Mifflin County School District

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Mifflin County School District
Map of Mifflin County Pennsylvania School Districts.png
"Educate each student to meet life's challenges."
Address
201 Eighth Street
Lewistown, Pennsylvania, Mifflin County 17044
United States
Information
Type Public
Established 1966
Closed Union Twp ES (2013), Strodes Mills MS (2011), Indian Valley SHS (2011), Kishacoquillas JSHS (1988), Lewistown Area SHS (2011), Lewistown MS (2011), Seventh Ward ES (2004), Armagh ES (2011), Brown ES, (2011), Buchanan ES (2011), Chief Logan Senior High School (1988), Derry ES (2004), Highland Park Area ES (2011), IVMS (2011)
School board 9 members elected at large
Superintendent Mr. James A. Estep Contract renewed July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2020 salary $147,100[1] (Salary was $157,500 2012)
Administrator

Mr Sean A Daubert, Business Manager, Salary $108,617 (2012)
Varner, Vance, Supervisor (salary $118,000 2012)
Jones, Tracey, Supervisor (salary $107,826 2012)
Hayes, Dawn, Coordinator (salary $98,031 2012)
Schaaf, Steven, Supervisor (salary $97,068 2012)
Starks, Michael, Supervisor (salary $95,048 2012)
Cunningham, Douglas, Director of Management Info Sys (salary $78,660 2012)
Maple, Darlene, Psychologist (salary $74,277 2012)

Hill, Melanie, Food Service Director
Principal Mr Michael H Lamarca, AES (Salary $97,461 2012)
Principal Mr Kevin J O'Donnell, Jr, EDES, IVES, IVIS (salary $89,000 2014)
Principal Mrs Jennifer Mitchell, LES (Salary $101,000 2014)[2]
Principal Mr Paul J Maidens, LIS (salary $97,461 2012)
Principal Mr Mark A Crosson, Mifflin Co HS (salary $101,409 2012)
Staff 254 non teaching staff members (2012)
Faculty 358 teachers
Grades K-12
Age 5 years old to 21 years old special education
Pupils

5,273 pupils (2013-14)[3]
5,292 pupils (2012)
5,540 pupils (2010)[4]
5,762 pupils (2008)

5,927 pupils (2006)
 • Kindergarten 402 (2012), 392 (2010)
 • Grade 1 384 (2012), 398
 • Grade 2 376 (2012), 401
 • Grade 3 376 (2012), 408
 • Grade 4 397 (2012), 421
 • Grade 5 386 (2012), 457
 • Grade 6 422 (2012), 414
 • Grade 7 444 (2012), 423
 • Grade 8 467 (2012), 428
 • Grade 9 383 (2012), 482
 • Grade 10 403 (2012), 409
 • Grade 11 394 (2012), 421
 • Grade 12 429 (2012), 418 (2010)
 • Other Enrollment Projected to be 5,584 by 2019[5]
Language English
Color(s) Black, Purple, and Silver
Mascot Huskies
Budget $63,438,258 [6]
Tuition ES - $7,117.61, HS - $8,056.97 [7]
per pupil spending $10,079 (2008)
per pupil spending $11,987.42 (2013)
Website

The Mifflin County School District is a midsized, rural public school district located in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The district boundaries coincide with the boundaries of Mifflin County, minus the southwestern municipalities of Kistler and Newton Hamilton boroughs and Wayne Township, which are part of the Mount Union Area School District. Mifflin County School District encompasses approximately 362.3 square miles. According to 2000 federal census data, it served a resident population of 46,486. Based on 2010 federal census data, the district's resident population grew to 46,682. The educational attainment levels for the Mifflin County School District population (25 years old and over) were 81.4% high school graduates and 11.1% college graduates.[8]

According to the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, 48.9% 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.[9] In 2009, the district residents’ per capita income was $15,612, while the median family income was $38,723.[10] In the Commonwealth, the median family income was $49,501[11] and the United States median family income was $49,445, in 2010.[12] In Mifflin County the median household income was $37,539.[13] By 2013, the median household income in the United States rose to $52,100.[14]

According to District officials, in the 2013-2014 school year, Mifflin County School District provided basic educational services to 5,436 pupils through the employment of 400 administrators and teachers and 214 full-time and part-time non-instructional staff. The superintendent is James Estep and the Director of Secondary Education is Mr. Vance S. Varner. In 2011-12, the District provided basic educational services to 5,336 pupils. It reported employing: 384 teachers, 229 full-time and part-time support personnel, and increasing to 30 administrators. The District received $30.9 million in state funding in the 2011-12 school year. In school year 2007-08, the MCSD enrollment was 5,691 pupils.[15] In 2008, the District employed: 460 teachers, 402 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 27 administrators. Mifflin County School District received more than $28.7 million in state funding in school year 2007-08.

Due to decreasing enrollment, rising operating costs, and aging facilities that required significant upgrades, on January 13, 2011, the Mifflin County School Board approved a consolidation plan to combine the high schools and reduce the total schools in the district from 15 to 10. These changes went into effect during the 2011-2012 academic year.[16]

Mifflin County School District consists of 5 elementary schools, 2 intermediate,1 middle school,1 junior highschool, and 1 high schools and a distance learning program for grades 6 through 12. High school students may choose to attend Mifflin-Juniata Career and Technology Center for training in the construction and mechanical trades. The Tuscarora Intermediate Unit IU11 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 Mifflin County 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.[17] The federal government controls programs it funds like: Title I funding for low income children in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and the No Child Left Behind Act, which mandates the district focus resources on student success in acquiring reading and math skills. The 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. In Pennsylvania, public school districts are required to give 150 days notice to the Superintendent regarding renewal of the employment contract.[18]

Academic achievement[edit]

In 2014, Mifflin County School District ranked 336th out of 496 Pennsylvania public school districts, by the Pittsburgh Business Times.[19] 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.[20] 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.

  • 2013 - 446th[21]
  • 2012 - 432nd[22]
  • 2011 - 418th[23]
  • 2010 - 414th[24]
  • 2008 - 435th
  • 2007 - 414th [25]
Overachiever statewide ranking

In 2013, the Pittsburgh Business Times also reported an Overachievers Ranking for 498 Pennsylvania school districts. Mifflin County School District ranked 397th. In 2011, the district was 325th. [26] 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."[27]

Opportunity Scholarship - lowest achieving schools

In April 2013, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) released a report identifying that Mifflin County School District had one school listed as among the lowest 15% achieving schools for reading and mathematics in the state.[28] Lewistown Elementary School was noted as low achieving. In 2014, Lewistown Elementary School remained on the lowest achieving schools list. Parents and students may be eligible for scholarships to transfer to another public or nonpublic school through the state's Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit Program passed in June 2012.[29] The scholarships are limited to those students whose family's income is less than $60,000 annually, with another $12,000 allowed per dependent. Maximum scholarship award is $8,500, with special education students receiving up to $15,000 for a year's tuition. Parents pay any difference between the scholarship amount and the receiving school's tuition rate. Students may seek admission to neighboring public school districts. Each year the PDE publishes the tuition rate for each individual public school district.[30] Fifty-three public schools in Allegheny County are among the lowest-achieving schools in 2011. According to the report, parents in 414 public schools (74 school districts) were offered access to these scholarships. For the 2012-13 school year, nine public school districts in Pennsylvania had all of their schools placed on the list including: Steelton-Highspire School District, Sto-Rox School District, Chester Upland School District, Clairton City School District, Duquesne City School District, Farrell Area School District, Wilkinsburg Borough School District, and William Penn School District.[31] In 2014, Monessen City School District had all three of its schools added to the list. Funding for the scholarships comes from donations by businesses which receive a state tax credit for donating.

District AYP status history[edit]

In 2012, Mifflin County School District declined to Warning Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), due to missing both the graduation rate and academic metrics.[32] In 2011, Mifflin County School District achieved Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP).[33] In 2011, 94 percent of the 500 Pennsylvania public school districts achieved the No Child Left Behind Act progress level of 72% of students reading on grade level and 67% of students demonstrating on grade level math. In 2011, 46.9 percent of Pennsylvania school districts achieved Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) based on student performance. An additional 37.8 percent of school districts made AYP based on a calculated method called safe harbor, 8.2 percent on the growth model and 0.8 percent on a two-year average performance.[34] Mifflin County School District achieved AYP status both years 2009 and 2010.[35]

  • 2008 - Making Progress Corrective Action I[36]
  • 2007 - Declined to Corrective Action I[37]
  • 2006 - Making Progress School Improvement 2[38]
  • 2005 - Declined to School Improvement 2
  • 2004 - Declined to School Improvement I
  • 2003 - Warning [39]

Graduation rate[edit]

In 2014, the District’s graduation rate was 84.2%.[40]

  • 2013 - 87.68% [41]
  • 2012 - 83.7%.[42]
  • 2011 - 88%.[43]
  • 2010 - 87%, the Pennsylvania Department of Education issued a new, 4-year cohort graduation rate.[44]
According to traditional graduation rate calculations

Schools[edit]

In 2010, the Mifflin County School Board voted to reduce 15 schools to 10.[47] The High schools saw the first change. 10th through 12th graders at Indian Valley High and Lewistown Area High were placed at the new Mifflin County High School for the 2011-12 school year. Five schools were closed and the former Indian Valley and Lewistown Middle Schools were retrofitted to serve students in grades 4-5. However, Indian Valley serves students in grades K-5, due to its size.

Elementary Schools[edit]

There are five Elementary Schools, all serving students in grades K-3

School Name Street Address Principal
East Derry Elementary School 2316 Back Maitland Road
Lewistown, Pennsylvania 17044
E. Terry Styers
Indian Valley Elementary and Intermediate Center 125 Kish Road
Reedsville, Pennsylvania 17084
Michael H. LaMarca
Lewistown Elementary School 1 Manor Drive
Lewistown, Pennsylvania 17044
Mark K. Hidlay
Strodes Mills Elementary School 185 Chestnut Ridge Road
McVeytown, Pennsylvania 17051
E. Terry Styers
Union Elementary School 95 No. Penn Street
Belleville, Pennsylvania 17004
Michael H. LaMarca

Intermediate Schools[edit]

There are two Intermediate Schools, which were former middle schools. The buildings were retrofitted for school-age children[48] and playgrounds were added in 2011.

Indian Valley Intermediate School[edit]

Indian Valley Intermediate School is located at 125 Kish Road, Reedsville. In 2014, the School's enrollment was 215 pupils in grades 4th and 5th, with 41% of pupils receiving a federal free or reduced price meals due to family poverty. Additionally, 8.5% of the pupils receive special education services, while none are identified as gifted.[49] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of the teachers were rated highly qualified under No Child Left Behind.[50] The school is a federally designated Title I school.

2014 School Performance Profile

Indian Valley Intermediate School achieved a score of 77.2 out of 100. The score reflects on grade level: reading, science, writing and mathematics achievement. In 2013-14, only 61.6% of the students were reading on grade level. In math, 79% were on grade level. In 4th grade science, 87% of the pupils demonstrated on grade level understanding. In writing, only 72% of 5th grade pupils demonstrated on grade level skills.[51]

2013 School Performance Profile

Indian Valley Intermediate School achieved a score of 64 out of 100. The score reflects on grade level: reading, science, writing and mathematics achievement. In 2012-13, only 56% of the students were reading on grade level. In math, 70% were on grade level. In 4th grade science, 81% of the pupils demonstrated on grade level understanding. In writing only 49% of 5th grade pupils demonstrated on grade level skills.[52]

AYP status history

In 2012, Indian Valley Intermediate School was in Warning AYP status, due to lagging student achievement in reading and mathematics.[53] In reading, 75% of the pupils were on grade level. In mathematics, 90% of pupils showed on grade level math skills. In 4th grade science, 84% of pupils were on grade level.[54]

Lewistown Intermediate School[edit]

Lewistown Intermediate School is located at 212 Green Avenue, Lewistown. In 2014, the School's enrollment was 568 pupils in grades 4th and 5th, with 55% of pupils receiving a federal free or reduced price meals due to family poverty. Additionally, 17% of the pupils receive special education services, while less than 1% are identified as gifted.[55] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of the teachers were rated highly qualified under No Child Left Behind.[56] The school is not a federally designated Title I school.

2014 School Performance Profile

Lewistown Intermediate School achieved a score of 60.9 out of 100. The score reflects on grade level: reading, science, writing and mathematics achievement. In 2013-14, only 54% of the students were reading on grade level. In math, just 63% of pupils were on grade level in math skills. In 4th grade science, just 68% of the pupils demonstrated on grade level understanding. In writing, only 47% of 5th grade pupils demonstrated on grade level skills.[57]

2013 School Performance Profile

Lewistown Intermediate School achieved a score of 67 out of 100. The score reflects on grade level: reading, science, writing and mathematics achievement. In 2012-13, only 55% of the students were reading on grade level. In math, 67% were on grade level. In 4th grade science, just 76% of the pupils demonstrated on grade level understanding. In writing, only 57% of 5th grade pupils demonstrated on grade level skills.[58] According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 2,181 public schools (less than 73 percent of Pennsylvania public schools), achieved an academic score of 70 or higher.

AYP status history

In 2012, Lewistown Intermediate School was in Warning AYP status due to lagging academic achievement in reading and mathematics.[59] In reading just 59% of pupils were reading on grade level. In mathematics, only 66% of pupils demonstrated on grade level math scores. In 4th grade science, 80% of pupils showed on grade level understanding.[60]

Mifflin County Middle School[edit]

Mifflin County Middle School serves students in grades 6 and 7 and is located at 2 Manor Drive in Lewistown, Pennsylvania, ZIP code 17044. The Principal is D. Robert Reeder III and the Assistant Principal is Heidi Welham. MCMS is the former Lewistown Area High School and re-opened as MCMS as 2011 District reorganization. In 2014, the school served around 866 students, with 50% of pupils eligible for a free lunch due to family poverty. Additionally, 15% of pupils received special education services, while less than 1% of pupils were identified as gifted.[61] According to a 2014 report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[62]

2014 School Performance Profile

Mifflin County Middle School achieved 65.9 out of 100. Reflects on grade level reading, mathematics and science achievement. In reading - just 59% of pupils were reading on grade level. In Algebra 1/Math, 62% showed on grade level mathematics skills. Science and writing are not tested in the school.[63]

2013 School Performance Profile

Mifflin County Middle School achieved 85 out of 100. Reflects on grade level reading, writing, mathematics and science achievement. In reading, just 65.7% of the students were on grade level. In Mathematics/Algebra 1, 71% of the students showed on grade level skills.[64] According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 2,181 public schools (less than 73 percent of Pennsylvania public schools), achieved an academic score of 70 or higher.

AYP History

In 2012, Mifflin County Middle School was in Warning AYP status due to lagging student achievement in reading and mathematics.[65]

Mifflin County Junior High School[edit]

Mifflin County Junior High is located in the former Indian Valley High School at 700 Cedar Street in Lewistown, Pennsylvania, 17044. The Principal is Michael V. Zinobile and the Assistant Principal is Mr. Conner. In 2014, enrollment was 860 pupils, in grades 8th and 9th, with 44% of pupils eligible for a free lunch due to family poverty. Additionally, 9% of pupils received special education services, while less than 1% of pupils were identified as gifted.[67] According to a 2014 report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[68]

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2012, the school reported an enrollment of 835 pupils, in grades 8th and 9th, with 365 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced price lunch due to family poverty. The school employed 51 teachers yielding a student-teacher ratio of 16:1.[69] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[70]

2014 School Performance Profile

Mifflin County Junior High School achieved a score of 78.1 out of 100. Reflects on grade level reading, mathematics and science achievement. In reading/literature - 74.9% were on grade level. In Algebra 1/Math, 77% showed on grade level mathematics skills. In Science, just 59% of 8th graders showed on grade level science understanding. In writing, only 62% of the 8th grade students demonstrated on grade level writing skills.[71]

2013 School Performance Profile

Mifflin County Junior High School achieved 78.7 out of 100. Reflects on grade level reading, writing, mathematics and science achievement. In reading, just 74.67% of the students were on grade level. In Mathematics/Algebra 1, 75.7% of the students showed on grade level skills. In Science, only 56.6% of the 8th graders demonstrated on grade level understanding. In writing, 55.9% of the 8th grade students demonstrated on grade level writing skills.[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.

AYP History

In 2011 and 2012, Mifflin County Junior High Middle School was in Warning AYP status, due to missing all academic metrics in reading and mathematics.[73]

PSSA Results:

Pennsylvania System of School Assessments, commonly called PSSAs are NCLB related examination given in the Spring of each school year. Eighth grades have been tested in reading and mathematics since 1999. Eighth graders are tested in: reading, writing, mathematics and science. Ninth graders are not tested. 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.[74] 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.[75] The standards were published in 1998 and are mandated by the Pennsylvania State Board of Education.[76] In 2014, the Commonwealth adopted the Pennsylvania Core Standards - Mathematics.[77]

Grade Reading
  • 2012 - 69% on grade level (18% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 79% of 8th graders on grade level.[78]
8th Grade Math
  • 2012 - 59% on grade level (12% below basic). State - 76% [79]
8th Grade Science
  • 2012 - 54% on grade level (26% below basic). State - 59%[80]

High School[edit]

Mifflin County High School is located at 501 Sixth Street in Lewistown, Pennsylvania, 17044. The Principal is Mark Crosson, the Assistant Principals are Angela Pollock and Kelly Campagna, and the Dean of Students and Athletic Direction is Matt Shoemaker. College remediation: According to a Pennsylvania Department of Education study released in January 2009, 15% of Mifflin County School District graduates required remediation in mathematics and or reading before they were prepared to take college level courses in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education or community colleges.[81] 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.[82] Per the Pennsylvania Department of Education, one in three recent high school graduates who attend Pennsylvania's public universities and community colleges takes at least one remedial course in math, reading or English.

Dual enrollment[edit]

The high school offers a dual enrollment program. This state program permits high school students to take courses, at local higher education institutions, to earn college credits. Students remain enrolled at their high school. The courses count towards high school graduation requirements and towards earning a college degree. The students continue to have full access to activities at their high school. 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.[83] Under the Pennsylvania Transfer and Articulation Agreement, many Pennsylvania colleges and universities accept these credits for students who transfer to their institutions.[84] For the 2009-10 funding year, the school district received a state grant of $11,094 for the program.

Graduation requirements[edit]

Students must satisfy earn the following 23 credits to earn a diploma from the Mifflin County School District: English 4 credits, Mathematics 4 credits, Science 2 credits, Biology 1 credit, Social Studies 3 credits, Computer 0.5 credit, Fitness 2 credits, Health 0.5 credit, and Electives 6 credits. If a student successfully completes course work at the Career and Technology Center in 10th, 11th and 12th grades, he/she will be exempt from taking the senior year social studies and senior year math courses.[85]

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.[86]

Distance Learning[edit]

The Mifflin County School District provides a distance learning program which is designed to provide the student with an alternative way to earn middle and/or high school education credits. MCSD goals are, and the student’s goals should be for him/her to complete satisfactorily all courses in which he/she enrolls, to perform at proficient or higher levels on the PSSA, and to graduate from high school. The student must be a resident of Mifflin County in order to be enrolled in the program. Students and parents must sign a contract agreeing to the terms of enrollment.[87]

Additionally, school aged residents of Pennsylvania are eligible to enroll in one of the 11 cyber charter schools.[88]

Alpha Program[edit]

The Alpha Program is part of the distance learning program in Mifflin County School District. Students in the program are in grades 7-12. The courses that students take are all computer based. Students have the option to be a full time Alpha student or a hybrid student. Full time Alpha students take all of their courses with Alpha while hybrid students take course with Alpha and in the regular buildings. Any credits earned with the Alpha Program count towards graduation credits.

Special education[edit]

In December 2012, the District administration reported that 726 pupils or 14% of the district's pupils received Special Education services, with 32% of the identified students having a specific learning disability.[89] In December 2010, the District administration reported that 794 pupils or 14% of the district's pupils received Special Education services, with 35% of the identified students having a specific learning disability. 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.[90] 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 2008, Mifflin County School District reported that 14% of its pupils received a broad variety of services for all children with disabilities in accordance with state and federal laws, rules, and regulations. Students were also provided with gifted education services.[91]

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.[92] Mifflin County School District has provided all day kindergarten since 2003. It has seen no decrease in the percentage of special education students it serves, yielding no savings.

By law, parents may make a written request for their child to be evaluated for special education or gifted education services.[93] In order to comply with state and federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act rules and regulations, the school 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 .[94]

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.[95] The Special Education funding structure is through the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) funds and state appropriations. IDEA funds are appropriated to the state on an annual basis and distributed through intermediate units (IUs) to school districts, while state funds are distributed directly to the districts. Total funds that are received by school districts are calculated through a formula. The Pennsylvania Department of Education oversees four appropriations used to fund students with special needs: Special Education; Approved Private Schools; Pennsylvania Chartered Schools for the Deaf and Blind; and Early Intervention. The Pennsylvania Special Education funding system assumes that 16% of the district’s students receive special education services. It also assumes that each student’s needs accrue the same level of costs.[96] Over identification of students, in order to increase state funding, has been an issue in the Commonwealth. Some districts have more than 20% of its students receiving special education services while others have 10% supported through special education.[97] The state requires each public school district and charter school to have a three-year special education plan to meet the unique needs of its special education students.[98] In 2012, the Obama Administration's US Department of Education issued a directive requiring schools include students with disabilities in extracurricular activities, including sports.[99]

Mifflin County School District received a $3,162,989 supplement for special education services in 2010.[100] For the 2011-12, 2012–13 and 2013-14 school years, all Pennsylvania public school districts received the same level of funding for special education that they received in 2010-11. This level funding is provided regardless of changes in the number of pupils who need special education services and regardless of the level of services the respective students required.[101] For the 2014-2015 school year, MCSD received an increase to $1,648,697 from the Commonwealth for special education funding.[102]

Gifted education[edit]

The District Administration reported that 33 or .56% of its students were gifted in 2009.[103] By law, the District must provide mentally gifted programs at all grade levels. The primary emphasis is on enrichment and acceleration of the regular education curriculum. 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.[104]

Wellness policy[edit]

Mifflin County School Board established a district wellness policy in 2006 - Policy 246.[105] The policy deals with nutritious meals served at school, the control of access to some foods and beverages during school hours, age appropriate nutrition education for all students, and physical education for students K-12. The policy is in response to state mandates and federal legislation (P.L. 108 - 265). The law dictates that each school district participating in a program authorized by the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act (42 U.S.C. 1751 et seq) or the Child Nutrition Act of 1966 (42 U.S.C. 1771 et seq) "shall establish a local school wellness policy by School Year 2006."

The legislation placed the responsibility of developing a wellness policy at the local level so the individual needs of each district can be addressed. According to the requirements for the Local Wellness Policy, school districts must set goals for nutrition education and physical education that are aligned with the Pennsylvania State Academic Standards for Health, Safety and Physical Education, campus food provision, and other school-based activities designed to promote student wellness. Additionally, districts were required to involve a broad group of individuals in policy development and to have a plan for measuring policy implementation. Districts were offered a choice of levels of implementation for limiting or prohibiting low nutrition foods on the school campus. In final implementation these regulations prohibit some foods and beverages on the school campus.[106] The policy requires that the Superintendent or designee shall report to the Board on the district’s compliance with law and policies related to student wellness. The Pennsylvania Department of Education required the district to submit a copy of the policy for approval.

Highmark Healthy High 5 grant[edit]

In 2011, Indian Valley Elementary School in Mifflin County School District received funding through a Highmark Healthy High 5 grant. The Elementary School received $9,979 which was used to implement the Weller Center's nutrition education program for all 2nd grade students. Concurrently, all students in the school (Grades K-5) participated in a 6-week online evidence-based fitness and nutrition program.[107] Beginning in 2006, Highmark Foundation engaged in a 5-year, $100 million program to promote lifelong healthy behaviors in children and adolescents through local nonprofits and schools.

Budget[edit]

Per pupil spending The district reported spending $11,589 per pupil in 2013.

Reserves In 2008, the district reported having $2,126,725 in an Unreserved - Undesignated Fund Balance.[108] In 2010, Mifflin County School District Administration reported a balance of $1,690,170.00 in the unreserved-undesignated fund. Pennsylvania school district reserve funds are divided into two categories – designated and undesignated. The undesignated funds are not committed to any planned project. Designated funds and any other funds, such as capital reserves, are allocated to specific projects. School districts are required by state law to keep 5 percent of their annual spending in the undesignated reserve funds to preserve bond ratings. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, from 2003 to 2010, as a whole, Pennsylvania school districts amassed nearly $3 billion in reserved funds.[109]

In January 2010, the Pennsylvania Auditor General conducted a performance audit of the Mifflin County School District. The findings were reported to the administration and school board.[110]

The district is funded by a combination of: a local earned income tax 1.35%, a local real property tax, a real estate transfer tax 0.5%, and a per capita tax, coupled with substantial funding from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the federal government.[111] Grants provide an opportunity to supplement school funding without raising local taxes. In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, pension income and Social Security income are exempted from state personal income tax and local earned income tax regardless of the individual's wealth.[112]

State basic education funding[edit]

In 2011-12, Mifflin County School District received $19,381,183 in state Basic Education Funding.[113] Additionally, the district also received $390,435 in Accountability Block Grant funding.[114] The enacted Pennsylvania state Education budget includes $5,354,629,000 for the 2011-2012 Basic Education Funding appropriation. This amount is a $233,290,000 increase (4.6%) over the enacted State appropriation for 2010-2011. The highest increase in state basic education funding was awarded to Duquesne City School District, which got a 49% increase in state funding for 2011-12.[115] Districts experienced a reduction in funding due to the loss of federal stimulus funding which ended in June 2011. In 2010, the district reported that 2,485 pupils received a free or reduced-price lunch due to the family meeting the federal poverty level.

For the 2010-11 school year, the Pennsylvania Department of Education provided the district with a 4.76% increase in Basic Education Funding for a total of $21,310,018. One hundred and fifty school districts received the base 2% increase. In Pennsylvania, the highest increase went to Kennett Consolidated School District, which received a 23.65% increase in state funding.[116] The state's hold harmless policy regarding state basic education funding continued where a district received at least the same amount as the year before, even where enrollment had significantly declined. The amount of increase each school district receives was set by Governor Edward G. Rendell and then Secretary of Education Gerald Zahorchak, as a part of the state budget proposal given each February. This was the second year of the Governor Rendell’s policy to fund some districts at a far greater rate than others.

In the 2009-2010 budget year, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided an increase in Basic Education Funding to the Mifflin County School District, for a total of $20,418,218.[117] The district also received supplemental funding for: Title I (federal funding for low-income students), for district size, a poverty supplement from the Commonwealth and more. The highest increase in the state went to Muhlenberg School District of Berks County which received a 22.31% increase.[118] The amount of increase each school district receives is 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.[119] According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 2,333 students in the Mifflin County School District received free or reduced-price lunches due to low family income in the 2007-2008 school year.[120]

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, Mifflin County School District applied for and received $1,059,737, in addition to all other state and federal funding. The district used the funding to provide full-day kindergarten.[121]

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 state grant requires the district hire a part-time technology coach, whose role is to assist the teachers in using the equipment and software effectively to improve their instruction. The salary is covered by the grant.[122] The program was funded from 2006-2009. Mifflin County School District never applied for funding.[123][124]

Education Assistance grant[edit]

The state's EAP funding provides for the continuing support of tutoring services and other programs to address the academic needs of eligible students. Funds are available to eligible school districts and full-time career and technology centers (CTC) in which one or more schools have failed to meet at least one academic performance target, as provided for in Section 1512-C of the Pennsylvania Public School Code. In 2010-11 the Mifflin County School District received $334,609.[125]

Federal Stimulus grant[edit]

For the 2009-10 and 2010-11 school years the district received an extra $3,906,135. The dollars were to be used to improve academic achievement of economically disadvantaged children and special needs children. Some dollars were also provided to advance the district's technology infrastructure.[126] Due to the temporary nature of the funding, schools were repeatedly advised to use the funds for one-time expenditures like acquiring equipment, making repairs to buildings, training teachers to provide more effective instruction or purchasing books and software.

Race to the Top grant[edit]

School district officials applied for the Race to the Top federal grant which would have brought the district up to one million additional federal dollars for improving student academic achievement.[127][128] Participation required the administration, the school board and the local teachers' union to sign an agreement to prioritize improving student academic success. In Pennsylvania, 120 public school districts and 56 charter schools agreed to participate. 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.[129]

Literacy grant[edit]

In April 2012, the district was awarded a federal Keystone Opportunity Grant of $1.5 million to be used to improve reading and literacy skills in children from birth to grade 12. Mifflin County School District was one of 56 of the Commonwealth's 500 school districts to be awarded the funding in 2012. The grant money will be used to serve four specific areas: reading and language arts on the elementary level, the birth to age 5 community, the middle schools and the high school. The funds will be used to develop a state-mandated district literacy plan that will include the use of literacy coaches who will be in classrooms to assist teachers.

Real estate taxes[edit]

The Mifflin County School Board set property taxes for Mifflin County District residents at 30.9436 mills for 2012-13.[130] 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. 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 government property. Additionally, service related, disabled US military veterans may seek an exemption from paying property taxes. On the local level, Pennsylvania district revenues are dominated by two main sources: 1) Property tax collections, which account for the vast majority (between 75-85%) of local revenues; and 2) Act 511 tax collections, which are around 15% of revenues for school districts.[131]

  • 2011-12 - 28.7636 mills [132]
  • 2010-11 - 26.2300 mills.[133]
  • 2009-10 - 25.2000 mills.[134]
  • 2008-09 - 25.2000 mills.[135]
  • 2007-08 - 25.2000 mills.[136]
  • 2006-07 - 23.0000 mills.[137]
  • 2005-06 - 20.0000 mills.[138]

Act 1 Adjusted index[edit]

The Act 1 of 2006 Index regulates the rates at which each school district can raise property taxes in Pennsylvania. Districts are not allowed to raise taxes above that index unless they allow voters to vote by referendum, or they seek an exception from the state Department of Education. The base index for the 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.[139] In June 2011, the Pennsylvania General Assembly eliminated six of the ten the exceptions to the Act 1 Index.[140] The following 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.[141][142]

The School District Adjusted Index for the Mifflin County School District 2006-2007 through 2011-2012.[143]

  • 2006-07 - 5.5%, Base 3.9%
  • 2007-08 - 4.8%, Base 3.4%
  • 2008-09 - 6.2%, Base 4.4%
  • 2009-10 - 5.8%, Base 4.1%
  • 2010-11 - 4.1%, Base 2.9%
  • 2011-12 - 2.0%, Base 1.4% [144][145]
  • 2012-13 - 2.4%, Base - 1.7% [146]

For the 2012-13 budget year, Mifflin County School Board applied for two exceptions to exceed the Act 1 Index: Special Education expenditure and teacher pension costs. For 2012-2013, 274 school districts adopted a resolution certifying that tax rates would not be increased above their index; 223 school districts adopted a preliminary budget leaving open the option of exceeded the Index limit. For the exception for pension costs, 194 school districts received approval to exceed the Index. For special education costs, 129 districts received approval to exceed the tax limit. For the exception for pension costs, 194 school districts received approval to exceed the Index. For special education costs, 129 districts received approval to exceed the tax limit.[147]

For the 2011-12 school year, Mifflin County School Board sought 3 exceptions: Maintenance of Local Tax Revenue, Special Education Costs and Pension Costs.[148] For the district's 2010-11 budget year, the Mifflin County School Board sought 2 exceptions: special education costs and pension costs.[149] Each year, the school district has the option of adopting either 1) a resolution in January certifying they will not increase taxes above their index or 2) a preliminary budget in February. A school district adopting the resolution may not apply for referendum exceptions or ask voters for a tax increase above the inflation index. A specific timeline for these decisions is publisher each year by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.[150]

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.[151]

In 2010, the Mifflin County School Board did not apply for any exceptions to exceed the Act 1 Index.[152] 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.[153] Mifflin County School Board applied for a Grandfathered Debt exception to exceed the Act 1 index for the budget, in 2009-10.[154]

Property tax relief[edit]

In 2010, the Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief from gambling for the Mifflin County School District was set at $173 per approved permanent primary residence.[155] The relief was subtracted from the total annual school property tax bill. In Mifflin County 11,111 property owners applied 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. The highest property tax relief was given to property owners in the Chester Upland School District in Delaware County who got $632 in 2010 and in 2009. In February 2010, the Pennsylvania Auditor General, Jack Wagner reported that 70% of eligible Mifflin County property owners applied for the rebate.[156]

In 2008, 10,446 Mifflin County School District property owners and farmers received a $184 rebate.[157]

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

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%).[158]

Common Cents state initiative[edit]

The school board elected to not participate in the Pennsylvania Department of Education Common Cents program. The program called for the state to audit the district, at no cost to local taxpayers, to identify ways the district could save tax dollars.[159] After the review of the information, the district was not required to implement the recommended cost savings changes.

Extracurriculars[edit]

The Mifflin County School District offers a variety of clubs, activities and interscholastic athletics. The school board determines eligibility for participation in coordination with respective individual governing organizations.[160][161] Varsity and junior varsity athletic activities are under the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletics Association. In some cases they collaborate with neighboring districts to offer programs together. In April 2012, the Mifflin County School Board approved raising the extracurricular fee from $75 to $135 per athlete per year. The decision saved four sports (junior high girls and boys soccer, junior high softball and varsity indoor winter track teams) which were to be eliminated due to a funding shortfall. The District spends over $500,000 a year providing sports in the junior high and high school.[162]

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.[163]

Closed schools[edit]

In June 2011, the district faced a major budget shortfall. As a result, the Administration and School Board embraced a plan to realign the use of buildings and reconfigure several schools. Students were assigned to other schools within the district.[164]

Armagh Elementary School - Mascot: Armadillo
283 Broad St. Ext., Milroy, Pennsylvania 17063. Armagh Elementary school was built in 1962. At that time it housed grades one through six. Grade six moved when Indian Valley Middle School was started in 1987. The school originally was part of the Kishacoquillas School District. It became a part of the Mifflin County School District when it was formed in 1966. With an enrollment of 203 students, it was closed June 2011.

Brown Elementary School - Mascot: Bear
96 Kish Rd., Reedsville, Pennsylvania 17084. Brown Elementary was constructed in 1962 and was opened for students in 1963 for grades 1 through 6. Kindergarten classes started later and were held in the old school until it was finally torn down in the 1970s. With an enrollment of 155 students, it was closed June 2011.

Buchanan Elementary School - Mascot: Bulldog.
100 Franklin Ave., Lewistown, Pennsylvania 17044. Buchanan Elementary School opened in 1951 as an elementary facility and had continued in that capacity. With an enrollment of 276 students, it was closed June 2011.

Highland Park Area Elementary School - Mascot: Penguin.
490 Sixth St., Lewistown, Pennsylvania 17044. Opened originally in 1978 as Chief Logan Middle School. In 1989, it became an elementary facility as a result of district reorganization. With an enrollment of 516 students, it was closed June 2011.

Strodes Mills Middle School - Mascot: Panther
205 Chestnut Ridge Road, McVeytown, PA 17051. Strodes Mills Middle School opened in 1978. The school consists of grades 6 through 8, however, all of grade 5 and one section of grade 4 was housed at Strodes Mills Middle School. With an enrollment of 395 students, it was closed June 2011

Kishacoquillas Junior/Senior High School - Mascot: Indian
closed June 1988

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  150. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (2011). "Special Session Act 1 of 2006 the Taxpayer Relief Act information". 
  151. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (April 2011). "Report on Exceptions". 
  152. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (May 2010). "Report on Referendum Exceptions for 2010-2011". 
  153. ^ Scarcella, Frank & Pursell, Tricia (May 25, 2010). "Local school tax assessments exceed state averages.". The Daily Item. 
  154. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (May 2009). "Report on Referendum Exceptions for 2009-2010". 
  155. ^ Tax Relief per Homestead, Pennsylvania Department of Education report. May 1, 2009
  156. ^ Pennsylvania Auditor General (February 2010). "Special Report, Property Tax Relief in Pennsylvania". 
  157. ^ Tax Relief per Homestead 2008, Pennsylvania Department of Education, May 14, 2008
  158. ^ Tax Foundation (September 22, 2009). "New Census Data on Property Taxes on Homeowners,". 
  159. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education (2007). "Common Cents program - Making Every Dollar Count". 
  160. ^ Mifflin County School District Student Handbook - Middle and High Schools Extracurriculars Policy, Mifflin County School Board, 2008
  161. ^ Mifflin County School District Student Handbook - Middle and High Schools Interscholastic Athletics Policy, 2008
  162. ^ Cannon, Joe., Activity fee soars in order to save 4 athletic teams, Lewistown Sentinel, April 27, 2012
  163. ^ Home-Schooled, Charter School Children Can Participate in School District Extracurricular Activities, Pennsylvania Office of the Governor Press Release, November 10, 2005
  164. ^ Joe Cannon (July 1, 2011). "Board approves budget". Lewistown Sentinel. 

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