Sayre Area School District

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Sayre Area School District
Map of Bradford County Pennsylvania School Districts.png
Address
333 West Lockhart Street
Sayre, Pennsylvania, Bradford County 18840
United States of America
Information
Type Public
Established February 28, 1882
School board 9 locally elected members
Superintendent

Dr Sherry E Griggs (contract July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2019)[1][2]

Mr. Dean W Hostermen, M'Ed (salary $123,189 in 2009 and $143,630 2013)[3]
Administrator

Samuel G Moore, Business Manager, $86,454 (2013)

DEBRA R MOORE, Health and Welfare salary $77,788 (2013)
Principal

Dayton M Handrick, HS slary $99,104 (2013)

Daniel Polinski, Vice Principal salary $88,250 (2013)
Principal Mrs Michelle Murrelle, ES salary $98,506 (2013)
Staff 138 non teaching staff members
Faculty

78 teachers (2013)[4]

71 in 2010
Grades PreK-12
Age 4 years old to 21 years old special education
Pupils

1,112 pupils (2015)[5]
1,115 pupils (2014)[6]
1,105 pupils (2009-10)[7]

1,225 pupils (2006)
 • Kindergarten 81 (2014), 77 (2010)
 • Grade 1 89v (2014), 95
 • Grade 2 90 (2014), 75
 • Grade 3 76 (2014), 92
 • Grade 4 99 (2014), 89
 • Grade 5 99 (2014), 73
 • Grade 6 80 (2014), 74
 • Grade 7 85 (2014), 87
 • Grade 8 89 (2014), 92
 • Grade 9 84 (2014), 101
 • Grade 10 71 (2014), 77
 • Grade 11 69 (2014), 77
 • Grade 12 75 (2014), 96 (2010)
 • Other 32 pupils
Language English
Color(s) Red and Blue
Fight song On The Warpath
Mascot Redskins Redskins
Newspaper Sayrenade
Budget

$16,745,190 in 2012-13[8]

$15.9 million (2011-12)[9]
Tuition for nonresident and charter school students ES - $9,048.53, HS - $10,643.49[10]
Per pupil spending $11,603 in 2008
Per pupil spending $13,137.51 in 2010
Website

The Sayre Area School District is a small, rural public school district located in northcentral Bradford County, Pennsylvania. The District serves two noncontiguous fragments: the Boroughs of Sayre and South Waverly and Litchfield Township in Bradford County, Pennsylvania. Sayre Area School District encompasses approximately 58 square miles (150 km2). According to 2000 federal census data, it serves a resident population of 5,813 people. By 2010, the District's population increased to 7,938 people.[11] The educational attainment levels for the Sayre Area School District population (25 years old and over) were 87.3% high school graduates and 21.4% college graduates.[12] Sayre Area School District is one of the 500 public school districts of Pennsylvania

According to the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, 42.7% of the District’s pupils lived at 185% or below the Federal Poverty Level [1] as shown by their eligibility for the federal free or reduced price school meal programs in 2012.[13] In 2009, the district residents’ per capita income was $16,811, while the median family income was $40,063.[14] In the Commonwealth, the median family income was $49,501[15] and the United States median family income was $49,445, in 2010.[16] In Bradford County, the median household income was $46,936.[17] By 2013, the median household income in the United States rose to $52,100.[18] In 2014, the median household income in the USA was $53,700.[19]

Per District officials, in school year 2007-08 the Sayre Area School District provided basic educational services to 1,212 pupils. The district employed: of 86 teachers, 64 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 13 administrators. Sayre Area School District received more than $7.4 million in state funding in school year 2007-08. The District enrollment was 1,122 pupils in 2011-12. The District employed: 85 teachers, 61 full-time and part-time support personnel, and nine (9) administrators during the 2011-12 school year. The District received $8,101,154 in state funding in the 2011-12 school year.[20]

Sayre Area School District operates two schools: Sayre Area High School (7th-12th) and H. Austin Snyder Elementary School (pre K-6th). Litchfield Elementary School (K-4th) was closed in June 2011. High school students may choose to attend the Northern Tier Career Center for training in: food service, cosmetology; practical nursing; technology; auto mechanics; as well as construction and electric trades. The BLaST Intermediate Unit IU17 provides the District with a wide variety of services like: specialized education for disabled students; state mandated training on recognizing and reporting child abuse; speech and visual disability services; criminal background check processing for prospective employees and professional development for staff and faculty.

Governance[edit]

In accordance with Pennsylvania law, Sayre Area School District is governed by 9 individually elected board members (serve four-year terms), the Pennsylvania State Board of Education, the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the Pennsylvania General Assembly.[21] The federal government controls programs it funds like Title I funding for low-income children in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and the No Child Left Behind Act, (renamed Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in December 2015) which mandates the district focus its resources on student success in acquiring reading and math skills.[22] The school board is required by state law to post a financial report on the district in its website by March of each school year.[23] The District has failed to post the 2015-16 budget in its website.[24]

The Superintendent and Business Manager are appointed by the school board. The Superintendent is the chief administrative officer with overall responsibility for all aspects of operations, including education and finance. The Business Manager is responsible for budget and financial operations. Neither of these officials are voting members of the School Board. The School Board enters into individual employment contracts for these positions. These contracts must be in writing and are subject to public discloure under the state’s Right to Know Act. In Pennsylvania, public school districts are required to give 150 days notice to the Superintendent and Business Manager regarding renewal of their employment contracts.[25] Pursuant to Act 141 of 2012 which amended the Pennsylvania School Code, all school districts that have hired superintendents on/after the fall of 2012 are required to develop objective performance standards and post them on the district’s website.[26]

The Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy Alternatives Sunshine Review gave the Sayre Area School Board and district administration an "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.[27]

Academic achievement[edit]

In 2015, Sayre Area School District ranked 376th out of 493 Pennsylvania public school districts, by the Pittsburgh Business Times.[28] The ranking is based on the last 3 years of student academic achievement as demonstrated by PSSAs results in: reading, writing, math and science and the three Keystone Exams (literature, Algebra 1, Biology I) in high school.[29] Three school districts were excluded because they do not operate high schools (Saint Clair Area School District, Midland Borough School District, Duquesne City School District). The PSSAs are given to all children in grades 3rd through 8th. Adapted PSSA examinations are given to children in the special education programs. Writing exams were given to children in 5th and 8th grades.[30]

  • 2014 - 373rd
  • 2013 - 283rd
  • 2012 - 227th[31]
  • 2011 - 195th[32]
  • 2010 - 195th[33]
  • 2009 - 242nd
  • 2008 - 260th
  • 2007 - 254th out of 501 school districts.[34]

In 2012, the Pittsburgh Business Times also reported an Overachievers Ranking for 498 Pennsylvania school districts. Sayre Area School District ranked 107th. In 2011, the district was 21st.[35] The editor describes the ranking as: "a ranking answers the question - which school districts do better than expectations based upon economics? This rank takes the Honor Roll rank and adds the percentage of students in the district eligible for free and reduced-price lunch into the formula. A district finishing high on this rank is smashing expectations, and any district above the median point is exceeding expectations."[36]

District AYP history[edit]

In 2012, Sayre Area School District achieved Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) status.[37] In 2010 and 2011, Sayre Area School District achieved AYP status.[38] 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. From 2004 to 2009, Sayre Area School District achieved AYP status each school year, while in 2003, it was in Warning AYP status due t lagging student achievement.[39]

Graduation rate[edit]

In 2015, Sayre Area School District’s graduation rate was 85.7%.[40]

  • 2014 - 83.5%[41]
  • 2013 - 87.8% [42]
  • 2012 - 87%.[43]
  • 2011 - 88%.[44] In 2010, the Pennsylvania Department of Education issued a new, 4-year cohort graduation rate. Sayre Area High School's rate was 81% for 2010.[45]
According to traditional graduation rate calculations

High school[edit]

Sayre Area High School is located at 331 W Lockhart Street, Sayre. In 2015, enrollment was reported as 473 pupils in 7th through 12th grades, with 43.7% of pupils eligible for a free lunch due to the family meeting the federal poverty level. Additionally, 10.9% of pupils received special education services, while 3.8% of pupils were identified as gifted.[50] The school employed 36 teachers.[51] Per the PA Department of Education, 100% of the teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.[52]

Per the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2013, the school reported an enrollment of 482 pupils in grades 7th through 12th, with 207 pupils eligible for a federal free or reduced-price lunch. The school employed 36 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]

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, the school reported an enrollment of 525 pupils in grades 7th through 12th, with 222 pupils eligible for a federal free or reduced-price lunch. The school employed 30 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 18:1.[55] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[56]

2015 School Performance Profile

Sayre Area High School achieved 81 out of 100. Reflects on grade level reading, mathematics and science achievement. The PDE reported that 77% of the High School’s students were on grade level in reading/literature. In Algebra 1, only 56% of students showed on grade level skills at the end of the course. In Biology I, 74.6% demonstrated on grade level science understanding at the end of the course.[57] Statewide, 53 percent of schools with an eleventh grade achieved an academic score of 70 or better. Five percent of the 2,033 schools with 11th grade were scored at 90 and above; 20 percent were scored between 80 and 89; 28 percent between 70 and 79; 25 percent between 60 and 69 and 22 percent below 60. The Keystone Exam results showed: 73 percent of students statewide scored at grade-level in English, 64 percent in Algebra I and 59 percent in biology.[58]

Among Sayre Area HS 8th graders, 43% were reading on grade level, while just 10% demonstrated on grade level math skills. In Science, 68% showed on grade level achievement. In seventh grade (7th), 40% were reading on grade level and just 12% performed math skills on grade level.[59]

2014 School Performance Profile

Sayre Area High School achieved 75.5 out of 100. Reflects on grade level reading, mathematics and science achievement. In reading/literature - 77.9% were on grade level. In Algebra 1, 62% showed on grade level skills. In Biology, 65% demonstrated on grade level science understanding at the end of the course. In 8th grade writing, 70.5% demonstrated on grade level writing skills.[60][61] Statewide, the percentage of high school students who scored proficient and advanced in Algebra I increased to 39.7% to 40.1%. The percentage of high school students who scored proficient and advanced in reading/literature declined to 52.5%. The percentage of high school students who scored proficient and advanced in biology improved from 39.7% to 41.4%.[62]

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 2,134 of 2,947 Pennsylvania public schools (72 percent of Pennsylvania public schools), achieved an academic score of 70 or higher.[63] Fifty-three percent of schools statewide received lower SPP scores compared with last year's, while 46 percent improved. A handful were unchanged.[64][65]

2013 School Performance Profile

Sayre Area High School achieved 63.4 out of 100. Reflects on grade level reading, mathematics and science achievement. In reading/literature - 68% were on grade level. In Algebra 1, 60% showed on grade level skills. In Biology, 48% showed on grade level science understanding.[66] 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.[67]

AYP status[edit]

In 2012, Sayre Area High School declined to Warning AYP status, due to missing all academic metrics in reading and mathematics.[68] In 2010 and 2011, Sayre Area High School achieved AYP status even though reading and math achievement was below statewide achievement levels.[69]

PSSA results

Pennsylvania System of School Assessments, commonly called PSSAs are No Child Left Behind Act related examinations which were administered from 2003 through 2012, in all Pennsylvania public high schools. The exams were administered in the Spring of each school year. The goal was for 100% of students to be on grade level or better in reading and mathematics, by the Spring of 2014. The tests focused on the state's Academic Standards for reading, writing, mathematics and science. The Science exam included content in science, technology, ecology and the environmental studies. The mathematics exam included: algebra I, algebra II, geometry and trigonometry. The standards were first published in 1998 and are mandated by the Pennsylvania State Board of Education.[70] In 2013, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania changed its high school assessments to the Keystone Exams in Algebra 1, Reading/literature and Biology1. The exams are given at the end of the applicable course, rather than all in the spring of the student's 11th grade year.[71]

11th Grade Reading
  • 2012 - 61% on grade level, (20% below basic). State - 67% of 11th graders are on grade level.[72]
  • 2011 - 66% (25% below basic). State - 69.1%[73]
  • 2010 - 73% (7% below basic). State - 66%[74]
  • 2009 - 71% (9% below basic). State - 65%[75]
  • 2008 - 61% (19% below basic). State - 65%[76]
  • 2007 - 69% (14% below basic). State - 65%[77]
11th Grade Math
  • 2012 - 59% on grade level (26 below basic). In Pennsylvania, 59% of 11th graders are on grade level.[78]
  • 2011 - 68% (18% below basic). State - 60.3%[79]
  • 2010 - 60% (22% below basic). State - 59%[80]
  • 2009 - 57% (20% below basic). State - 56%.[81]
  • 2008 - 53% (24% below basic). State - 56%[82]
  • 2007 - 52% (23% below basic). State - 53%[83]
11th Grade Science
  • 2012 - 45% on grade level (6% below basic). State - 42% of 11th graders were on grade level.[84]
  • 2011 - 38% (15% below basic). State - 40%[85]
  • 2010 - 40% (13% below basic). State - 39%
  • 2009 - 48% (9% below basic). State - 40%[86]
  • 2008 - 39% (11% below basic). State - 39%[87]

Science in Motion Sayre Area High School did not take advantage of a state program called Science in Motion which brought college professors and sophisticated science equipment to the school to raise science awareness and to provide inquiry-based experiences for the students. The Science in Motion program was funded by a state appropriation and cost the school nothing to participate.[88] Wilkes University provided the science enrichment experiences to schools in the region.

College remediation rate[edit]

According to a Pennsylvania Department of Education study released in January 2009, 11% of the 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.[89] 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.[90] 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]

Sayre Area High School offers dual enrollment program, which permits students to earn deeply discounted college credits through Corning Community College, while still enrolled in high school. Under the Pennsylvania Transfer and Articulation Agreement, many Pennsylvania colleges and universities accept these credits for students who transfer to their institutions.[91] Under state rules, other students that reside in the district, who attend a private school, a charter school or are home schooled are eligible to participate in this program.[92] The state offered a small grant to assist students in costs for tuition, fees and books.[93] In 2010, Governor Edward Rendell eliminated the grants to students.

In 2015, Sayre Area School District did not offer any Advanced Placement (AP) courses.

Graduation requirements[edit]

The Sayre Area School Board has determined that a student must earn 24.25 credits to graduate, including: Math 3 credits, Science 4 credits, English 4 credits, Social Studies 4 credits, Health and Physical Ed 2.5 credits, Driver Ed .25 credits, Arts and Humanities 2 credits, and Microsoft office 0.5 credits.[94]

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.[95] At Sayre Area a complex project is required that has multiple components, including a project notebook, completion of community service hours, a written paper and an oral presentation with a visual component. Effective with the graduating class of 2017, the Pennsylvania State Board of Education eliminated the state mandate that students complete a culminating project in order to graduate.[96]

By Pennsylvania School Board regulations, for the graduating class of 2019,[97] students must demonstrate successful completion of secondary level course work in Algebra I, Biology, English Composition, and Literature.[98][99][100] 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.[101] Individual student, school or district reports were not made public, although they were reported to district officials by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. The exam is now given at the end of the course. Keystone Exams replace the PSSAs for 11th grade.[102]

Students have several opportunities to pass the exam. Schools are mandated to provide targeted assistance to help the student be successful. Those who do not pass after several attempts can perform a project in order to graduate.[103][104] 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.[105] 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.[106] 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 2014, 48 Sayre Area School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 480. The Math average score was 490. The Writing average score was 459.[107][108] Statewide in Pennsylvania, Verbal Average Score was 497. The Math average score was 504. The Writing average score was 480. The College Board also reported that nationwide scores were: 497 in reading, 513 in math and 487 in writing.[109] In 2014, 1,672,395 students took the SATs in the United States.

In 2013, 49 Sayre Area School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 475. The Math average score was 482. The Writing average score was 469. The College Board reported that statewide scores were: 494 in reading, 504 in math and 482 in writing. The nationwide SAT results were the same as in 2012.[110]

In 2012, 46 Sayre Area School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 491. The Math average score was 515. The Writing average score was 480. 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, 74 Sayre Area students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 472. The Math average score was 487. The Writing average score was 428.[111] Pennsylvania ranked 40th among states with SAT scores: Verbal - 493, Math - 501, Writing - 479.[112] In the United States, 1.65 million students took the exam in 2011. They averaged 497 (out of 800) verbal, 514 math and 489 in writing.[113]

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

The Pennsylvania Department of Education reported that 71 percent of students in rural areas of Pennsylvania chose to continue their education after high school in 2003, whereas 79 percent of urban high school graduates opted to continue their education.

Eighth grade[edit]

8th Grade Science:

  • 2011 - 62% on grade level (19% below basic). State – 58.3% of 8th graders were on grade level.
  • 2010 - 53% (23% below basic). State – 57%[115]
  • 2009 - 73% (7% below basic). State - 55%[116]
  • 2008 - 64% (13% below basic). State - 52%[117]
  • 2007 - tested, but results not made public.

Seventh grade[edit]

Dropout Early Warning System

In 2013, Sayre Area School District did not implement a no cost dropout prevention Early Warning System and Interventions Catalog at the school.[118] The process identifies students at risk for dropping out by examining the pupil’s: attendance, behavior and course grades. Interventions are implemented to assist at-risk pupils to remain in school. The program is funded by federal and private dollars.[119]

Elementary school[edit]

H. Austin Snyder Elementary School is located at 130 Warren Street, Sayre. In 2015, the Snyder Elementary School's enrollment was 639 pupils in grades preschool through 6th, with 54% of pupils receiving a federal free or reduced price meals due to family poverty. Additionally, 15.8% of the pupils receive special education services, while 2% are identified as gifted.[120] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 4% of the teachers were rated non-highly qualified under the federal No Child Left Behind Act. The school provides full day kindergarten and taxpayer funded preschool.[121] The school is a federally designated Title I school.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2013, enrollment was 625 pupils in grades preschool through 6th, with 318 pupils receiving a free or reduced price lunch. The School employed 43 teachers yielding a student-teacher ratio of 14:1.[122] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.[123] The school provided full day kindergarten to all its pupils since 2008.[124]

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, the school reported an enrollment of 526 pupils in grades kindergarten through 6th, with 275 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school employed 35 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 15:1.[125] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[126] The school also has a federal taxpayer funded preschool program called Ready 4 classroom for local, identified for assistance 4 year olds. The school was named after H. Austin Snyder, who served Sayre Area School District as superintendent of schools from 1946 to 1976.

Sayre Area School District has provided full-day kindergarten since 2008.[127] and it provides 4 year old preschool.[128] Proponents of full day kindergarten claim it will reduce special education numbers and that it will raise primary student academic achievement in reading.[129] Those outcomes have not been realized in the Sayre Area School District. Reading achievement in early grades in particular has not improved.[130]

2015 School Performance Profile

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 51% of 5th grade students at Snyder Elementary School were on grade level in reading on the PSSAs given in April 2015. In mathematics, 34.5% of 5th grade students successfully performed on grade level math skills. No fifth grade writing scores were reported. In 4th grade, 42% were on grade level in reading, while 41% showed on grade level math skills. In science, 79% of fourth graders showed on grade level understanding. Among third (3rd) graders, only 48% were reading on grade level and 41% were on grade level in mathematics. Among 6th graders, 65% were on grade level in reading and 38% were on grade level in mathematics.[131] Statewide 61.9% of fifth (5th) graders were on grade level in reading, while 42.8% demonstrated on grade level math skills. Pennsylvania fourth (4th) graders were 58.6% on grade level in reading and 44.4% demonstrated on grade level math skills. In science, 77.3% of fourth graders showed on grade level understanding. Among Pennsylvania third (3rd) graders, 62% were reading on grade level, while 48.5% demonstrated on grade level math skills.[132]

2014 School Performance Profile

Snyder Elementary School achieved a score of 85.9 out of 100. The score reflects on grade level: reading, science, writing and mathematics achievement. In 2013-14, only 62.42% of the students were reading on grade level in grades 3rd through 6th. In 3rd grade, just 67% of the pupils were reading on grade level. In math, 73% were on grade level (3rd-6th grades). In 4th grade science, 76% of the pupils demonstrated on grade level understanding. In writing, 75% of 5th grade pupils demonstrated on grade level skills.[133]

2013 School Performance Profile

Snyder Elementary School achieved a score of 80 out of 100. The score reflects on grade level: reading, science, writing and mathematics achievement. In 2012-13, only 62% of the students were reading on grade level in grades 3rd through 6th. In 3rd grade, just 58% of the pupils were reading on grade level. In math, 76% were on grade level (3rd-6th grades). In 4th grade science, just 72% of the pupils demonstrated on grade level understanding. In writing, only 64% of 5th grade pupils demonstrated on grade level skills.[134] According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 2,181 public schools (less than 73 percent of Pennsylvania public schools), achieved an academic score of 70 or higher.

AYP history[edit]

In 2012, Snyder Elementary School declined to Warning AYP status, due to low reading achievement.[135] In 2010 and 2011, H. Austin Snyder Elementary School achieved AYP status.[136][137]

PSSA History

Each year, in the Spring, in order to comply with the federal No Child Left Behind Law, the 3rd graders take the PSSAs in math and reading. The fourth grade is tested in reading, math and science. The fifth grade is evaluated in reading, mathematics and writing. Pennsylvania System of School Assessments, commonly called PSSAs are No Child Left Behind Act related examinations which were administered beginning 2003 to all Pennsylvania public school students in grades 3rd-8th.[138] The goal was for 100% of students to be on grade level or better in reading and mathematics, by the Spring of 2014.[139][140][141] The tests focused on the state's Academic Standards for reading, writing, mathematics and science. The Science exam is given to 4th grades and includes content in science, technology, ecology and the environmental studies.[142] The first cohort of children who attended Accountability Block Grant funded full-day kindergarten reached third grade and took the PSSAs in the spring of 2011.

4th Grade Science
  • 2012 - 76%, (7% below basic). State - 82%
  • 2011 - 93%, (1% below basic). State – 82.9%
  • 2010 - 83%, (4% below basic). State - 81%
  • 2009 - 89%, (2% below basic). State - 83%
  • 2008 - 84%, (3% below basic). State - 81%

Special education[edit]

In December 2013, Sayre Area School District administration reported that 174 pupils or 16% of the district's pupils received Special Education services, with 47% of the identified students having a specific learning disability.[149] In December 2010, the district administration reported that 202 pupils or 17% of the district's pupils received Special Education services with 55% of identified students having a specific learning disability. In December 2009, the district administration reported that 201 pupils or 17% of the district's pupils received Special Education services.[150]

In 2007, Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Gerald Zahorchak testified before the Pennsylvania House Education Committee regarding full day kindergarten. He claimed that districts which offered the program would see a significant decrease in special education students due to early identification and early intervention. He asserted the high cost of full day kindergarten would be recouped by Districts in lower special education costs.[151] Sayre Area School District has provided full day kindergarten since 2008. The District has seen a slight decrease in the percentage of special education students it serves. This has yielding no savings

In order to comply with state and federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act rules and regulations, the school district engages in identification procedures to ensure that eligible students receive an appropriate educational program consisting of special education and related services, individualized to meet student needs. At no cost to the parents, these services are provided in compliance with state and federal law; and are reasonably calculated to yield meaningful educational benefit and student progress.[152][153] To identify students who may be eligible for special education services, 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 district's Special Education Department.[154][155] The IDEA 2004 requires each school entity to publish a notice to parents, in newspapers or other media, including the student handbook and website regarding the availability of screening and intervention services and how to access them.

Students who have an Individual Education Plan (IEP) may take the PSSA-M an alternative math exam rather than the PSSA.[156] Some special education students may take the PASA (Pennsylvania Alternate System of Assessment), rather than the PSSA.[157] Schools are permitted to provide accommodations to some students.[158]

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.[159] 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.[160] The state requires each district to have a three-year special education plan to meet the unique needs of its special education students.[161] 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.[162] In 2012, funding for special education services was set at $1.02 billion in the enacted State budget.[163] In 2012, the Obama Administration's US Department of Education issued a directive requiring schools include students with disabilities in extracurricular activities, including sports.[164]

Sayre Area School District received a $724,380 supplement for special education services in 2010.[165] For the 2011-12, 2012–13 and 2013-14 school years, all Pennsylvania public school districts received the same level of funding for special education that they received in 2010-11. This level funding was 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.[166][167] For the 2014-2015 school year, Sayre Area School District received an increase to $739,951 from the Commonwealth for special education funding.[168] Additionally, the state provides supplemental funding for extraordinarily impacted students. The District must apply for this added funding.

In 2013, the state's Special Education Funding Reform Commission provided a report on the state of funding for special education in the Commonwealth.[169] Funding for special education programs is borne largely on a local basis at 60%, with the state contributing $1 billion or 30% and the federal government providing 10% of the funding.

Gifted education[edit]

The District Administration reported that 35 or 2.83% of its students were gifted in 2009.[170] 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.[171][172]

Wellness policy[edit]

Sayre Area School Board established a district wellness policy in 2012.[173] 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 District's policy includes an effort for students to accumulate at least sixty minutes of physical activity. That time will include physical activity outside the school environment, such as outdoor play at home and community sports. The policy establishes a Wellness Committee made up of community members, school employees, a parent and a student.

The legislation placed the responsibility of developing a wellness policy at the local level so the individual needs of each district can be addressed. According to the requirements for the Local Wellness Policy, school districts must set goals for nutrition education, physical activity, campus food provision, and other school-based activities designed to promote student wellness. Additionally, districts were required to involve a broad group of individuals in policy development and to have a plan for measuring policy implementation. Districts were offered a choice of levels of implementation for limiting or prohibiting low nutrition foods on the school campus. In final implementation these regulations prohibit some foods and beverages on the school campus.[174] The Pennsylvania Department of Education required the district to submit a copy of the policy for approval.

Sayre Area School District offers both a free school breakfast and a free or reduced-price lunch to children in low income families. All students attending the school can eat breakfast and lunch. Children from families with incomes at or below 130 percent of the federal poverty level are provided a breakfast and lunch at no cost to the family. Children from families with incomes between 130 and 185 percent of the federal poverty level can be charged no more than 30 cents per breakfast. A foster child whose care and placement is the responsibility of the State or who is placed by a court with a caretaker household is eligible for both a free breakfast and a free lunch. Runaway, homeless and Migrant Youth are also automatically eligible for free meals.[175] The meals are partially funded with federal dollars through the United States Department of Agriculture.[176]

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.[177] 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.[178] 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 2015, federal reimbursement rates were: $3.07 per meal for students who are income-eligible for free lunches and $2.67 for those who qualify for a reduced price. School lunch participation nationally dropped from 31.6 million students in 2012 to 30.4 million in 2014, according to the federal Department of Agriculture. Pennsylvania statistics show school lunch participation dropped by 86,950 students in the same two years, from 1,127,444 in 2012 to 1,040,494 in 2014.[179]

In 2014, President Barack Obama ordered a prohibition of advertisements for unhealthy foods on public school campuses during the school day.[180][181]

The US Department of Agriculture regulations require 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.[182][183]

Sayre Area 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.[184][185] Nurses also monitor each child's weight.[186]

In 2016, the Pennsylvania Department of Health distributed to each Pennsylvania high school the overdose antidote drug naloxone in a nasal spray. School nurses were also provided with educational materials and training developed by the National Association of School Nurses.[187] The cost was covered by a grant from a private foundation.[188]

Enrollment[edit]

According to Pennsylvania Department of Education enrollment reports, there were 1115 students enrolled in K-12 in 2012–13 school year at Sayre Area School District. There were 68 students in the Class of 2013. The district's class of 2010 had 74 students. Enrollment is projected to decline to 900 students by 2017.[189] In 2008, the district administrative costs were $681.05 per pupil. The lowest administrative cost per pupil in Pennsylvania was $398 per pupil.[190] A study of Pennsylvania public school spending, conducted by Standard and Poor's, examined the consolidation of Sayre Area School District and Northeast Bradford School District. The study found that consolidation of the administrations would achieve a savings of over $2000 per child.[191]

According to a 2009 school district administration consolidation proposal by Governor Edward Rendell, the excessive administrative overhead dollars could be redirected to improve lagging academic achievement, to enrich the academic programs or to reduce property taxes.[192] Consolidation of two central administrations into one would not require the closing of any schools. The Governor's proposal called for the savings to be redirected to improving lagging reading and science achievement, to enriching the academic programs or to reducing residents' property taxes.[193]

Rural Pennsylvania school enrollment is projected to decrease by 8 percent through 2020.[194] As the enrollment declines, per pupil administrative costs of the schools continue to rise. 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.[195]

The Commonwealth of 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.[196] 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.[197]

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.[198]

Teacher union strikes

In April 2016, Sayre Area Teachers Union went on strike.[199] The teachers' union threatened a strike on April 1, adversely impacting the time period for the state testing of students.[200][201] Sayre Area teachers union is demanding annual step movement increases each year and salary increases of 3.5%, 3.3%, 3.1%, and 2.9%.[202] There have been multiple teach union strikes in Pennsylvania in 2016, including: Shamokin Area School District, Highlands School District (Pennsylvania)[203] Montrose Area School District[204] and Athens Area School District.

Of the nearly 140 teacher strikes that occurred nationally between 2000 and 2007, 60 percent took place in Pennsylvania, according to a report released in August 2012, by the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy.[205] Pennsylvania is one of 13 states in which teacher strikes are legal. Pennsylvania has the highest rate of teacher strikes in the United States.[206] In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, there were three teacher union strikes in 2010; one teacher union strike in 2011, one teacher union strike in 2012 and three teacher union strikes in 2013.[207] Crestwood School District in Luzerne County went on strike in 2009. Neshaminy School District teachers union went on strike twice in 2012.[208][209] Wyoming Area School District, Old Forge School District and Shaler Area School District went on strike in the fall of 2013.[210] Wyoming Area School District and Danville Area School District teachers went on strike in the spring of 2014.[211] In the fall of 2014, three Pennsylvania public school district teachers unions went on strike including: Millville Area SD, East Allegheny School District and Old Forge School District.[212] In 2015, Peters Township School District teachers went on strike[213] as well as teachers in Scranton School District[214] and Line Mountain School District teachers in Northumberland County. State law gives the Pennsylvania Department of Education the power to order the teachers to return so that students will complete 180 days of instruction, by June 15.[215] When teachers fail to comply, a court order may be applied for by the local School Board.

In 2013, the average teacher salary in Sayre Area School District was $65,606 a year.[216] The District employed 122 teachers with the superintendent bringing in a salary of $143,630.[217][218] Pennsylvania public school teacher salaries (2013–14) are searchable in a statewide database provided by the Pittsburgh TribLive News.[219] Sayre Area School District teacher and administrator retirement benefits are equal to at least 2.00% x Final Average Salary x Total Credited Service. (Some teachers benefits utilize a 2.50% benefit factor.)[220] After 40 years of service, Pennsylvania public school teachers and administrators can retire with 100% of the average salary of their final 3 years of employment. According to a study conducted at the American Enterprise Institute, in 2011, public school teachers’ total compensation is roughly 50 percent higher than they would likely receive in the private sector. The study found that the most generous benefits that teachers receive are not accounted for in many studies of compensation including: pension, retiree health benefits and job security.[221] In 2014-15, Pennsylvania public school district mandated teacher pension contribution rose to 21.40% of employee salaries and in 2015-16 it rose again to 25.84% of total salaries.[222] In 2014-15, the state mandated District contribution to the teacher pension fund rose to 21.40% of employee salaries and in 2015-16 it rose again to 25.84% of total District salaries.[223]

In 2009, Sayre Area School District reported employing 225 teachers and administrators with a median salary of $59,909 and a top salary of $123,189.[224] The teacher’s work a 7.5-hour day with a paid, duty-free lunch and a preparation period included. There are 187 days in the contract year. Additionally, the teachers receive a defined benefit pension, health insurance (employee contributes $60 a month), dental insurance, life insurance, vision insurance, professional development reimbursement, 3 paid personal days which accumulate without limitations, 10 paid sick days, and other benefits. Children of professional employees who are not residents of the District shall be permitted, on application, to attend school in the District, as assigned by the Administration, tuition free, provided space is available. Commencing 2011-2012, retiring teachers are paid the sum of the forty-five ($45.00) dollars per day for 1–150 days, the sum of fifty dollars ($50.00) per day for 151–250 days and the sum of fifty-five dollars ($55.00) per day for 251 – 350 days, to be paid upon retirement.[225] In 2011, the average teacher salary in Sayre Area School District was $61,752.16 a year, while the cost of the benefits teachers receive was $16,449.84 per employee, for a total annual average teacher compensation of $77,202.[226] According to a study conducted at the American Enterprise Institute, in 2011, public school teachers’ total compensation is roughly 50 percent higher than they would likely receive in the private sector. The study found that the most generous benefits that teachers receive are not accounted for in many studies of compensation, including: pension, retiree health benefits and job security.[227]

Administration costs Sayre Area School District administrative costs per pupil in 2008 was $681.05 per pupil. The lowest administrative cost per pupil in Pennsylvania was $398 per pupil.[228] The Pennsylvania School Boards Association collects and maintains statistics on salaries of public school district employees in Pennsylvania. Superintendents and administrators receive a benefit package commensurate with that offered to the district's teachers' union.[229]

Per pupil spending In 2008, Sayre Area School District administration reported that its per pupil spending was $11,603 which ranked 326th among Pennsylvania's 501 school districts. In 2010, the per pupil spending had increased to $13,137.51 ranking 254th.[230] In 2013, the District's per pupil spending had risen further to $15,171.31 ranking 200th out of 500 PA public school districts and third among Bradford County public school districts.[231] Among the 50 states in America, Pennsylvania’s total per pupil revenue (including all sources) ranked 11th at $15,023 per student, in 2008-09.[232] The U.S. Census Bureau reports that Pennsylvania spent $8,191 per pupil in school year 2000-01.[233] In 2007, the Pennsylvania per pupil total expenditures was reported as $12,759.[234] Among the fifty states, Pennsylvania’s total per pupil revenue (including all sources) ranked 11th at $15,023 per student, in 2008-09.[235] Pennsylvania’s total revenue per pupil rose to $16,186 ranking 9th in the nation in 2011.[236]

Reserves In 2008, Sayre Area School District reported a balance of zero in an unreserved-designated fund. The unreserved-undesignated fund balance was reported as $2,058,390.[237] In 2010, Sayre Area Administration reported an increase to $2,612,165.00 in the unreserved-undesignated fund balance. In 2012, Sayre Area School Board reported $2,332,803 in reserves. Pennsylvania school district reserve funds are divided into two categories – designated and undesignated. The undesignated funds are not committed to any planned project. Designated funds and any other funds, such as capital reserves, are allocated to specific projects. School districts are required by state law to keep 5 percent of their annual spending in the undesignated reserve funds to preserve bond ratings. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, from 2003 to 2010, as a whole, Pennsylvania school districts amassed nearly $3 billion in reserved funds.[238]

Audit In August 2009, the Pennsylvania Auditor General conducted a performance audit of the Sayre Area School District. The findings were reported to the Sayre Area School Board and the District’s administration.[239] Sayre Area School District was audited in 2013. Findings included Improper Reporting of Retirement Wages and Service Years which resulted in overpayment of pension for the superintendent.[240] The District was audited again in 2014.[241]

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 Sayre Area School District. For these cases, the Pennsylvania Department of Education sets an annual tuition rate for each school district. It is the amount the public school district pays to a charter school for each resident student that attends the charter and it is the amount a nonresident student's parents must pay to attend the District's schools. The 2013 tuition rates are Elementary School - $10,757.60, High School - $12,661.92.[242] In 2015, the tuition rates were Elementary School - , High School - .[243]

Sayre Area School District is funded by a combination of: a local earned income tax 1%, a property tax, a real estate transfer tax 0.5%, coupled with substantial funding from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the federal government.[244] Interest earnings on reserve accounts provide nontax income to the district. Grants can provide an opportunity to supplement school funding without raising local taxes. In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, pension income and Social Security income are exempted from state personal income tax and local earned income tax, regardless of the level of the individual’s personal wealth.[245] The average Pennsylvania public school teacher pension in 2011 exceeded $60,000 a year, plus they receive federal Social Security benefits. Both retirement benefits are free of Pennsylvania state income tax and local income tax which funds local public schools.[246] Effective 2016, active duty military are also exempted from paying the local earned income tax in Pennsylvania.[247][248]

State basic education funding[edit]

According to a report from Representative Todd Stephens office, Sayre Area School District receives 52.1% of its annual revenue from the state.[249] This exceeds some education advocates goal of the state providing 50% of district funding.[250]

For the 2015-16 school year, Governor Tom Wolf released a partial Basic Education Funding of $2,775,437 to Sayre Area School District, in January 2016.[251] This was part of $10.3 billion in school funding withheld from the public schools, by the Governor since the summer of 2015.[252] The dispersement did not follow the new Basic Education Fair Funding formula which had been established by the Pennsylvania General Assembly in June 2015.[253] Ten (10) Pennsylvania school districts received no increase in Basic Eductaion funding under Governor Wolf.[254][255]

In April 2016, Governor Wolf announced his finalized dispersement of 2015-16 state Basic Education Funding. Sayre Area School District received a 1.48% increase for a total funding of $5,992,973.[256] This is $15,993 less than the District was to receive by law under the state’s Fair Funding Formula approved in 2015.[257][258] Four hundred and twenty-eight (428) Pennsylvania public school districts received less money under Governor Wolf’s plan.[259] Wolf also altered the Ready to Learn Grant distribution. The District received another $168,730 in Ready To Learn grant which was $33,260 less than it would have received under the approved state formula for distribution.

The highest increase in funding statewide was awarded by Governor Wolf to Wilkinsburg Borough School District which got a 44.1% increase in state Basic Education Funding. The average BEF increase among the Commonwealth’s 500 public school districts for 2015-16 was 2.21%. In Bradford County, the highest percentage increase in state funding was awarded to Towanda Area School District - 2.34%. The Pennsylvania education budget is $5.93 billion for basic education, a $200 million or 3.5 percent increase over 2014-15 allocation. Another $1.08 billion was allotted for special education funding, a $30 million or 2.9 percent increase over 2014-15. Additionally, the state paid over $500 million towards school employee social security payments and over $1 billion to the teacher's pension fund (PSERS).[260]

For the 2014-15 school year, Sayre Area School District received $5,747,719.23 in State Basic Education funding. The District received $158,011 in new Ready To Learn Block grant. The State’s enacted Education Budget included $5,526,129,000 for the 2014-2015 Basic Education Funding.[261] The Education budget also included Accountability Block Grant funding at $100 million and $241 million in new Ready to Learn funding for public schools that focus on student achievement and academic success. The State paid $500.8 million to Social Security on the school employees behalf and another $1.16 billion to the state teachers pension system (PSERS). In total, Pennsylvania’s Education budget for K-12 public schools is $10 billion. This was a $305 million increase over 2013-2014 state spending and the greatest amount ever allotted by the Commonwealth for its public schools.[262]

In the 2013-14 school year, the Sayre Area School District received a 1.4% increase or $5,742,189 in Pennsylvania Basic Education Funding. This is $76,552 more than its 2012-13 state BEF to the District. Additionally, Sayre Area School District received $77,091 in Accountability Block Grant funding to focus on academic achievement and level funding for special education services. Among the public school districts in Bradford County, Wyalusing Area School District received the highest percentage increase in BEF at 1.9%. The District had the option of applying for several other state and federal grants to increase revenues. The Commonwealth’s budget increased Basic Education Funding statewide by $123 million to over $5.5 billion. Most of Pennsylvania’s 500 public school districts received an increase of Basic Education Funding in a range of 0.9% to 4%. Eight public school districts received exceptionally high funding increases of 10% to 16%. The highest increase in state funding was awarded to Austin Area School District which received a 22.5% increase in Basic Education Funding.[263] The highest percent of state spending per student is in the Chester-Upland School District, where roughly 78 percent comes from state coffers. In Philadelphia, it is nearly 49 percent.[264] As a part of the education budget, the state provided the PSERS (Pennsylvania school employee pension fund) with $1,017,000,000 and Social Security payments for school employees of $495 million.[265]

For the 2012-13 school year, Sayre Area School District received $5,742,728.[266] The Governor's Executive Budget for 2012-13 includes $9.34 billion for kindergarten through 12th grade public education, including $5.4 billion in basic education funding, which is an increase of $49 million over the 2011-12 budget. The state also provides $100 million for the Accountability Block grant (ABG). Sayre Area School District received $77,091 in ABG funds. The state will also provide $544.4 million for School Employees’ Social Security and $856 million for School Employees’ Retirement fund called PSERS.[267] This amount is a $21,823,000 increase (0.34%) over the 2011-2012 appropriations for Basic Education Funding, School Employees' Social Security, Pupil Transportation, Nonpublic and Charter School Pupil Transportation. Since taking office, Corbett’s first two budgets have restored more than $918 million in support of public schools, compensating for the $1 billion in federal stimulus dollars lost at the end of the 2010-11 school year.

In the 2011-12 school year, Sayre Area School District received a $5,665,637, allocation, of state Basic Education Funding.[268][269] Additionally, Sayre Area School District received $77,091 in Accountability Block Grant funding and $357,940 for Social Security reimbursement. The enacted Pennsylvania state Education budget included $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.[270] 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.[271] In 2010, Sayre Area School District reported that 561 students received free or reduced-price lunches, due to the family meeting the federal poverty level.[272]

In the 2010-11 budget year, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a 3% increase in Basic Education Funding (BEF) to Sayre Area School District, for a total of $6,118,010. Among the public school districts in Bradford County, the highest increase went to Towanda Area School District which got a 6.36% increase in BEF. One hundred fifty Pennsylvania school districts received the base 2% increase. The highest increase in 2010-11 went to Kennett Consolidated School District in Chester County which received a 23.65% increase in state funding.[273] The state's hold harmless policy regarding state basic education funding continued where each public school district received at least the same amount of BEF that it received the prior school year, even where 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.[274]

In the 2009-10 budget year, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a 4.86% increase in Basic Education Funding for a total of $5,940,440. Among the districts in Bradford County, the highest increase went to Towanda Area School District which got an 8.43%. Ninety Pennsylvania public school districts received a 2% increase. Muhlenberg School District in Berks County received a 22.31% increase in state basic education funding in 2009.[275] The amount of increase each school district received was set by Governor Edward G. Rendell and the Secretary of Education Gerald Zahorchak, as a part of the state budget proposal.[276]

2008-09 The state Basic Education Funding to Sayre Area School District in 2008-09 was $5,506,493.16. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 415 Sayre Area School District students received free or reduced-price lunches due to low family income in the 2007–2008 school year.[277] 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.[278][279]

Pennsylvania school districts also receive additional funding from the state through several funding allocations, including: Reimbursement of Charter School Expenditures; Special Education Funding; Secondary Career & Technical Education Subsidy; PA Accountability Grants; and low achieving schools were eligible for Educational Assistance Program Funding. Plus all Pennsylvania school districts receive federal dollars for various programs including: Special Education funding and Title I funding for children from low income families. In 2010, Pennsylvania spent over $24 billion for public education - local, state and federal dollars combined.[280] By 2015, Pennsylvania was spending over $27 billion on public education (local, state and federal resources combined).[281]

Accountability Block Grants[edit]

Beginning in 2004-2005, the state launched the Accountability Block Grant school funding. This program has provided $1.5 billion to Pennsylvania’s school districts. The Accountability Block Grant program requires that its taxpayer dollars are focused on specific interventions that are most likely to increase student academic achievement. These interventions include: teacher training, all-day kindergarten, lower class size K-3rd grade, literacy and math coaching programs that provide teachers with individualized job-embedded professional development to improve their instruction, before or after school tutoring assistance to struggling students. For 2010-11, Sayre Area School District applied for and received $209,245 in addition to all other state and federal funding. The District uses the funding to provide full-day kindergarten for 24 pupils and taxpayer funded preschool for 30 children ($90,576).[282][283]

Ready to Learn grant[edit]

Beginning in the 2014-2015 budget, the State funded a new Ready to Learn Grant for public schools. A total of $100 million is allocated through a formula to districts based on the number of students, level of poverty of community as calculated by its market value/personal income aid ratio (MV/PI AR) and the number of English language learners. Ready to Learn Block Grant funds may be used by the Districts for: school safety; Ready by 3 early childhood intervention programs; individualized learning programs; and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs.[284]

Sayre Area School District received $158,011 in Ready to Learn Grant dollars in addition to State Basic Education funding, Special Education funding, PreK Counts funding, transportation reimbursement, reimbursement for Social Security payments for employees and other state grants which the district must apply to receive.

Classrooms for the Future grant[edit]

The Classroom for the Future state program provided districts with hundreds of thousands of extra state funding to buy laptop computers for each core curriculum high school class (English, Science, History, Math) and paid for teacher training to optimize the computers use. The program was funded from 2006-2009. The Sayre Area School District did not apply to participate in 2006-07. In 2007-08, the District received $160,063. The District received another $45,413 in 2008-09 for a total funding of $205,476.[285] In Bradford County the highest award was given to Troy Area School District - $449,423. 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 statewide by Governor Edward Rendell, due to a massive state financial crisis.

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, Sayre Area School District did not apply for funding. Five Bradford County school district received sizable state grants under this program.[286]

Other state grants[edit]

The District did not participate in: Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection's Environmental Education annual grants;[287][288] PA Science Its Elementary grants (discontinued effective with 2009-10 budget by Governor Rendell);[289] 2012 Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy grant;[290] 2013 Safe Schools and Resource Officer grants; 2012 and 2013 Pennsylvania Hybrid Learning Grants;[291] nor Project 720 High School Reform grants[292] (discontinued effective with 2011-12 budget).

Federal grants[edit]

The district received an extra $1,952,097 in ARRA - Federal Stimulus money to be used in specific programs like special education and meeting the academic needs of low-income students.[293][294] The funding was limited to the 2009-10 and 2010-2011 school years.[295] 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.[296]

Race to the Top grant[edit]

Sayre Area School District officials did not apply for the federal Race to the Top grant which would have provided nearly one half million dollars in additional federal funding to improve student academic achievement.[297] 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.[298] 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.[299][300][301]

Title II grants[edit]

The Federal government provides annual grants to schools to be used to improve the quality of teacher instructions to pupils. The goal is to provide each child in public schools with "Highly Quality" teachers and principals as defined by the state.[302] The funds are sent to the state Department of Education which distributes them to each school district and charter school.[303] Beginning in 2002, the federal funding committed to Title II was $3,175,000,000.

Public school district administrations must apply to the state annually for the Title II funds. In 2012-13, Sayre Area School District received $54,886 in federal Title II funding.[304] In 2014-15, Sayre Area School District applied for and received $52,655.[305]

English language learners grant[edit]

The Federal government provides annual grants to schools to assist in educating immigrant children and children who are identified as limited English proficient.[306] Upon registering for school a language survey is done for all new enrollment pupils, typically in kindergarten or preschool. They identify the primary language spoken at home. This data is collected and submitted to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, which in turn notifies the federal government.[307]

In 2012-13, Sayre Area School District received no Title III funding for English language learners.[308] For 2014-15, Sayre Area School District received nothing in Title III funding.[309]

Common Cents state initiative[edit]

The Sayre Area School Board elected to participate in the Pennsylvania Department of Education Common Cents program.[310] 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.[311][312] After the review of the information, the district was not required to implement the recommended cost savings changes.

Real estate taxes[edit]

Property tax rates in 2015-16 were set by the school board at 47.8500 mills. 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.[313] Property taxes, in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, apply only to real estate - land and buildings. The property tax is not levied on cars, business inventory, or other personal property. Certain types of property are exempt from property taxes, including: places of worship, places of burial, private social clubs, charitable and educational institutions and government property. Additionally, service related, disabled US military veterans may seek an exemption from paying property taxes. Unlike other states, under Pennsylvania state tax policy, natural gas and oil pipelines are exempted from property taxes.[314] There are a plethora of gas pipelines in the District due to marcellus shale gas development.[315] Pipeline companies prohibit development within the 100 foot wide right-of-way, there by limiting future development options for the landowner. This limits future potential property tax revenues for the school district, by constraining future land development. Located in the marcellus shale region, Sayre Area School District is adversely impacted this way.[316][317]

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.[318] 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.[319] 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.[320]

The average yearly property tax paid by Bradford County residents amounts to about 3.06% of their yearly income. Lackawanna County ranked 565th out of the 3,143 United States counties for property taxes as a percentage of median income.[330] 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.[331] 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%).[332] Pennsylvania's 2011 tax burden of 10.35% ranked 10th highest out of 50 states. The tax burden was above the national average of 9.8%. Pennsylvania's taxpayers paid $4,374 per capita in state and local taxes, including school taxes.[333]

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.[334] In June 2011, the Pennsylvania General Assembly eliminated six of the ten exceptions to the Act 1 Index.[335] Several exceptions were maintained: 1) costs to pay interest and principal on indebtedness incurred prior to September 4, 2004 for Act 72 schools and prior to June 27, 2006 for non-Act 72 schools; 2) costs to pay interest and principal on electoral debt; 3) costs incurred in providing special education programs and services (beyond what is already paid by the State); and 4) costs due to increases of more than the Index in the school’s share of payments to PSERS (PA school employees pension fund) taking into account the state mandated PSERS contribution rate.[336][337]

The School District Adjusted Index for the Sayre Area School District 2006-2007 through 2011-2012.[338]

For the 2015-16 budget year, Sayre Area School Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed their Act 1 Index limit. For the school budget 2015-16, 310 Pennsylvania public school districts adopted a resolution certifying that tax rates would not be increased above its Act 1 Index limit. Another 187 school districts adopted a preliminary budget leaving open the option of exceeding the Index limit. Regarding the pension costs exception, 172 school districts received approval to exceed the Index limit in full, while others received a partial approval of their request. For special education costs, 119 districts received approval to exceed their tax limit. No Pennsylvania public school districts received an approval for the grandfathered construction debts exception.[345]

For the 2014-15 budget year, Sayre Area 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).[346] 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.[347]

For the 2013-14 budget year, Sayre Area 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.[348]

For the 2012-13 budget year, Sayre Area School Board applied for a Special Education costs exception 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.[349]

For the 2011-12 school year, Sayre Area School Board did not apply for any exceptions to exceed the Act 1 Index. Each year, the Sayre Area School Board has the option of adopting either 1) a resolution in January certifying they will not increase taxes above their index or 2) a preliminary budget in February. A school district adopting the resolution may not apply for referendum exceptions or ask voters for a tax increase above the inflation index. A specific timeline for these decisions is published annually, by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.[350]

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.[351]

in the 2010-11 school year Sayre Area School Board did not apply for any exceptions to exceed the Act 1 index for the budget in 2010.[352] For 2009-10 school budget, the board did not apply for exceptions to exceed the Index.[353] 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.[354]

Property tax relief[edit]

In 2012, Sayre Area School District approved homestead residents received $337.[355] In 2010, property tax relief for 1,739 approved residents of Sayre Area School District was set at $337.[356] In the district, 1,691 property owners applied for the tax relief in 2009. In Bradford County, the highest tax relief went to Sayre Area School District which was set at $347.[357] The highest property tax relief, among Pennsylvania school districts, went to the homesteads of Chester Upland School District of Delaware County which received $632 per approved homestead in 2010. Chester-Upland School District has consistently been the top recipient since the programs inception.[358] 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 (40,000 m2) and must be the primary residence of the owner. Farmers can qualify for both the homestead exemption and the farmstead exemption. The tax relief was started by Governor Edward G. Rendell with passage of the state gaming law in 2004. Rendell promised taxpayers substantial property tax relief from legalized gambling.[359] In 2009, the Pennsylvania Auditor General reviewed 49 counties finding that approximately 1 million of the 3 million residential properties in those 49 counties were not approved for property tax relief.[360]

Additionally, the Pennsylvania Property Tax/Rent Rebate program is provided for low income Sayre Area School District residents aged 65 and older; widows and widowers aged 50 and older; and people with disabilities age 18 and older. The income limit is $35,000 for homeowners. The maximum rebate for both homeowners and renters is $650. Applicants can exclude one-half (1/2) of their Social Security income, consequently people who have an income of substantially more than $35,000 may still qualify for a rebate. Individuals must apply annually for the rebate. This tax rebate can be taken in addition to Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief. In 2012, Pennsylvania Secretary of the Treasury reported issuing more than half a million property tax rebates totaling $238 million.[361] The program is funded by the Pennsylvania Lottery. Property tax rebates are increased by an additional 50 percent for senior households in the state, so long as those households have incomes under $30,000 and pay more than 15% of their income in property taxes.[362]

History[edit]

The present high school building was erected in 1928 and 1929 with additions and remodeling completed in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The community gave its swimming pool to the Sayre Area School District in 1951. The first high school building was actually constructed in 1891 and 1892 and renovated with an annex in 1897. It was a recreation center and later became a 4-6 elementary school.

Alma mater[edit]

In the Susquehanna valley
land of rippling streams and rills
lays a busy little city
nestled mist the blue ridge hills
and tis there our Alma Mater
May her praises never die
lifts her stately tow'r towards heaven
dear beloved old Sayre High

For we're all staunch and loyal
and we are each other's friend
we will stick by our colors
until this life shall end
so while we're together
let us give a ringing cheer
for the praise of Alma Mater
and our Sayre High School so dear.

Closed school[edit]

Litchfield Township Elementary School is located at Intersection Of State Route 10, Sayre. The school was permanently closed by the Board in June 2011. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, the school reported an enrollment of 92 pupils in grades kindergarten through 4th, with 49 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school employed 5 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 17:1.[363] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[364] In 2010 and 2011, Litchfield Township Elementary School achieved AYP status.[365]

PSSA Results
4th Grade Science
  • 2011 - 93%, 60% advanced. State – 82.9%
  • 2010 - 88%, 41% advanced. State - 81%
  • 2009 - 100%. State - 83%
  • 2008 - 92%, (0% below basic), State - 81%

Extracurriculars[edit]

The district offers a wide variety of clubs, activities and an extensive, publicly funded sports program.[370] Eligibility for participation is determined by school board policy.[371][372]

By Pennsylvania law, all K-12 students residing 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.[373]

According to PA Child Abuse Recognition and Reporting Act 126 of 2014, all volunteer coaches and all those who assist in student activities, must have criminal background checks. Like all school district employees, they must also attend an anti child abuse training once every three years.[374][375][376]

Sports[edit]

Coaches receive compensation as outlined in the teachers' union contract. When athletic competition exceeds the regular season, additional compensation is paid. Earnings as a coach increase the person's annual pension.[377] The District is noncompliant with state law, due to failing to post its Interscholastic Athletic Opportunities Disclosure Form on its own website.[378]

According to Pennsylvania’s Safety in Youth Sports Act, all sports coaches, paid and volunteer, are required to annually complete the Concussion Management Certification Training and present the certification before coaching.[379][380]

Sayre Area School District operates an indoor pool which it had to shut down during the 2015 budget crisis.

The District funds:

Varsity
Junior High Middle School Sports

Source - According to PIAA directory July 2015[381]

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