Otto-Eldred School District

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Otto-Eldred School District
Map of McKean County Pennsylvania School Districts.png
Address
143 Sweitzer Drive
Duke Center, Pennsylvania, McKean County 16729
United States
Information
Type Public
School board 9 regionally elected members
Superintendent Mr. Matthew Splain (2011-14) salary $90,500
Principal Mr. Harley Ramsey, HS
Principal Mr. Terry L. Stanley, ES
Grades preschool-12
Age 4 years old to 21 years old for special education
Pupils 731 pupils (2013),[1] 701 pupils 2011[2] 787 pupils (2006-2007)
 • Kindergarten 61 (2013), 87 (2010)
 • Grade 1 45 (2013), 40
 • Grade 2 58 (2013), 62
 • Grade 3 42 (2013), 44
 • Grade 4 66 (2013), 57
 • Grade 5 55 (2013), 41
 • Grade 6 56 (2013), 47
 • Grade 7 47 (2013), 51
 • Grade 8 53 (2013), 57
 • Grade 9 56 (2013), 58
 • Grade 10 62 (2013), 41
 • Grade 11 52 (2013), 55
 • Grade 12 44 (2013), 59 (2010)
 • Grade 13 preschool 34
 • Other Enrollment projected to be 550 in 2020[3]
Medium of language English
Newspaper Otto Horn
Budget $11.4 million (2014-15),[4] $10,797,600 (2010-2011)[5]
per pupil spending $12,376 (2008)
per pupil spending $19,535.72 (2010) 27th in PA
Website

The Otto-Eldred School District is a diminutive, rural, public school district located in McKean County, Pennsylvania. The school district is named after three of the four municipalities it serves: Eldred, Eldred Township, and Otto Township. Annin Township is also within the District's taxation and attendance boundaries. Otto-Eldred School District encompasses approximately 86 square miles (220 km2). According to 2000 federal census data, it serves a resident population of 4,493, while in 2010 the population had declined to 4,172 people. In 2009, Otto-Eldred School District residents' per capita income was $15,580, while the median family income was $38,393.[6] In a hearing before the Pennsylvania House Appropriations Committee in 2009, then Superintendent Falk, reported that Otto-Eldred School District was the poorest in the Commonwealth.[7]

Otto-Eldred School District operates two schools: Otto-Eldred Elementary School and Otto-Eldred Junior Senior High School.

According to District officials, in school year 2007-08, the Otto-Eldred School District provided basic educational services to 741 pupils. The District employed: 60 teachers, 35 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 4 administrators. Otto-Eldred School District received more than $7.3 million in state funding in school year 2007-08. Otto-Eldred School District is served by the Seneca Highlands Intermediate Unit 9 which provides services for special education students, curriculum development and teacher training.

In 2011, Otto-Eldred School District agreed to participate in a pilot program to develop a new way to evaluate public school teachers and principals that, in part, takes into account student achievement. Several York County school districts are participating.[8] The pilot program had 104 K-12 entities, including: nine career and technical centers, nine charter schools and nine intermediate units. Beginning in January 2012, participating school districts will use the new evaluation method and provide feedback to the Department of Education. This new evaluation was not used to determine an educator’s official 2011-12 assessment. Under the new evaluation system, 50% of the evaluation of a teacher will be based on an observation divided into four categories: planning and preparation, classroom environment, instruction, and professional responsibilities. The other half will be based on student achievement (15 percent will be building-level data, 15 percent will be teacher-specific data, and 20 percent will be elective). The new evaluation system has both announced and unannounced observations. There are meetings between the teacher and evaluator before and after the direct observation of a lesson.[9]

Governance[edit]

The school district is governed by 9 individually elected board members (serves without compensation for a term of four years.), the Pennsylvania State Board of Education, the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the Pennsylvania General Assembly.[10] 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 Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy Alternatives Sunshine Review gave the school board and district administration a "F" for transparency based on a review of "What information can people find on their school district's website". It examined the school district's website for information regarding; taxes, the current budget, meetings, school board members names and terms, contracts, audits, public records information and more.[11]

Academic achievement[edit]

The Otto-Eldred School District was ranked 382nd out of 498 Pennsylvania school district by the Pittsburgh Business Times in 2014.[12] The ranking was based on student academic achievement as demonstrated on the last three years of the PSSAs for: reading, writing math and science.[13] The PSSAs are given to all children in grades 3rd through 8th and the 11th grade in high school. Adapted examinations are given to children in the special education programs.

  • 2013 - 338th
  • 2012 - 282nd[14]
  • 2011 - 315th [15]
  • 2010 - 322nd
  • 2009 - 390th [16]
  • 2008 - 385th out of 500 Pennsylvania school districts
  • 2007 - 408th out of 501[17]

District AYP status history[edit]

In 2012, Otto-Eldred School District achieved AYP status even though neither of its schools achieved AYP status.[18] In 2011, Otto-Eldred School District also achieved Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). In 2011, 94 percent of the 500 Pennsylvania public school districts achieved the No Child Left Behind Act progress level of 72% of students reading on grade level and 67% of students demonstrating on grade level math. In 2011, 46.9 percent of Pennsylvania school districts achieved Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) based on student performance. An additional 37.8 percent of Pennsylvania public school districts made AYP based on a calculated method called safe harbor, 8.2 percent on the growth model and 0.8 percent on a two-year average performance.[19] Otto-Eldred School District achieved AYP status each year from 2003 to 2010.[20]

Graduation rate[edit]

In 2013, Otto-Eldred School District’s graduation rate declined to 92%.[21] In 2012, The District’s graduation rate was 93%.[22] In 2011, the graduation rate was 92%.[23] In 2010, the Pennsylvania Department of Education issued a new, 4-year cohort graduation rate. Otto-Eldred School District's rate was 92% for 2010.[24]

According to traditional graduation rate calculations:

Junior/High school[edit]

Otto-Eldred Junior Senior High School is located at 143 Sweitzer Drive, Duke Center. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, the school reported an enrollment of 321 pupils in grades 7th through 12th, with 136 pupils eligible for a federal free or reduced-price lunch. The school is a federally designated Title I school. Otto-Eldred Junior Senior High School employed 24 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 13:1.[29] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 1 teacher was rated "Non‐Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[30]

2013 School Performance Profile

Otto-Eldred Junior Senior High School achieved 61.3 out of 100. Reflects on grade level reading, mathematics and science achievement. In reading/literature - only 63% were on grade level. In Algebra 1, 70% showed on grade level skills. In Biology, just 42% showed on grade level science understanding in eighth and eleventh grades.[31] According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 2,181 public schools (less than 73 percent of Pennsylvania public schools), achieved an academic score of 70 or higher. Pennsylvania 11th grade students no longer take the PSSAs. Instead, beginning in 2012, they take the Keystone Exams at the end of the associated course.[32]

In 2012, Otto-Eldred Junior Senior High School declined to Warning AYP status due to missing 5 of 6 academic metrics measured.[33] In 2009 through 2011, Otto-Eldred Junior Senior High School achieved annual AYP status under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

PSSA Results
11th Grade Reading
  • 2012 - 56% on grade level, (10% below basic). State - 67% of 11th graders are on grade level.[34]
  • 2011 - 77% (14% below basic). State - 69.1% [35]
  • 2010 - 59%, State - 66% [36]
  • 2009 - 73%, State - 65% [37]
  • 2008 - 54%, State - 64%
11th Grade Math
  • 2012 - 56% on grade level (23% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 59% of 11th graders are on grade level.[38]
  • 2011 - 58% (26% below basic). State - 60.3% [39]
  • 2010 - 56%, State - 59%
  • 2009 - 69%, State - 56% [40]
  • 2008 - 53%, State - 56% [41]
11th Grade Science
  • 2012 - 37% on grade level (20% below basic). State - 42% of 11th graders were on grade level.[42]
  • 2011 - 39% (12% below basic). State - 40% [43]
  • 2010 - 21%, State - 39%
  • 2009 - 28%, State - 40%
  • 2008 - 20%, State - 39%

College remediation rate[edit]

According to a Pennsylvania Department of Education study released in January 2009, 19% of the Otto-Eldred Junior-Senior 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.[44] 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.[45] 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 both high school graduation requirements and towards earning a college degree. Otto-Eldred School District has Dual Enrollment offers an inhouse program.[46] 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.[47] Under the Pennsylvania Transfer and Articulation Agreement, many Pennsylvania colleges and universities accept these credits for students who transfer to their institutions.[48] The Pennsylvania College Credit Transfer System reported in 2009, that students saved nearly $35.4 million by having their transferred credits count towards a degree under the new system.[49] For the 2009-10 funding year, Otto-Eldred School District received a state grant of $4,346 for the program.[50] The state grants were discontinued by Governor Edward Rendell in 2010 in response to a massive state budget crisis. The program continues to be offered through over 400 public school districts and public charter schools in the Commonwealth.

Graduation requirements[edit]

Among Pennsylvania's 500 public school districts, graduation requirements widely vary. The Otto-Eldred School Board has determined that a pupil must earn a variety of credits to graduate.

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. The district encourages students to engage in a public service project that provides for the District.[51] Effective with the graduating class of 2017, the Pennsylvania Board of Education eliminated the state mandate that students complete a culminating project in order to graduate.[52]

By Pennsylvania School Board regulations, beginning with the class of 2017, public school students must demonstrate successful completion of secondary level course work in Algebra I, Biology, and English Literature by passing the Keystone Exams.[53][54][55][56] For the class of 2019, a composition exam will be added. For the class of 2020, passing a civics and government exam will be added to the graduation requirements.[57] In 2011, Pennsylvania high school students field tested the Algebra 1, Biology and English Lit exams. The statewide results were: Algebra 1 38% on grade level, Biology 35% on grade level and English Lit - 49% on grade level.[58] Individual student, school or district reports were not made public, although they were reported to district officials by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Students identified as having special needs and qualifying for an Individual Educational Program (IEP) may graduate by meeting the requirements of their IEP.

SAT scores[edit]

In 2013, Otto-Eldred School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 467. The Math average score was 501. The Writing average score was 425. The College Board reported that statewide scores were: 494 in reading, 504 in math and 482 in writing. The nationwide SAT results were the same as in 2012.[59]

In 2012, 21 Otto-Eldred School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 452. The Math average score was 458. The Writing average score was 410. The statewide Verbal SAT exams results were: Verbal 491, Math 501, Writing 480. In the USA, 1.65 million students took the exams achieving scores: Verbal 496, Math 514, Writing 488. According to the College Board the maximum score on each section was 800, and 360 students nationwide scored a perfect 2,400.

In 2011, 26 Otto-Eldred School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 458. The Math average score was 485. The Writing average score was 422.[60] Pennsylvania ranked 40th among states with SAT scores: Verbal - 493, Math - 501, Writing - 479.[61] 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.[62]

AP Courses[edit]

In 2013, Otto-Eldred Senior High School offered 1 Advanced Placement (AP) course at a higher cost than regular courses. The student pays the fee for the exam which was $89 per test per pupil in 2012. Students have the option of taking College Board approved courses and then taking the College Board's examination in the Spring. Students, who achieve a 3 or better on the exam, may be awarded college credits at US universities and colleges. Each higher education institution sets its own standards about what level of credits are awarded to a student based on their AP exam score. Most higher education give credits for scores of 4 or 5. Some schools also give credits for scores of 3. High schools give credits towards graduation to students who take the school's AP class. At Otto-Eldred Junior Senior High School less than 10% of students who took an AP course, earned a 3 or better on the exam.[63]

Eighth grade[edit]

8th Grade Science
  • 2012 - 64% on grade level (18% below basic). State - 59%
  • 2011 - 65% (15% below basic). State – 58.3%
  • 2010 - 47%, State: 57%
  • 2009 - 40%, State - 55%
  • 2008 - 52%, State - 50%

Seventh grade[edit]

Elementary School[edit]

Otto-Eldred Elementary School is located at 5 Bennett Street, Eldred. In 2013, the school's enrollment was 419 pupils in grades Preschool through 6th, with 50% of pupils receiving a federal free or reduced price meals due to family poverty. Additionally, 14.5% of the pupils receive special education services, while less than 1% are identified as gifted.[68] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of the teachers were rated highly qualified under No Child Left Behind. The school provides full day kindergarten.[69]

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2011, the school reported an enrollment of 380 pupils in grades kindergarten through 6th, with 181 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school also provides a taxpayer-funded preschool. The school employed 26 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 14:1.[70] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 2 teachers were rated "Non‐Highly Qualified" under the No Child Left Behind Act.[71]

2013 School Performance Profile

Otto-Eldred Elementary School achieved a score of 74.8 out of 100. The score reflects on grade level: reading, science, writing and mathematics achievement. In 2012-13, only 61.54% of the students were reading on grade level in grades 3rd through 6th. In 3rd grade, 76% of the pupils were reading on grade level. In math, 70.6% were on grade level (3rd-6th grades). In 4th grade science, just 85% of the pupils demonstrated on grade level understanding. In writing only 62% of 5th grade pupils demonstrated on grade level skills.[72]

AYP history

In 2012, Otto-Eldred Elementary School declined to Warning AYP status due to low reading achievement. The school achieved AYP status in 2009 through 2011.[73] In 2010 the attendance rate was 95%, while in 2009 the attendance rate was 96%.[74]

4th Grade Science
  • 2012 - 80%, (2% below basic). State - 82%
  • 2011 - 93%, (2% below basic). State - 82.9%
  • 2010 - 95%, State - 81%
  • 2009 - 96%, State - 83%
  • 2008 - 90%, State - 81%

Special education[edit]

In December 2012, Otto-Eldred School District administration reported that 122 pupils or 16.5% of the District's pupils received Special Education services, with 50% of identified students had specific learning disabilities.[80] In December 2011, Otto-Eldred School District administration reported that 119 pupils or 16.9% of the District's pupils received Special Education services, with 58% of identified students had specific learning disabilities. In December 2009, the district administration reported that 127 pupils or 17.7% of the district's pupils received Special Education services.[81][82] In the 2010-11 school year, the total Pennsylvania public school 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.[83] 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).

Seeking to comply with state and federal laws, Otto-Eldred 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.[84] To identify students who may be eligible for special education, various screening activities are conducted on an ongoing basis. These screening activities include: review of group-based data (cumulative records, enrollment records, health records, report cards, ability and achievement test scores); hearing, vision, motor, and speech/language screening; and review by the Special Education administration. When screening results suggest that the student may be eligible, the District seeks parental consent to conduct a multidisciplinary evaluation. Parents who suspect their child is eligible may verbally request a multidisciplinary evaluation from a professional employee of the District or contact the Coordinator of Special Education.[85]

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.[86] 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.[87] 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.[88] 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.[89] In 2012, the Obama Administration's US Department of Education issued a directive that schools include students with disabilities in extracurricular activities, including sports.[90]

Otto-Eldred School District received a $526,078 supplement for special education services in 2010.[91] 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.[92][93] Districts may apply to the Pennsylvania Department of Education for additional funding when they have an extraordinarily costly student. The PDE retains 1% of the federal funding for this purpose.

Gifted education[edit]

The Otto-Eldred School District Administration reported that 12 or 1.68% of its students were gifted in 2010. The District Administration reported that 13 or 1.63% of its students were gifted in 2009.[94] The highest percentage of gifted students reported among all 500 school districts and 100 public charter schools in Pennsylvania was North Allegheny School District with 15.5% of its students identified as gifted.[95] 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.[96][97]

Enrollment[edit]

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, there are 679 students enrolled in K-12. There were 70 students in the Class of 2009. The senior class of 2010 has 60 students. Enrollment in Otto-Eldred School District is projected to continue to sharply decline by 2019.[98] Otto-Eldred School District's administrative costs per pupil was $784 per pupil in 2008l. The lowest administrative cost per pupil in Pennsylvania was $398 per pupil.[99] In a Pennsylvania Legislative Budget and Finance Committee study on school consolidation, 63% of the superintendents that responded expressed agreement that consolidation with another district could help them provide additional academic enrichment opportunities for their students.[100] The research found that consolidation of the administrations with adjacent school districts would achieve substantial administrative cost savings for people in the impacted communities.[101] Governor Edward Rendell asserted that the excessive administrative overhead dollars could be redirected to improve lagging academic achievement, to enrich the academic programs or to substantially reduce property taxes.[102] Consolidation of central administrations into one would not necessitate the closing of any schools.[103]

In March 2011, the Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants released a report finding that the state would save hundreds of millions of tax dollars, by cutting the number of school administrations in half through consolidation, with no impact on programs offered to students.[104]

Over the 200-2010 decade, rural Pennsylvania public school enrollment decreased by 8 percent. The most significant enrollment decline was in western Pennsylvania, where rural school districts had a 16 percent decline in enrollment. More than 40 percent of elementary schools and more than 60 percent of secondary schools in western Pennsylvania were projected to experience significant enrollment decreases (15 percent or greater).[105]

Pennsylvania has one of the highest numbers of school districts in the nation. In Pennsylvania, 80% of the school districts serve student populations under 5,000, and 40% serve less than 2,000. This results in excessive school administration bureaucracy and not enough course diversity.[106] In a survey of 88 superintendents of small districts, 42% of the 49 respondents stated that they thought consolidation would save money without closing any schools.[107]

Wellness policy[edit]

Otto-Eldred School Board established a district wellness policy in 2006.[108] 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." Most districts identified the superintendent and school foodservice director as responsible for ensuring local wellness policy implementation.[109] e

The legislation placed the responsibility of developing a wellness policy at the local level so the individual needs of each district can be addressed. According to the requirements for the Local Wellness Policy, school districts must set goals for nutrition education, physical activity, campus food provision, and other school-based activities designed to promote student wellness. Additionally, school 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.[110] The Pennsylvania Department of Education required each District to submit a copy of its policy for approval.

Otto-Eldred School District offers both a free school breakfast and free school lunch to low-income children. The program is funded with federal dollars through the USDA.[111] Children from families with incomes at or below 130 percent of the federal poverty level are provided a breakfast and lunch at no cost to the family. Children from families with incomes between 130 and 185 percent of the federal poverty level can be charged no more than 30 cents per breakfast. A foster child whose care and placement is the responsibility of the State or who is placed by a court with a caretaker household is eligible for both a free breakfast and a free lunch. Runaway, homeless and Migrant Youth are also automatically eligible for free meals.[112] The meals are partially funded with federal dollars through the United States Department of Agriculture.[113]

In 2013, the USDA issued new restrictions to foods in public schools. The rules apply to foods and beverages sold on all public school district campuses during the day. They limit vending machine snacks to a maximum of 200 calories per item. Additionally, all snack foods sold at school must meet competitive nutrient standards, meaning they must have fruits, vegetables, dairy or protein in them or contain at least 10 percent of the daily value of fiber, calcium, potassium, and Vitamin D.[114] In order to comply with the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 all US public school districts are required to raise the price of their school lunches to $2.60 regardless of the actual cost of providing the lunch.[115] The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 mandates that Districts raise their full pay lunch prices every year until the price of non-subsidized lunches equals the amount the federal government reimburses schools for free meals. That subsidy in 2013-2014 was $2.93.

In 2014, President Obama ordered a prohibition of advertisements for unhealthy foods on public school campuses during the school day.[116] The Food and Drug Administration requires that students take milk as their beverage at lunch. In accordance with this law, any student requesting water in place of milk with their lunch must present a written request, signed by a doctor, documenting the need for water instead of milk.[117]

Otto-Eldred School District provides health services as mandated by the Commonwealth and the federal government. Nurses are available in each building to conduct annual health screenings (data reported to the PDE and state Department of Health) and to dispense prescribed medications to students during the school day. Students can be excluded from school unless they comply with all the State Department of Health’s extensive immunization mandates. School nurses monitor each pupil for this compliance.[118][119] Nurses also monitor each child's weight.[120]

Highmark Healthy High 5 grant[edit]

In 2011, 1 school in Otto-Eldred School District received funding through a Highmark Healthy High 5 grant. Otto-Eldred Junior Senior High School received $10,000 which was used to support the "Fit Club/Weight Training Program".[121] Beginning in 2006, the 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]

Pennsylvania public school districts budget and expend funds according to procedures mandated by the General Assembly and the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE). An annual operating budget is prepared by school district administrative officials. A uniform form is furnished by the PDE and submitted to the board of school directors for approval prior to the beginning of each fiscal year on July 1.

Under Pennsylvania’s Taxpayer Relief Act, Act 1 of the Special Session of 2006, all school districts of the first class A, second class, third class and fourth class must adopt a preliminary budget proposal. The proposal must include estimated revenues and expenditures and the proposed tax rates. This proposed budget must be considered by the Board no later than 90 days prior to the date of the election immediately preceding the fiscal year. The preliminary budget proposal must also be printed and made available for public inspection at least 20 days prior to its adoption. The board of school directors may hold a public hearing on the budget, but are not required to do so. The board must give at least 10 days’ public notice of its intent to adopt the final budget according to Act 1 of 2006.[122]

In 2013, the average teacher salary in Otto-Eldred School District was $52,997 a year, while the cost of the benefits package the teachers received was $19,179 per employee, for a total annual average teacher compensation of $72,177.[123] The District employed 80 teachers with an average salary of $54,066 and a top salary of $102,383.[124]

In 2011, the average teacher salary in Otto-Eldred School District was $52,060 a year, while the cost of the benefits teachers receive was $12,952 per employee, for a total annual average teacher compensation of $65,012.[125] The district employed 56 teachers and administrators with the top salary $102,383 to the elementary school's principal.

In 2009, Otto-Eldred School District employed 63 teachers. The average teacher salary in the district was $50,511 for 185 days worked. The beginning salary was $37,760, while the highest salary was $109,951.[126] Teachers work a 7-hour 40 minutes day, with one planning period and a paid 30 minute lunch included. Additionally, the teachers receive: a defined benefit pension, health insurance, dental insurance, life insurance, professional development reimbursement, 2 paid personal days, 10 paid sick days which accumulate, 1 day paid leave in the event of death in the family and many other benefits. The District provided an extensive retirement/longevity package which included payment for unused sick days accumulated in Otto-Eldred School District and $150 per year for years of service. Additionally, teacher can receive a retirement incentive of up to $18,000. Teachers who act as mentors for new employees receive additional pay.[127] According to Rep. Glen Grell, a trustee of the Public School Employees’ Retirement System Board of Trustees, a 40-year educator can retire with a pension equal to 100 percent of their final salary.[128][129]

In 2007, the average teacher salary in the Otto-Eldred School District was $48,804 for 180 days worked.[130]

Otto-Eldred School District administrative costs per pupil in 2008 was $639 per pupil. The lowest administrative cost per pupil in Pennsylvania was $398 per pupil.[131]

Per pupil spending In 2010, Otto-Eldred School District reported its per pupil spending had risen to $19,535.72 which ranked 27th in Pennsylvania. In 2008, per pupil spending at Otto-Eldred School District was $12,376. This ranked 235th among Pennsylvania's 500 school districts.[132] Among the 50 states, Pennsylvania’s total per pupil revenue (including all sources) ranked 11th at $15,023 per student, in 2008-09.[133] In 2007, the Pennsylvania per pupil total expenditures was $12,759.[134] The U.S. Census Bureau reports that Pennsylvania spent $8,191 per pupil in school year 2000-01.[135]

Reserves In 2009, Otto-Eldred School District reported a balance of $1,010,670 in its unreserved-designated fund. The unreserved-undesignated fund balance was reported as $1,400,953. [136] In 2010, Otto-Eldred School District Administration reported $621,287.00 in the unreserved-undesignated fund balance. The District reported $2,039,690 in its unreserved-designated fund in 2010. Pennsylvania public school district reserve funds are divided into two categories – designated and undesignated. The undesignated funds are not committed to any planned project. Designated funds and any other funds, such as capital reserves, are allocated to specific projects. School districts are required by state law to keep 5 percent of their annual spending in the undesignated reserve funds to preserve bond ratings. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, from 2003 to 2010, as a whole, Pennsylvania school districts amassed nearly $3 billion in reserved funds.[137] In 2008, the Otto-Eldred School District reported an unreserved designated fund balance of $254,800 and an unreserved-undesignated fund balance of $1,769,482.[138]

In April 2011, the Pennsylvania Auditor General conducted a performance audit on the district. The findings were reported to the school board and administration.[139]

Tuition Students who live in the District's attendance area may choose to attend one of Pennsylvania's 157 public charter schools. A student living in a neighboring public school district or a foreign exchange student may seek admission to Otto-Eldred School District. For these cases, the Pennsylvania Department of Education sets an annual tuition rate for each school district. It is the amount the public school district pays to a charter school for each resident student that attends the charter and it is the amount a nonresident student's parents must pay to attend the Otto-Eldred School District's schools. The 2012 tuition rates are Otto-Eldred Elementary School - $9,071.43, Otto-Eldred Junior Senior High School - $10,543.76.[140]

Otto-Eldred School District is funded by a combination of: a local earned income tax, a property tax, a real estate transfer tax 0.5%, coupled with substantial funding from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the federal government.[141] Grants provide an opportunity to supplement school funding without raising taxes. In Pennsylvania, pension income and Social Security income are exempted from state personal income tax and local earned income tax, regardless of the level of wealth.[142]

State basic education funding[edit]

For the 2012-13 school year, the Otto-Eldred School District received $5,386,586.[143] The Governor's Executive Budget for 2012-2013 included $9.34 billion for kindergarten through 12th grade public education, including $5.4 billion in basic education funding, which was an increase of $49 million over the 2011-12 budget. In addition, the Commonwealth provided $100 million for the Accountability Block grant program. Otto-Eldred School District received $65,341. The state also provided a $544.4 million payment for School Employees’ Social Security and $856 million for School Employees’ Retirement fund called PSERS.[144]

In 2011-12, Otto-Eldred School District received $5,386,586in state Basic Education Funding.[145][146] Additionally, the district will receive $65,341 in Accountability Block Grant funding. 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.[147]

For the 2010-11 budget year the Otto-Eldred School District received a 3.17% increase in state basic education funding for a total of $5,746,653. The highest increase in state funding, among McKean County school districts, was awarded to Kane Area School District at 4.28% increase. One hundred fifty school districts in Pennsylvania received the 2% base increase for budget year 2010-11. The highest increase in the state was awarded to Kennett Consolidated School District of Chester County which was given a 23.65% increase in state basic education funding.[148] The state's hold harmless policy regarding state basic education funding continued where each district received at least the same amount as it received the prior school year, even when enrollment had significantly declined. The amount of increase each school district received was set by Governor Edward Rendell and then Secretary of Education Gerald Zahorchak, as a part of the state budget proposal given each February. This was the second year of Governor Rendell’s policy to fund some districts at a far greater rate than others.[149] In 2010, Otto-Eldred School District reported that 343 pupils received a free or reduced-price lunch due to their family meeting the federal poverty level.

In the 2009-2010 budget year, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a 3.41% increase in Basic Education Funding for a total of $5,570,240. For comparison, Governor Edward Rendell gave a 7.46% increase in funding to Bradford Area School District, a 13% increase to Hazleton Area School District and Kane Area School District received a 5.32% increase in state funding. Ninety Pennsylvania school district received a 2% increase in state basic education funding.[150] The amount of increase each public school district received was set by Governor Edward G. Rendell and the Secretary of Education Gerald Zahorchak, as a part of the state budget proposal.[151] According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Pennsylvania spent $7,824 Per Pupil in the year 2000. This amount increased up to $12,085 by the year 2008.[152][153]

In 2008, the district reported that 330 pupils received free or reduced-price lunches, due to the family meeting the federal poverty level. The state Basic Education funding to the Otto-Eldred School District in 2008-09 was $5,386,585.59.

Accountability Block Grant[edit]

The state provides additional education funding to schools in the form of Accountability Block Grants. The use of these funds is strictly focused on specific state approved uses designed to improve student academic achievement. Otto-Eldred School District uses its $177,353 to fund paying teachers for new curriculum development, and teacher training. These annual funds are in addition to the state's basic education funding and other federal funding sources.[154] Schools Districts apply each year for Accountability Block Grants.[155] In 2009-10, the state provided $271.4 million in Accountability Block grants $199.5 million went to providing all-day kindergartens.[156]

Classrooms for the Future grant[edit]

The Classroom for the Future state program provided public school districts with hundreds of thousands of extra state funding to buy laptop computers for each core curriculum high school class (English, Science, History, Mathematics) and paid for teacher training to optimize the computers use. The program was funded from 2006-2009. Otto-Eldred School District did not apply in 2006-07 nor in 2007-08. For the 2008-09, school year, Otto-Eldred School District received $74,691. Of the 501 public school districts in Pennsylvania, 447 of them received Classrooms for the Future grant awards.[157] Among McKean County public school districts, Bradford Area School District received the highest funding - $365,176. The highest funding statewide was awarded to Philadelphia City School District in Philadelphia County - $9,409,073. In 2010, Classrooms for the Future funding was curtailed by Governor Rendell due to a massive state financial crisis.

Literacy grant[edit]

Otto-Eldred School District was awarded a $307,985 competitive literacy grant. It is to be used to improve reading skills birth through 12th grade. The district was required to develop a lengthy literacy plan, which included outreach into the community. The funds come from a Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy grant, also referred to as the Keystones to Opportunity grant It is a five-year, competitive federal grant program designed to assist local education agencies in developing and implementing local comprehensive literacy plans. Of the 329 pre-applications by school districts reviewed by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, School District was one of only 148 entities that were invited to submit a full application. In County 5 school districts and one charter school were awarded funding for one year.[158] The funds must be used for teacher training, student screening and assessment, targeted interventions for students reading below grade level and research-based methods of improving classroom instruction and practice. Districts must hire literacy coaches. The coaches work with classroom teachers to enhance their literacy teaching skills. Pennsylvania was among six other states, out of the 35 that applied, to be awarded funding. Pennsylvania received $38 million through the federal program. The Department of Education reserved 5% of the grant for administration costs at the state level.

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 School District received $17,595.[159]

Other grants[edit]

Otto-Eldred School District did not participate in: PA DEP Environmental Education grants, Science Its Elementary grants, PreK Counts grants, nor the 21st Century learning grants.

Federal Stimulus grant[edit]

Otto-Eldred School District also received $977,141 in ARRA - Federal Stimulus money to be used in specific programs like special education and meeting the academic needs of low-income students.[160][161] The funding was limited to the 2009-10 and 2010-2011 school years.[162] 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]

Otto-Eldred School District officials did not apply to participate in 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.[163] The administration, school board and teachers' union prioritized local control over free resources to improve student success.[164] In Pennsylvania, 120 public school districts and 56 charter schools agreed to participate.[165] 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.[166] A substantial property tax increase would be needed to make up for the rejected funding opportunity.

Common Cents state initiative[edit]

The Otto-Eldred School District School Board chose to not participate in the Pennsylvania Department of Education Common Cents program. The program called for the state to audit the district, at no cost to local taxpayers, to identify ways the district could save tax dollars.[167] After the review of the information, the district was not required to implement the recommended cost savings changes. The report found multiple opportunities for savings.

Real estate taxes[edit]

The Otto-Eldred School Board set property tax rates in 2013-14, for District residents at 16.3520 mills.[168] A mill is $1 of tax for every $1,000 of a property's assessed value. 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. 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. Additionally, service related, disabled US military veterans may seek an exemption from paying property taxes. Pennsylvania school district revenues are dominated by two main sources: 1) Property tax collections, which account for the vast majority (between 75-85%) of local revenues; and 2) Act 511 tax collections, which are around 15% of revenues for school districts.[169] 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.[170] 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.[171]

  • 2012-13 - 16.3520 mills
  • 2011-12 - 16.3520 mills.[172]
  • 2010-11 - 16.0000 mills.[173]
  • 2009-10 - 16.00 mills.[174]
  • 2008-09 - 16.00 mills.[175]
  • 2007-08 - 16.00 mills.[176]
  • 2006-07 - 16.00 mills.
  • 2005-06 - 16.00 mills.

According to a report prepared by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, the total real estate taxes collected by all school districts in Pennsylvania rose from $6,474,133,936 in 1999-00 to $10,438,463,356 in 2008-09 and to $11,153,412,490 in 2011.[177] The average yearly property tax paid by McKean County residents amounts to about 2.6% of their yearly income. McKean County is ranked 874th of the 3143 United States counties for property taxes as a percentage of median income.[178]

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 permitted to raise taxes above that index, unless they allow voters to vote by referendum, or they seek an exception from the Pennsylvania 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.[179] With the 2011 state education budget, the General Assembly voted to end most of the Act 1 exceptions leaving only special education costs and pension costs. The cost of construction projects will go to the voters for approval via ballot referendum.[180]

The School District Adjusted Index for the Otto-Eldred School District 2006-2007 through 2011-2012.[181]

For the 2014-15 budget year, Otto-Elderd School Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed their Act 1 Index limit. In 2014-15, all Pennsylvania school districts were required to make a 21.4% of payroll payment to the teacher’s pension fund (PSERS).[185] For the school budget 2014-15, 316 Pennsylvania public school districts adopted a resolution certifying that tax rates would not be increased above its Act 1 Index limit. Another 181 school districts adopted a preliminary budget leaving open the option of exceeding the Index limit. Districts may apply for multiple exceptions each year. For the pension costs exception, 163 school districts received approval to exceed the Index in full, while others received a partial approval of their request. For special education costs, 104 districts received approval to exceed their tax limit. Seven Pennsylvania public school districts received an approval for the grandfathered construction debts exception.[186]

For the 2013-14 budget year, Otto-Eldred School Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed their Act 1 Index limit. In 2013-14, all Pennsylvania school districts were required to make a 16.93% of payroll payment to the teacher’s pension fund (PSERS). For the school budget year 2013-14, 311 Pennsylvania public school districts adopted a resolution certifying that tax rates would not be increased above their index. Another 171 school districts adopted a preliminary budget leaving open the option of exceeded the Index limit. For the pension costs exception, 169 school districts received approval to exceed the Index. For special education costs, 75 districts received approval to exceed their tax limit. Eleven Pennsylvania public school districts received an approval for grandfathered construction debts.[187]

For the 2012-13 budget year, Otto-Eldred School Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed the Act 1 Index. For 2012-2013, 274 school districts adopted a resolution certifying that tax rates would not be increased above their index; 223 school districts adopted a preliminary budget leaving open the option of exceeded the Index limit. For the exception for pension costs, 194 school districts received approval to exceed the Index. For special education costs, 129 districts received approval to exceed the tax limit.[188]

For the 2011-12 school year, the Otto-Eldred School Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed the Act 1 Index. Each year the Otto-Eldred School Board has the option of adopting either 1) a resolution in January certifying they will not increase taxes above their index or 2) a preliminary budget in February. A school district adopting the resolution may not apply for referendum exceptions or ask voters for a tax increase above the inflation index. A specific timeline for these decisions is publisher each year by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.[189]

According to a state report, for the 2011-2012 school year budgets, 247 school districts adopted a resolution certifying that tax rates would not be increased above their index; 250 school districts adopted a preliminary budget. Of the 250 school districts that adopted a preliminary budget, 231 adopted real estate tax rates that exceeded their index. Tax rate increases in the other 19 school districts that adopted a preliminary budget did not exceed the school district’s index. Of the districts who sought exceptions 221 used the pension costs exemption and 171 sought a Special Education costs exemption. Only 1 school district sought an exemption for Nonacademic School Construction Project, while 1 sought an exception for Electoral debt for school construction.[190] In 2011, the state passed an Education Omnibus Bill which amended Act 1 of 2006 to further limit when school boards can raise taxes above the Act 1 index.[191]

Otto-Eldred School Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed the Act 1 index for the budgets in 2009-10 or in 2010-11.[192][193] 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.[194]

Property tax relief[edit]

In 2009, the Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief from gambling for the Otto-Eldred School District was $163 per approved permanent primary residence. In the district, 1156 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 2009, 68% of McKean County property owners applied for the property tax relief.[195]

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%).[196]

Extracurriculars[edit]

The district offers a variety of clubs, activities and an extensive and costly sports program.

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.[197]

Sports[edit]

The District funds:

Junior High School Sports

According to PIAA directory July 2012 [198]

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