Solanco School District

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Solanco School District
Map of Lancaster County Pennsylvania School Districts.png
Address
121 S Hess Street
Quarryville, Pennsylvania, Lancaster County 17566-1225
United States
Information
Superintendent Martin J. Hudacs contract 7/2012 - 6/30/2017 Salary $133,059 in 2012.[1]
Administrator

Dr Brian A Bliss - Asst Superintendent salary $113,640 (2012)
Timothy J Shrom - Business Manager salary $125,002 (2012)
Dangler, Robert, Supervisor, $89,733 (2012)

Baughman, George, Coordinator salary $79,885
Principal Close, James, salary $110,723
Principal Gallagher, Brian, salary $98,295
Principal O'Brien, James, salary $97,538
Principal Hunter, Shirley, salary $88,082
Principal Gladfelter, Paul, salary $78,000
Grades K-12th
Pupils 3,713 (2012-13)[2]
 • Kindergarten 275
 • Grade 1 295
 • Grade 2 277
 • Grade 3 288
 • Grade 4 251
 • Grade 5 267
 • Grade 6 272
 • Grade 7 308
 • Grade 8 278
 • Grade 9 311
 • Grade 10 326
 • Grade 11 271
 • Grade 12 294
 • Other Enrollment projected to be in 2020[3]
Color(s) Black and gold
         
Mascot Golden Mules
Per pupil spending $10,501 (2008)
Per pupil spending $11,675.56 (2010)
Website

Solanco School District is a midsized, rural public school district located in the southern end of Lancaster County (SoLanCo), Pennsylvania. Solanco School District encompasses approximately 180 square miles (470 km2). Solanco School District serves: Providence Township, Eden Township, Quarryville Borough, Little Britain Township, Bart Township, Colerain Township, Drumore Township, East Drumore Township and Fulton Township. According to 2008 local census data, it served a resident population of 30,566. By 2010, the District's population increased to 31,871 people.[5] In 2009, the district residents’ per capita income was $17,040, while the median family income was $49,432.[6] In the Commonwealth, the median family income was $49,501[7] and the United States median family income was $49,445, in 2010.[8]

According to District officials, in school year 2007-08 the Solanco School District provided basic educational services to 3,872 pupils. Solanco School District employed: 258 teachers, 246 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 18 administrators. Solanco School District received more than $16 million in state funding in school year 2007-08.

The District operates seven schools: four elementary, two middle/junior high, one high school and a virtual academy (K-12).

  • Elementary schools are:
    • Quarryville Elementary School
    • Providence Elementary School
    • Bart-Colerain Elementary School
    • Clermont Elementary School
  • Middle schools:
    • George A. Smith Middle School
    • Swift Middle School
  • High school:

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.[9] 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 "D-" 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.[10]

Academic achievement[edit]

Solanco School District was ranked 209th out of 500 Pennsylvania school districts by the Pittsburgh Business Times in 2013.[11] The ranking was based on student academic achievement as demonstrated on the last three years of the PSSAs for: reading, writing, math and science.[12] 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.

  • 2012 - 231st[13]
  • 2008 - 182nd[14]
  • 2007 - 154th out of 501 school districts.[15]
Overachiever statewide ranking

In 2012, the Pittsburgh Business Times also reported an Overachievers Ranking for 498 Pennsylvania school districts. Solanco School District ranked 161st. In 2011, the District was 176th.[16] 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."[17]

District AYP status history

In 2012, Solanco School District declined to Warning AYP status.[18] In 2011, Solanco School District 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] Solanco School District achieved AYP status each year from 2008 to 2010 and in 2005 & 2006, while in 2007 and in 2003 the District was in Warning status due to lagging student achievement.[20]

Pennsylvania System of School Assessment
2011-2012 PSSA proficiency levels for Lancaster County schools
School district 3-5 Reading 3-5 Math 6-8 Reading 6-8 Math 11 Reading 11 Math
Cocalico 82.7% 86.1% 85.8% 89.5% 68.1% 61.4%
Columbia Borough 60.9% 72.4% 53.2% 67.3% 46.8% 45.3%
Conestoga Valley 76.3% 84.9% 83.9% 90.0% 82.7% 75.0%
Donegal 73.1% 82.5% 71.5% 82.9% 62.3% 51.8%
Eastern Lancaster County 72.5% 81.7% 79.9% 84.0% 74.4% 68.1%
Elizabethtown Area 70.8% 80.3% 76.6% 85.4% 72.2% 67.3%
Ephrata Area 77.4% 87.7% 79.1% 85.4% 72.3% 75.7%
Hempfield 85.5% 89.8% 86.5% 88.8% 76.6% 73.8%
Lampeter-Strasburg 89.0% 91.0% 86.9% 90.7% 86.1% 81.0%
Lancaster 50.5% 63.5% 46.4% 55.4% 43.9% 32.6%
Manheim Central 76.6% 83.7% 84.3% 90.1% 64.6% 64.5%
Manheim Township 80.1% 90.2% 85.9% 88.0% 77.7% 72.1%
Penn Manor 75.5% 86.4% 80.7% 85.6% 76.3% 69.7%
Pequea Valley 77.7% 86.4% 68.9% 74.4% 72.2% 52.0%
Solanco 82.9% 88.5% 85.6% 87.9% 69.6% 56.5%
Warwick 79.5% 83.7% 86.6% 87.1% 77.8% 72.8%
Source: http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/school_assessments/7442

Graduation rate[edit]

In 2012, Solanco School District’s graduation rate was 87%.[21] In 2011, the graduation rate was 86.8%.[22] In 2010, the Pennsylvania Department of Education issued a new, 4-year cohort graduation rate. Solanco High School's rate was 86.99% for 2010.[23]

According to traditional graduation rate calculations

High school[edit]

Solanco High School is located at 585 Solanco Rd, Quarryville. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, the school reported an enrollment of 1,188 pupils in grades 9th through 12th, with 320 pupils eligible for a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to the family meeting the federal poverty level. The school employed 75 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 15:1.[28] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 2 teachers were rated "Non‐Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[29]

In 2012, Solanco High School declined to School Improvement AYP status due to low student achievement in both reading and mathematics, along with a low graduation rate.[30] In 2011, Solanco High School declined to Warning AYP status.[31] In 2012, under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, the school administration was required to notify parents of the school's poor achievement outcomes and to offer the parent the opportunity to transfer to a successful school within the District. Additionally, Solanco High School Administration was required by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, to develop a School Improvement Plan to address the high school's low student achievement. Under the Pennsylvania Accountability System, the school must pay for additional tutoring for struggling students.[32] The High School is eligible for special, extra funding under School Improvement Grants which the school must apply for each year.[33]

PSSA results

11th Grade Reading:

  • 2012 - 70% on grade level (14(% below basic). State - 67% of 11th graders are on grade level.[34]
  • 2011 - 72% (14% below basic). State - 69.1%[35]
  • 2010 - 60% (18% below basic). State - 66%[36]
  • 2009 - 69% (15% below basic). State - 65%[37]
  • 2008 - 65% (18% below basic). State - 65%[38]
  • 2007 - 63% (25% below basic). State - 65%[39]

11th Grade Math:

  • 2012 - 57% on grade level (21% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 59% of 11th graders are on grade level.[40]
  • 2011 - 62% (15% below basic). State - 60.3%[41]
  • 2010 - 56% (25% below basic). State - 59%[42]
  • 2009 - 60% (19% below basic). State - 56%[43]
  • 2008 - 60% (20% below basic). State - 56%[44]
  • 2007 - 54% (28% below basic). State - 53%[45]

11th Grade Science:

  • 2012 - 40% on grade level (12% below basic). State - 42% of 11th graders were on grade level.[46]
  • 2011 - 34% (15% below basic). State - 40%[47]
  • 2010 - 23% (24% below basic). State - 39%
  • 2009 - 35% (23% below basic). State - 40%[48]
  • 2008 - 35% (15% below basic). State - 39%[49]

Science in Motion Solanco High School takes advantage of a state program called Science in Motion which brings college professors and sophisticated science equipment to the school to raise science awareness and to provide inquiry-based experiences for the students. The 10th grade biology classes use the electrophoresis equipment to learn about the benefits of using DNA to solve crimes. The Science in Motion program was funded by a state appropriation and cost the school nothing to participate.[50] Elizabethtown College offers the program in Lancaster County.

College remediation rate[edit]

According to a Pennsylvania Department of Education study released in January 2009, 37% of the Solanco 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.[51] 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.[52] 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.

2016 SAT: average scores
Lancaster County schools
School district Reading Math Writing Total
Cocalico 514 524 495 1534
Columbia Borough 460 448 427 1335
Conestoga Valley 515 511 479 1505
Donegal 515 508 492 1515
Eastern Lancaster County 526 524 493 1544
Elizabethtown Area 529 532 495 1556
Ephrata Area 525 526 496 1546
Hempfield 535 556 505 1595
Lampeter-Strasburg 524 533 511 1567
Lancaster 425 436 407 1268
Manheim Central 507 510 483 1501
Manheim Township 539 553 515 1608
Penn Manor 516 523 483 1521
Pequea Valley 531 526 492 1549
Solanco 509 512 471 1492
Warwick 537 539 507 1584
County average 513 516 484 1514
Pennsylvania average 481 485 458 1424
U.S. average 494 508 482 1484
Each test section is out of a score of 800 points.
Source: Public School SAT Scores, PA Department of Education [1]
U.S. Average Source: 2016 SAT Report, CollegeBoard [2]

Dual enrollment[edit]

The high school offers a dual enrollment program. This state program permits high school students to take courses, at local higher education institutions, to earn college credits. Students remain enrolled at their high school. The courses count towards high school graduation requirements and towards earning a college degree. The students continue to have full access to activities and programs at their high school. The college credits are offered at a deeply discounted rate. The state offered a small grant to assist students in costs for tuition, fees and books.[53] Solanco partners with Millersville University, Harrisburg Area Community College, Lancaster Bible College, Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology and Pennsylvania State University. Under the Pennsylvania Transfer and Articulation Agreement, state funded Pennsylvania colleges and universities accept these credits for students who transfer to or apply to their institutions.[54] In 2010, Governor Edward Rendell eliminated the grants to students, from the Commonwealth, due to a state budget crisis. For the 2009-10 funding year, Solanco School District received a state grant of $2,568 for the program.[55]

Graduation requirements[edit]

Among Pennsylvania's 500 public school districts, graduation requirements widely vary. Solanco School Board has determined that a pupil must earn 26 credits to graduate, including: math - 3 credits, English - 4 credits, social studies - 3 credits, science - 3 credits, Arts and Humanities - 2 credits Physical Education (Fitness 1.5 credits and Wellness 0.5 credits) and 8 electives. An additional credit in English, math, science or social studies at the student’s choice is required. Students must earn 6.00 credits to advance to 10th grade. They must earn 12.00 credits to advance to 11th grade

By law, all Pennsylvania secondary school students were required to 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.[56] At Solanco students may take one of a plethroa of courses to meet the requirement. 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.[57]

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.[58][59][60] 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.[61] In 2011, Pennsylvania high school students field tested the Algebra 1, Biology and English Literature exams. The statewide results were: Algebra 1 - 38% on grade level, Biology - 35% on grade level and English Lit - 49% on grade level.[62] 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.

Middle schools[edit]

Smith Middle School is located at 645 Kirkwood Pike, Quarryville. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2011, the school reported an enrollment of 441 pupils in grades 6th through 8th, with 169 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school employed 33 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 13:1.[63] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 8 teachers were rated "Non‐Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[64] In Both 2011 and 2012, Smith Middle School achieved AYP status in reading and mathematics.[65]

PSSA Results:

8th Grade Science:

  • 2012 - 69% on grade level (10% below basic). State - 59%
  • 2011 - 71% (8% below basic). State – 58.3%

Swift Middle School is located at 1866 Robert Fulton Highway, Quarryville,. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2011, the school reported an enrollment of 443 pupils in grades 6th through 8th, with 154 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school employed 32 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 14:1.[68] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 1 teacher was rated "Non‐Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[69] In both 2011 and 2012 Swift Middle School achieved AYP status.[70]

PSSA Results:

8th Grade Science:

  • 2012 - 71% on grade level (11% below basic). State - 59%
  • 2011 - 73% (12% below basic). State – 58.3%

Solanco Virtual Academy[edit]

Since 2006, Solanco School District has offered a virtual school program to residents of the District. The Solanco Virtual Academy (SVA) offers kindergarten through 12th grade. SVA has assisted several other school districts with on-line learning programs for their resident students. SVA program is provided at no charge to resident parents / students.

Elementary schools[edit]

Quarryville Elementary School is located at 211 South Hess Street, Quarryville. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2011, the School reported an enrollment of 471 pupils in grades kindergarten through 5th, with 148 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school is a federally designated Title I school. The school employed 31 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 15:1.[73] 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.[74] In 2011 and 2012, Quarryville Elementary School achieved AYP status.[75] In 2012, 83% of the students were reading on grade level in grades 3rd through 5th. In mathematics, 84% of the students in 3rd through 5th grades were on grade level and 50% scored advanced. In 4th grade science, 86% of the pupils were on grade level, with 37% achieving advanced.[76]

Providence Elementary School is located at 137 Truce Road, Providence. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2011, the School reported an enrollment of 351 pupils in grades kindergarten through 5th, with 139 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school is a federally designated Title I school. The school employed 23 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 15:1.[77] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[78] In 2011 and 2012, Providence Elementary School achieved AYP status.[79] In 2012, only 79% of the students were reading on grade level in grades 3rd through 5th. In math, 87% of the students in 3rd through 5th grades were on grade level and 57% scored advanced. In 4th grade science, 90% of the pupils were on grade level.[80]

Bart-Colerain Elementary School is located at 1336 Noble Rd, Christiana. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2011, the school reported an enrollment of 268 pupils in grades kindergarten through 5th, with 95 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school is a federally designated Title I school. The school employed 16 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 16:1.[81] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[82] In 2011 and 2012, Bart-Colerain Elementary School achieved AYP status.[83] In 2012, 94% of the students were reading on grade level in grades 3rd through 5th. In math, 98% of the students in 3rd through 5th grades were on grade level and 78% scored advanced. In 4th grade science, 95% of the pupils were on grade level with 71% advanced.[84]

Clermont Elementary School is located at 1868 Robert Fulton Highway, Quarreyville. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2011, the School reported an enrollment of 568 pupils in grades kindergarten through 5th, with 233 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school is a federally designated Title I school. The school employed 32 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 18:1.[85] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[86] In 2011 and 2012, Clermont Elementary School achieved AYP status.[87] In 2012, only 80% of the students were reading on grade level in grades 3rd through 5th. In math, 88% of the students in 3rd through 5th grades were on grade level and 61% scored advanced. In 4th grade science, 87% of the pupils were on grade level.[88]

Special education[edit]

In December 2010, Solanco School District administration reported that 471 pupils or 12.5% of the district's pupils received Special Education services, with 40.6% of the identified students having a specific learning disability.[89] In December 2009, the District administration reported that 457 pupils or 12.2% of the district's pupils received Special Education services, with 45.5% of the identified students having a specific learning disability. Special education services in the Commonwealth are provided to students from ages three years to 21 years old. In the 2010-11 school year, the total student enrollment was more than 1.78 million students with approximately 275,000 students eligible for special education services. Among these students 18,959 were identified with mental retardation and 21,245 students with autism.[90] The largest group of students are identified as Specific Learning Disabilities 126,026 students (46.9 percent) and Speech or Language Impairments with 43,542 students (16.2 percent).

In 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 .[91] 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 Solanco School District or contact the District's Special Education Department.[92][93] 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.

In 2012, the state of Pennsylvania provided $1,026,815,000 for Special Education services. The state has level funded special education for the past 5 years. This funding is in addition to the state's basic education per pupil funding, as well as, all other state and federal funding.[94] 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.[95] Over identification of students, in order to increase state funding, has been an issue in the Commonwealth. Some districts have more than 20% of the students receiving special education services while others have 10% supported through special education.[96] 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.[97] In 2012, the Obama Administration's US Department of Education issued a directive that schools include students with disabilities in extracurricular activities, including sports.[98]

Solanco School District received a $1,632,928 supplement for special education services in 2010, 2011, and 2012.[99] 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.[100][101] Additionally, the state provides supplemental funding for extraordinarily impacted students. The District must apply for this added funding.

Gifted education[edit]

The District Administration reported that 80 or 2.15% of its students were gifted in 2009. 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.[102] By state and federal law, Solanco School 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.[103][104]

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.[105]

In 2011, the average teacher salary in Solanco School District was $56,422 a year, while the cost of the benefits teachers received was $15,949 per employee, for a total annual average teacher compensation of $72,372.[106] In 2010, the School Board and teachers' Union agreed to a new four (4) year contract. The contract raised teacher salaries by 3.6 percent in 2010, by 3.5 percent in 2011-12 school year, 3.4 percent for the 2012-13 school year and 3.2 percent for 2013-14. Over the four years, the raises will increase teacher pay by 14.4 percent, costing the district taxpayers over $5.27 million.[107]

In 2009, Solanco District reported employing 280 teachers and administrators with a median salary of $57,825 and a top salary of $130,059.[108] The teacher’s work day is seven hours 30 minutes, with 190 days in the contract year. Teachers receive a 30-minute duty-free lunch and a daily preparation period. Teachers with military service receive an additional $100 per year. Special education teachers receive an additional $1,200 per year. In addition to salary, the teachers receive a defined benefit pension, health insurance, short term disability insurance, professional development reimbursement of 100%, 3 paid personal days, 10 paid sick days, 3 paid bereavement days, sabbatical leave for up to one year at one-half pay and other benefits. The District pays a retirement bonus of $5000 to $15,000 depending on years in District.[109]

In 2007, the District employed 270 teachers.[110] As of 2007, Pennsylvania ranked in the top 10 states in average teacher salaries. When adjusted for cost of living Pennsylvania ranked fourth in the nation for teacher compensation.[111]

Solanco School District administrative costs per pupil in 2008 was $569.03 per pupil. The lowest administrative cost per pupil in Pennsylvania was $398 per pupil.[112] The Pennsylvania School Boards Association collects and maintains statistics on salaries of public school district employees in Pennsylvania. According to the association's report, the average salary for a superintendent, for the 2007-08 school year, was $122,165. Superintendents and administrators receive a benefit package commensurate with that offered to the district's teachers' union.[113] According to PSBA, the median Superintendent salary rose to over $130,000 in 2011.[114]

Per pupil spending In 2008, Solanco School District administration reported that per pupil spending was $10,501 which ranked 437th among Pennsylvania's 501 school districts. By 2010, the per pupil spending had increased to $11,675.56[115] Among the states, Pennsylvania’s total per pupil revenue (including all sources) ranked 11th at $15,023 per student, in 2008-09.[116] In 2007, the Pennsylvania per pupil total expenditures was $12,759.[117] The U.S. Census Bureau reports that Pennsylvania spent $8,191 per pupil in school year 2000-01.[118]

Reserves In 2008, the District reported a balance of $1,825,000 in its unreserved-designated fund. The unreserved-undesignated fund balance was reported as $3,572,509.[119] In 2010, Solanco School District's administration reported an increase to $3,255,023 in the unreserved-undesignated fund balance. The District reported $1,825,000 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. By law the state limits the total unreserved-undesignated fund balance at 8% of the annual budget for school districts that have budgets over $19 million a year. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, from 2003 to 2010, as a whole, Pennsylvania school districts amassed nearly $3 billion in reserved funds.[120]

Audit In June 2011, the Pennsylvania Auditor General conducted a performance audit of the Solanco School District. The findings were reported to both the School Board and the District’s administration. They found that Solanco School District had taken appropriate corrective action in implementing our recommendations pertaining to conflict of interest transactions, failure to obtain Memorandum of Understanding, failure to file Statements of Financial Interests, certification deficiencies, and unmonitored vendor system access and logical access control weaknesses.[121]

Tuition Students who live in the Solanco School District's attendance area may choose to attend one of Pennsylvania's 157 public charter schools. A student living in a neighboring public school district or a foreign exchange student may seek admission to Solanco 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 2012 tuition rates are Elementary School - $7,802, High School - $8,203.[122]

Solanco School District is funded by a combination of: a local earned income tax 1.65%,[123] a property tax, a real estate transfer tax 0.5%, coupled with substantial funding from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the federal government.[124] Interest earnings on accounts also provide nontax income to the District. 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.[125] The average Pennsylvania public school teacher pension in 2011 exceeds $60,000 a year plus they receive federal Social Security benefits: both are free of Pennsylvania state income tax and local income tax which funds local public schools.[126]

State basic education funding[edit]

For the 2012-13 school year, the Solanco School District received $9,501,386.[127] The Governor's Executive Budget for 2012-2013 included $9.34 billion for kindergarten through 12th grade public education, including $5.4 billion in basic education funding, which was an increase of $49 million over the 2011-12 budget. In addition, the Commonwealth provided $100 million for the Accountability Block Grant (ABG) program. Solanco School District received $150,624 in ABG funding. The state also provided a $544.4 million payment for School Employees’ Social Security and $856 million for School Employees’ Retirement fund called PSERS.[128] 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 2011-12, Solanco School District received a 4.81% or $9,350,762 allocation of state Basic Education Funding.[129][130] The largest increase among Lancaster County public School was awarded to Lancaster City School District an 8% increase in BEF. Additionally, the Solanco School District received $150,624 in Accountability Block Grant funding. The enacted Pennsylvania state Education budget included $5,354,629,000 for the 2011-2012 Basic Education Funding appropriation. This amount was a $233,290,000 increase (4.6%) over the enacted State appropriation for 2010-2011.[131] 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.[132] In 2010, the district reported that 1,144 students received free or reduced-price lunches, due to the family meeting the federal poverty level.[133]

In the 2010-11 budget year, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided Solanco School District a 4.06% increase in Basic Education Funding (BEF) for a total of $10,068,017. Among the public school districts in Lancaster County, the highest increase went to Conestoga Valley School District which got an 18.51% increase in state BEF. One hundred fifty Pennsylvania public 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.[134] 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 then Governor Rendell’s policy to fund some public school districts at a far greater rate than others.[135]

In the 2009-2010 budget year, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a 3.47% increase in Basic Education Funding for a total of $9,675,572. Among the districts in Lancaster County, the highest increase went to Columbia Borough School District which got an 8.61% increase in state BEF monies. Ninety school 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.[136] 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.[137] 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.[138][139]

The state Basic Education Funding to Solanco School District in 2008-09 was $9,074,643.66. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 915 district students received free or reduced-price lunches due to low family income in the 2007–2008 school year.[140]

Accountability Block Grants[edit]

Beginning in 2004-2005, the state launched the Accountability Block Grant school funding. This program has provided $1.5 billion to Pennsylvania’s school districts. The Accountability Block Grant program requires that its taxpayer dollars are focused on specific interventions that are most likely to increase student academic achievement. These interventions include: teacher training, all-day kindergarten, lower class size K-3rd grade, literacy and math coaching programs that provide teachers with individualized job-embedded professional development to improve their instruction, before or after school tutoring assistance to struggling students. For 2010-11, the district applied for and received $408,832 in addition to all other state and federal funding. The District used the funding to provide full-day kindergarten for 84 students ($286,833), to provide intensive instruction for struggling students ($61,147), to provide teacher training ($30,620) and to focus on subgroups.[141][142]

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 to 2009. The Solanco School District did not apply to participate in 2006-07. In 2007-08, Solanco received $427,158. The District received $77,938 in 2008-09 for a total funding of $505,096.[143] In Lancaster County the highest award was given to Lancaster School District - $1,193,377. 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 terminated by Governor Rendell due to a massive state financial crisis.

Literacy grant[edit]

Solanco School District was awarded a $443069 competitive literacy grant. It is targeted at improving 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, Solanco School District was one of only 148 entities that were invited to submit a full application. In Lancaster County 4 public school districts were awarded funding for one year, with Manheim Central School District receiving the most - $1 million.[144] 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. The top Pennsylvania grant recipient was Pittsburgh School District which was awarded $1,9983,014.

Other grants[edit]

Solanco School District did not participate in: Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection's Environmental Education grants, PA Science Its Elementary grants, Education Assistance Grants nor the 21st Century learning grants.

Federal Stimulus grant[edit]

Solanco School District received an extra $3,885,572 in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) - Federal Stimulus money to be used in specific programs like special education and meeting the academic needs of low-income students.[145][146] The funding was limited to the 2009-10 and 2010-2011 school years.[147] 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]

Solanco 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.[148] 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.[149] Pennsylvania was not approved for the grant. The failure of most districts to agree to participate was cited as one reason that the Obama administration cited when it decided Pennsylvania was not approved.[150][151][152]

Real estate taxes[edit]

Property tax rates in 2012-13 were set by the Solanco School Board at 11.2243 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.[153] 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. 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.[154] When a Pennsylvania public 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.[155] 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.[156]

  • 2011-12 - 10.8500 mills.[157]
  • 2010-11 - 10.5442 mills[158]
  • 2009-10 - 10.1582 mills.[159]
  • 2008-09 - 9.6378 mills.[160]
  • 2007-08 - 9.0496 mills.[161]
  • 2006-07 - 8.6351 mills.[162]
  • 2005-06 - 8.2480 mills.[163]

The average yearly property tax paid by Lancaster County residents amounts to about 4.01% of their yearly income. Lancaster County ranked 231st of the 3143 United States counties for property taxes as a percentage of median income.[164] 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.[165] 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%).[166]

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 property taxes above their annual Index unless they either: allow voters to vote by referendum or they receive an exception from the Pennsylvania Department of Education. The base index for the school year is published by the PDE in the fall of each year. Each individual school district’s Act 1 Index can be adjusted higher, depending on a number of factors, such as local property values and the personal income of district residents. Originally, Act 1 or 2006 included 10 exceptions: 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.[167] In June 2011, the Pennsylvania General Assembly eliminated six exceptions to the Act 1 Index.[168] 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.[169][170]

The School District Adjusted Index for the Solanco School District 2006-2007 through 2011-2012.[171]

For the 2013-14 budget year, Solanco School Board applied for one exception to exceed the Act 1 Index - teacher pension costs. For 2013-2014, 311 Pennsylvania public school districts adopted a resolution certifying that tax rates would not be increased above their index; 171 school districts adopted a preliminary budget leaving open the option of exceeded the Index limit. For the exception for pension costs, 89 school districts received approval to exceed the Index in full while others received a partial approval of their request. For special education costs, 75 districts received approval to exceed the tax limit. For the exception for pension costs, 169 school districts received approval to exceed the Index. Eleven districts received an approval for grandfathered construction debts.[174]

For the 2012-13 budget year, Solanco School Board applied for 2 exceptions to exceed the Act 1 Index: teacher pension costs and special education costs. For 2012-2013, 274 school districts adopted a resolution certifying that tax rates would not be increased above their index; 223 school districts adopted a preliminary budget leaving open the option of exceeded the Index limit. For the exception for pension costs, 194 school districts received approval to exceed the Index. For special education costs, 129 districts received approval to exceed the tax limit.[174]

For the 2011-12 school year, the Solanco School Board applied for several exceptions to exceed the Act 1 Index: Maintenance of Selected Revenue Sources, Teacher Pension costs, and Special education costs. Each year, the School Board has the option of adopting either: 1) a resolution in January certifying they will not increase taxes above their index or 2) a preliminary budget in February. A school district adopting the resolution may not apply for referendum exceptions or ask voters for a tax increase above the inflation index. A specific timeline for these decisions is published annually, by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.[175]

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.[176]

The Solanco School Board applied for two exceptions to exceed the Act 1 index for the budget in 2011: Maintenance of Selected Revenue Sources and teacher pension costs.[177] For the 2009-10 school budget, the board applied for an exception to exceed the Index due to special education costs.[178] 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.[179]

Property tax relief[edit]

In 2012, Solanco School District approved homestead residents received $79.[180] The amount of property tax relief each school district receives is announced by the PDE in May each year. It is dependent on the amount of tax revenue collected on the casino slots in the previous year. In the District, 7,266 property owners applied for the tax relief. In Lancaster County, the highest tax relief went to Lancaster School District which was set at $425.[181] 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 2012. Chester-Upland School District has consistently been the top recipient since the program's inception.[182] 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.[183]

In Pennsylvania, the homestead exclusion reduces the assessed values of homestead properties, reducing the property tax on these homes. The homestead exclusion allows homeowners real property tax relief of up to one half of the median assessed value of homesteads in the taxing jurisdiction (county, school district, city, borough, or township).[184]

Additionally, the Pennsylvania Property Tax/Rent Rebate program is provided for low income Pennsylvanians aged 65 and older; widows and widowers aged 50 and older; and people with disabilities age 18 and older. The income limit is $35,000 for homeowners. The maximum rebate for both homeowners and renters is $650. Applicants can exclude one-half (1/2) of their Social Security income, consequently 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.[185] 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.[186]

Extracurriculars[edit]

Solanco School District offers a variety of clubs, activities and an extensive and an extensive, costly sports program. Eligibility for participation is determined by school board policy and in compliance with standards set by the Pennsylvania interscholastic Athletics Association (PIAA). Member of the Lancaster-Lebanon 2 Sports League.

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.[187]

Sports[edit]

The District funds:

Junior High School Sports

According to PIAA directory July 2012[188]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

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Coordinates: 39°50′17″N 76°07′52″W / 39.838°N 76.131°W / 39.838; -76.131