Highlands School District (Pennsylvania)

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Highlands School District
Map of Allegheny County Pennsylvania School Districts.png
1500 Pacific Avenue
Natrona Heights, Pennsylvania, Allegheny County 15065
United States
Type Public
School board 9 elected at large members
Superintendent Michael A. Bjalobok
Grades K–12
Enrollment 2582 pupils (2011–12)
 • Other Enrollment is projected to decline to 2587 by 2019 [1]
Color(s) Brown and Gold         
Mascot Ram
Team name Golden Rams
Publication "Inside Highlands" (newsletter)
Yearbook Aries
Budget $37.2 million 2012-13 [2]

The Highlands School District is a small, suburban public school district covering Tarentum and Brackenridge boroughs, as well as Fawn and Harrison townships in Allegheny County, in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. Highlands School District encompasses approximately 22 square miles. According to 2000 federal census data, it serves a resident population of 21,974. In 2009 the per capita income was $17,481, while the median family income was $40,715.[3] Per district officials, in school year 2005–06, the Highlands School District provided basic educational services to 2,879 pupils through the employment of 229 teachers, 150 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 24 administrators. Highlands School District received more than $2.7 million in state funding in school year 2005–06.

In July 2011, the school board voted to rename the districts' elementary schools and to realign attendance zones accordingly.[4] The goals were to equalize student distribution between primary centers, reduce bus time and save money.

The district operates both Highlands High School (9–12) and Highlands Middle School (6–8) in Harrison Township; Grandview Upper Elementary School (3–5) in Tarentum (Report Card 2010 [1]); Fairmount Primary Center (K–2) in Brackenridge (Report Card 2010 [2]); and Fawn Primary Center (K–2) in Fawn Township (Report Card 2010 [3]).[5]

Academic achievement[edit]

In 2011, Highlands School District ranked 149th out of 498 Pennsylvania districts. The ranking is based on five years of student academic achievement as demonstrated by PSSAs results in reading, writing, math and three years of science.[6]

  • 2010 - 176th [7]
  • 2009 - 200th
  • 2008 - 231st
  • 2007 - 211th of Pennsylvania's 501 school districts.[8]

Local ranking - The Highlands School District was ranked 58th out of 105 Western Pennsylvania School Districts in 2009, by the Pittsburgh Business Times. The ranking was based on three years of student academic performance on the PSSAs for: math, reading, writing and 1 year of science.[9] In 2008, the district ranked 58th out of 105 western Pennsylvania school districts. In 2007, the district ranked 211th of 501 Pennsylvania school district.

In 2009, the academic achievement, of the students in the Highlands School District, was in the 41st percentile among all 500 Pennsylvania school districts Scale (0-99; 100 is state best) [10]

Graduation rate[edit]

In 2010, the Pennsylvania Department of Education issued a new, 4-year cohort graduation rate. Highlands School District's rate was 80% for 2010.[11]

According to traditional graduation rate calculations:

  • 2010 - 92% [12]
  • 2009 - 93% [13]
  • 2008 - 96%
  • 2007 - 96% [14]

High school[edit]

In 2010, the Highland High School achieved AYP status. In 2009, the school was in Warning status due to low student achievement[15]

In 2009, Highlands High School's 11th grade ranked 68th out of 123 western Pennsylvania 11th grades for academic achievement on three years of PSSAs in: reading, writing, math and one year of science.[16]

PSSA results
11th Grade Reading
  • 2010 - 62% on grade level. Boys 52%/Girls 71%, (19% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 66% of 11th graders on grade level.[17]
  • 2009 - 62%, Boys 57%/Girls 67%, (20% below basic). State - 65% [18]
  • 2008 - 64%, State - 65% [19]
11th Grade Math:
  • 2010 - 49% on grade level. Boys 47%/Girls 51%, (27% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 59% of 11th graders are on grade level.[20]
  • 2009 - 51%, Boys 52%/Girls 49%, (24% below basic). State - 56% [21]
  • 2008 - 63%, State - 56%
11th Grade Science:
  • 2010 - 36% on grade level. State - 39% of 11th graders were on grade level.
  • 2009 - 32%, State - 40%
  • 2008 - 27%, State - 39% [22]

College remediation: According to a Pennsylvania Department of Education study released in January 2009, 24% of Highlands 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.[23] 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.[24] Per the Pennsylvania Department of Education, one in three recent high school graduates who attend Pennsylvania's public universities and community colleges takes at least one remedial course in math, reading or English.

Dual enrollment[edit]

The high school offers a dual enrollment program. This state program permits high school students to take courses, at local higher education institutions, to earn college credits. Students remain enrolled at their high school. The courses count towards high school graduation requirements and towards earning a college degree. The students continue to have full access to activities at their high school. Highlands has partnered with Penn State New Kensington and Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC).[25] 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.[26] Under the Pennsylvania Transfer and Articulation Agreement, many Pennsylvania colleges and universities accept these credits for students who transfer to their institutions.[27]

For the 2009-10 funding year, the school district received a state grant of $23,672 for the program.[28]

Graduation requirements[edit]

The Highlands School Board requires that a student earn 24.2 credits to graduate, including: English 4 credits, Mathematics 4 credits, Science 4 credits, Social Studies 4 credits, Arts and Humanities 2 credits, Health/Phys. Ed. 2.2 credits, and Electives 4 credits.[29] Every student must successfully complete one credit of English, math and social studies every year.

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.[30] At Highlands High School students are required to complete a career portfolio over 4 years. It includes Individual and group projects, visitations to post-secondary schools, community service hours, and career job shadowing, coupled with career awareness activities.

By Pennsylvania School Board regulations, for the graduating classes 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.[31]

By state orders all graduates by 2018 must have a drivers license in order to graduate high school this order was approved by the Pennsylvania School Board Association 7-24-2015 and this order does pend on your 16 birthday.

Middle school[edit]

In 2009 and 2010 the school achieved AYP status.[32] The attendance rate was 94% for both 2010 and 2009.[33]

The eighth grade ranked 66th out of 141 western Pennsylvania eighth grades, by the Pittsburgh Business Times in 2009, for academic achievement as reflected by three years of results on: math, reading, writing and one year of science PSSAs.[34]

8th grade reading[edit]

  • 2010 - 75% on grade level (11% below basic). State - 81% of 8th graders were on grade level.[35]
  • 2009 - 74%, (14% below basic). State - 80.9%
  • 2008 - 84%, State - 78%

8th grade math[edit]

  • 2010 - 73% on grade level (11% below basic). State - 75% of 8th graders were on grade level.
  • 2009 - 69%, (13% below basic). State - 71% [36]
  • 2008 - 74%, State -70%

8th grade science[edit]

  • 2010 - 46% on grade level (31% below basic). State - 57% of 8th graders were on grade level.
  • 2009 - 42% (34% below basic), State - 55%
  • 2008 - 55%, State - 50% [37]

7th grade reading[edit]

  • 2010 - 67% on grade level (15% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 73% of 7th graders on grade level.
  • 2009 - 66% (13% below basic), State - 71%

7th grade math[edit]

  • 2010 - 76% on grade level (14% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 77% of 7th graders are on grade level.
  • 2009 - 67% (10% below basic), State - 75%

6th grade reading[edit]

  • 2010 - 72% on grade level (14% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 68% of 6th graders are on grade level.
  • 2009 - 64% (16% below basic), State - 67%

6th grade math[edit]

  • 2010 - 71% on grade level (11% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 78% of 6th graders are on grade level.
  • 2009 - 70% (11% below basic), State - 75%

Grandview Elementary School[edit]

In 2010, the school achieved AYP status. In 2009 the school was in warning status due to lagging student achievement.[38] The attendance rate in 2009 was reported as 93% while it rose to 94% in 2010.[39]

5th grade reading[edit]

  • 2010 - 89% on grade level, Boys 88%/Girls 90% (7% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 64% of 5th graders are on grade level.[40]
  • 2009 - 56%, Boys 50%/Girls 61% (21% below basic), State - 64%
  • 2008 - 71% (6% below basic), State - 62%
  • 2007 - 56% (21% below basic), State - 60%

5th grade math[edit]

  • 2010 - 91% on grade level Boys 90%/Girls 93% (0% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 74% of 5th graders are on grade level.
  • 2009 - 81%, Boys 74%/Girls 86% (9% below basic), State - 73%
  • 2008 - 88% (1% below basic), State - 73%
  • 2007 - 83% (4% below basic), State - 71%

4th grade reading[edit]

  • 2010 - 83% Boys 86%/Girls 79% (9% below basic), State - 73%
  • 2009 - 70% Boys 64%/Girls 78% (7% below basic), State - 72%
  • 2008 - 72% (5% below basic), State - 70%
  • 2007 - 73% (14% below basic), State - 60%

4th grade math[edit]

  • 2010 - 92% Boys 97%/Girls 86% (3% below basic), State - 84%
  • 2009 - 88% Boys 91%/Girls 83% (4% below basic), State - 81%
  • 2008 - 91% (2% below basic), State - 80%
  • 2007 - 87% (8% below basic), State - 78%

4th grade science[edit]

  • 2010 - 80%, Boys 83%/Girls 76% (11% below basic), State - 81%
  • 2009 - 83%, Boys 84%/Girls 82% (6% below basic), State - 83%
  • 2008 - 79%, (0% below basic), State - 81%

3rd grade reading[edit]

  • 2010 - 90%, Boys 87%/Girls 85% (6% below basic), State - 75%
  • 2009 - 84%, Boys 94%/Girls 81% (10% below basic), State - 77%
  • 2008 - 77%, (11% below basic), State - 70%
  • 2007 - 87%, (3% below basic), State - 72%

3rd grade math[edit]

  • 2010 - 86%, Boys 85%/Girls 85% (4% below basic), State - 84%
  • 2009 - 82%, Boys 89%/Girls 77% (0% below basic), State - 81%
  • 2008 - 84%, (4% below basic), State - 80%
  • 2007 - 91%, (0% below basic), State - 78%


Highlands School District offers many programs and services, including Pre-K Counts Program, Child Development Nursery School, Title I Reading Program, Response To Intervention, GATE (Gifted and Talented Education) Program and Project Connect. Additionally, the district has adopted a Sanctuary Model.[41]

Special education[edit]

In December 2009, the district administration reported that 551 pupils or 19% of the district's pupils received Special Education services.[42]

The district offers an extensive student support program. An Individual Education Program (IEP) is developed for specialized services for students who qualify for assistance.[43]

In 2010, the state of Pennsylvania provided $1,026,815,000 for special education services. The funds were distributed to districts based on a state policy which estimates that 16% of the district's pupils are receiving special education services. This funding is in addition to the state's basic education per pupil funding, as well as, all other state and federal funding.[44]

Highlands School District received a $1,764,386 supplemental funding to pay for special education services for its students, in 2010.[45]

For the 2011-12 school year, all Pennsylvania public school districts received the same level of funding for special education that they received in 2010. This level funding is provided regardless of changes in the number of pupils who need special education services and regardless of the level of services the respective students required.[46]

Gifted education[edit]

The District Administration reported that 109 or 3.88% of its students were gifted in 2009.[47] By law, the district must provide mentally gifted programs at all grade levels. Services designed to meet the needs of gifted students include the annual development of a Gifted Individual Education Plan, support services and specially-designed instruction designed to challenge the student. Students in the gifted education program have access to the district's GATE program.[48] The referral process for a gifted evaluation can be initiated by teachers or parents by contacting the student’s building principal, requesting an evaluation. The writing request for evaluation commences a state-mandated 60-day evaluation deadline. 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.[49]

Bullying policy[edit]

In 2010, the administrative reported there were 6 incidents of bullying in the district. There were 9 incidents of assault on a student. No students were placed in alternative education.[50][51]

The Highlands School Board prohibits bullying by district students and faculty. The policy defines bullying. 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 are permitted as a result of good faith reports of bullying.[52] The board expects staff members to be responsible to maintain an educational environment free from all forms of bullying. All Pennsylvania schools are required to have an anti-bullying policy incorporated into their Code of Student Conduct. The policy must identify disciplinary actions for bullying and designate a school staff person to receive complaints of bullying. The policy must be available on the school's website and posted in every classroom. All Pennsylvania public schools must provide a copy of its anti-bullying policy to the Office for Safe Schools every year, and shall review their policy every three years. Additionally, the district must conduct an annual review of that policy with students.[53] 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.[54]

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.[55]


In 2007, the district employed 212 teachers and the average teacher salary in the district was $49,929 for 180 days worked.[56]

In 2009, the district reports employing over 259 teachers with a starting salary of $38,300 for 180 days for pupil instruction.[57] The average teacher salary was $53,972 while the maximum salary is $128,243.[58] The teachers work 8 hours, including a prep period and a paid lunch period. As of 2007, Pennsylvania ranked in the top 10 states in average teacher salaries. When adjusted for cost of living Pennsylvania ranked fourth in the nation for teacher compensation.[59] Additionally, Highlands School District teachers receive a defined benefit pension, health insurance (with a small employee premium contribution), professional development reimbursement, 3 paid personal days, 10 sick days which accumulate, 3 paid bereavement days and other benefits. Teachers receive a terminal leave payment which includes payment for unused sick days. Early retirees receive continued health insurance until 65 years old. Additionally, the union receives unlimited paid days for union business. The union pays for a substitute teacher.[60] According to State Rep. Glen Grell, a trustee of the Pennsylvania Public School Employees’ Retirement System Board, a 40-year educator can retire with a pension equal to 100 percent of their final salary.[61]

The district administrative costs per pupil in 2008 were $892.73 per pupil. The lowest administrative cost per pupil in Pennsylvania was $398 per pupil.[62] The spending is in the top 20% (ranks 108th) among Pennsylvania's 500 school districts for administrative spending.[63]

In April 2009, the Pennsylvania Auditor General conducted a performance audit on the district. The findings were reported to the school board and administration.[64]

In 2008, the district reported an unreserved undesignated fund balance of zero and an unreserved-designated fund balance of $5,522,818.00.[65]

The district is funded by a combination of: a local earned income tax, a property tax, a real estate transfer tax - 0.5%, coupled with substantial funding from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the federal government. Grants can provide an opportunity to supplement school funding without raising local taxes. In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, pension income and Social Security income are exempted from state personal income tax and local earned income tax, regardless of the level of wealth.[66]

State basic education funding[edit]

In 2011-12, the district will receive $10,676,994 in state Basic Education Funding.[67] Additionally, the Highlands School District will receive $192,029 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 received an over 49% increase.[68]

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 1,378 students in the Highlands School District received free or reduced-price lunches due to low family income in the 2009-2010 school year.[69]

For the 2010-11 school year the state provided a 2.30% increase in basic education funding to the district for a total of $11,603,363.[70] Among Allegheny County public school districts, the highest increase was allotted to South Fayette Township School District which received an 11.32% increase in 2010. In Pennsylvania, 150 school districts received a 2% base increase. The highest increase in Pennsylvania was given to Kennett Consolidated School District in Chester County which was given a 23.65% increase. The amount of increase each school district receives is determined by the Governor and the Secretary of Education through the allocation made in the budget proposal made in February each year.[71]

In the 2009-2010 budget year the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a 6.23% increase in Basic Education funding for a total of $11,342,087. Four county school districts received increases of over 6% in Basic Education Funding in 2009-10. Chartiers Valley School District received an 8.17% increase. The majority of Allegheny County districts received a 2% increase. In Pennsylvania, over 15 school districts received Basic Education Funding increases in excess of 10% in 2009. Muhlenberg School District in Berks County received the highest with a 22.31% increase in funding. The state's Basic Education Funding to the Highlands School District in 2008-09 was $10,676,978.13.[72]

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 1,306 students received free or reduced-price lunches due to low family income in the 2007-2008 school year.[73]

Accountability block grant[edit]

The state provides supplemental funding in the form of accountability block grants. The use of these funds is strictly focused on specific, state approved, student academic achievement focused programs and processes. Highlands School District uses its $439,787 to fund all-day kindergarten for the 7th year. These annual grant funds are in addition to the state's basic education funding.[74] School districts must apply each year for Accountability Block Grants.[75] The 2009-10 school year, the state provided $271.4 million in Accountability Block grants $199.5 million went to providing all-day kindergartens.[76]

"Classrooms for the Future" grant[edit]

Highlands School Board received a grant from the PA Department of Education to purchase equipment to help reform the high school's core subjects instruction and to prepare students for future employment by using cutting-edge equipment and software. The district used the funds to purchase laptops for students, laptops for teachers, laptop carts and other digital equipment. The grant provided additional funding for a technology coach to instruct teachers in using the equipment to improve instruction. In 2006-07, the district received $535,286. In 2007-08 the district received $300,000. In 2008-09, the district did not apply for funding.[77] Beginning in 2006, Pennsylvania's Classrooms for the Future program distributed more than $150 million for laptops, interactive boards and other high-tech tools to 543 Pennsylvania high schools. In 2009, the Classrooms For the Future funding program was terminated due to a deep state revenue shortfall.[78]

Federal Stimulus grant[edit]

The district received $3,861,314 in ARRA (Federal Stimulus) money to be used in specific programs like special education and meeting the academic needs of low-income students. The funding was for the 2009-10 and 2010-11 school years.[79]

Race to the Top grant[edit]

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.[80] Participation required the administration, the school board and the local teachers' union to sign an agreement to prioritize improving student academic success.[81] In Pennsylvania, 120 public school districts and 56 charter schools agreed to participate.[82] Pennsylvania was not approved for the grant. The failure of districts to agree to participate was cited as one reason that Pennsylvania was not approved.[83]

Common Cents state initiative[edit]

The school board chose to not participate in the Pennsylvania Department of Education Common Cents program. The program called for the state to audit the district, at no cost to local taxpayers, to identify ways the district could save tax dollars.[84] After the review of the information, the district was not required to implement the recommended cost savings changes.

Other grants[edit]

In 2010, Highlands Middle School received a grant of $8,999, from Highmark Healthy High 5 School Challenge, which was used to purchase a Fit 3 gym, three gamebike systems and an elliptical machine to enhance strength training and cardiovascular portion of PE program for students in grades 6-8. The Fawn Elementary also received this grant for $9,849. The school used the funds to purchase: climbing walls, climbing curriculum and fitness bands for strength endurance/cardiovascular program for students in grades k-5. Heights Elementary received a $9,849.00 grant to purchase climbing walls and fitness bands for strength endurance/cardiovascular program for students in grades k-5.[85]

Real estate taxes[edit]

The Highlands School Board set property tax rates in 2009-10 at 24.4100 mills.[86] 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. The most recent assessed values for all properties in Allegheny County are available at the Allegheny County Office of Property Assessments.[87]

  • 2009 - 23.7100 mills.[88]
  • 2008 - 23.7100 mills [89]
  • 2007 - 23.7100 mills [90]
  • 2006 - 23.7100 mills [91]
  • 2005 - 23.7100 mills [92]
  • 2004 - 23.7100 mills [93]

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 2.9 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.[94]

The School District Adjusted Index for the Highlands School District 2006-2007 through 2011-2012.[95]

  • 2006-07 - 5.5%, Base 3.9%
  • 2007-08 - 4.9%, Base 3.4%
  • 2008-09 - 6.3%, Base 4.4%
  • 2009-10 - 5.9%, Base 4.1%
  • 2010-11 - 4.2%, Base 2.9%
  • 2011-12 - 2.0%, Base 1.4%

For the 2011-12 school year the Highlands School Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed the Act 1 Index. Each year, the Highlands 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.[96]

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.[97]

For 2009 and 2010, the Highlands School Board did not apply for any exceptions to exceed the Index limit.[98][99] 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.[100]

Property tax relief[edit]

In 2011, the state set the district's property tax relief at $231 for 5,625 approved homesteads and farmsteads.[101] In 2009, the Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief from gambling for the school district was $233 per approved permanent primary residence. In the district, 5,752 property owners applied for the tax relief.[102] The relief was subtracted from the total annual school property tax bill. Property owners apply for the relief through the county Treasurer's office. Farmers can qualify for a farmstead exemption on building used for agricultural purposes. The farm must be at least 10 contiguous acres (40,000 m2) and must be the primary residence of the owner. Farmers can qualify for both the homestead exemption and the farmstead exemption. In Allegheny County, 60% of eligible property owners applied for property tax relief in 2009.[103]

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

Property taxes in Pennsylvania are relatively high on a national scale. According to the Tax Foundation, Pennsylvania ranked 11th in the U.S. in 2008 in terms of property taxes paid as a percentage of home value (1.34%) and 12th in the country in terms of property taxes as a percentage of income (3.55%).[104]


The district offers a wide variety of clubs, activities and sports. Eligibility to participate is set in school board policy. All students must be passing four major subjects to be eligible to participate. Students declared ineligible are not permitted to practice or play from Monday through the end of next Sunday.[105][106][107][108]

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.[109][110]

In 2011, a former student sued the District over head injuries related to playing football.[111][112]

The Highlands Gold Card Club provides district residents 62 or older with free, life-time membership entitles cardholders to free general admission tickets to all district home athletic events, dramatic and musical productions and band and choral concerts.[113]


  1. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education Enrollment and projections for Highlands School District January 2009
  2. ^ Chute, Eleanor and Niederberger, Mary., 16 of 43 school districts in Allegheny County hike taxes, July 15, 2012
  3. ^ American Fact Finder, US Census Bureau, 2009
  4. ^ Highlands School District Administration (2010). "Highlands School Board Meeting Highlights" (PDF). 
  5. ^ Valley News Dispatch (2011-06-21). "Highlands votes to raise taxes 2 mills". 
  6. ^ Pittsburgh Business Times (April 2, 2011). "Statewide Honor Roll Rankings Information,". Archived from the original on July 23, 2011. 
  7. ^ Pittsburgh Business Times (April 20, 2010). "Statewide Honor Roll Rankings". 
  8. ^ Pittsburgh Business Times (2007). "Three of top school districts in state hail from Allegheny County". 
  9. ^ Pittsburgh Business Times (May 15, 2009). "Western Pennsylvania School District Rankings,". 
  10. ^ "2009 PSSA RESULTS Highlands School District,". The Morning Call. Retrieved July 2011.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  11. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (March 15, 2011). "New 4-year Cohort Graduation Rate Calculation Now Being Implemented". Archived from the original on September 14, 2010. 
  12. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (2010). "Highlands School District - District AYP Data Table". 
  13. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (2009). "Highlands School District Academic Achievement report Card 2009". 
  14. ^ Pennsylvania Partnership for Children (2008). "PA High School Graduation Info by School District 2007". 
  15. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (2010). "HIGHLANDS HS - School AYP Overview". 
  16. ^ The Rankings: 11th grades, Pittsburgh Business Times, May 15th, 2009
  17. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (2010). "Highlands High School Academic Achievement Report Card 2010" (PDF). 
  18. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education Math and Reading PSSA Results by School 2009
  19. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (2008). "PSSA Math and Reading results by School 2008". 
  20. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (2010). "2009-2010 PSSA and AYP Results". 
  21. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (2009). "2009 PSSAs: Reading, Math, Writing Results by School and Grade". 
  22. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (2008). "PSSA Science results by School and District 2008". 
  23. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (January 2009). "Pennsylvania College Remediation Report". 
  24. ^ National Center for Education Statistics
  25. ^ Highlands School District Administration (2010). "Dual Enrollment". 
  26. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education. "Dual Enrollment Guidelines". 
  27. ^ "Pennsylvania Transfer and Articulation Agreement". March 2010. 
  28. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (August 2009). "Dual Enrollment Fall Grants 2009-10". 
  29. ^ Highlands High School Administration (2010). "Highlands High School Student Handbook" (PDF). 
  30. ^ "Pennsylvania Code §4.24 (a) High school graduation requirements". 2003. 
  31. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (September 2011). "Pennsylvania Keystone Exams Overview". 
  32. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (2010). "HIGHLANDS MS - School AYP Overview". 
  33. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (2010). "HIGHLANDS Middle School - School AYP Data Table". 
  34. ^ The Rankings: 8th Grades, Pittsburgh Business Times, May 15, 2009
  35. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (2010). "HIGHLANDS Middle School Academic Achievement Report Card 2010" (PDF). 
  36. ^ Highlands Middle School Academic Achievement Report Card 2009, Pennsylvania Department of Education, 2009
  37. ^ Highlands Middle School Academic Achievement Report Card 2008, Pennsylvania Department of Education, 2008
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  100. ^ Scarcella, Frank; Pursell, Tricia, (May 25, 2010). "Local school tax assessments exceed state averages.". The Daily Item. 
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  104. ^ Tax Foundation (September 22, 2009). "New Census Data on Property Taxes on Homeowners,". Archived from the original on September 6, 2011. 
  105. ^ Highlands School District Administration (2010). "Highlands School District Athletic Handbook" (PDF). 
  106. ^ Highlands School District Administration (October 2004). "Highlands School District Extracurricular Activities Policy 122" (PDF). 
  107. ^ Highlands School District Administration (October 2004). "Highlands School District Interscholastic Athletics Policy 123" (PDF). 
  108. ^ Highlands School District Administration (October 2004). "Highlands School District Athletic and Cheerleading responsibiliites Policy 123.1" (PDF). 
  109. ^ Pennsylvania Office of the Governor Press Release, (November 10, 2005). "Home-Schooled, Charter School Children Can Participate in School District Extracurricular Activities,". 
  110. ^ Highlands School District Administration (February 2006). "Highlands School District Extracurricular Participation of Home Schooled Students Policy 137.1" (PDF). 
  111. ^ "Alt versus Highlands School District and other Plaintiffs Case 2:05-mc-02025 Document 440" (PDF). 04/07/11.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  112. ^ Pittsburgh Post Gazette (April 8, 2011). "Former high school football player sues Highlands over head injuries". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 
  113. ^ Highlands School District Administration (2011). "Highlands School District Gold Card Club". 

External links[edit]