2006 - Policy 246.[170] 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 National School Lunch Act (42 U.S.C. 1751 et seq) or the Child Nutrition Act of 1966 (42 U.S.C. 1771 et seq) "shall establish a local school wellness policy by School Year 2006."

The legislation placed the responsibility of developing a wellness policy at the local level so the individual needs of each district can be addressed. According to the requirements for the Local Wellness Policy, school districts must set goals for nutrition education, physical activity, 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.[171] The Pennsylvania Department of Education required the district to submit a copy of the policy for approval.

In addition to a free and reduced price school lunch program, Halifax Area School District provides a school breakfast program, funded in part, by federal and state dollars. 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.[172] The meals are partially funded with federal dollars through the United States Department of Agriculture.[173]

In 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.[174] In order to comply with the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 all US public school districts are required to raise the price of their school lunches to $2.60 regardless of the actual cost of the lunch.[175]

Halifax Area School District provides health services as mandated by the Commonwealth and the federal government. Nurses are available in each building to conduct annual health screenings (data reported to the PDE and state Department of Health) and to dispense prescribed medications to students during the school day. Students can be excluded from school unless they comply with all the State Department of Health’s extensive immunization mandates. School nurses monitor each pupil for this compliance.[176] Nurses also monitor each child's weight.

Highmark Healthy High 5 grant[edit]

In 2011, the Halifax Area School District received funding through a Highmark Healthy High 5 grant. Halifax Area High School received $9,826 which was used to implement the "Halifax Fitness For Life" program, a cardio/circuit/interval training program that will be incorporated into the PE curriculum for all students. Halifax Elementary School also received a grant of $9,967 o implement Club Fit which was a program incorporating walking, DDR, scooter soccer, obstacle courses, and various other fitness games.[177] Beginning in 2006, Highmark Foundation engaged in a 5-year, $100 million program to promote lifelong healthy behaviors in children and adolescents through local nonprofits and schools.

The District also participated in Highmark Healthy High 5 Health eTools for Schools which enabled mobile data collection of pertinent health and physical fitness screening data on students K-12 in a database held by InnerLink, Inc. in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Health eTools for Schools also provided interdisciplinary research-based curriculum in nutrition, physical education and physical activity to participating districts. The program was discontinued in 2013.[178]

Budget[edit]

Pennsylvania public school districts budget and expend funds according to procedures mandated by the General Assembly and 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.[179]

In 2013, the average teacher salary in Halifax Area School District was $52,484 a year, while the cost of the benefits teachers received was $16,196 per employee, for a total annual average teacher compensation of $68,680.[180] The District employed 1455 teachers with a top salary of $109,200.[181][182]

Halifax Area School District teacher and administrator retirement benefits are equal to at least 2.00% x Final Average Salary x Total Credited Service. (Some teachers benefits utilize a 2.50% benefit factor.)[183] After 40 years of service, a teacher can retire with 100% of the average salary of their final 3 years of employment. 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.[184]

In 2012, the average teacher salary in Halifax Area School District was $53,494.65 a year, while the cost of the benefits teachers received was $16,187 per employee, for a total annual average teacher compensation of $69,681.[180]

In 2011, the average teacher salary in Halifax Area School District was $52,857 a year, while the cost of the benefits teachers received was $17,584 per employee, for a total annual average teacher compensation of $70,441.[185] 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.[184]

In 2009, Halifax Area School District reported employing 113 teachers and administrators with a median salary of $53,830 and a top salary of $109,200.[186] The teacher’s work day is 7 hours 35 minutes with 189 days in the contract year. Additionally, the teachers receive a defined benefit pension, health insurance, professional development reimbursement, paid personal days, 10 paid sick days, and other benefits. The teachers union receives 5 paid days per year to be used to conduct union business.[187]

In 2007, the average teacher salary in the Halifax Area School District was $48,404 for 180 days worked.[188] In 2009 the district reported employing over 100 teachers with a salary range of $38,404 to $105,000.[189][190] Additionally, the employees receive benefits, including health insurance, life insurance, sick leave, grief leave, reimbursed college credits, and a defined benefits pension.[191]

Administrative spending Halifax Area School District administrative costs per pupil in 2008 were $1,191 per pupil. The District ranked 24th among Pennsylvania's 500 districts for administrative spending. The lowest administrative cost per pupil in Pennsylvania was $398 per pupil.[192] In July 2007, the school board hired Robert E. Hassinger as superintendent for three years, at an initial salary of $100,000 and an extensive benefits package that included: travel to conferences, life insurance of 2 times salary, health insurance and 28 paid vacation days which accumulate.[193] In 2009, Hassinger's salary was reported by the District as $105,000.[194] 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.[195] Penny S. Lenig-Zerby, was the Assistant to the Superintendent who ran the PreK Counts program in 2007-08 and 2008-09.[196]

Per pupil spending In 2008 Halifax Area School District per pupil spending was $12,928. This ranked 182nd in 500 Pennsylvania public school districts.[197] In 2010, the District's per pupil spending rose to $16,140.30 which ranked 65th in the Commonwealth. In 2010, the District's per pupil spending was $14,676.[198] In 2011, Pennsylvania’s per pupil spending was $13,467, ranking 6th in the United States.[199] In 2007, the Pennsylvania per pupil total expenditures was reported as $12,759.[200]

The U.S. Census Bureau reported that Pennsylvania spent $8,191 per pupil in school year 2000-01.[201] In 2007, the Pennsylvania per pupil total expenditures was reported as $12,759.[200] Among the fifty states, Pennsylvania’s total per pupil revenue (including all sources) ranked 11th at $15,023 per student, in 2008-09.[202] Pennsylvania’s total revenue per pupil rose to $16,186 ranking 9th in the nation in 2011.[203]

Shared services In October 2009, the school board approved a contract between Halifax School District and Susquenita School District to provide Special Education services for autistic support students attending the program conducted by the Susquenita High School.[204]

Building project In 2014, the Board approved a $22 million building project to add 4 new classrooms and a multimedia center to the high school.[205]

Reserves In 2008, Halifax Area School District reported an unreserved designated fund balance of $456,026.00 and an unreserved-undesignated fund balance of $479,114.00.[206] In 2010, Halifax Area Administration reported an increase to $1,281,546.00 in its unreserved-undesignated fund balance. The unreserved-designated fund balance was $492,804. In 2013, the reserves held by Halifax Area School District has risen to $4,175,092.[207] 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. In 2005, the total reserve funds held by Pennsylvania public school districts was $1.9 billion.[208] According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, from 2003 to 2010, as a whole, Pennsylvania school districts amassed nearly $3 billion in reserved funds.[209] In 2013, reserves held by Pennsylvania public school districts, as a whole, had increased to over $3.8 billion.[210][211][212]

Audit In January 2013, the Pennsylvania Auditor General conducted a performance audit of the Halifax Area School District. The findings were reported to the School Board and the District’s administration.[213] In 2012, the Pennsylvania Auditor GEneral found fraud on the part of the District in the Pre-K Counts grants. It found the assistant superintendent/grant administrator created falsified invoices that included the participating provider as the customer and submitted it to the HASD business office for payment. The invoices totaled $6,894.[214] During the 2009-10 school year, the assistant superintendent/grant administrator received $1,394 before she resigned from her job at HASD. A secretary was terminated from her job after the fraud was discovered. A teacher received $1,296 and an aide received $688.50 before the fraud was uncovered. Since the individuals involved in the scheme were already paid by the Halifax Area School District, they were not entitled to additional payments. HASD paid attorney fees in the amount of $10,966 to terminate one of the employees that was involved in the fraud. The assistant superintendent pleaded guilty to Theft by Unlawful Taking and Unsworn Falsification. The individual received a sentence of Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition and made restitution on September 2, 2010. The other employees involved made full restitution to avoid prosecution.

Billing fraud In 2014, the owner of a defunct bus company (Harris Transportation Corp.) plead guilty to fraudulently billing for bus services to Halifax Area School District by over billing $567,000.[215]

Tuition Students who live in the Halifax Area 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 Halifax Area School District. For these cases, the Pennsylvania Department of Education sets an annual tuition rate for each school district. It is the amount the public school district pays to a charter school for each resident student that attends the charter and it is the amount a nonresident student's parents must pay to attend the District's schools. The 2012 tuition rates are Elementary School - $9,225, High School - $11,629.[216]

Halifax Area School District is funded by a combination of: a local earned income tax 0.5%, a property tax, two per capita tax $10 per individual, an Occupation assessment tax, a real estate transfer tax - 0.5%, coupled with substantial funding from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the federal government. In Pennsylvania, pension income and social security income are exempt from state personal income tax and local earned income tax, regardless of the individual's level of wealth.[217]

State basic education funding[edit]

According to a report from Representative Todd Stephens office, Halifax Area School District receives 48.7% of its annual revenue from the state.[218]

For the 2015-16 school year, Governor Tom Wolf released a partial Basic Education Funding of $2,627,446 to Halifax Area School District, in January 2016.[219] This was part of $10.3 billion in school funding withheld from the public schools, by the Governor since the summer of 2015.[220] The dispersement did not follow the new Basic Education Fair Funding formula which had been established by the Pennsylvania General Assembly in 2015.[221][222][223]

For the 2014-15 school year, Halifax Area School District received $5,411,775 in State Basic Education funding. The District also received $154,288 in new Ready To Learn Block grant. The State’s enacted Education Budget included $5,526,129,000 for the 2014-2015 Basic Education Funding.[224] The Education budget also included Accountability Block Grant funding at $100 million and $241 million in new Ready to Learn funding for public schools that focus on student achievement and academic success. The State paid $500.8 million to Social Security on the school employees behalf and another $1.16 billion to the state teachers' pension system (PSERS). In total, Pennsylvania’s Education budget for K-12 public schools was $10 billion. This was a $305 million increase over 2013-2014 state spending and the greatest amount ever allotted by the Commonwealth for its public schools.[225]

For the 2013-14 school year, Halifax Area District received a 1.4% increase or $5,413,380 in Pennsylvania Basic Education Funding. This is $76,428 more than its 2012-13 state BEF to the District. Halifax Area School District also received $83,837 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 its 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 increase 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.[226] The state funded the PSERS (Pennsylvania school employee pension fund) with $1,017,000,000 and Social Security payments for school employees of $495 million.[227]

For the 2012-13 school year, Halifax Area School District received $5,420,789 in state Basic Education funding.[228] The Governor's Executive Budget for 2012-2013 includes $9.34 billion for kindergarten through 12th grade public education, included $5.4 billion in basic education funding, which was an increase of $49 million over the 2011-12 budget. The state also provided $100 million for the Accountability Block grant. The state also provided $544.4 million for School Employees’ Social Security and another $856 million for School Employees’ Retirement fund called PSERS.[229] This amount is a $21,823,000 increase (0.34%) over the 2011-2012 appropriations for Basic Education Funding, School Employees' Social Security, Pupil Transportation, Nonpublic and Charter School Pupil Transportation. Since taking office, Corbett’s first two budgets have restored more than $918 million in support of public schools, compensating for the $1 billion in federal stimulus dollars lost at the end of the 2010-11 school year.

In 2011-12, the district received $5,336,952 in State Basic Education Funding.[230] Additionally, the district received $83,837 in Accountability Block Grant funding and $337,611 reimbursement for social security payments. 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.[231] 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.[232]

For the 2010-11 school year, the state gave the Halifax Area School District a 2.45% increase in basic education funding for a total of $5,622,484.[233] Among school districts in Dauphin County, the highest increase went to Susquehanna Township School District which received a 15.89% increase. In Pennsylvania 150 school districts received the base 2% increase. Kennett Consolidated School District in Chester County received the largest, a 23.65% increase. The amount of increase each school district received was determined by the 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.[234] This was the second year of Governor Rendell’s policy to fund some public school districts at a far greater rate than others.[235]

In the 2009-2010 budget year, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided Halifax Area School District with a 2.83% increase in Basic Education Funding for a total of $5,488,033. Halifax Area School District received the lowest increase in funding from the state, among all the public school districts in Dauphin County. The district also received supplemental funding for: Title I (federal funding for low-income students), for district size, a poverty supplement from the Commonwealth and more. Seven Dauphin County school districts received increases of over 4.5% in Basic Education Funding in 2009-10. In Dauphin County the highest state funding increase, in 2009, was 10.66% for Susquehanna Township School District.[236] Muhlenberg School District in Berks County received the highest with a 22.31% increase in funding.[237]

The state Basic Education funding to Halifax Area School District in 2008-09 was $5,336,952.10. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 297 district students received free or reduced- price lunches due to low family income in the 2007–08 school year.[238] 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.[239][240]

All Pennsylvania school districts also receive additional funding from the state through several funding allocations, including: Special Education Funding; Secondary Career & Technical Education Subsidy; PA Accountability Grants; and low achieving schools were eligible for Educational Assistance Program Funding. Plus all Pennsylvania school districts receive federal dollars for various programs including: Special Education funding and Title I funding for children from low income families, Title II teacher training grants and more. In 2010, Pennsylvania spent over $24 billion for public education - local, state and federal dollars combined.[241] By 2015, Pennsylvania is spending over $27 billion on public education (local, state and federal resources combined).[242]

Accountability Block Grants[edit]

Beginning in 2004-05, 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 school year, the District applied for and received $227,554 in addition to all other state and federal funding. The Halifax Area School District used the funding to provide all-day kindergarten for the 7th year.[243][244] In 2011, 100% of the kindergarteners in Halifax Area School District attended full-day kindergarten.[245]

Ready to Learn grant[edit]

Beginning in the 2014-2015 budget, the State funded a new Ready to Learn Grant for public schools. A total of $100 million is allocated through a formula to districts based on the number of students, level of poverty of community as calculated by its market value/personal income aid ratio (MV/PI AR) and the number of English language learners. Ready to Learn Block Grant funds may be used by the Districts for: school safety; Ready by 3 early childhood intervention programs; individualized learning programs; and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs.[246]

Halifax Area School District received $154,288 in Ready to Learn Grant dollars in addition to State Basic Education funding, Special Education funding, PreK Counts funding, transportation reimbursement, reimbursement for pension and Social Security payments for employees and other state grants which the district must apply to receive.

Education Assistance grant[edit]

The state's EAP funding provides for the continuing support of tutoring services and other programs to address the academic needs of eligible students. Funds are available to eligible school districts and full-time career and technology centers (CTC) in which one or more schools have failed to meet at least one academic performance target, as provided for in Section 1512-C of the Pennsylvania Public School Code. In 2010-11 the Halifax Area School District received $25,741.[247]

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. Halifax Area School District applied to participate in 2008-09, receiving $74,691.[248] The grant program was discontinued by Governor Rendell due to a massive state funding shortfall in 2010.

Other state grants[edit]

Halifax Area School District did not participate in: Science it is Elementary grants, annual Environmental Education grants from the DEP, 2012 and 2013 Hybrid Learning Grants,[249] Project 720 High School Reform grants[250] (discontinued effective with 2011-12 budget) nor the Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy grants of 2012 or 2013.

Federal grants[edit]

The Halifax Area School District received an extra $1,039,221 in ARRA - Federal Stimulus money to be used in specific programs like special education and meeting the academic needs of low-income students.[251][252] The funding was limited to the 2009-10 and 2010-2011 school years.[253] 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. The ARRA funding was terminated by President Obama in 2011.

Race to the Top grant[edit]

Halifax Area School District officials did not apply for the Race to the Top federal grant which would have brought the district hundreds of thousands of additional federal dollars for improving student academic achievement. 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.[254] Pennsylvania was not approved for a grant in 2010. The failure of districts to agree to participate was cited as one reason that Pennsylvania was not approved.[255]

Title II grants[edit]

The Federal government provides annual grants to schools to be used to improve the quality of teacher instructions to pupils. The goal is provide each child in public schools with “Highly Quality” teachers and principals as defined by the state.[256] The funds are sent to the state Department of Education which distributes them to each school district and charter school.[257] Beginning in 2002, the federal funding committed to Title II was $3,175,000,000.

Public school district administrations must apply to the state annually for the Title II funds. In 2012-13, Halifax Area School District received $43,890 in federal Title II funding.[258] In 2014-15, Halifax Area School District applied for and received $40,065.[259]

English language learners grant[edit]

The Federal government provides annual grants to schools to assist in educating immigrant children and children who are identified as limited English proficient.[260] Upon registering for school a language survey is done for all new enrollment pupils, typically in kindergarten or preschool. They identify the primary language spoken at home. This data is collected and submitted to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, which in turn notifies the federal government.[261]

In 2012-13, Halifax Area School District received $543 in Title III funding for English language learners.[262] For 2014-15, Halifax Area School District received $570 in Title III funding.[263]

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

Real estate taxes[edit]

Halifax Area School Board set property tax rates in 2016-17 at 22.48700 mills.[265] 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 all government property (local, state and federal). Additionally, service related, disabled US military veterans may seek an exemption from paying property taxes. Unlike other states, under Pennsylvania state tax policy, natural gas and oil pipelines are exempted from property taxes.[266] 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.[267]

On the local level, 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.[268]

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.[279] 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%).[280] 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.[281]

Act 1 Adjusted index[edit]

The Act 1 of 2006 Index regulates the rates at which each school district can raise property taxes in Pennsylvania. Districts are not allowed to raise taxes above that index unless they allow voters to vote by referendum, or they seek an exception from the state Department of Education. The base index for the 2010-2011 school year is 1.4 percent, but 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.[282] In June 2011, the Pennsylvania General Assembly eliminated six of the ten exceptions to the Act 1 Index.[283] 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.[284][285]

The School District Adjusted Index for the Halifax Area School District 2006-2007 through 2011-2012.[286]

For the 2016-17 budget year, Halifax Area School Board applied for two exceptions to exceed the District's Act 1 Index limit: rising special education costs and escalating teacher pension costs.[294] Statewide 299 school districts adopted a resolution to not exceed their Act I index in 2016-17.

For the 2015-16 budget year, Halifax Area School Board applied for two exceptions to exceed their Act 1 Index limit: for rising special education cost and for its rapidly increasing teacher pension costs. For the school budget 2015-16, 310 Pennsylvania public school districts adopted a resolution certifying that tax rates would not be increased above its Act 1 Index limit. Another 187 school districts adopted a preliminary budget leaving open the option of exceeding the Index limit. Regarding the pension costs exception, 172 school districts received approval to exceed the Index limit in full, while others received a partial approval of their request. For special education costs, 119 districts received approval to exceed their tax limit. No Pennsylvania public school districts received an approval for the grandfathered construction debts exception.[295]

For the 2014-15 budget year, Halifax Area School Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed their Act 1 Index limit. In 2014-15, all Pennsylvania school districts were required to make a 21.4% of payroll payment to the teacher’s pension fund (PSERS).[296] For the school budget 2014-15, 316 Pennsylvania public school districts adopted a resolution certifying that tax rates would not be increased above its Act 1 Index limit. Another 181 school districts adopted a preliminary budget leaving open the option of exceeding the Index limit. Districts may apply for multiple exceptions each year. For the pension costs exception, 163 school districts received approval to exceed the Index in full, while others received a partial approval of their request. For special education costs, 104 districts received approval to exceed their tax limit. Seven Pennsylvania public school districts received an approval for the grandfathered construction debts exception.[297]

For the 2013-14 budget year, Halifax Area School Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed their Act 1 Index limit. For the school budget year 2013-14, 311 Pennsylvania public school districts adopted a resolution certifying that tax rates would not be increased above their index. Another 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 their tax limit. For the pension costs exception, 169 school districts received approval to exceed the Index. Eleven Pennsylvania public school districts received an approval for grandfathered construction debts.[298]

For the 2012-13 budget year, Halifax Area 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. 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.[299]

For the 2011-12 school year, the Halifax Area School Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed the Act 1 Index. Each year, the Halifax 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.[300]

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.[301] In June 2011, the Pennsylvania General Assembly passed SB330 which amended Act 1 2006 to eliminate many of the exceptions that permitted school districts to exceed the Act 1 limit. School boards will likely need to go to voter referendum for future construction spending, unless they have a sufficient reserves to cover the costs.[302]

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.[303] Halifax Area School Board sought several exceptions, including Pension Obligations, Health care related benefits, Maintenance of Selected Revenue Sources and Special Education Expenditures. It was approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Education for a 5.60% increase in taxes.[304]

Property tax relief[edit]

In 2014, the Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief from gambling for the Halifax Area School District was $191 for 2,266 approved permanent primary residences. In 2013, the Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief from gambling for the Halifax Area School District was $191 per approved permanent primary residence. In the District, 2,268 property owners applied for the tax relief. The decline in amount was related to more residents applying for tax relief and a decline in table games tax revenues. The amount received by the District must be divided equally among all approved residences.[305] In Dauphin County, the highest amount of tax relief in 2013, went to the Harrisburg City School District at $416.

In 2009, the Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief for the Halifax Area School District was $206 per approved permanent primary residence. In the district, 2,097 property owners applied for the tax relief. In Dauphin County, the highest amount of tax relief in 2009, went to Harrisburg City School District at $446.[306] 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.[307] 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.[308] Each year since the program's inception, CUSD has been the top recipient.

Additionally, the Pennsylvania Property Tax/Rent Rebate program is provided for low income Halifax Area School District residences 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 may 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.

Bullying Policy and School Safety[edit]

Halifax Area School District administration reported there was one incident of bullying in the District in 2013. Additionally, there were no sexual incidents involving students. The local law enforcement was involved in eight incidents at the schools, with one arrest.[309]

The Halifax Area School District administration reported there was one incident of bullying in the District in 2012. The local law enforcement was involved in eight incidents at the schools with one arrest.[310] [311] Each year the school safety data is reported by the district to the Safe School Center which then publishes the compiled reports online. Nationally, nearly 20% of pupils report being bullied at school.[312]

In 2009, the Halifax Area School District reported zero incidents of bullying in the previous school year.[313][314]

The school board prohibits bullying by district students and employees. A policy approved in March 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.[315] 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.[316] 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.[317]

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.[318]

Enrollment[edit]

According to Pennsylvania Department of Education enrollment reports, there were 1,172 students enrolled in K-12 in 2009–10 school year at Halifax Area School District. There were 93 pupils in the Class of 2009. The district's class of 2013 was 70 students. Enrollment declined to 1,077 students including the addition of 83 preschool students in 2013.<[319] In 2008, the district administrative costs were $1,191 per pupil. The lowest administrative cost per pupil in Pennsylvania was $398 per pupil.[320] A study of Pennsylvania public school spending, conducted by Standard and Poor's, examined the consolidation of Halifax Area School Administration with neighboring Millersburg Area School District. The study found that consolidation of the administration with an adjacent school district would achieve substantial administrative cost savings with Halifax Area saving over $1,100 per pupil.[321] The study also considered a consolidation of Halifax Area School District with Upper Dauphin Area School District which also has low enrollment. It found Halifax Area School District would save over $1400 per pupil, if it consolidated with Upper Dauphin Area School Districts without cutting any student programs. Most of the savings came from a reduction in duplicative administrative staff members.

According to a 2009 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.[322] 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.[323]

Pennsylvania public schools are experiencing a declining enrollment due to a lower birth rate statewide. Pennsylvania’s birth rate has been declining for two decades. According to data from the Pennsylvania Department of Health, in 1990, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s birth rate was 171,053.[324] In 2000, Pennsylvania’s birth rate was 145,874.[325] Finally in 2011, the State’s birth rate declined further to 142,021.[326]

As the child aged population declined, many of the Commonwealth's public schools have experienced a student enrollment decline. The per pupil administrative costs of the impacted Pennsylvania public school districts continued to rise. 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.[327]

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has one of the highest numbers of school districts in the nation. In Pennsylvania, 80% of the school districts serve student populations under 5,000, and 40% serve less than 2,000. This results in excessive school administration bureaucracy and not enough course diversity.[328] In a survey of 88 superintendents of small districts, 42% stated that they thought consolidation would save money without closing any schools.[329]

Extracurriculars[edit]

Halifax Area School District offers a wide variety of clubs, activities and a costly sports program. The District budgeted over $402,000 for sports in 2014.[330] Eligibility to participate is determined by school board policies.[331][332] In 2014, Halifax Area School board budgeted $346,828.81 for athletics.[333]

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.[334]

According to PA Child Abuse Recognition and Reporting Act 126 of 2014, all volunteer coaches and all those who assist in student activities, must have criminal background checks. Like all school district employees, they must also attend an anti child abuse training once every three years.[335][336][337]

Sports[edit]

Halifax Area School District provides its athletics disclosure form on its web site.[338] Article XVI-C of the Public School Code requires the disclosure of interscholastic athletic opportunities for all public secondary school entities in Pennsylvania. All school entities with grades 7-12 are required to annually collect data concerning team and financial information for all male and female athletes beginning with the 2012-13 school year and submit the information to the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Beginning with the 2013-14 school year, all non-school (booster club and alumni) contributions and purchases must also be reported to PDE.[339]

According to Pennsylvania’s Safety in Youth Sports Act, all sports coaches, paid and volunteer, are required to annually complete the Concussion Management Certification Training and present the certification before coaching.[340][341] The District is in PIAA District 3.

In 2014, Halifax Area School Board charges students a one time $25 fee for participation in after school athletics.[342] A joint Pennsylvania School Board Association and Pennsylvania State Athletic Directors Association survey, conducted in 2012, found nearly one third (30%) of public school respondents indicated charging individual students $10 to $250, with a statewide average of $65 per-sport.[343][344]

Coaches receive compensation as outlined in the teachers' union contract. When athletic competition exceeds the regular season, additional compensation is paid.[345]

The District funds:

Junior High School Sports

According to PIAA directory July 2015[346]

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External links[edit]

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