Mid Valley School District

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Mid Valley School District
Map of Lackawanna County Pennsylvania School Districts.PNG
Address
52 Underwood Road
Throop, Pennsylvania, Lackawanna County 18512-1196
United States of America
Information
Type Public
Established 1969
Superintendent

Dr Gene Camoni, Acting Superintendent March 2015
Jim Tallarico, hired January 2014 resigned Feb 2015[1]

Former Mr. Randy Perry, salary $78,984[2] salary $120,025 (2013)[3]
Administrator

Mr Joseph Caputo - Business Manager
Chad R Vinansky, salary $82,303 (2013)

Skodacek, Rose Ellen Supervisor salary $74,950,
Staff 95 staff members 2011
Faculty

97 teachers (2013)[4]

101 teachers (2011)[5]
Grades K–12
Number of students

1,736 pupils (2015)[6]
1,752 pupils (2014)[7]
1,520 pupils (2013)
1,767 pupils 2011
1,883 pupils (2009-2010)[8]

1,706 pupils (2006-07)
 • Kindergarten 149 (2013),[9] 119 (2010)[10]
 • Grade 1 160 (2013), 138
 • Grade 2 128 (2013), 130
 • Grade 3 126 (2013), 152
 • Grade 4 146 (2013), 148
 • Grade 5 140 (2013), 152
 • Grade 6 117 (2013), 150
 • Grade 7 148 (2013), 135
 • Grade 8 131 (2013), 150
 • Grade 9 131 (2013), 158
 • Grade 10 125 (2013), 153
 • Grade 11 114 (2013), 151
 • Grade 12 137 (2013), 147 (2010)
 • Other Enrollment projected to increase through 2019
Color(s) blue and white
Athletics conference PIAA District 2
Budget

$23,278,547 (2015-16)[11]
$21.32 million (2013-14)[12]
$22,079,891 (2011-12)
$19,942,500 (2010-11)

$19,782,017 (2009-10)
Information (570) 307-1119
Accent color silver
Mascot Spartans
Website

Mid Valley School District is a small public school district located in Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania, comprising the boroughs of Olyphant, Dickson City, and Throop. Mid Valley School District encompasses approximately 15 square miles (39 km2). According to 2000 federal census data, it serves a resident population of 15,193. By 2010, the District's population increased to 15,304 people.[13] The educational attainment levels for the Mid Valley School District population (25 years old and over) were 89.9% high school graduates and 20.8% college graduates.[14] The District is one of 12 public school districts in Lackawanna County and one of the 500 public school districts of Pennsylvania.

According to the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, 49.2% of the District’s pupils lived at 185% or below the Federal Poverty level as shown by their eligibility for the federal free or reduced price school meal programs in 2012.[15] In 2009, the Mid Valley School District residents’ per capita income was $17,167, while the median family income was $42,468.[16] In Lackawanna County, the median household income was $43,673.[17] In the Commonwealth, the median family income was $49,501[18] and the United States median family income was $49,445, in 2010.[19] By 2013, the median household income in the United States rose to $52,100.[20]

Per school district officials, in school year 2005-06 the Mid Valley School District provided basic educational services to 1,674 pupils through the employment of 114 teachers, 76 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 6 administrators. In the 2009-10 school year, the District provided basic educational services to 1,902 pupils. The District employed: 129 teachers, 81 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 15 administrators. The District received $5.8 million in state funding in the 2009-10 school year. For the 2013-14 school year, the Mid Valley School District reported an enrollment of 1,731 pupils. It employed 123 teachers, 49 staff full or part-time staff members and 22 administrators. The District received $6,580,408 in state funding in 2013-14.

Mid Valley School District operates two schools: Mid Valley Elementary Center (grades K-6) and Mid Valley Secondary Center (grades 7-12). High school students may choose to attend Career Technology Center of Lackawanna County for training in the construction and mechanical trades. The Northeastern Educational Intermediate Unit, IU19, provides the District with a wide variety of services like specialized education for disabled students and hearing, speech and visual disability services and professional development for staff and faculty.

Governance[edit]

The Mid Valley School District is governed by 9 individually elected board members (serve without compensation for a term of four years), the Pennsylvania State Board of Education, the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the Pennsylvania General Assembly.[21] The federal government controls programs it funds like: Title I funding for low income children in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and the No Child Left Behind Act, (renamed Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in December 2015) which mandates the district focus its resources on student success in acquiring reading and math skills.[22] The school board is required by state law to post a financial report on the district in its website by March of each school year.[23]

The Superintendent and Business Manager are appointed by the school board. The Superintendent is the chief administrative officer with overall responsibility for all aspects of operations, including education and finance. The Business Manager is responsible for budget and financial operations. Neither of these officials are voting members of the School Board. The School Board enters into individual employment contracts for these positions. These contracts must be in writing and are subject to public discloure under the state’s Right to Know Act. In Pennsylvania, public school districts are required to give 150 days notice to the Superintendent regarding renewal of the employment contract.[24] Pursuant to Act 141 of 2012 which amended the Pennsylvania School Code, all school districts that have hired superintendents on/after the fall of 2012 are required to develop objective performance standards and post them on the district’s website.[25]

History of the district[edit]

Prior to 1969 each borough within the district had operated its own schools. The Pennsylvania legislature enacted the School District Reorganization Act of 1961, the School District Reorganization Act of 1963, and the School District Reorganization Act of 1968. Due to dwindling populations because of the decline of anthracite mining in the region, in accordance with this legislation, the schools of the boroughs combined to form the Mid Valley School District for the 1969-1970 school year. The name picked for the district "Mid Valley" comes from the fact that the three towns are considered to be in the middle of the Lackawanna Valley and the area of the three towns (along with Blakely, Jessup, sometimes Archbald) are often referred to as the Mid Valley Region.

For the 1969-70 school year and throughout most of the 1970s, the district population utilized the former Olyphant Junior High School as the Mid-Valley Senior High School for students in grades 10 through 12, and the former Dickson City Junior High School as the Mid-Valley Junior High School for students in grades 7 through 9. There was an elementary school for students in kindergarten through sixth grade in each borough. Soon afterward sixth grade students from Throop began to attend classes in Olyphant. Problems ranging from lack of heat in the winter months, and structural problems plagued the new district throughout much of the first decade.

In the spring of 1977, while plans for a new junior-senior high school for grades 7-12 on Franko Street in Throop were on hold, the Olyphant Elementary School and the Dickson City Elementary School were condemned by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry because of violations of the Fire and Panic Law. The displaced elementary school students then attended classes on a full-time basis in the junior high school. The junior high school students and the senior high school students used the senior high school building on split sessions. Soon afterward the Dickson City Elementary School (former Dickson City High School) was destroyed by fire. For the 1978-79 school year, district rented the former St. Patrick’s School in Olyphant and used it for seventh and eighth grade students. The secondary students were no longer attending classes on split sessions. The district operated in that mode until the opening of the new Mid Valley Secondary Center on Underwood Road in Throop in the fall of 1981.[26]

1981 - 1989[edit]

In September 1981, the new high school building was finally opened at its present location at 52 Underwood Road in Throop. The new building housed grades 7 - 12 and was named Mid Valley Secondary Center. With the opening of the new building, Mid Valley Intermediate Center (grades 4 - 6) moved into the building formerly occupied by the senior high school in Olyphant and grades K-3 were Mid Valley Primary Center, housed in the remaining school building in Dickson City.

The land chosen for the new district building was, at the time a rather remote section of Throop which was mostly wooded which allowed for expansion as a large parcel of land was bought by the district. Spartan Stadium, the track and football field, as well as an open sports field and baseball/softball fields were set up at the opposite end of the property from the new building, which was adjacent to Underwood Road. A field house was recently added to the sports complex.

Plans were made to build another building to house both the primary and intermediate students on the district land adjacent to the Secondary Center. The new building was opened for the start of the 1989-1990 school year for students in grades K-6.

1989 to present[edit]

Due to increases in student population from recent housing developments, the elementary school building was expanded in the early 1990s. Mid Valley Secondary Center was expanded in the early 2000s

A Mid Valley School District substitute van driver was taken for drug and alcohol testing after another adult in the vehicle called school officials to report smelling an alcoholic beverage.http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/mid-valley-school-van-driver-taken-for-drug-and-alcohol-testing-1.747113 Van driver, Jennifer O'Rourke of Throop was charged with drunken driving while transporting students home from school. She was involved in a minor accident while driving back to a school to pick up more students and failed field sobriety tests given by Throop police in a school parking lot.http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/mid-valley-school-van-driver-taken-for-drug-and-alcohol-testing-1.747113

Academic achievement[edit]

Mid Valley School District was ranked 273rd out of 498 Pennsylvania School Districts in 2015 by the Pittsburgh Business Times.[27] The ranking is based on the last 3 years of student academic achievement as demonstrated by PSSAs results in: reading, writing, math and science and the three Keystone Exams (literature, Algebra 1, Biology I) in high school.[28] Three school districts were excluded because they do not operate high schools (Saint Clair Area School District, Midland Borough School District, Duquesne City School District). The PSSAs are given to all children in grades 3rd through 8th. Adapted PSSA examinations are given to children in the special education programs. Writing exams were given to children in 5th and 8th grades.

Overachiever statewide ranking

In 2013, the Pittsburgh Business Times also reported an Overachievers Ranking for 498 Pennsylvania school districts. Mid Valley School District ranked 420th. In 2012, the District was ranked 392nd.[35] 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."[36]

According to an Institute for Public Policy & Economic Development Report, in 2008, the academic achievement in reading and mathematics of Mid Valley School District students was the lowest among all Lackawanna County public school districts.[37] Additionally, the Institute found that Mid Valley School District students performed poorly on the state's writing tests. The students scores were below county averages for four school years (2006-2009) for 5th, 8th and 11th graders.[38]

District AYP status history[edit]

In 2012 and 2011, Mid Valley School District achieved Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) status.[39] 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.[40] Mid Valley School District achieved AYP status each year from 2006 to 2010.[41]

  • 2005 - Making Progress School Improvement Level I
  • 2004 - School Improvement Level I
  • 2003 - Warning AYP level due to lagging student achievement.

Graduation rate[edit]

In 2015, the graduation rate was 91.55%.[42]

  • 2014 - 91%
  • 2013 - 91.55%
  • 2012 - 87%.[43]
  • 2011 - 91%.[44]
  • 2010 - 90%, the Pennsylvania Department of Education issued a new, 4-year cohort graduation rate.[45]
According to traditional graduation rate calculations

Graduation requirements[edit]

The Mid Valley School Board has determined that students must earn 30 credits to graduate, including: English 4 credits, Math 4 credits, Social Studies 4 credits, Science 4 credits, Physical Education/Health 2 credit, Humanities 2 credits, Enrichment 2 credits and Electives 5 credits.[50]

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.[51] At Midd Valley School District the student's project focuses on career and community and may include community service or career shadowing. Completing the project provides the student with 1 credit towards graduation.[52] 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.[53]

By Pennsylvania School Board regulations, beginning with the class of 2017 (2019), public school students must demonstrate successful completion of secondary level course work in Algebra I, Biology, and English Literature by passing the Keystone Exams.[54][55][56] 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.[57] 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.[58] 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.

Mid Valley Secondary Center[edit]

Located at 52 Underwood Road in Throop, Pennsylvania. In 2014, enrollment was reported as 786 pupils in 6th through 12th grades, with 40.7% of pupils eligible for a free lunch due to family poverty. Additionally, 17% of pupils received special education services, while 1% of pupils were identified as gifted.[59] The school employed 25 teachers (9th-12).[60] Per the PA Department of Education, 100% of the teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under the federal No Child Left Behind Act. The school is a federally designated Title I School.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2012, the school reported an enrollment of 878 pupils in grades 6th through 12th, with 320 pupils eligible for a federal free or reduced price lunch due to the family meeting the federal poverty level. In 2012, the School employed 43 teachers yielding a student-teacher ratio of 18:1.[61] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of the teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[62]

The building, opened in 1981 was expanded recently to provide a separate space for the younger students in seventh and eighth grades who had historically clashed with the older high school population. The new addition was named Mid Valley Middle School and has a separate entrance for the younger students, but for all purposes it is the same building as Mid Valley High School (as is denoted over the high school entrance) sharing common staff, teachers, principals and facilities. Starting in the 2007-08 school year, the sixth grade students have moved into the secondary center due to overcrowding at Mid Valley Elementary Center. Chad Vinansky is the current principal.

2015 School Performance Profile

Mid Valley Secondary Center achieved 71.6 out of 100. Reflects on grade level reading, mathematics and science achievement. The PDE reported that 65% of the High School’s students were on grade level in reading/literature. In Algebra 1, just 44.7% of students showed on grade level skills at the end of the course. In Biology I, 74.5% demonstrated on grade level science understanding at the end of the course.[63] Statewide, 53 percent of schools with an eleventh grade achieved an academic score of 70 or better. Five percent of the 2,033 schools with 11th grade were scored at 90 and above; 20 percent were scored between 80 and 89; 28 percent between 70 and 79; 25 percent between 60 and 69 and 22 percent below 60. The Keystone Exam results showed: 73 percent of students statewide scored at grade-level in English, 64 percent in Algebra I and 59 percent in biology.[64][65]

Among 7th graders, 57% were on grade level in reading. In math, just 40% were on grade level. In eighth grade - 55% were reading on grade level while just 31% of 8th graders demonstrated on grade level math skills. Additionally, 55% were on grade level in science.

2014 School Performance Profile

Mid Valley Secondary Center achieved 79 out of 100. Reflects on grade level reading, mathematics and science achievement. In reading/literature - 80.8% of pupils were on grade level. In math/Algebra 1, just 63.5% of pupils showed on grade level math skills. In Science/Biology, 72% demonstrated on grade level science understanding at the end of the course. In 8th grade writing, 89% of pupils demonstrated on grade level writing skills[66][67] Statewide, the percentage of high school students who scored proficient and advanced in Algebra I increased to 39.7% to 40.1%. The percentage of high school students who scored proficient and advanced in reading/literature declined to 52.5%. The percentage of high school students who scored proficient and advanced in biology improved from 39.7% to 41.4%.[68]

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 2,134 of 2,947 Pennsylvania public schools (72 percent of Pennsylvania public schools), achieved an academic score of 70 or higher.[69] Fifty-three percent of schools statewide received lower SPP scores compared with last year's, while 46 percent improved. A handful were unchanged.[70][71]

2013 School Performance Profile

Mid Valley High School achieved 72.8 out of 100. Reflects on grade level reading, mathematics and science achievement. In reading/literature - 71.75% were on grade level. In Algebra 1, 50.39% showed on grade level skills. In Biology, just 54.62% showed on grade level science understanding.[72] According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 2,181 public schools (less than 73 percent of Pennsylvania public schools), achieved an academic score of 70 or higher. Pennsylvania 11th grade students no longer take the PSSAs. Instead, beginning in 2012, they take the Keystone Exams at the end of the associated course.[73]

AYP history[edit]

In 2012, Mid Valley High School achieved Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) status.[74] In 2011, Mid Valley High School declined to Warning AYP Status due to lagging academic achievement in reading and math.[75]

  • 2010 - achieved AYP status[76]
  • 2009 - Making Progress in School Improvement Level I[77]
  • 2008 - declined further to School Improvement Level I due to chronic low achievement in mathematics.[78]
  • 2007 - declined to Warning AYP status due to lagging achievement in mathematics[79]

In 2008, Mid Valley High 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 district must pay for additional tutoring for struggling students.[80] Mid Valley High School was eligible for special, extra funding under School Improvement Grants, which the school had to apply for each year.[81]

PSSA results

Pennsylvania System of School Assessments, commonly called PSSAs are No Child Left Behind Act related examinations which were administered from 2003 through 2012, in all Pennsylvania public high schools. The exams were administered in the Spring of each school year. The goal was for 100% of students to be on grade level or better in reading and mathematics, by the Spring of 2014. The tests focused on the state's Academic Standards for reading, writing, mathematics and science. The Science exam included content in science, technology, ecology and the environmental studies. The mathematics exam included: algebra I, algebra II, geometry and trigonometry. The standards were first published in 1998 and are mandated by the Pennsylvania State Board of Education.[82] In 2013, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania changed its high school assessments to the Keystone Exams in Algebra 1, Reading/literature and Biology1. The exams are given at the end of the course, rather than all in the spring of the student's 11th grade year.[83]

11th Grade Reading:

  • 2012 - 67% on grade level, (20% below basic). State - 67% of 11th graders are on grade level.[84]
  • 2011 - 54% (29% below basic). State - 69.1%[85]
  • 2010 - 63% (23% below basic). State - 66%[86]
  • 2009 - 59% (20% below basic). State - 65%[87]
  • 2008 - 48%. State - 65%[88]
  • 2007 - 61% (21% below basic). State - 65%[89]

11th Grade Math:

  • 2012 - 52% on grade level (33% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 59% of 11th graders are on grade level.[90]
  • 2011 - 44% (37% below basic). State - 60.3% [91]
  • 2010 - 54% (27% below basic). State - 59% [92]
  • 2009 - 56% (26% below basic). State - 56% [93]
  • 2008 - 50%. State - 56% [94]
  • 2007 - 48% (27% below basic). State - 53% [95]

11th Grade Science:

  • 2012 - 44% on grade level (10% below basic). State - 42% of 11th graders were on grade level.[96]
  • 2011 - 49% (15% below basic). State - 40%[97]
  • 2010 - 42% (15% below basic). State - 39%
  • 2009 - 39% (12% below basic). State - 40%[98]
  • 2008 - 17% (30% below basic). State - 39%[99]
  • 2007 - students field tested. Results withheld from the public by PDE.

Science in Motion Mid Valley 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.[100] Wilkes University provided the science enrichment experiences to schools in the region.

College remediation[edit]

According to a Pennsylvania Department of Education study released in January 2009, 14% of Mid Valley School 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.[101][102] 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.[103][104] 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]

Mid Valley High School offers a dual enrollment program. This state program permits high school students to take courses, at local higher education institutions, to earn college credits. Students remain enrolled at their high school. The courses count towards high school graduation requirements and towards earning a college degree. The students continue to have full access to activities and programs at their high school. The college credits are offered at a deeply discounted rate. The state offers a small grant to assist students in costs for tuition, fees and books.[105] Under the Pennsylvania Transfer and Articulation Agreement, many Pennsylvania colleges and universities accept these credits for students who transfer to their institutions.[106]

For the 2009-10 funding year, the school district received a state grant of $2,456 for the program.[107] In 2010, Governor Edward Rendell eliminated the grants to students.

SAT scores[edit]

In 2014, 86 Mid Valley High School students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 469. The Math average score was 455. The Writing average score was 438.[108] Statewide in Pennsylvania, Verbal Average Score was 497. The Math average score was 504. The Writing average score was 480. The College Board also reported that nationwide scores were: 497 in reading, 513 in math and 487 in writing.[109] In 2014, 1,672,395 students took the SATs in the United States.

In 2013, 82 Mid Valley High School students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 483. The Math average score was 474. The Writing average score was 458. The College Board reported that statewide scores were: 494 in reading, 504 in math and 482 in writing. The nationwide SAT results were the same as in 2012.[110]

In 2012, 67 School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 486. The Math average score was 481. The Writing average score was 470. The statewide Verbal SAT exams results were: Verbal 491, Math 501, Writing 480. In the USA, 1.65 million students took the exams achieving scores: Verbal 496, Math 514, Writing 488. According to the College Board the maximum score on each section was 800, and 360 students nationwide scored a perfect 2,400.

In 2011, 82 Mid Valley School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 456. The Math average score was 466. The Writing average score was 436.[111] Pennsylvania ranked 40th among states with SAT scores: Verbal - 493, Math - 501, Writing - 479.[112] 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.[113]

The Center for Rural Pennsylvania, a research arm of the Pennsylvania General Assembly, compared the SAT data of students in rural areas of Pennsylvania to students in urban areas. From 2003 to 2005, the average total SAT score for students in rural Pennsylvania was 992, while urban students averaged 1,006. During the same period, 28 percent of 11th and 12th graders in rural school districts took the exam, compared to 32 percent of urban students in the same grades. The average math and verbal scores were 495 and 497, respectively, for rural students, while urban test-takers averaged 499 and 507, respectively. Pennsylvania’s SAT composite score ranked low on the national scale in 2004. The composite SAT score of 1,003 left Pennsylvania ranking 44 out of the 50 states and Washington, DC.[114]

AP Courses[edit]

In 2014, Mid Valley Secondary Center offered 3 Advanced Placement (AP) courses at a higher cost than regular courses. The fee for each AP Exam was $91 (2014).[115] The school normally retains $9 of that fee as a rebate to help with administrative costs. In 2012, the fee was $89 per test per pupil. Students have the option of taking College Board approved courses and then taking the College Board's examination in the Spring. Students, who achieve a 3 or better on the exam, may be awarded college credits at US universities and colleges. Each higher education institution sets its own standards about what level of credits are awarded to a student based on their AP exam score. Most higher education give credits for scores of 4 or 5. Some schools also give credits for scores of 3. High schools give credits towards graduation to students who take the school's AP class. At Berwick Area School District the AP courses are weighted at 1.08 credits.[116] At Mid Valley Secondary Center just 11% of the students who took an AP course earned a 3 or better on the exam.[117]

Middle school[edit]

AYP History

In 2012, Mid Valley Middle School declined further to School Improvement II AYP Status due to chronic low student achievement in reading and mathematics.[118]

  • 2011 - declined to School Improvement I due to chronic low academic achievement.[119]
  • 2010 - Warning AYP status due to lagging achievement[120]
  • 2009 - declined to Warning AYP status due to lagging academic achievement[121]
  • 2008 - achieved AYP status[122]
PSSA history

Sixth and seventh grades have been tested in reading and mathematics since 2006. Eighth graders are tested in: reading, writing, mathematics and Science. Beginning in the Spring of 2013, eighth graders, who are enrolled in Algebra I take the Keystone Exam for Algebra I at the end of the course. The testing of 8th grade in reading and mathematics began in 1999, as a state initiative.[123] Testing in science began in 2007. The goal is for 100% of students to be on grade level or better in reading and mathematics, by the Spring of 2014. The tests focus on the state's Academic Standards for reading, writing, mathematics and science.[124] The standards were published in 1998 and are mandated by the Pennsylvania State Board of Education.[82] In 2014, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania adopted the Pennsylvania Core Standards - Mathematics.[125]

PSSA results
8th Grade Reading
  • 2012 - 75% on grade level (14% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 79% of 8th graders on grade level.[90]
  • 2011 - 83% (12% below basic) State - 81.8%[126]
  • 2010 - 84% (9% below basic). State - 81% [127]
  • 2009 - 79%, (14% below basic). State - 80%
  • 2008 - 47%, (24% below basic). State - 78%
  • 2007 - 76%, (15% below basic). State - 75%
8th Grade Math
  • 2012 - 53% on grade level (22% below basic). State - 76% [128]
  • 2011 - 62% (20% below basic). State - 76.9%
  • 2010 - 66% (19% below basic). State - 75%
  • 2009 - 71% (13% below basic), State - 71%
  • 2008 - 70% (17% below basic), State - 70% [129]
  • 2007 - 76% (11% below basic), State - 67%
8th Grade Science
  • 2012 - 56% on grade level (24 below basic). State - 59%[130]
  • 2011 - 59% (28% below basic). State - 58.3%
  • 2010 - 47% (29% below basic). State - 57%.
  • 2009 - 51% (20% below basic), State - 54%[131]
  • 2008 - 50% (20% below basic), State - 52%[132]
Dropout Early Warning System

In 2013, Mid Valley School District did not implement a free state dropout prevention Early Warning System and Interventions Catalog at the middle school.[133] The process identifies students at risk for droping out by examining the pupil’s: attendance, behavior and course grades. Interventions are implemented to assist at-risk pupils to remain in school. The program is funded by federal and private dollars.[134]

Mid Valley Elementary Center[edit]

Mid Valley Elementary Center located on Underwood Road in Throop, PA, next to the secondary center building. In 2014, the School's enrollment was 966 pupils in grades kindergarten through 6th, with 46% of pupils receiving a federal free or reduced price meals due to family poverty. Additionally, 13% of the pupils receive special education services, while less than 1% are identified as gifted.[135] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of the teachers were rated highly qualified under No Child Left Behind. The school provides full day kindergarten.[136] The school is a federally designated Title I school.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2012, enrollment was 958 pupils in grades kindergarten through 5th, with 446 pupils receiving a free or reduced price lunch. The School employed 54 teachers yielding a student-teacher ratio of 17:1.[137] 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.[138] The school provided full day kindergarten to all its pupils.[139]

Mid Valley School District has provided full-day kindergarten for more than five years.[140] Proponents of full day kindergarten claim it will raise primary student academic achievement in reading.[141] Those outcomes have not been realized in the Mid Valley School District. Third grade reading skills achievement in particular has declined sharply.[142]

2015 School Performance Profile

The Pennsylvania Department of Education withheld the school's SPP score for 2015. Mid Valley Elementary Center sixth (6th) graders were 62% on grade level in reading and just 41% were on grade level in mathematics. MVEC 5th graders were 55% on grade level in reading on the PSSAs given in April 2015. In mathematics, 29% of 5th grade students showed on grade level skills. No fifth grade writing scores were reported. In 4th grade, 55% were on grade level in reading, while 35% showed on grade level math skills. In science, 81% of fourth graders showed on grade level understanding. Among third (3rd) graders, just 53% were on grade level in reading and 30% were on grade level in mathematics.[143] Statewide 61.9% of fifth (5th) graders were on grade level in reading, while 42.8% demonstrated on grade level math skills. Pennsylvania 4th graders were 58.6% on grade level in reading and 44.4% demonstrated on grade level math skills. In science, 77.3% of fourth graders showed on grade level understanding. Among Pennsylvania third (3rd) graders, 62% were reading on grade level, while 48.5% demonstrated on grade level math skills.[144]

2014 School Performance Profile

Mid Valley Elementary Center achieved a score of 76.2 out of 100. The score reflects on grade level: reading, science, writing and mathematics achievement. In 2013-14, only 73.6% of the students were reading on grade level in grades 3rd through 6th. In 3rd grade, 77% of the pupils were reading on grade level. In math, 75% were on grade level (3rd-6th grades). In 4th grade science, 89% of the pupils demonstrated on grade level understanding. In writing, only 56% of 5th grade pupils demonstrated on grade level skills.[145]

2013 School Performance Profile

Mid Valley Elementary Center achieved a score of 78.9 out of 100. The score reflects on grade level: reading, science, writing and mathematics achievement. In 2012-13, only 71% of the students were reading on grade level in grades 3rd through 6th. In 3rd grade, 77% of the pupils were reading on grade level. In math, 79.5% were on grade level (3rd-6th grades). In 4th grade science, just 83% of the pupils demonstrated on grade level understanding. In writing, only 54% of 5th grade pupils demonstrated on grade level skills.[146] According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 2,181 public schools (less than 73 percent of Pennsylvania public schools), achieved an academic score of 70 or higher.

PSSA results

Mid Valley Elementary Center achieved Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) each school year from 2003 -2012[147] The 2010 attendance rate was reported as 95%.

PSSA History

Each year, in the Spring, in order to comply with the federal No Child Left Behind Law, the 3rd graders take the PSSAs in math and reading. The fourth grade is tested in reading, math and science. The fifth grade is evaluated in reading, mathematics and writing. Pennsylvania System of School Assessments, commonly called PSSAs are No Child Left Behind Act related examinations which were administered beginning 2003 to all Pennsylvania public school students in grades 3rd-8th.[148] The goal was for 100% of students to be on grade level or better in reading and mathematics, by the Spring of 2014.[149][150][151] The tests focused on the state's Academic Standards for reading, writing, mathematics and science. The Science exam is given to 4th grades and includes content in science, technology, ecology and the environmental studies.[152] The first cohort of children who attended Accountability Block Grant funded full-day kindergarten reached third grade and took the PSSAs in the spring of 2008.

4th Grade Science
  • 2012 - 83%, (4% below basic). State - 82%
  • 2011 - 79%, (7% below basic). State - 82.9%
  • 2010 - 82%, (5% below basic). State - 81%
  • 2009 - 84%, (2% below basic). State - 83%

Special education[edit]

In December 2013, Mid Valley School District administration reported that 275 pupils or 15.5% of the district's pupils received Special Education services, with 41.8% of the identified students having a specific learning disability.[156] In December 2009, the district administration reported that 283 pupils or 15.3% of the district's pupils received Special Education services.[157] Special education services in the Commonwealth are provided to students from ages three years to 21 years old. In the 2010-2011 school year, the total student enrollment was more than 1.78 million students with approximately 275,000 students eligible for special education services. Among these students 18,959 were identified with mental retardation and 21,245 students with autism.[158] The largest group of students are identified as Specific Learning Disabilities 126,026 students (46.9 percent) and Speech or Language Impairments with 43,542 students (16.2 percent).

In 2007, Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Gerald Zahorchak testified before the Pennsylvania House Education Committee regarding full day kindergarten. He claimed that districts which offered the program would see a significant decrease in special education students due to early identification and early intervention. He asserted the high cost of full day kindergarten would be recouped by Districts in lower special education costs.[159] Mid Valley School District has provided full day kindergarten since 2011. Mid Valley School District has seen a slight increase in the percentage of special education students it serves, yielding no savings.

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.[160][161]

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.[162]

Mid Valley School District received a $825,822 supplement for special education services in 2010.[163]

Gifted education[edit]

The District Administration reported that 14 or 0.76% of its students were gifted in 2009.[164] 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.[165] Through the strategic planning process, the Superintendent must ensure that Mid Valley School District provides a continuum of program and service options to meet the needs of all mentally gifted students for enrichment, acceleration, or both.

Teacher Evaluation process[edit]

Historically by law, Pennsylvania’s public school teachers were evaluated achieving one of two ratings, satisfactory or unsatisfactory. The evaluation provided no meaningful feedback in areas where an educator could improve. In June 2012, the Pennsylvania General Assembly established the new educator evaluation method, which was implemented in the 2013-14 school year. The new public school teacher evaluation includes multiple measures of student achievement, such as the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment, the Pennsylvania Value Added Assessment System, graduation and promotion rates, as well as other elective data to be determined at the local level.

The Mid Valley School District volunteered to participate in a pilot project with the Pennsylvania Department of Education to develop statewide policy, tools and processes to evaluate teachers and principals in which student achievement is a significant factor affecting performance ratings. Secretary of Education Ron Tomalis announced that 104 K-12 entities, including nine career and technical centers, nine charter schools and nine intermediate units, signed-up to participate in the new teacher and principal evaluation pilot program.[166] The initiative was funded by a Gates Momentum grant.[167]

During the 2011-12 school year, more than 120 school districts, charter schools, intermediate units, and career and technology centers participated in the second implementation phase of the new teacher evaluation tool. This included more than 650 supervisors and nearly 5,000 teachers in 366 school buildings participating in the pilot project.

The final phase of the updated Pennsylvania public education professionals evaluation system was implemented during the 2012-13 school year, with 264 local education agencies, consisting of 1,387 school buildings, 1,892 principals/supervisors and more than 31,600 teachers included. In advocating for the new evaluation system, Secretary of Education Ronald Tomalis reported that research demonstrated that the performance of an educator has a direct impact on the future success of students.[168] The new evaluation system will become effective for principals in the 2014-15 school year. In the United States of America, 22 other states use student achievement to evaluate educators.

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.[169]

Official Misconduct

In 2010, Mid Valley School District and School Board were cited by the Pennsylvania Auditor General's Office for significant questionable spending at a national school board convention in Florida. School board members charged costly meals and theme park tickets in addition to other travel spending to the school district.[170][171][172] Several school board members (Shevchik, Rovinsky, Gilgallon, Logan) were found by the PA Ethics Commission to have violated Section 1103(a) of the Public Official and Employee Ethics Act, 65 Pa.C.S. §1103(a). They were required to repay the school district.[173]

In 2015, Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale revealed that Mid Valley School District had been downgraded to junk bond status.[174][175][176]

In 2016, Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale audited the district again. He reported that Mid Valley School District had paid a former business manager nearly $14,000 for unused sick days which he was not entitled to receive.[177]

Employees

In October 2015, Mid Valley teachers Union declared they would work to the expired contract. The union and board have been in negotiations for nearly two years.[178]

In 2013, the average teacher salary in Mid Valley School District was $51,772 a year.[179] The District employed 263 teachers and administrators, with a top salary of $124,106.[180][181] Mid Valley School District teacher and administrator retirement benefits are equal to at least 2.00% x Final Average Salary x Total Credited Service. (Some teachers benefits utilize a 2.50% benefit factor.)[182] After 40 years of service, a teacher can retire with 100% of the average salary of their final 3 years of employment. According to a study conducted at the American Enterprise Institute, in 2011, public school teachers’ total compensation is roughly 50 percent higher than they would likely receive in the private sector. The study found that the most generous benefits that teachers receive are not accounted for in many studies of compensation including: pension, retiree health benefits and job security.[183]

In 2009, Mid Valley School District reported employing over 130 teachers with a starting salary of $38,000 for 183 days for pupil instruction. The average teacher salary was $47,205 while the maximum salary was $84,000.[184] 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.[185] Mid Valley teachers are required to work a seven-hour day. Additionally, Mid Valley School District teachers receive a defined benefit pension, health insurance, long term disability insurance, professional development reimbursement, paid personal days, 10 sick days, and other benefits. Teachers are paid an additional hourly rate, if they are required to work outside of the regular school day. Retirees receive compensation for each unused accumulated sick day. Teachers who serves as department heads and team leaders receive extra compensation.[186] 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.[187]

In 2007, the district employed 96 teachers. The average teacher salary in the district was $44,327 for 183 school days worked.[188]

Administration costs Mid Valley School District administrative costs per pupil in 2008 was $837.72 per pupil. This ranked 154th out of 500 Pennsylvania School districts. The lowest administrative cost per pupil in Pennsylvania was $398 per pupil.[189] In February 2015, Superintendent James Tallarico emailed the Board his resignation effective immediately.[190] In July 2015, Tallarico was charged with stealing nearly $12,000 from the district.[191] Former Superintendent Randy Perry left under allegations of misuse of district funds.[192] Superintendents and administrators receive a benefit package commensurate with that offered to the district's teachers' union.[193]

Per pupil spending In 2008, Mid Valley School District reported spending $10,764 per pupil. This ranked 419th in the commonwealth.[194] In 2010, the District’s per pupil spending had increased to $11,818.13[195] In 2012, the per pupil spending was reported as $11,873.22.[196] In 2011, Pennsylvania’s per pupil spending was $13,467, ranking 6th in the United States.[197] In 2007, the Pennsylvania per pupil total expenditures was reported as $12,759.[198]

The U.S. Census Bureau reported that Pennsylvania spent $8,191 per pupil in school year 2000-01.[199] In 2007, the Pennsylvania per pupil total expenditures was reported as $12,759.[200] Among the fifty states, Pennsylvania’s total per pupil revenue (including all sources) ranked 11th at $15,023 per student, in 2008-09.[201] Pennsylvania’s total revenue per pupil rose to $16,186 ranking 9th in the nation in 2011.[202]

Reserves

In 2009, Mid Valley School District reported $1,544,647 in an unreserved-undesignated fund balance. The designated fund balance was reported as $575,000.[203] In 2010, Mid Valley School District Administration reported $403,792 in the unreserved-undesignated fund balance. The District also reported zero in its unreserved-designated fund in 2010. By 2013, Mid Valley School District reported a deficit of -$170,933 in its reserves. School districts are required by state law to keep 5 percent of their annual spending in the undesignated reserve funds to preserve bond ratings. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, from 2003 to 2010, as a whole, Pennsylvania school districts amassed nearly $3 billion in reserved funds.[204] In 2005, the total reserve funds held by Pennsylvania public school districts was $1.9 billion.[205] By 2013, reserves held by Pennsylvania public school districts, as a whole, had increased to over $3.8 billion.[206][207][208]

In 2015, District official reported borrowing nearly $4 million to pay faculty and staff, due to Governor Tom Wolf withholding state funds to schools statewide.[209] The Governor made an appearance at the District to defend his decision.

Audit In June 2010, the Pennsylvania Auditor General conducted a performance audit of the district. Findings were reported to the administration and school board.[210] In 2012, a state audit found multiple violations, including: Lack of Internal Controls and Oversight of Travel Expenses Resulted In Excessive Expenditures of $36,478.70 and Violations of the Public School Code and District Policy.[211][212] In 2013, the District was audited by the state again. The District was cited for irregularities regarding a former superintendent. The Mid Valley School District Board of School Directors appointed a former Superintendent, effective July 1, 1987, without a signed contract. The former Superintendent submitted his intent to retire at the April 23, 2008 school board meeting with an effective date of retirement of January 1, 2009. In lieu of an individual contract, the Board used the District’s Administrative Compensation Plan or Act 93 Plan (Plan) to determine the former Superintendent’s benefits. It inappropriately awarded an early retirement payment of $187,711. The audit also found that although the administrator compensation plan stated that administrators were entitled to a 3.5 percent wage increase effective July 1, 2007, the Board chose to increase the former Superintendent’s salary by 10 percent, for a total of $117,009. The District violated the PSC by failing to enter into a contract with its former Superintendent.[213]

Tuition Students who live in the Mid Valley 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 District's schools. The 2013 tuition rates are Elementary School - $7,148, High School - $9,347[214]

Mid Valley School District is funded by a combination of: a local earned income tax 0.5%, a property tax, Local Services / Occupational Privilege Taxes - $5, 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.[215] 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.[216]

State basic education funding[edit]

According to a report from Representative Todd Stephens office, Mid Valley School District receives 29.7% of its annual revenue from the state.[217][218]

For the 2015-16 school year, Governor Tom Wolf released a partial Basic Education Funding of $1,905,479 to Mid Valley School District, in January 2016.[219] This was part of $10.3 billion in school funding withheld from the public schools, by the Governor since the summer of 2015.[220] The dispersement did not follow the new Basic Education Fair Funding formula which had been established by the Pennsylvania General Assembly in June 2015.[221] Ten (10) Pennsylvania school districts received no increase in Basic Education funding under Governor Wolf.[222][223] In April 2016, Governor Wolf announced his finalized dispersement of 2015-16 state Basic Education Funding. Mid Valley School District received a 1.92% increase for a total funding of $4,067,967.[224] This is $67,843 less than Mid Valley School District was to receive by law under the state’s Fair Funding Formula approved in 2015.[225][226] Wolf also altered the Ready to Learn Grant distribution. The District received another $159,374 in Ready To Learn grant which was $33,544 less than it would have received under the approved state formula for distribution.

The highest increase in funding statewide was awarded by Governor Wolf to Wilkinsburg Borough School District which got a 44.1% increase in state Basic Education Funding. The average BEF increase among the Commonwealth’s 500 public school districts for 2015-16 was 2.21%. In Lackawanna County, the highest percentage increase in state funding was awarded to Old Forge School District - 3.51%. The Pennsylvania education budget is $5.93 billion for basic education, a $200 million or 3.5 percent increase over 2014-15 allocation. Another $1.08 billion was allotted for special education funding, a $30 million or 2.9 percent increase over 2014-15. Additionally, the state paid over $500 million towards school employee social security payments and over $1 billion to the teacher's pension fund (PSERS).[227]

For the 2014-15 school year, Mid Valley School District received $3,829,824 in State Basic Education funding. The District received $144,373 in new Ready To Learn Block grant. The State’s enacted Education Budget includes $5,526,129,000 for the 2014-2015 Basic Education Funding.[228] The state Education budget also includes Accountability Block Grant funding at $100 million and $241 million in new Ready to Learn funding for public schools that focus on student achievement and academic success. The State is paying $500.8 million to Social Security on the school employees behalf and another $1.16 billion to the state teachers pension system (PSERS). In total, Pennsylvania’s Education budget for K-12 public schools is $10 billion. This was a $305 million increase over 2013-2014 state spending and the greatest amount ever allotted by the Commonwealth for its public schools.[229]

In the 2013-2014 school year, Mid Valley School District received a 2.4% increase or $3,825,083 in Pennsylvania Basic Education Funding. This is $87,868 more than its 2012-13 state BEF to the District. Additionally, Mid Valley School District received $55,052 in Accountability Block Grant funding to focus on academic achievement and level funding for special education services. Among the public school districts in Lackawanna County, Mid Valley School District received the highest percentage increase in BEF. The District had the option of applying for several other state and federal grants to increase revenues. The Commonwealth’s budget increased Basic Education Funding statewide by $123 million to over $5.5 billion. Most of Pennsylvania’s 500 public school districts received an increase of Basic Education Funding in a range of 0.9% to 4%. Eight public school districts received exceptionally high funding increases of 10% to 16%. The highest increase in state funding was awarded to Austin Area School District which received a 22.5% increase in Basic Education Funding.[230] The highest percent of state spending per student is in the Chester-Upland School District, where roughly 78 percent comes from state coffers. In Philadelphia, it is nearly 49 percent.[231] As a part of the education budget, the state provided the PSERS (Pennsylvania school employee pension fund) with $1,017,000,000 and Social Security payments for school employees of $495 million.[232]

For the 2012-13 school year, Mid Valley School District received $3,737,216.00.[233] 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. Mid Valley School District received $55,052 in Accountability Block Grant funding. The state also provided a $544.4 million payment for School Employees’ Social Security and $856 million for School Employees’ Retirement fund called PSERS.[234] 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 school year, Mid Valley School District received a $3,736,261 allocation, of state Basic Education Funding.[235][236] Additionally, the Mid Valley School District received $55,053 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.[237] 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.[238] In 2010, Mid Valley School District reported that 828 students received free or reduced price lunches, due to the family meeting the federal poverty level.[239] Some Pennsylvania public school districts experienced a reduction of total funding due to the termination of federal stimulus funding which ended in 2011.

For the 2010-11 school year, the Mid Valley School District received a 9.23% increase in state Basic Education Funding resulting in a $4,106,463 payment.[240] Dunmore School District received the highest increase in BEF in Lackawanna County in 2011. 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 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 determined by then Governor Edward Rendell and the Secretary of Education Gerald Zahorchak through the allocation set in the state budget proposal made in February each year.[241]

In the 2009-2010 budget year' the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a 6.83% increase in Basic Education funding for a total of $3,759,370 to Mid Valley School District. The District also received supplemental funding for English language learners, Title 1 federal funding for low-income students, for district size, a poverty supplement from the Commonwealth and more.[242] Scranton School District received the highest increase in Lackawanna County for the 2009-10 school year at 9.46%. Among the 500 school districts in Pennsylvania, Muhlenberg School District in Berks County received the highest with a 22.31% increase in funding.[243]

The state Basic Education funding to the district in 2008-09 was $3,519,152.45. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 703 district students received free or reduced-price lunches due to low family income in the 2007-2008 school year.[244] 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.[245][246]

All Pennsylvania school districts also receive additional funding from the state through several funding allocations, including: Reimbursement of Charter School Expenditures; Special Education Funding; Secondary Career & Technical Education Subsidy; PA Accountability Grants; and low achieving schools were eligible for Educational Assistance Program Funding. Plus all Pennsylvania school districts receive federal dollars for various programs including: Special Education funding and Title I funding for children from low income families. In 2010, Pennsylvania spent over $24 billion for public education - local, state and federal dollars combined.[247] By 2015, Pennsylvania is spending over $27 billion on public education (local, state and federal resources combined).[248]

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 Mid Valley School District applied for and received $149,426 in addition to all other state and federal funding. The District used the funding to provide tutoring before and after school and interventions to improve performance of student subgroups.[249][250]

Ready to Learn grant[edit]

Beginning in the 2014-2015 budget, the State funded a new Ready to Learn Grant for public schools. A total of $100 million is allocated through a formula to districts based on the number of students, level of poverty of community as calculated by its market value/personal income aid ratio (MV/PI AR) and the number of English language learners. Ready to Learn Block Grant funds may be used by the Districts for: school safety; Ready by 3 early childhood intervention programs; individualized learning programs; and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs.[251]

Mid Valley School District received $144,373 in Ready to Learn Grant dollars in addition to State Basic Education funding, Special Education funding, transportation reimbursement, reimbursement for Social Security payments for employees and other state grants which the district must apply to receive.

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. Mid Valley School District did not apply for any funding in the three years of the grant program. In Lackawanna County Scranton School district was the highest recipient at $888,647. Of the 501 public school districts in Pennsylvania, 447 of them applied for and received Classrooms for the Future grant awards.[252]

Hybrid Learning grants[edit]

Mid Valley School District participated in a pilot year of the state’s Hybrid learning initiative. Pennsylvania Hybrid Learning uses three learning models to increase student achievement: instruction from the teacher, group activities, and self-instruction through digital content. According to state testing results, among the pilot schools, 88 percent achieved higher academic performance in hybrid classes compared to traditional classes in the same district or statewide benchmarks, 75 percent reported better academic achievement, and all of them met or exceeded academic growth.[253] In 2013-14, the state awarded $633,000 in federal Title 2A funds to accelerate teacher training in the implementation of hybrid learning programs in 50 school buildings in 34 school entities. In 2012, $1.1 million was awarded to 15 districts to launch the first hybrid pilot schools in the state that included more than 1,900 students and 48 teachers.[254] Mid Valley School District received $17,500.

Other grants[edit]

The Mid Valley School District did not participate in: Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection's Environmental Education annual grants;[255][256] PA Science Its Elementary grants (discontinued effective with 2009-10 budget by Governor Rendell);[257] Education Assistance Grants; 2012 Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy grant;[258] 2013 Safe Schools and Resource Officer grants; Project 720 High School Reform grants (discontinued effective with 2011-12 budget); nor the federal 21st Century Learning grants.

Federal Stimulus grant[edit]

Mid Valley School District received an extra $1,106,888 in ARRA - Federal Stimulus money to be used in specific programs like Title 1, special education and meeting the academic needs of low-income students.[259] The funding was for the 2009-10 and 2010-11 school years.[260] Due to the temporary nature of the funding, schools were repeatedly advised by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, the Pennsylvania Senate Education Committee, the Governor and the Pennsylvania School Board Association, to use the funds for one-time expenditures like acquiring equipment, making repairs to buildings, training teachers to provide more effective instruction or purchasing books and software.

Race to the Top grant[edit]

Mid Valley School District officials did not apply for the Race to the Top federal grant which would have brought the district hover one million dollars in additional federal dollars for improving student academic achievement.[261][262] Participation required the administration, the school board and the local teachers' union to sign an agreement to prioritize improving student academic success.[263] In Pennsylvania, 120 public school districts and 56 charter schools agreed to participate.[264] 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.[265]

English language learners grant[edit]

The Federal government provides annual grants to schools to assist in educating immigrant children and children who are identified as limited English proficient.[266] Upon registering for school a language survey is done for all new enrollment pupils, typically in kindergarten or preschool. They identify the primary language spoken at home. This data is collected and submitted to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, which in turn notifies the federal government.[267]

In 2012-13 - Mid Valley School District received $2,444 in Title III funding for English language learners.[268]

Common Cents state initiative[edit]

The Mid Valley 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.[269] After the review of the information, the district was not required to implement any of the recommended cost savings changes.

Real estate taxes[edit]

The Mid Valley School Board set property tax rates in 2015-16 at 105.8646 mills.[270] 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.[271] Property taxes, in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, apply only to real estate - land and buildings. The property tax is not levied on cars, business inventory, or other personal property. Certain types of property are exempt from property taxes, including: places of worship, places of burial, private social clubs, charitable and educational institutions and all government property (local, state and federal). Additionally, service related, disabled US military veterans may seek an exemption from paying property taxes. Pennsylvania school district revenues are dominated by two main sources: 1) Property tax collections, which account for the vast majority (between 75-85%) of local revenues; and 2) Act 511 tax collections (Local Tax Enabling Act), which are around 15% of revenues for school districts.[272] When a Pennsylvania public school district includes municipalities in two or more counties, each of which has different rates of property tax assessment, a state board equalizes the tax rates between the counties.[273] In 2010, miscalculations by the State Tax Equalization Board (STEB) were widespread in the Commonwealth and adversely impacted funding for many school districts, including those that did not cross county borders.[274]

The average yearly property tax paid by Lackawanna County residents amounts to about 3.4% of their yearly income. Lackawanna County ranked 413th out of the 3143 United States counties for property taxes as a percentage of median income.[284] According to a report prepared by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, the total real estate taxes collected by all school districts in Pennsylvania rose from $6,474,133,936 in 1999-00 to $10,438,463,356 in 2008-09 and to $11,153,412,490 in 2011.[285] 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%).[286]

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 authorized 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 2011-2012 school year is 1.4 percent, but the Act 1 Index can be adjusted higher, depending on a number of factors, such as property values and the personal income of district residents. Act 1 included 10 exceptions, including: increasing pension costs, increases in special education costs, a catastrophe like a fire or flood, increase in health insurance costs for contracts in effect in 2006 or dwindling tax bases. The base index is the average of the percentage increase in the statewide average weekly wage, as determined by the PA Department of Labor and Industry, for the preceding calendar year and the percentage increase in the Employment Cost Index for Elementary and Secondary Schools, as determined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the U.S. Department of Labor, for the previous 12-month period ending June 30. For a school district with a market value/personal income aid ratio (MV/PI AR) greater than 0.4000, its index equals the base index multiplied by the sum of .75 and its MV/PI AR for the current year.[287]

In June 2011, the Pennsylvania General Assembly passed legislation eliminating six of the exceptions to the Act 1 Index.[288] 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.[289][290] The legislature also froze the payroll amount public school districts use to calculate the pension-plan exception at the 2012 payroll levels. Further increases in payroll cannot be used to raise the district’s exception for pension payments.

The School District Adjusted Index for the Mid Valley School District 2006-2007 through 2010-2011.[291]

For the 2014-15 budget year, Mid Valley School Board applied for an exception to exceed their Act 1 Index limit, due to rapidly escalating teacher pension costs. In 2014-15, all Pennsylvania school districts were required to make a 21.4% of payroll payment to the teacher’s pension fund (PSERS).[297] For the school budget 2014-15, 316 Pennsylvania public school districts adopted a resolution certifying that tax rates would not be increased above its Act 1 Index limit. Another 181 school districts adopted a preliminary budget leaving open the option of exceeding the Index limit. Districts may apply for multiple exceptions each year. For the pension costs exception, 163 school districts received approval to exceed the Index in full, while others received a partial approval of their request. For special education costs, 104 districts received approval to exceed their tax limit. Seven Pennsylvania public school districts received an approval for the grandfathered construction debts exception.[298]

For the 2013-14 budget year, Mid Valley School Board applied for two exceptions to exceed their Act 1 Index limit, rising special education costs and increasing teacher pension costs. In 2013-14, all Pennsylvania school districts were required to make a 16.93% of payroll payment to the teacher’s pension fund (PSERS). For the school budget year 2013-14, 311 Pennsylvania public school districts adopted a resolution certifying that tax rates would not be increased above their index. Another 171 school districts adopted a preliminary budget leaving open the option of exceeded the Index limit. For the pension costs exception, 169 school districts received approval to exceed the Index. For special education costs, 75 districts received approval to exceed their tax limit. Eleven Pennsylvania public school districts received an approval for grandfathered construction debts.[299]

For the 2012-13 budget year, Mid Valley School Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed the Act 1 Index. In 2012-13, all Pennsylvania school districts were required to make a 12.36% of payroll payment to the teacher’s pension fund (PSERS). For 2012-2013 budget year, 274 school districts adopted a resolution certifying that tax rates would not be increased above their index; while 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.[300]

For the 2011-12 school year, Mid Valley School Board did not apply for an exception to exceed the Act 1 Index. In 2011-12, all Pennsylvania school districts were required to make an 8.65% of payroll payment to the teacher’s pension fund. Each year, the 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. According to a state report, for the 2011-2012 school year budgets, 247 school districts adopted a resolution certifying that tax rates would not be increased above their index; 250 school districts adopted a preliminary budget. Of the 250 school districts that adopted a preliminary budget, 231 adopted real estate tax rates that exceeded their index. Tax rate increases in the other 19 school districts that adopted a preliminary budget did not exceed the school district’s index. Of the districts who sought exceptions: 221 used the pension costs exemption and 171 sought a Special Education costs exemption. Only 1 school district sought an exemption for Nonacademic School Construction Project, while 1 sought an exception for Electoral debt for school construction.[301]

Mid Valley School Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed the Act 1 index for the budgets in 2009-10 or in 2010-11.[302][303] 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.[304]

Property tax relief[edit]

In 2014, Mid Valley School Board approved 4,071 homestead properties received $64.[305] The decline in amount was related to more residents applying for tax relief and a decline in table games tax revenues. The amount received by the District must be divided equally among all approved residences.[306]

In 2009, the Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief from gambling for the Mid Valley School District was $68 per approved permanent primary residence. In the district, 3,848 property owners applied for the tax relief.[307] The tax relief was subtracted from the total annual school property on the individual's 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 Lackawanna County, the highest property tax relief in 2009 was awarded to the approved property owners in Scranton School District at $334. Pennsylvania awarded the highest property tax relief to residents of the Chester-Upland School District in Delaware County at $632 per homestead and farmstead in 2010.[308] This was the second year Chester Upland School District was the top recipient.

Additionally, the Pennsylvania Property Tax/Rent Rebate program provided some Mid Valley School District residents: low income Pennsylvanians aged 65 and older; widows and widowers aged 50 and older; and people with disabilities age 18 and older. The income limit is $35,000 for homeowners. The maximum rebate for both homeowners and renters is $650. Applicants can exclude one-half (1/2) of their Social Security income, consequently individuals who have income substantially more than $35,000, may still qualify for a rebate. Individuals must apply annually for the rebate. This can be taken in addition to Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief.[309]

Enrollment[edit]

Mid Valley School District is experiencing low enrollment in K-12. The Pennsylvania Department of Education projects the district's enrollment will be less than 2400 pupils through 2018.[310] Shifting population trends across the U.S. and Pennsylvania are affecting school enrollment.[311] 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).[312]

A study done by Standard and Poors in 2007 (at the request of the PA General Assembly) examined whether the consolidation of small school district's administrations would yield saving where the resulting district had approximately 3000 pupils.[313] Superintendent were asked about savings, if their district were to merge with another district at the administrative level only, but not close any of their schools. It found 42% of survey respondents thought consolidation could achieve cost reductions. Additionally, 63% of responding superintendents believed that consolidation with another district would help provide additional academic enrichment opportunities for the students.[314] In March 2011, the Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants Fiscal Responsibility Task Force released a report which found that consolidating school district administrations with one neighboring district would save the Commonwealth $1.2 billion without forcing the consolidation of any schools.[315]

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.[316]

Wellness and nutrition[edit]

Mid Valley School District offers a free or reduced-price lunch to children in low income families. All students attending the school can eat breakfast and lunch. Children from families with incomes at or below 130 percent of the federal poverty level are provided a breakfast and lunch at no cost to the family. Children from families with incomes between 130 and 185 percent of the federal poverty level can be charged no more than 30 cents per breakfast. A foster child whose care and placement is the responsibility of the State or who is placed by a court with a caretaker household is eligible for both a free breakfast and a free lunch. Runaway, homeless and Migrant Youth are also automatically eligible for free meals.[317] The meals are partially funded with federal dollars through the United States Department of Agriculture.[318]

In 2013, the USDA issued new restrictions to foods in public schools. The rules apply to foods and beverages sold on all public school district campuses during the day. They limit vending machine snacks to a maximum of 200 calories per item. Additionally, all snack foods sold at school must meet competitive nutrient standards, meaning they must have fruits, vegetables, dairy or protein in them or contain at least 10 percent of the daily value of fiber, calcium, potassium, and Vitamin D.[319] In order to comply with the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 all US public school districts are required to raise the price of their school lunches to $2.60 regardless of the actual cost of providing the lunch.[320] The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 mandates that Districts raise their full pay lunch prices every year until the price of non-subsidized lunches equals the amount the federal government reimburses schools for free meals. That subsidy in 2013-2014 was $2.93.

In 2014, President Barack Obama ordered a prohibition of advertisements for unhealthy foods on public school campuses during the school day.[321][322]

The Food and Drug Administration requires that students take milk as their beverage at lunch. In accordance with this law, any student requesting water in place of milk with their lunch must present a written request, signed by a doctor, documenting the need for water instead of milk.[323][324]

Mid Valley School District provides health services as mandated by the Commonwealth and the federal government. Nurses are available in each building to conduct annual health screenings (data reported to the PDE and state Department of Health) and to dispense prescribed medications to students during the school day. Students can be excluded from school unless they comply with all the State Department of Health’s extensive immunization mandates. School nurses monitor each pupil for this compliance.[325][326] Nurses also monitor each child's weight.[327]

Extracurriculars[edit]

Mid Valley School District offers a variety of clubs, activities and an extensive sports program. For 2015-16 the District budgeted $684,857 for student activities.[328] Eligibility to participate is determined by school board policy.[329][330]

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.[331]

According to PA Child Abuse Recognition and Reporting Act 126 of 2014, all volunteer coaches and all those who assist in student activities, must have criminal background checks. Like all school district employees, they must also attend an anti child abuse training once every three years.[332][333][334]

Athletics[edit]

Coaches receive compensation as outlined in the teachers' union contract. When athletic competition exceeds the regular season, additional compensation is paid.[335]

Mid Valley School District does not provide its athletics disclosure form on its web site. Article XVI-C of the Public School Code requires the disclosure of interscholastic athletic opportunities for all public secondary school entities in Pennsylvania. All school entities with grades 7-12 are required to annually collect data concerning team and financial information for all male and female athletes beginning with the 2012-13 school year and submit the information to the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Beginning with the 2013-14 school year, all non-school (booster club and alumni) contributions and purchases must also be reported to PDE.[336]

According to Pennsylvania’s Safety in Youth Sports Act, all sports coaches, paid and volunteer, are required to annually complete the Concussion Management Certification Training and present the certification before coaching.[337][338]

Mid Valley Secondary Center has teams in the following areas:
Football - Varsity and Freshman teams. All freshmen play on the freshman team, who are then encouraged to join the varsity team for their sophomore year.
Cross Country - Varsity and Junior High. The Varsity team is considered all the high school students (grade 9 - 12), the junior high team historically has been grades 7 and 8.
Soccer - originally introduced with a co-ed team, there are now separate teams for boys and girls.
Golf
Basketball - For Boys set up similarly to the football team with a separate freshman team, additionally teams exist for 7th and 8th grade boys. For girls, one team exists for high school students and separate teams for junior high and elementary students. The Mid Valley boys varsity team won the Pete Turonis championship for the first time in 29 years.[339]
Baseball - Varsity, Freshman and junior high teams
Softball - Varsity, Junior Varsity and Junior high teams
Track & Field - Varsity and Junior high teams for both genders
Tennis - Varsity teams for both genders. Females play in the Fall and males play in the Spring
Cheerleading

The historic rivals of the Mid Valley Spartans are the neighboring Valley View Cougars. An unofficial rivalry also exists with Holy Cross High School. During football season or when a team advances in the playoffs it is common to see the downtowns of all three towns adorned with blue and white ribbons and "Luv Ya Spartans" signs in business windows.

Student activities[edit]

The student paper for the Secondary Center is The Spartan Outlook and is staffed by high school students in journalism electives. Mrs. Patricia Powell is currently the chairperson of the English Department and of the award-winning scholastic newspaper,The Spartan Outlook. Other popular student activities at the secondary center include Leo Club, Mock Trial, Spartan Pride (equivalent to a booster club), National Honors Society, student council, drama, and yearbook. The Mid Valley Drama Club presents full-scaled musicals under the direction of Mrs. Patricia Powell. Many students continued on a professional acting, dancing, or singing careers, including Michael McIlwee, who recently performed in "The Music Man," and "A Chorus Line." Gia Mazur, Matt Rinkunas, and Joe O'Malley with the acclaimed band One Hot Mess, Angel Buckley, and Brad Louryk. Club alumna Michelle O'Malley has launched a career as an acting coach. In May 2013, the Drama Club staged an original musical, War Bonds, written by the director, Patricia Powell. The story focuses on a veteran suffering from early-stage PTSD. With the help of veterans from various wars and conflicts, the lead character, played by Dane Hill, finds peace with himself, his country, and his family. The performance marks the 27th year that Mrs. Powell has been the director of the theater.

Additionally, a statistically large number of students enter the Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science Competition and compete at both the regional and state level.

Spirit Week, typically held in the Fall of each year is a popular student event that includes athletic competitions, as well as bake-offs and also has themed days. Many senior classes have traditionally gone to Orlando, Florida, on a week-long class trip in the spring. However, in the early 2000s the number of seniors participating decreased due to the cost of the trip and suspending the trip has been discussed. In 2008; however, the administration added an additional all expenses paid trip to Florida for the administration. The trip during the 2008 year cost the district and taxpayers approximately $36,000.00 breaking down to about $5,000 per person. Randy Parry had the most expenses to the district. Attending members included board President John Gilgallon, Deborah Shevchik, Thomas Logan, Lisa Rovinsky, Mary Ruth Tanner and Mark Runco. High school Principal Randy Parry also attended. Directors Jerry Barone and Ken Novack did not attend. Director Eric Pusey had almost all his expenses reimbursed by the NEIU, so his expenses are not included in the $36,000 total. Randy Parry, High School principal at the time, was later promoted to district superintendent.

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