Montour School District

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Montour School District
Map of Allegheny County Pennsylvania School Districts.png
Address
233 Clever Road
McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania, Allegheny County 15136
United States
Information
Type Public
Superintendent Dr. Michael Ghilani
Grades K-12
Color(s) Black and Gold
         
Mascot Spartan
Website

The Montour School District is a mid-sized, suburban public school district. The district serves Kennedy Township, Robinson Township, Ingram, Thornburg and Pennsbury Village, which are western suburbs of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in the United States. Montour School District encompasses an area of 21.1 square miles (55 km2). The school district had a population of 24,711, according to the 2000 federal census. According to school district administrative officials, during the 2003-04 school year, the district provided basic educational services to 3,249 pupils through the employment of 15 administrators, 251 teachers, and 127 full-time and part-time support personnel. Special education was provided by the district and the Allegheny Intermediate Unit #3. Occupational training and adult education in various vocational and technical fields were provided by the district and the Parkway West Area Vocational-Technical School.

Governance[edit]

The school district is governed by nine individually elected board member (serving four-year terms), the Pennsylvania State Board of Education, the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the Pennsylvania General Assembly.[1] 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 to focus resources on student success in acquiring reading and mathematics skills.

The Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy Alternatives Sunshine Review gave the school board and district administration a " " for transparency based on a review of "What information can people find on their school district's website". It examined the school district's website for information regarding taxes, the current budget, meetings, school board members' names and terms, contracts, audits, public records information and more.[2]

School Board members are Ed Miller, George Dudash, Dean Caliguire, Tom Barclay, Scott Suess, Duane Faith, Cynthia Morrow, Ron Smith and Joyce Snell.

Montour School District Facilities[edit]

  • Montour High School (Grades 9-12)
  • David E. Williams Middle Schools Upper (Grades 7 & 8) and Lower (Grades 5 & 6)
  • Burkett Elementary School (Grades 3-4)
  • Forest Grove Elementary School (Grades K-2)
  • Ingram Resource Center [Note: In 1988, the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation designated the school, which was built in 1914, a historic landmark.]
  • Note: Beginning the 2017-2018 school year all Montour School District students in grades K-4 will attend the newly built Elementary School located on the Montour High School campus. Burkett Elementary and Forrest Grove Elementary will no longer hold any classes for Montour students in grades K-4 after this change takes place.

Academic achievement[edit]

Montour School District was ranked 116th out of 498 Pennsylvania school districts by the Pittsburgh Business Times in 2012.[3] The ranking was based on student academic achievement as demonstrated in the previous three years of the PSSAs for reading, writing math and science.[4] The PSSAs are given to all children in grades 3 to 8 and the 11th grade in high school. Adapted examinations are given to children in the special education programs.

  • 2007 - 102nd out of 501 school districts.[5]
  • 2008 - 111th
  • 2009 - 121st
  • 2010 - 104th [6]
  • 2011 - 100th [7]

In 2012, the Pittsburgh Business Times also reported an Overachievers Ranking for 498 Pennsylvania school districts. Montour School District ranked 362nd. In 2011, the district was 412th.[8] The editor described 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."[9]

Western Pennsylvania local ranking

The Montour School District was ranked 29th out of 105 Western Pennsylvania school districts by the Pittsburgh Business Times in 2012. The ranking was based on the previous three years of student academic performance on the PSSAs on mathematics, reading, writing and science.[10] (includes 105 districts in: Allegheny County, Armstrong County, Beaver County, Butler County, Fayette County, Washington County and Westmoreland County (excludes Duquesne City School District & Midland Borough School District due to not operating a high school)

  • 2008 - 31st out of 105 Western Pennsylvania districts
  • 2009 - 34th [11]
  • 2010 - 30th [12]
  • 2011 - 25th

In 2010 and 2011, Montour School District achieved AYP status.[13] 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.

Graduation rate[edit]

In 2011, the graduation rate was 97%.[14] In 2010, the Pennsylvania Department of Education issued a new, 4-year cohort graduation rate. Montour High School's rate was 85% for 2010.[15]

According to traditional graduation rate calculations

High school[edit]

Montour High School is located at 223 Clever Road, Mc Kees Rocks. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, the school reported an enrollment of 1,035 pupils in grades 9 to 12, with 101 pupils eligible for a federal free or reduced-price lunch. The school employed 76 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 13:1.[20] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[21]

In 2011, Montour High School declined to "Warning" status due to lagging student achievement in mathematics.[22] In 2010, Montour High School achieved AYP status.

In 2012, Montour High School was ranked 28th out of 122 western Pennsylvania high schools, by the Pittsburgh Business Times for academic achievement based on the previous three years of the PSSAs on reading, writing, mathematics and science.[23]

  • 2009 - 34th [24]
  • 2010 - 25th [25]
  • 2011 - 22nd
PSSA Results
11th grade reading
  • 2007 - 71%, State - 65%
  • 2008 - 77%, State - 65%
  • 2009 - 81%, State - 65%
  • 2010 - 82% (8% below basic). State - 66% [26]
  • 2011 - 79% on grade level (10% below basic). State - 69.1% of 11th graders are on grade level.[27]
11th grade mathematics

2007 - 61%, State - 53% [28]

  • 2008 - 71%, State - 56% [29]
  • 2009 - 68%, State - 56%%.[30]
  • 2010 - 77% (8% below basic). State - 59% [31]
  • 2011 - 76% on grade level (8% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 60.3% of 11th graders are on grade level.[32]
11th grade science:
  • 2008 - 42%, State - 40% [33]
  • 2009 - 48%, State - 40% [34]
  • 2010 - 50% (7% below basic). State - 39%
  • 2011 - 41% on grade level (14% below basic). State - 40% of 11th graders were on grade level.[35]

College remediation rate[edit]

According to a Pennsylvania Department of Education study released in January 2009, 36% of the Montour High 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.[36] 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.[37] According to 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 mathematics, reading or English.

Dual enrollment[edit]

Montour High school provides students with the opportunity to earn college credits while remaining enrolled at the high school. College in the High School (CHS) courses are offered through the University of Pittsburgh, Robert Morris University and Carlow University. Students continue to have full access to activities and programs at their high school. The college credits are offered at a deeply discounted rate. Under the Pennsylvania Transfer and Articulation Agreement, many Pennsylvania colleges and universities accept these credits for students who transfer to or enroll in their institutions.[38]

SAT scores[edit]

From January to June 2011, 194 Montour High School students took the SAT exams. The district's verbal average score was 503. The mathematics average score was 530. The writing average score was 493.[39] Pennsylvania ranked 40th among states with SAT scores: verbal - 493, mathematics - 501, writing - 479.[40] 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.[41]

Advanced Placement classes[edit]

Summer assignments[edit]

Montour High School has a program of summer reading and other assignments for a wide variety of core academic courses. Summer academic assignments are required for English, social studies, mathematics, science courses and several AP courses. Students complete the work, on their own, during the summer with written assignments due the first day of the next school year. Specific assignments are posted in the high school's website.[42]

Graduation requirements[edit]

Montour School Board has determined that a student must earn a minimum of 26 credits to graduate. These credits must be earned in grades 9, 10, 11 and 12. The current requirements are English 4.0 credits, social studies 4.0 credits, science 3.0 credits, mathematics 4.0 credits, computer applications 2.0 credits, PE/health 2.0 credits, electives 6.0 credits, graduation project 1.0 credit.[43]

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.[44]

By Pennsylvania School Board regulations, for the graduating class of 2017, students must be able to demonstrate successful completion of secondary level course work in algebra I, biology, English composition and literature for which the Keystone Exams serve as the final course exams. Students’ Keystone Exam scores shall count for at least one-third of the final course grade.[45] In 2011, Pennsylvania high school students field tested the algebra 1, biology and English literature exams. The statewide results were: algebra 1 38% on grade level, biology 35% on grade level and English literature - 49% on grade level.[46] Individual student, school or district reports were not made public, although they were reported to district officials by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

David E Williams Middle Schools[edit]

David E Williams Middle School Upper is located at Porters Hollow Road, Coraopolis. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, the school reported an enrollment of 493 pupils in grades 7 and 8, with 68 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school employed 38 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 12:1.[47] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[48]

In 2011, David E Williams Middle School Upper declined to "Warning" AYP status due to lagging student achievement in mathematics.[49] In 2010, the school achieved Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) status.

The middle school was ranked 39 out of 141 western Pennsylvania middle schools in 2009 by the Pittsburgh Business Times. The ranking was based on three years of student academic performance on the PSSAs for mathematics, reading, writing and one year of science.[50]

PSSA results
8th grade reading:
  • 2008 - 82%. State: 78% [51]
  • 2009 - 90%. State: 80%
  • 2010 - 86% (5% below basic). State: 81%
  • 2011 - 88% on grade level (8% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 81.8% of 8th graders on grade level.[52]
8th grade mathematics:
  • 2008 - 68%. State:70%
  • 2009 - 79%. State: 71%
  • 2010 - 77% (10% below basic). State - 75%
  • 2011 - 80% on grade level (8% below basic). State - 76.9%
8th grade science:
  • 2008 - 51%. State: 52% of 8th graders were on grade level.
  • 2009 - 70%. State: 55%
  • 2010 - 56% (24% below basic). State: 57%
  • 2011 - 55% on grade level (19% below basic). State: 58.3%.

David E Williams Middle School Lower is located at Porters Hollow Road, Coraopolis. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, the school reported an enrollment of 418 pupils in grades 5th and 6th, with 81 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school employed 31 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 13:1.[53] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[54]

In 2011 and 2010, David E Williams Middle School Lower achieved AYP status.[55]

PSSA results

Elementary schools[edit]

  • Forest Grove Elementary School is located at 1 Forest Grove Road, Coraopolis. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, the school reported an enrollment of 488 pupils in grades kindergarten to 4, with 73 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school employed 37 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 13:1.[59] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[60] In 2010 and 2011, Forest Grove Elementary School achieved AYP status.[61] In 2011, 83% of the students were reading on grade level in grades 3rd and 4th. In mathematics, 89% of the students in 3rd and 4th grades were on grade level and 51% scored advanced. In 4th grade science, 87% of the pupils were on grade level.[62]

Montour School District was ranked 56th out of Western Pennsylvania 4th grades in 2012 by the Pittsburgh Business Times.[63] In 2009, the 3rd grade was ranked 162nd out of 327 Western Pennsylvania 3rd grades for academic achievement in reading, math and writing.[64]

  • Ingram Elementary School is located at 40 Vancouver Street, Pittsburgh. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, the school reported an enrollment of 183 pupils in grades kindergarten to 4, with 59 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school employed 18 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 10:1.[65] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[66] In 2010 and 2011, Ingram Elementary School achieved AYP status.[67] In 2011, only 78% of the students were reading on grade level in grades 3 and 4. In mathematics, 80% of the students in 3rd and 4th grades were on grade level and 22% scored advanced. In 4th grade science, 94% of the pupils were on grade level.[68] Ingram Elementary School ranked 301st out of 327 in 2009. It closed in 2012 but it is still used for students as a "library" of sorts to this day.[when?]
  • J. W. Burkett Elementary School is located at 5501 Steubenville Pike, Mc Kees Rocks. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, the school reported an enrollment of 344 pupils in grades kindergarten through 4th, with 38 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school employed 28 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 12:1.[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] In 2010 and 2011, J. W. Burkett Elementary School achieved AYP status.[71] In 2011, 90% of the students were reading on grade level in grades 3 to 6. In mathematics, 96% of the students in 3rd to 6th grades were on grade level and 53% scored advanced. In 4th grade science, 99% of the pupils were on grade level.[72] In 2009, J. W. Burkett Elementary School ranked 30th.

Special education[edit]

In December 2010, the district administration reported that 430 pupils or 14.5% of the district's pupils received special education services, with 48% of the identified students having a specific learning disability. In December 2009, the district administration reported that 449 pupils or 15% of the district's pupils received special education services.[73]

In 2010, the state of Pennsylvania provided $1,026,815,000 for 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.[74] 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.[75] The state requires each district to have a three-year special education plan to meet the unique needs of its special education students.[76] Overidentification 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.[77]

Montour School District received a $1,590,019 supplement for special education services in 2010.[78] For the 2011-12 and 2012-13 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.[79]

Gifted education[edit]

The District Administration reported that 153 or 4.81% of its students were gifted in 2009.[80] 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.[81]

Budget[edit]

In 2007, the average teacher salary in the district was $62,648 for 181 days worked. The district ranked fourth in Allegheny County for average teacher salary in 2007. The average teacher salary in Pennsylvania was $54,977.[82] In Pennsylvania, the average salary of the 124,100 public school teachers was $54,977.

Montour School District administrative costs per pupil in 2008 were $1,127. The district ranked 33rd of 500 school districts for administrative spending. The lowest administrative cost per pupil in Pennsylvania was $398 per pupil.[83] The Pennsylvania School Boards Association keeps statistics on salaries of public school district employees in Pennsylvania. According to the association, the average salary for a superintendent for the 2007-08 school year was $122,165.[84] Superintendents and administrators receive a benefit package commensurate with that offered to the district's teachers' union.[85]

In April 2010, Montour School District reported a fund balance of $28.7 million. This far exceeds the Pennsylvania Department of Education cap of 8% of the budget. According to state regulations, the board would not be permitted to raise taxes until the fund balance was under the 8% cap.[86] In 2008, the district reported an unreserved-designated fund balance of $20,294,864.00 and an unreserved-undesignated fund balance of $3,800,000.00.[87]

State basic education funding[edit]

In the 2009-2010 budget year the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a 2% increase in Basic Education funding for a total of $3,760,864. This was the base percentage increase, in Basic Education Funding, in the Commonwealth. Four school districts in Allegheny County received an increase of over 6 percent. The state Basic Education funding to the district in 2008-09 was $3,687,122. In Pennsylvania, a 2% increase in funding was the lowest. Muhlenberg School District in Berks County received an increase of over 22%. Fifteen school districts received Basic Education increases in excess of 10%[88] The amount of increase each school district receives is determined by the Governor and the Secretary of Education through the allocation made in the Governor's budget proposal released in February each year.

Federal Stimulus funding[edit]

The district received $1,276,615 in ARRA - Federal Stimulus money to be used in specific programs like special education and meeting the academic needs of low-income students.[89] According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 386 students received free or reduced-price lunches due to low family income in the 2007-2008 school year.[90] 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]

Montour School District officials did not apply for the Race to the Top federal grant which would have brought the district hundreds of thousands in additional federal dollars for improving student academic achievement.[91] 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.[91] Pennsylvania was not approved in the first round of the grant. The failure of districts to agree to participate was cited as one reason that Pennsylvania was not approved. A second round of state Race To The Top grant application judging was held in June 2010.[92]

Real estate taxes[edit]

The Montour School Board set the property tax rates in 18.9000 mills in 2012-13. (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.[93] Property taxes in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania apply only to real estate. The tax is not levied on cars, business inventories 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. 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
2) Act 511 tax collections, which are around 15% of revenues for school districts.[94]

When the school district includes municipalities in two counties, each of which has different rates of property tax assessment, a state board equalizes the tax rates between the counties.[95] 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.[96]

  • 2006-07 - 18.3000 mills.[97]
  • 2007-08 - 18.9000 mills.[98]
  • 2008-09 - 18.9000 mills.[99]
  • 2009-10 - 18.9000 mills.[100]
  • 2010-11 - 18.9000 mills [101]
  • 2011-12 - 18.9000 mills

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.[102] In June 2011, the Pennsylvania General Assembly eliminated six of the ten exceptions to the Act 1 Index.[103] 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).
  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.[104]

The School District Adjusted Index for the School District 2006-2007 through 2011-2012.[105]

  • 2012-13 - 1.7%, Base 1.7% [106]
  • 2011-12 - 1.4%, Base 1.4%
  • 2010-11 - 2.9%, Base 2.9%
  • 2009-10 - 4.1%, Base 4.1%
  • 2008-09 - 4.4%, Base 4.4%
  • 2007-08 - 3.4%, Base 3.4%
  • 2006-07 - 3.9%, Base 3.9%

For the 2012-13 budget year, MontourSchool Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed the Act 1 Index. For 2012-2013, 274 school districts adopted a resolution certifying that tax rates would not be increased above their index; 223 school districts adopted a preliminary budget leaving open the option of exceeded the Index limit. For the exception for pension costs, 194 school districts received approval to exceed the Index. For special education costs, 129 districts received approval to exceed the tax limit. 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.[107]

For the 2011-12 school year, the Montour School Board did not apply for an exception to exceed the Act 1 Index. Each year, the Montour School Board has the option of adopting either a resolution in January certifying they will not increase taxes above their index or a preliminary budget in February. A school district adopting the resolution may not apply for referendum exceptions or ask voters for a tax increase above the inflation index. A specific timeline for these decisions is published annually, by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.[108]

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 one school district sought an exemption for Nonacademic School Construction Project, while one sought an exception for Electoral debt for school construction.[109]

Property tax relief[edit]

The property tax relief amount for the Montour School District was set at $119 for 7,752 approved applicants by the Pennsylvania Department of Education in May 2010.[110]

In 2009, the Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief from gambling for the Montour School District was $122 per approved permanent primary residence. In the district, 7,589 property owners applied for the tax relief. The relief was subtracted from the total annual school property tax bill. Property owners apply for the relief through the county Treasurer's office. Farmers can qualify for a farmstead exemption on building used for agricultural purposes. The farm must be at least 10 contiguous acres and must be the primary residence of the owner. Farmers can qualify for both the homestead exemption and the farmstead exemption. In Allegheny County, 60% of eligible property owners applied for property tax relief in 2009.[111]

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

Property taxes in Pennsylvania are relatively high on a national scale. According to the Tax Foundation, Pennsylvania ranked 11th in the U.S. in 2008 in terms of property taxes paid as a percentage of home value (1.34%) and 12th in the country in terms of property taxes as a percentage of income (3.55%).[112]

Enrollment and Consolidation[edit]

Montour School District enrollment has been projected by the Pennsylvania Department of Education to be declining to 3,600 by 2019. A proposal has been put forward by David Wassel, a prominent Allegheny County resident, to consolidate Allegheny County school districts to save tax and improve student services. The plan calls for a proposed district that includes Carlynton School District, Montour School District and Sto-Rox School District.[113]

By 2019, rural Pennsylvania school enrollment is projected to decrease by 8 percent. The most significant 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).[114]

Pennsylvania has one of the highest numbers of school districts in the USA. 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 had enrollment below 1,250 students in 2007.[115]

Wellness policy[edit]

Montour School Board established a district wellness policy in 2006 - Policy 246.[116] 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,[117] 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.[118] 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, Montour School District received funding through a Highmark Healthy High 5 grant. The District received $10,000 to fund a year-round lifetime fitness program.[119] 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.

Extracurricular activities[edit]

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

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.[120]

Athletics[edit]

Montour's athletic teams are called the Spartans and the school colors are black and athletic gold. The school currently[when?] offers American football, cross country, girls' tennis, golf, girls' volleyball and soccer in the fall; indoor track, swimming, wrestling, basketball, bowling, and ice hockey in the winter; and baseball, softball, boys' volleyball, boys' tennis, and track and field in the spring.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Pennsylvania Public School Code Governance 2010
  2. ^ The Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy Alternatives. "The Pennsylvania Project". Retrieved May 20, 2010. 
  3. ^ "Guide to Pennsylvania Schools Statewide ranking". Pittsburgh Business Times. April 6, 2012. 
  4. ^ "Statewide Honor Roll Rankings 2012". Pittsburgh Business Times. April 5, 2012. 
  5. ^ "Three of top school districts in state hail from Allegheny County". Pittsburgh Business Times. May 23, 2007. 
  6. ^ "Statewide Honor Roll Rankings 2010". Pittsburgh Business Times. April 30, 2010. 
  7. ^ "Statewide Honor Roll Rankings 2011". Pittsburgh Business Times. April 2011. 
  8. ^ "Statewide Overachivers Ranking Information", Pittsburgh Business Times, April 6, 2012
  9. ^ "Overachiever statewide ranking". Pittsburgh Business Times. May 6, 2010. 
  10. ^ "Honor Roll Local Ranking Information". Pittsburgh Business Times. April 6, 2012. 
  11. ^ "Western Pennsylvania School District Rankings", Pittsburgh Business Times, May 15, 2009.
  12. ^ "PBT Honor Roll rank", Pittsburgh Business Times, April 30, 2010
  13. ^ "Montour School District AYP Overview 2011, September 29, 2011". 
  14. ^ "Montour School District AYP Data Table". Pennsylvania Department of Education. September 29, 2011. 
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