Keystone School District

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Keystone School District
Map of Clarion County Pennsylvania School Districts.png
451 Huston Avenue
Knox, Pennsylvania, Clarion 16232
United States
Type Public
School board 9 regionally elected members
Superintendent Mr. Shawn Algoe
Administrator Ms. Suzanne Chomas, Director of Special Education
Principal Mr. Brad Wagner, HS
Principal Mr. Michael McCormick, Elem
Grades K-12
Enrollment 1177 (2009-2010)
 • Kindergarten 108
 • Grade 1 95
 • Grade 2 80
 • Grade 3 77
 • Grade 4 74
 • Grade 5 85
 • Grade 6 80
 • Grade 7 74
 • Grade 8 99
 • Grade 9 94
 • Grade 10 113
 • Grade 11 86
 • Grade 12 112
Color(s) Black and Gold
Keystone Jr. - Sr. High School
700 Beatty Avenue
Knox, Pennsylvania 16232
School type Public Junior/Senior High School
Principal Ms. Vicky Walters
Grades K - 12th
Number of students 1134 [1]
 • Kindergarten 76
 • Grade 1 91
 • Grade 2 79
 • Grade 3 73
 • Grade 4 79
 • Grade 5 85
 • Grade 6 81
 • Grade 7 86
 • Grade 8 95
 • Grade 9 95
 • Grade 10 105
 • Grade 11 83
 • Grade 12 108
 • Other Enrollment to be 1069 in 2020.
Athletics conference PIAA District IX

The Keystone School District is a small, rural public school district in Clarion County, Pennsylvania. It serves the boroughs of Shippenville, Knox, and Callensburg, as well as the townships of Beaver Township, Elk Township, Licking Township, Ashland Township, and Salem Township. The Keystone School District encompasses approximately 126 square miles. According to 2000 federal census data, it serves a resident population of 7,589. In 2009, the district residents' per capita income was $16,347, while the median family income was $39,271.[2] District officials reported, in school year 2007-08, the Keystone School District provided basic educational services to 1,225 pupils through the employment of 89 teachers, 70 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 6 administrators.

The Keystone School District operates two schools: an elementary school and a combined junior/senior high school, both of which are located in Knox.


The school district is governed by 9 individually elected board members, the Pennsylvania State Board of Education, the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the Pennsylvania General Assembly.[3] The district is divided into 3 regions for the election of school board members who serve a 4-year term. The federal government controls programs it funds like Title I funding for low-income children in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and the No Child Left Behind Act, which mandates the district focus resources on student success in acquiring reading and math skills.

The Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy Alternatives Sunshine Review gave the school board and district administration a "F" 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.[4]

The district is part of the Riverview Intermediate Unit 6 region. The intermediate unit provides support services and therapy to special education students. It also provides training to school personnel.

Academic achievement[edit]

Keystone School District was ranked 264th out of the 498 ranked Pennsylvania School Districts in 2011 by the Pittsburgh Business Times. The ranking was based on student academic performance as demonstrated in 5 years of PSSA results in: reading, writing, math and three years of science.[5]

  • 2010 - 239th [6]
  • 2009 - 263rd
  • 2008 - 267th
  • 2007 - 297th[7]

n 2009, the academic achievement of students of the Keystone School District fell in the 75th percentile of 500 school districts. (Scale 0-99; 100 is state best) [8]

Graduation rate[edit]

In 2010, the Pennsylvania Department of Education issued a new, 4-year cohort graduation rate. Keystone High School's rate was 90% for 2010.[9]

Former AYP graduation rate:

  • 2010 - 90% [10]
  • 2009 - 99% Keystone School District Academic Achievement Report Card 2009 [1]
  • 2008 - 89%
  • 2007 - 89%[11]

High school[edit]

PSSA Results
11th Grade Reading
  • 2010 - 65% on grade level. In Pennsylvania, 65% of 11th graders on grade level.
  • 2009 - 81%, State - 65%
  • 2008 - 74%, State - 65%
11th Grade Math
  • 2010 - 51% on grade level. In Pennsylvania, 59% of 11th graders are on grade level.[12]
  • 2009 - 69%, State - 56% [13]
  • 2008 - 53%, State - 56%
11th Grade Science
  • 2010 - 32% on grade level. State - 39% of 11th graders were on grade level.[14]
  • 2009 - 52%, State - 40%
  • 2008 - 53%, State - 39% [15]

College remediation: According to a Pennsylvania Department of Education study released in January 2009, 30% of Keystone 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.[16] 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.[17] 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]

Keystone School District offers a dual enrollment program to seniors. They can participate in a dual enrollment program with Clarion University. High school students earn college credits at a deeply discounted rate for tuition, while remaining in high school. A grant from the state assists students with associated costs like textbooks and college fees. The students continue to have full access to activities and programs at their high school.[18] Under the Pennsylvania Transfer and Articulation Agreement, many Pennsylvania colleges and universities accept these credits for students who transfer to their institutions.[19] 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.[20]

For the 2009-10 funding year, the school district received a state grant of $18,290 for the program.[21]

Other students, that reside in the district, who attend a private nonpublic school, charter school or are homeschooled are eligible to participate in this program.[22]

Graduation requirements[edit]

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.[23]

By Pennsylvania State 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.[24]

Special education[edit]

In December 2010, the district administration reported that 169 pupils or 14.8% of the district's pupils received Special Education services.[25]

The District engages in identification procedures to ensure that eligible students receive an appropriate educational program consisting of special education and related services, individualized to meet student needs. At no cost to the parents, these services are provided in compliance with state and federal law; and are reasonably calculated to yield meaningful educational benefit and student progress. To identify students who may be eligible for special education, various screening activities are conducted on an ongoing basis. These screening activities include: review of group-based data (cumulative records, enrollment records, health records, report cards, ability and achievement test scores); hearing, vision, motor, and speech/language screening; and review by the Instructional Support Team or Student Assistance Team. When screening results suggest that the student may be eligible, the District seeks parental consent to conduct a multidisciplinary evaluation. Parents who suspect their child is eligible may verbally request a multidisciplinary evaluation from a professional employee of the District or contact the Special Education Department.[26]

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided $1,026,815,000 for Special Education services in 2010. 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.[27]

Keystone School District received a $639,298 supplement for special education services in 2010.[28]

Gifted education[edit]

The District Administration reported that 41 or 3.62% of its students were gifted in 2009.[29] 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.[30]


According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, there are fewer than 1200 students enrolled in K-12. Enrollment in Keystone School District is projected to continue to decline for the next decade.[31]

In 2007 a Pennsylvania Legislative Budget and Finance Committee study was conducted by Standard and Poors regarding the financial benefits of consolidating Pennsylvania's smallest public school districts. It examined Keystone School District consolidating with Clarion Area School District. It found the savings could be over $1.3 million.[32] It studied the Keystone School District consolidating administrations with Allegheny-Clarion Valley School District and found a savings of over $1 million. It examined a consolidation with North Clarion County School District finding a savings of over $630,000 in 2004. The fourth scenario considered was a consolidation with Cranberry Area School District yielding a savings of over $2,374,430.[33]

Over the next 10 years, rural Pennsylvania school enrollment is projected to decrease 8 percent. The most significant enrollment decline is projected to be in western Pennsylvania, where rural school districts may have a 16 percent decline. More than 40 percent of elementary schools and more than 60 percent of secondary schools in western Pennsylvania are projected to experience significant enrollment decreases (15 percent or greater).[34]

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. Less than 95 of Pennsylvania's 501 school districts have enrollment below 1250 students, in 2007.[35] This results in excessive school administration bureaucracy and not enough course diversity.[36] In a survey of 88 superintendents of small districts, 42% of the 49 respondents stated that they thought consolidation would save money without closing any schools.[37] In 2011, The Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants found that the state would save over $1.5 billion if school district administration where consolidated to the county level. It also found that over $613 million would be saved if school districts consolidated just their administrations with one neighboring district. This plan would not require changing the school buildings nor the classrooms, it focused on just the school administrations.[38]


In 2009, the district reports employing over 80 teachers with a starting salary of $34,530 for 180 days for pupil instruction.[39] The average teacher salary was $49,781 while the maximum salary is $108,675.[40] 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.[41] Additionally, Keystone School District teachers receive a defined benefit pension, health insurance, professional development reimbursement, paid personal days, 10 sick days and other benefits. Teachers are paid extra if they are required to work outside of the regular school day. The teachers' union is provided with 6 days off with pay for conducting union business.[42] 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.[43]

In 2007, the average teacher salary in the district was $48,222 for 180 days worked. The district ranked fourth in Clarion County for average teacher salary in 2007.[44]

The district administrative costs per pupil in 2008 were $799.09 per pupil. The lowest administrative cost per pupil in Pennsylvania was $398 per pupil.[45] In July 2006, the Keystone School Board awarded a five-year contract to Jean Gool as superintendent with an initial salary of $105,000 and an extensive benefits package, including health insurance, vacation time, paid conferences and dues and much more.[46] In 2009, Jean Gool's salary was $108,675.[47] Dr. Gool announced her retirement effective December 31, 2009.[48] The school board accepted her resignation on September 30, 2009.[49]

In 2008, Keystone School District reported spending $14,701 per pupil. This ranked 71st in the commonwealth.[50]

In March 2010, The Pennsylvania Auditor General conducted a performance audit of the district. Multiple findings were reported to the school board and school administration.[51]


In 2009, the district reported $469,469 in an unreserved-undesignated fund balance. The designated fund balance was reported as $689,407.[52]

The district is funded by a combination of: a 1% 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. In Pennsylvania, pension income and social security income is exempt from state income tax and local earned income tax. In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, pension and Social Security income are exempted from state personal income tax and local earned income tax regardless of the individual's wealth.[53]

State basic education funding[edit]

For 2010-11 the Keystone School District received a 2.63% increase in state Basic Education Funding resulting in a $7,075,999 payment.[54] Clarion-Limestone Area School District received a 3.92% increase, which was the highest increase in Basic Education Funding in Clarion County. Kennett Consolidated School District in Chester County received the highest increase in the state at 23.65% increase in funding for the 2010-11 school year. One hundred fifty school districts received the base 2% increase in 2010-11. The amount of increase each school district receives is determined by the Governor and the Secretary of Education through the allocation set in the state budget proposal made in February each year.[55]

In the 2009-2010 budget year the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a 3.29% increase in Basic Education funding for a total of $6,895,485. This was full percentage point higher increase, in Basic Education Funding, than most other school districts in Clarion County received. The state Basic Education Funding to the district in 2008-09 was $6,676,095.96. Ninety school districts received the base 2% increase in 2009. The highest state funding increase went to Muhlenberg School District of Berks County which received a 22.31% increase in 2009. Individual district basic education funding is determined by the Governor and the Secretary of Education in the annual budget process.[56]

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 453 district students received free or reduced-price lunches due to low family income in the 2007-2008 school year.[57]

Accountability Block Grants[edit]

Beginning in 2004-2005, the state launched the Accountability Block Grant school funding. This program has provided $1.5 billion to Pennsylvania’s school districts. The Accountability Block Grant program requires that its taxpayer dollars are focused on specific interventions that are most likely to increase student academic achievement. These interventions include: teacher training, all-day kindergarten, lower class size K-3rd grade, literacy and math coaching programs that provide teachers with individualized job-embedded professional development to improve their instruction, before or after school tutoring assistance to struggling students. For 2010-11 the Keystone School District applied for and received $206,209 in addition to all other state and federal funding. The district used the funding to provide full-day kindergarten for the 7th year.[58][59]

Classrooms for the Future grant[edit]

The Classroom for the Future state program provided districts with hundreds of thousands of extra state funding to buy laptop computers for each core curriculum high school class (English, Science, History, Math) and paid for teacher training to optimize the computers use. The program was funded from 2006-2009. Keystone School District did not apply for funding in 2006-07. In 2007-08 the district received $157,107. For the 2008-09, school year the district received $45,413 for a total of $202,520. Of the 501 public school districts in Pennsylvania, 447 of them received Classrooms for the Future grant awards.[60]

Federal Stimulus funding[edit]

The district received $1,154,382 in ARRA - Federal Stimulus money to be used in specific programs like special education and meeting the academic needs of low-income students.[61] The funding is for 2009-2011.

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.[62] 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.[63] Pennsylvania was not approved for the grant. The failure of districts to agree to participate was cited as one reason that Pennsylvania was denied a grant.[64]

Common Cents state initiative[edit]

The Keystone 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.[65] After the review of the information, the district was not required to implement the recommended cost savings changes.

Real estate taxes[edit]

In 2010, the school board set property taxes at 48.0950 mills. A mill is $1 of tax for every $1,000 of a property's assessed value. Irregular property reassessments have become a serious issue in the commonwealth as it creates a significant disparity in taxation within a community.

  • 2009 - 61.5800 mills.[66]

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 it 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.[67]

The School District Adjusted Index for the Keystone School District 2006-2007 through 2010-2011.[68]

  • 2006-07 - 5.6%, 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 - 2.1%, Base 1.4%

The Keystone School Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed the Act 1 index for the budgets in 2010-11.[69] 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.[70]

Property tax relief[edit]

In 2010, the Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief from gambling for the Keystone School District was $130 per approved permanent primary residence. In the district, 2,155 property owners applied for the tax relief.[71] 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 and must be the primary residence of the owner. Farmers can qualify for both the homestead exemption and the farmstead exemption.[72] The highest tax relief in Clarion County was awarded to Clarion-Limestone Area School District at $170. Chester Upland School District was the highest in the commonwealth at $632 in 2009.[73] In Clarion County, 47.86% of eligible property owners applied for property tax relief in 2009.[74]

  • 2009 - $134 for 2091 approved household [75]

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%).[76]

Wellness policy[edit]

Keystone School Board established a district wellness policy in 2006 - Policy 246.[77] The policy deals with nutritious meals served at school, the control of access to some foods and beverages during school hours, age appropriate nutrition education for all students, and physical education for students K-12. The policy is in response to state mandates and federal legislation (P.L. 108 - 265). The law dictates that each school district participating in a program authorized by the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act (42 U.S.C. 1751 et seq) or the Child Nutrition Act of 1966 (42 U.S.C. 1771 et seq) "shall establish a local school wellness policy by School Year 2006." The superintendent is required to report to the board annually regarding programs related to the policy.

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 hat are aligned with the Pennsylvania State Academic Standards for Health, Safety and Physical Education, 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.[78]

The Pennsylvania Department of Education required the district to submit a copy of the policy for its approval.


The district provides a wide variety of clubs, activities and 18 interscholastic sports. Eligibility for participation is determined by school board policy.[79] The district has an Athletic Board which serves as a liaison between the athletic programs and the school board.[80]

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.[81]

High School Athletics[edit]

Keystone participates in PIAA District IX (9)[82]

Sport Name Boys Girls
Baseball / Softball Class A Class A
Basketball Class AA Class AA
Cross Country Class AA Class AA
Football Class A
Golf Class AAAA Class AAAA
Soccer Class A Class A
Track and Field Class AA Class AA
Volleyball Class A
Wrestling Class AA


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