McKeesport Area School District

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McKeesport Area School District
Map of Allegheny County Pennsylvania School Districts.png
Address
3590 O'Neil Boulevard
McKeesport, Pennsylvania, Allegheny County 15132-1145
United States
Information
Type Public
Motto "Once a Tiger, always a Tiger."
School board 9 elected board members
Superintendent

Dr Rula S Skezas - Superintendent Contract through 7-7-17 salary $139,025 (2017)

Dr Harry Bauman - Assistant Superintendent, salary $108,938 (2017)
Administrator

David M Seropian - Business Manager
Michael Matta, Director of federal programs salary $108,303
Harru Bauman, K-12 Curriculum and Transformation Coordinator, salary $107,720
Retired George Lepsch, Guidance Coordinator salary $95,998 Catherine Lobaugh, Early childhood education Supervisor salary $95,500
Patricia Tkacik, Director of Special Education, salary $91,600
Retired Jeney, Mark, Assistant to the Director of Career and Technical Education, salary $87,881
James G. Humanic, Director HR
Dr. Jane L. Coughenour, Director of Technology & Academic Support
Mrs. Patricia Scales, Director of Career & Technical Education
Mrs. Kristen D. Giran, Public Relations
Edward Fagan, Director of Buildings and Grounds
David Listorti, Special Education Supervisor
Menas Zannikos, Special Education Administrative Assistant

Tammi Davis, Food Service Director
Principal Wanzo Tia, salary $100,933
Principal Gordon, Pamela, salary $91,300
Staff 289 people (46 aides)[1]
Faculty 302 (2011), 304 teachers (2010)
Grades K-12
Age 4 years old preschool since 2007 to 21 years old special education
Pupils 3,823 (2011), 3792 (2009–10) 3700 (2016)
 • Kindergarten 242
 • Grade 1 278
 • Grade 2 259
 • Grade 3 284
 • Grade 4 294
 • Grade 5 282
 • Grade 6 293
 • Grade 7 284
 • Grade 8 287
 • Grade 9 353
 • Grade 10 322
 • Grade 11 331
 • Grade 12 295
 • Other Enrollment projected to decline to 3,400 by 2019[2]
Color(s) Red&Blue
Athletics conference 5A
Mascot Tiger
Nickname Tigers
Rival Gateway and Woodland Hills
Budget

$60.25 million 2013–14
$59 million 2012–13 [3]

$57.5 million budget for 2011–12
Per pupil spending $13,122 (2008)
Per pupil Spending $15,028.45 (2010)
Website

The McKeesport Area School District is a mid sized, suburban, public school district serving the Pittsburgh suburbs of Dravosburg, McKeesport, South Versailles Township, Versailles, and White Oak. encompasses approximately 7 square miles (18 km2). According to 2000 federal census data, it served a resident population of 36,567. By 2010, the district's population declined to 31,156 people.[4] In 2009, the district residents’ per capita income was $15,364, while the median family income was $36,620.[5] In the Commonwealth, the median family income was $49,501 [6] and the United States median family income was $49,445, in 2010.[7] According to District officials, in school year 2009–10 the McKeesport Area School District provided basic educational services to 3,927 pupils. It employed: 339 teachers, 237 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 37 administrators. McKeesport Area School District received more than $34.9 million in state funding for school year 2009–10.

McKeesport Area School District officials reported that in school year 2007–08, the District provided basic educational services to 4,132 pupils, That school year the District employed: 342 teachers, 235 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 37 administrators. McKeesport Area School District received more than $33.1 million in state funding in school year 2007–08.

McKeesport Area School District operates three elementary schools for grades K-3: Centennial Elementary School, White Oak, and George Washington School. Students in grades 4–6 attend Francis McClure Intermediate School and Cornell Intermediate School. Founder's Hall serves students in grades 7–8. McKeesport Area High School provides grades 9–12.

Governance[edit]

McKeesport 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.[8] 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 its 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 "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.[9]

Academic achievement[edit]

The McKeesport Area School District was ranked 480th out of 500 Pennsylvania school districts by the Pittsburgh Business Times in 2013.[10] The ranking was based on student academic achievement as demonstrated on the last three years of the PSSAs for: reading, writing, math and science.[11] The PSSAs are given to all children in grades 3rd through 8th and the 11th grade in high school. Adapted examinations are given to children in the special education programs.

  • 2012 - 481st
  • 2010 - 480th out of 497 districts evaluated.[12]
  • 2009 - 479th out of 500 districts
  • 2008 - 481st
  • 2007 - 481st out of 501 districts [13]
Overachiever statewide ranking

In 2012, the Pittsburgh Business Times also reported an Overachievers Ranking for 498 Pennsylvania school districts. McKeesport Area School District ranked 232rd. In 2012, the District was ranked 454th. [14] The editor 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."[15]

Western Pennsylvania local ranking McKeesport Area School District was ranked 99th out of 105 western Pennsylvania school districts, in 2013, by the Pittsburgh Business Times. The ranking was based on the last three years of student academic performance on the PSSAs on: math, reading, writing and science.[16] (includes 105 districts in: Allegheny County, Armstrong County, Beaver County, Butler County, Fayette County, Washington County and Westmoreland County excludes Duquesne City School District & Midland Borough School District due to no high schools)

  • 2012 - 99th
  • 2009 - 100th
  • 2008 - 100th
Opportunity Scholarship status

In July 2012, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) released a report identifying that 5 of McKeesport Area School District schools are among the lowest-achieving schools in Pennsylvania, for reading and mathematics in 2011. Centennial Elementary School, Founders Hall School, George Washington School, McClure Middle School and McKeesport Area High School were all among the 15% lowest-achieving schools in the Commonwealth. Parents and students may be eligible for scholarships to transfer to another public or nonpublic school through the state's Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit Program passed in June 2012.[17] In 2011, The District had the following schools on the list: Centennial Elementary School, George Washington School, McClure Middle School and McKeesport Area High School.

The scholarships are limited to those students whose family's income is less than $60,000 annually, with another $12,000 allowed per dependent. Maximum scholarship award is $8,500, with special education students receiving up to $15,000 for a year's tuition. Parents pay any difference between the scholarship amount and the receiving school's tuition rate. Students may seek admission to neighboring public school districts. Each year the PDE publishes the tuition rate for each individual public school district.[18] Fifty three public schools in Allegheny County are among the lowest-achieving schools in 2011. According to the report, parents in 414 public schools (74 school districts) were offered access to these scholarships. For the 2012–13 school year, eight public school districts in Pennsylvania had all of their schools placed on the list, including: Sto-Rox School District, Chester Upland School District, Clairton City School District, Duquesne City School District, Farrell Area School District, Wilkinsburg Borough School District, William Penn School District and Steelton-Highspire School District.[19] Funding for the scholarships comes from donations by businesses which receive a state tax credit for donating.

District AYP status history[edit]

In 2012, McKeesport Area School District declined to Corrective Action II 2nd Year AYP status, due to continuing low student achievement in both reading and mathematics.[20] In 2011, McKeesport Area School District declined to Corrective Action II Ist Year Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). In 2011, 94 percent of the 500 Pennsylvania public school districts achieved the No Child Left Behind Act progress level of 72% of students reading on grade level and 67% of students demonstrating on grade level math. In 2011, 46.9 percent of Pennsylvania school districts achieved Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) based on student performance. An additional 37.8 percent of Pennsylvania public school districts made AYP based on a calculated method called safe harbor, 8.2 percent on the growth model and 0.8 percent on a two-year average performance.[21] McKeesport Area School District has never achieved AYP status.[22]

  • 2010 - Making Progress: in Corrective Action I
  • 2009 - Corrective Action II 4th Year due to chronic low student achievement. Students may transfer to a different local school at no cost to the parents
  • 2008 - Corrective Action 1
  • 2007 - Making Progress School Improvement Level II
  • 2006 - School Improvement Level II
  • 2005 - Making Progress School Improvement Level I
  • 2004 - School Improvement Level I
  • 2003 - Warning AYP status due to low academic achievement

In its 2010 application for School Improvement Grants, the Pennsylvania Department of Education identified McKeesport Area Senior High School as a candidate for turnaround intervention.[23] The school district applied for funding under the program. Nineteen Pennsylvania school districts and five charters statewide applied for the money. Schools accepting it must agree to adopt federal government-specified "interventions" that would lead to staffing changes and other shifts in how they operate.[24] The School Improvement Grant program began in 2002. In 2010 there is the one-time addition of almost $3 billion in stimulus funding. The district received $3,360,000 to transform the high school.[25] The High School was required to notify parents of its intention to implement the changes required by the grant.[26] Parents notice [1]

In 2009, the academic achievement of the students of the McKeesport school district was in the 4th percentile of Pennsylvania's 500 school districts. Scale (0-99; 100 is state best) [27]

Graduation rate[edit]

In 2012, McKeesport Area School District’s graduation rate was 54%.[28] In 2011, the District's graduation rate was 62%.[29] In 2010, the Pennsylvania Department of Education issued a new, 4-year cohort graduation rate. McKeesport Area High School's rate was 62% for 2010.[30]

According to traditional graduation rate calculations

2010 – 83%[31]
2009 – 87%[32]
2008 – 87%
2007 – 87%[33]

High school[edit]

McKeesport Area High School is located at 1960 Eden Park Blvd, Mc Keesport. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, the school reported an enrollment of 1,301 pupils in grades 9th through 12th, with 767 pupils eligible for a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to the family meeting the federal poverty level. The school is a federally designated Title I school. The school employed 90 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 14:1.[34] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[35]

McKeesport Area Senior High School is in Corrective Action II 6th Year for chronically low academic scores in 2012.[36]

In 2010, McKeesport Area High School was identified by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, as eligible for a School Improvement Grant due to it being one of the lowest-performing schools whose Adequate Yearly Progress status is School Improvement or Corrective Action. McKeesport Area School District received $3,360,000 to transform the High School. Transformation model includes the use of rigorous, transparent, and equitable evaluation systems for teachers and principals, high-quality professional development and design and development of curriculum with teacher and principal involvement.[37]

Regional ranking

In 2013, McKeesport Area Senior High School ranks 108th of 123 high schools in western Pennsylvania for academic achievement based on the last 3 years of PSSA results on: math, reading, writing and science, by Pittsburgh Business Times.[38]

  • 2012 - 111th
  • 2010 - 100th
  • 2009 - ranked 100th out of 123 high schools.
PSSA Results
11th Grade Reading
  • 2012 – 63% on grade level (18% below basic). State – 67% of 11th graders are on grade level.[39]
  • 2011 – 46% (36% below basic). State – 69.1% [40]
  • 2010 – 47%, State – 67% [41]
  • 2009 – 49%, State – 65%[42]
  • 2008 – 51%, State – 65%
  • 2007 – 36%, State – 65% [43]
11th Grade Math
  • 2012 – 34% on grade level (42% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 59% of 11th graders are on grade level.[44]
  • 2011 – 32% (54% below basic). State – 60.3% [45]
  • 2010 – 34%, State – 56%
  • 2009 – 24%, State – 56%[46]
  • 2008 – 29%, State – 56% [47]
  • 2007 – 21%, State – 53%
11th Grade Science
  • 2012 – 19% on grade level (40% below basic). State – 42% of 11th graders were on grade level.[48]
  • 2011 – 11% (56% below basic). State – 40% [49]
  • 2010 – 10%, State – 39% [50]
  • 2009 - 8%, State – 40%
  • 2008 – 12%, State – 39% [51]

Science in Motion McKeesport 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.[52] Westminster University serves the region to provide the experiences.

College Remediation[edit]

According to a Pennsylvania Department of Education study released in January 2009, 48% of McKeesport 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.[53] 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.[54] 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 program[edit]

McKeesport Area High School offers a dual enrollment program.[55] 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. 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.[56] Under the Pennsylvania Transfer and Articulation Agreement, many Pennsylvania colleges and universities accept these credits for students who transfer to their institutions.[57] For the 2009–10 funding year, the school district received a state grant of $27,646 for the program. For 2010–11, Governor Edward Rendell eliminated the grants to students, from the Commonwealth, due to a state budget crisis.

Graduation requirements[edit]

McKeesport Area School Board has determined that in order to graduate from McKeesport Area School District a student must earn 28 credits, including: English 4 Credits, Mathematics 3 Credits, Science 3 Credits, Social Studies 3 Credits, PSSA (1/2 mathematics, 1/2 reading) Credit 1, Health and Physical Education 2.5 Credits and Elective 11.5 Credits.[58]

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.[59] Effective with the graduating class of 2017, the Pennsylvania Board of Education eliminated the state mandate that students complete a culminating project in order to graduate.[60]

By Pennsylvania School Board regulations, beginning with the class of 2017, public school students must demonstrate successful completion of secondary level course work in Algebra I, Biology, and English Literature by passing the Keystone Exams.[61][62][63] 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.[64] 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.[65] 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 2012, 122 McKeesport Area School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 423. The Math average score was 419. The Writing average score was 394. The statewide Verbal SAT exams results were: Verbal 491, Math 501, Writing 480. In the US, 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, 136 McKeesport Area School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 425. The Math average score was 427. The Writing average score was 396.[66] Pennsylvania ranked 40th among states with SAT scores: Verbal - 493, Math - 501, Writing - 479.[67] 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.[68]

Founders Hall School[edit]

Founders Hall School is located at 3600 O'Neil Blvd., McKeesport. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2011, the school reported an enrollment of 597 pupils in grades 7th and 8th, with 365 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school employed 63 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 9:1.[69] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[70]

The eighth grade at Founder's Hall School ranked 131st out of 106 western Pennsylvania eighth grades, by the Pittsburgh Business Times in 2013, for academic achievement as reflected by the last three years of results on: math, reading, writing and science on the State's PSSAs.[71]

  • 2012 - 128th
  • 2010 - 99th[72]
  • 2009 - ranked 130th out of 141 western Pennsylvania 8th grades.

In 2012, Founders Hall School declined to Corrective Action II 1st Year AYP status, due to continuing low student achievement in reading and math.[73] In 2011, Founders Hall School declined to Corrective Action I AYP status due to low student academic achievement. Under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, the school administration was required to notify parents of the school's poor achievement outcomes and to offer the parent the opportunity to transfer to a successful school within the District. Additionally, Founder Hall School Administration was required by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, to develop a School Improvement Plan to address the school's low student achievement. Under the Pennsylvania Accountability System, the school must pay for additional tutoring for struggling students.[74] Founder Hall School is eligible for dedicated, extra funding under School Improvement Grants which the school must apply for each year.[75]

PSSA results
8th Grade Reading
  • 2012 – 64% on grade level (14% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 79% of 8th graders on grade level.[44]
  • 2011 – 70% (13% below basic) State – 81.8%
  • 2010 – 65%, State – 81%
  • 2009 – 68%, State – 80%[76]
  • 2008 – 61%, State – 78%

8th Grade Math:

  • 2012 – 56% on grade level (21% below basic). State – 76% [77]
  • 2011 – 66% (19% below basic). State – 76.9%
  • 2010 – 58%, State – 75%
  • 2009 – 56%, State – 71%
  • 2008 – 52%, State – 70%

8th Grade Science:

  • 2012 – 33% on grade level (39% below basic). State – 59%
  • 2011 – 33% (44% below basic). State – 58.3%
  • 2010 – 27%, State – 57% [78]
  • 2009 – 24%, State – 55%
  • 2008 – 27%, State – 52%
Seventh Grade

The seventh grade at Founder's Hall ranked 127th out of 106 western Pennsylvania 7th grades, by the Pittsburgh Business Times in 2013, for academic achievement as reflected by the last three years of results on: math, reading, writing and science PSSAs.[79]

  • 2012 - 112th
  • 2010 - 98th
PSSA results

Francis McClure Intermediate School[edit]

Francis McClure Intermediate School is located at 500 Longvue Drive, McKeesport. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2011, the school reported an enrollment of 526 pupils in grades 4th through 6th, with 316 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school employed 40 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 13:1.[80] 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.[81]

In 2012, Francis McClure Intermediate School declined to School Improvement I AYP status due to missing all academic metrics measured.[82] In 2011, Francis McClure Intermediate School declined to Warning AYP status due to lagging reading, math and science scores.

Sixth Grade

The sixth grade at McClure ranked 160th out of 207 western Pennsylvania sixth grades, by the Pittsburgh Business Times in 2013, for academic achievement as reflected by the last three years of results on: math, reading, and writing. PSSAs.[83]

  • 2012 - 142nd
  • 2009 - 124th

PSSAs:

Fifth Grade

The fifth grade at McClure ranked 240th out of 287 western Pennsylvania fifth grades, by the Pittsburgh Business Times in 2013, for academic achievement as reflected by the last three years of results on: math, reading, and writing. PSSAs.[86]

  • 2012 - 225th
  • 2009 - 187th

PSSAs:

Fourth Grade

The fourth grade at McClure ranked 272nd out of 313 western Pennsylvania fourth grades, by the Pittsburgh Business Times in 2013, for academic achievement as reflected by the last three years of results on: math, reading, writing and science. PSSAs.[87]

  • 2011 - 253rd
  • 2009 - 200th

PSSAs:

4th Grade Science
  • 2012 – 47% (15% below basic). State – 82%
  • 2011 – 74% (11% below basic). State – 82.9%
  • 2010 – 72%, State – 81%
  • 2009 – 81%, State – 83%
  • 2008 – 86%, State – 81%

Cornell Middle School[edit]

Sixth Grade The sixth grade at Cornell ranked 172nd out of 207 western Pennsylvania sixth grades, by the Pittsburgh Business Times in 2009, for academic achievement as reflected by four years of results on: math, reading, and writing. PSSAs.[88]

6th Grade Reading:
2010 – 45% on grade level. In Pennsylvania, 68% of 6th graders on grade level. (140 pupils enrolled0
2009 – 47%, State – 67%[89]
2008 – 44%, State – 67%

6th Grade Math:
2010 – 66% on grade level. In Pennsylvania, 78% of 6th graders on grade level.
2009 – 65%, State – 75%
2008 – 65%, State – 72%

Fifth Grade

The fifth grade at Cornell ranked 252nd out of 287 western Pennsylvania fifth grades, by the Pittsburgh Business Times in 2009, for academic achievement as reflected by four years of results on: math, reading, and writing. PSSAs.[90]

5th Grade Reading:
2010 – 36% on grade level. In Pennsylvania, 64% of 5th graders on grade level. (147 pupils enrolled)
2009 – 45%, State – 64%
2008 – 41%, State – 61%

5th Grade Math:
2010 – 49% on grade level. In Pennsylvania, 74% of 5th graders on grade level.
2009 – 60%, State – 73%
2008 – 63%, State – 73%

Fourth Grade

The fourth grade at Cornell ranked 289th out of 313 western Pennsylvania fourth grades, by the Pittsburgh Business Times in 2009, for academic achievement as reflected by four years of results on: math, reading, writing and 2 years of science. PSSAs.[91]

4th Grade Reading:
2010 – 47% on grade level. In Pennsylvania, 72% of 4th graders on grade level. (137 pupils enrolled) [89]
2009 – 40%, State – 72%>
2008 – 49%, State – 70%

4th Grade Math:
2010 – 68% on grade level. In Pennsylvania, 84% of 4th graders on grade level.
2009 – 61%, State – 81%
2008 – 69%, State – 79%

4th Grade Science:
2010 – 53% on grade level. In Pennsylvania, 81% of 4th graders on grade level.
2009 – 47%, State – 83%
2008 – 59%, State – 81%

Bullying policy[edit]

In 2009 the administrative reported there were no incidents of bullying in the district.[92][93]

The McKeesport Area School Board prohibits bullying by district students and faculty. A policy defines bullying and cyberbullying. 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.[94] 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.[95] 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.[96]

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.[97]

Wellness policy[edit]

The McKeesport Area School Board established a district wellness policy in 2006 - Policy 246.[98] 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 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.[99] The Pennsylvania Department of Education required the district to submit a copy of the policy for approval.

The District offers a free school breakfast and free or reduced-price lunch to low-income children. The meals are partially funded with federal dollars through the United States Department of Agriculture.[100]

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.[101]

In 2011, the District employed 324 teachers, with the average teacher salary at $52,794 a year, while the cost of the benefits teachers received was $19,583 per employee, for a total annual average teacher compensation of $72,377.68. The Top teacher salary was $139,025.[102]

In 2009, McKeesport Area School District reported employing over 360 teachers with a salary range of $38,000 to $130,000.[103] In addition to salary, the teachers and administrators receive an extensive benefits package, including health insurance, life insurance, personal and 10 paid sick days which accumulate, reimbursement for college courses, additional payment for extra time worked and a defined benefit pension.[104] The average teacher salary was $55,246.

In 2007, McKeesport Area School District employed 273 teacher with the average teacher salary in the district was $51,645 for 180 days worked.[105]

McKeesport Area administrative costs per pupil in 2008 were $840.68 per pupil, which ranked 186th out of 501 Pennsylvania public school districts.. The lowest administrative cost per pupil in Pennsylvania was $398 per pupil.[106] In June 2009, the McKeesport School Board awarded a five-year contract to Dr. Michael B. Brinkos for the position of Superintendent effective July 1, 2009, through June 30, 2014, at a starting salary of $130,000. The additional contract terms included an extensive benefits package.[107] The high school has three principals.[108]

In 2010, McKeesport Area School Board named Timothy M. Gabauer superintendent with a starting salary of $134,000.[109]

Reserves - In 2008, the McKeesport Area School Board reported a $5,910,640.00 in an unreserved-undesignated fund balance. The designated fund balance was reported as zero.[110] In 2010, Area Administration reported an increase to $ in the unreserved-undesignated fund balance. The District reported $7,132,856 in its undesgnated reserved funds in 2012. 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. By law the state limits the total unreserved-undesignated fund balance at 8% of the annual budget for school districts that have budgets over $19 million a year. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, from 2003 to 2010, as a whole, Pennsylvania school districts amassed nearly $3 billion in reserved funds.[111]

In January 2010, the Pennsylvania Auditor General conducted a performance audit of the district. The findings were reported to the school board and administration.[112]

Tuition Students who live in the McKeesport 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 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 McKeesport Area School District's schools. The 2012 tuition rates are Elementary School - $8,109.31, High School - $9,386.26.[113]

McKeesport Area School District levies the following taxes: a property tax, a local earned income tax and a real estate transfer tax. Grants also provide supplemental school funding without raising local taxes.[114] Grants can provide an opportunity to supplement school funding without raising local taxes. Interest earnings on accounts also provide nontax income to the District. 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 the individual’s personal wealth.[115] The average Pennsylvania public school teacher pension in 2011 exceeds $60,000 a year plus they receive federal Social Security benefits: both are free of Pennsylvania state income tax and local income tax which funds local public schools.[116]

State basic education funding[edit]

For the 2012–13 school year, McKeesport Area School District received $23,383,405 in state Basic Education Funding (BEF).[117] The Governor's Executive Budget for 2012–2013 included $9.34 billion for kindergarten through 12th grade public education, including $5.4 billion in basic education funding, which was an increase of $49 million over the 2011–12 budget. In addition, the Commonwealth provided $100 million for the Accountability Block Grant (ABG) program. McKeesport Area School District received $404,611 in ABG funds. The state also provided a $544.4 million payment for School Employees’ Social Security and $856 million for School Employees’ Retirement fund called PSERS.[118] This amount was 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, McKeesport Area School District received a $22,978,794 allocation, of state Basic Education Funding.[119][120] Additionally, the School District received $147,710 in Accountability Block Grant funding. The enacted Pennsylvania state Education budget included $5,354,629,000 for the 2011–2012 Basic Education Funding appropriation. This amount was a $233,290,000 increase (4.6%) over the enacted State appropriation for 2010–2011.[121] The highest increase in state basic education funding was awarded to Duquesne City School District of Allegheny County, which got a 49% increase in state funding for 2011–12.[122] In 2010, the district reported that 2,675 students received free or reduced-price lunches, due to the family meeting the federal poverty level.[123]

For the 2010–2011 budget year, McKeesport Area School District was provided with a 2% increase in state basic education funding for a total of $24,265,721. In Allegheny County, the highest state funding increase was awarded to South Fayette Township School District which received an 11.32% increase. In Allegheny County, 23 school districts received the base 2% increase and 150 Pennsylvania school districts received a 2% increase. The highest increase in the state was awarded to Kennett Consolidated School District which received a 23.65% increase in state funding.[124] The district also received $1,098,214 in ABG funding. The state's hold harmless policy regarding state basic education funding continued where each district received at least the same amount as it received the prior school year, even when enrollment had significantly declined. The amount of increase each school district received was set by Governor Edward Rendell and then Secretary of Education Gerald Zahorchak, as a part of the state budget proposal given each February. This was the second year of Governor Rendell’s policy to fund some public school districts at a far greater rate than others.[125]

In the 2009–2010 budget year, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a 3.53% increase in Basic Education funding for a total of $23,789,923 to McKeesport Area School District. Four school districts in Allegheny County received an increase of over 6 percent. Chartiers Valley School District received an 8.19% increase, which was the highest increase in Allegheny County in 2009–10. In Pennsylvania, a 2% increase in funding was the lowest amount and 20 Allegheny County districts were given this based amount. Ninety Pennsylvania school districts received the base 2% increase in 2009. Muhlenberg School District in Berks County received an increase of over 22.31%. Fifteen school districts received Basic Education increases in excess of 10%.[126] The amount of increase each school district received was set by Governor Edward G. Rendell and the Secretary of Education Gerald Zahorchak, as a part of the state budget proposal.[127] 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.[128][129]

The state Basic Education funding to the McKeesport Area School District in 2008–09 was $22,978,793.88. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 2,728 district students received free or reduced-price lunches due to low family income in the 2007–2008 school year.[130]

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, McKeesport Area School District applied for and received $1,098,214 in addition to all other state and federal funding. The district uses the funding to provide full-day kindergarten (since 2004) and to provide additional assistance to struggling students.[131][132]

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), along with other specialized equipment and provided funding for teacher training to optimize the use of the computers. The program was funded from 2006 to 2009. McKeesport Area School District received $299,773 in 2007, $299,766 in 2008 and $45,413 in 2009 for a total grant of $644,952.[133] In Allegheny County the highest award was given to Highlands School District. The highest funding statewide was awarded to Philadelphia City School District in Philadelphia County - $9,409,073. The Classrooms for the Future grant program was discontinued by Governor Edward Rendell as part of the 2009–10 state budget.

PreK Counts grant[edit]

McKeesport Area School District receives state funding to provide preschool at the elementary schools. For the 2011 school year, School District was a high priority for funding due to the 48% poverty level of children in the district's attendance area.[134] 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. McKeesport Area School District received funding in 2007–08.[135] In 2009–10 the district received $395,000 to provide preschool to 100 children.[136][137]

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 McKeesport Area School District received $338,459.[138]

Literacy grant[edit]

McKeesport Area School District was awarded a $529,260 competitive literacy grant. It is to be used to improve reading skills birth through 12th grade. The district was required to develop a lengthy literacy plan, which included outreach into the community. The funds come from a Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy grant, also referred to as the Keystones to Opportunity grant It is a five-year, competitive federal grant program designed to assist local education agencies in developing and implementing local comprehensive literacy plans. Of the 329 pre-applications by school districts reviewed by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, McKeesport Area School District was one of only 148 entities that were invited to submit a full application. In Allegheny County 5 school districts and one charter school were awarded funding for one year.[139] The funds must be used for teacher training, student screening and assessment, targeted interventions for students reading below grade level and research-based methods of improving classroom instruction and practice. Pennsylvania was among six other states, out of the 35 that applied, to be awarded funding. Pennsylvania received $38 million through the federal program. The Department of Education reserved 5% of the grant for administration costs at the state level.

Federal funding[edit]

Federal Stimulus grant[edit]

The district received an extra $5,303,695 in ARRA - Federal Stimulus money to be used in specific programs like special education and meeting the academic needs of low-income students.[140] The funding is for 2009–2011 school years.

Additionally, in 2010, the district applied for and will receive an extra $15 million in federal stimulus funding for construction projects.[141] This funding is from the federal Qualified School Construction Bond Program. In order to qualify the school district's 2007–2008 equalized millage must be greater than or equal to 19.0 or the school district must be in a county designated distressed for 2010 by the Appalachian Regional Commission, and the school district's October 2008 Free and Reduced Lunch percentage must be greater than or equal to 45 percent; or the school district's average daily membership must have increased between 2002–03 and 2007–08 by more than 500 or by more than 10 percent. Additionally, 100 percent of available project proceeds must be used for the construction, rehabilitation, or repair of public school facilities, equipment for these facilities, or related site acquisition. In Pennsylvania, 46 school districts received more than $600 million in bonds made possible through the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Pennsylvania's allocation for the Qualified School Construction Bonds was $602 million – the sixth largest allocation in the nation. Under the program, the federal government pays essentially 100 percent of the interest on the QSCB bonds, which are issued under the recovery act's Build America Bonds program.[142]

Race to the Top grant[edit]

School district officials applied for the Race to the Top federal grant. The district is identified as a turnaround district due to chronically poor academic achievement of its students. When approved for the grant, the district would receive millions of additional federal dollars for improving student academic achievement. Turnaround status also brings an extra $700 per student, in supplemental funding above the basic grant amount.[143] Pennsylvania did not receive a federal grant. The failure of the majority of school districts to apply to participate was cited as one reason for the rejection.[144]

21st Century learning grant[edit]

In July 2012, McKeesport Area School District received a federal grant which is run by the PDE. The grant calls for the establishment and sustainability of community learning centers that provide additional educational services to students in high-poverty and low-performing schools. The grant was competitive. Applications for the grants were reviewed and scored by a panel of representatives from the educational field and professional grant writers. The School District received $468,000. While 101 entities applied for the funding, only 66 were approved, including eight charter schools. The funding is for the 2012–13 fiscal year.[145]

Common Cents state initiative[edit]

The McKeesport 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.[146] After the review of the information, the school district was not required to implement the recommended cost savings changes.

STEAM grant[edit]

In 2013, McKeesport Area School District received a $20,000 grant from the Claude Worthington Benedum and Grable foundations. The STEAM funds are to be used to support science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics programs. The curriculum is to involve students in kindergarten through fifth grade.[147] School administration were required to apply for the grants. Recipients include 24 schools located in: Allegheny County, Beaver County, Butler County, Fayette County, Greene County, Lawrence County, Mercer County, Washington County and Westmoreland County.[148]

Real estate taxes[edit]

McKeesport Area School Board levied a real estate tax of 17.4900 mills in 2012–13.[149] 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. On the local level, Pennsylvania 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.[150]

  • 2011–12 - 17.0500 mills.[151]
  • 2010–11 - 16.7100 mills [152]
  • 2009–10 - 16.7100 mills.[153]
  • 2008–09 - 17.7100 mills.[154]
  • 2007–08 - 17.7100 mills.[155]
  • 2006–07 - 17.7100 mills.[156]
  • 2005–06 - 18.2100 mills.[157]

The average yearly property tax paid by Allegheny County residents amounts to about 4.09% of their yearly income. Allegheny County ranked 209th out of the 3143 United States counties for property taxes as a percentage of median income.[158] 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 1999–2000 to $10,438,463,356 in 2008–09 and to $11,153,412,490 in 2011.[159] 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%).[160]

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.[161] In June 2011, the Pennsylvania General Assembly eliminated six exceptions to the Act 1 Index.[162] 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.[163][164]

The School District Adjusted Index for the McKeesport Area School District 2006–2007 through 2010–2011.[165]

For the 2013–14 budget year, McKeesport Area School Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed the Act 1 Index. For 2013–2014, 311 Pennsylvania public school districts adopted a resolution certifying that tax rates would not be increased above their index; 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 the tax limit. For the exception for pension costs, 169 school districts received approval to exceed the Index. Eleven districts received an approval for grandfathered construction debts.[168]

For the 2012–13 budget year, McKeesport 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.[168]

For the 2011–12 school year, the McKeesport Area School Board did not apply for an exception to exceed the Act 1 Index. Each year, the McKeesport 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 published annually, by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.[169]

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.[170]

For the 2010–11 school year, the school board did not apply for an exception to exceed the district's Act 1 index limit.[171][172] 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.[173]

Property tax relief[edit]

The property tax relief amount for the McKeesport Area School District was set at $316 for 7,706 approved applicants by the Pennsylvania Department of Education in May 2010.[174]

In 2009, the Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief from gambling for the McKeesport Area School District was $321 per approved permanent primary residence. In the district, 7,598 approved property owners applied for the tax relief. 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. In Allegheny County, 60% of eligible property owners applied for property tax relief in 2009.[175] In highest property tax relief in 2009 and 2010 went to Chester Upland School District in Delaware County which got $632 per approved homestead and farmstead.

Additionally, the Pennsylvania Property Tax/Rent Rebate program is provided for low income Pennsylvanians aged 65 and older; widows and widowers aged 50 and older; and people with disabilities age 18 and older. The income limit is $35,000 for homeowners. The maximum rebate for both homeowners and renters is $650. Applicants can exclude one-half (1/2) of their Social Security income, consequently, 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%).[176]

Extracurriculars[edit]

The district offers a variety of clubs, activities and sports. Eligibility for participation is set by school board policy.[177]

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.[178]

Sports[edit]

The District funds:

Founders Hall Sports

According to PIAA directory July 2012 [179]

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External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°20′46″N 79°50′09″W / 40.346024°N 79.835828°W / 40.346024; -79.835828