South Williamsport Area School District

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South Williamsport Area School District
Map of Lycoming County Pennsylvania School Districts.png
Address
515 West Central Ave.
South Williamsport, Pennsylvania, Lycoming County 17702-7206
United States
Information
Type Public
Closed Duboistown Elem. School (2002), Nisbet Elem. School (2002), South Williamsport Kdg. (2001)
School board 9 elected members
Superintendent Dr. Mark Stamm, salary $112,469 in 2013[1] $108,969 (2012), first year $105,500.
Administrator Dennis A Artley, Business Manager
Grades K-12
Age 5 years old to 21 years old for special education
Pupils 1308 (2010-2011)[2]
 • Kindergarten 84
 • Grade 1 111
 • Grade 2 124
 • Grade 3 87
 • Grade 4 90
 • Grade 5 92
 • Grade 6 105
 • Grade 7 104
 • Grade 8 95
 • Grade 9 111
 • Grade 10 96
 • Grade 11 108
 • Grade 12 101
 • Other Enrollment projected to be 1,284 by 2020
Language English
Color(s) Royal Blue & White
Mascot Mountaineer
Tuition for nonresident and charter school students ES - $7,606, HS - $9,064 [3]
per pupil spending $10,823 (2008)
Per pupil spending $11,574.26 (2010)
Website

The South Williamsport Area School District is a small public school district in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania, in the United States. The school serves several suburbs of Williamsport, including South Williamsport, DuBoistown, Susquehanna Township, and Armstrong Township. The district encompasses approximately 36 square miles (93 km2). According to 2000 federal census data, it served a resident population of 9,400. By 2010, the district's population declined to 9,268 people.[4] In 2009, the district residents’ per capita income was $18,650, while the median family income was $41,002.[5] In the Commonwealth, the median family income was $49,501 [6] and the United States median family income was $49,445, in 2010.[7] By 2013, the median household income in the United States rose to $52,100.[8]

According to district officials, in school year 2007-08 the South Williamsport Area School District provided basic educational services to 1,370 pupils through the employment of 103 teachers, 68 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 9 administrators. In school year 2009-10, the South Williamsport Area School District provided basic educational services to 1,358 pupils. The District employed: 104 teachers, 72 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 10 administrators. South Williamsport Area School District received more than $8.1 million in state funding in school year 2009-10.

The District operates three schools: Central Elementary, Rommelt Elementary, and South Williamsport Jr/Sr High Schools.

Academic achievement[edit]

South Williamsport Area School District was ranked 189th out of 498 Pennsylvania school districts in 2013, by the Pittsburgh Business Times. The ranking was based on student academic performance based on the last three years of student achievement scores on the PSSAs for: reading, writing, math and science.[9] The ranking was based on student academic achievement as demonstrated on the last three years of the PSSAs for: reading, writing, math and science.[10] 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. Writing exams were given to children in 5th, 8th and 11th grades.

  • 2012 - 158th[11]
  • 2011 - 131st
  • 2010 - 153rd [12]
  • 2009 - 167th
  • 2008 - 128th
  • 2007 - 137th out of 501 Pennsylvania school districts.[13]
Overachiever statewide ranking

In 2013, the Pittsburgh Business Times also reported an Overachievers Ranking for 498 Pennsylvania school districts. South Williamsport Area School District ranked 116th. In 2012, the District was 169th. [14] 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."[15]

In 2009, the academic achievement, of the students in the South Williamsport Area School District, was in the 83rd percentile among all 500 Pennsylvania school districts Scale (0-99; 100 is state best) [16]

District AYP status history[edit]

In 2012, South Williamsport Area School District achieved AYP status In 2011, South Williamsport Area School District also achieved Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). In 2011, 94 percent of the 500 Pennsylvania public school districts achieved the No Child Left Behind Act progress level of 72% of students reading on grade level and 67% of students demonstrating on grade level math. In 2011, 46.9 percent of Pennsylvania school districts achieved Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) based on student performance. An additional 37.8 percent of 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.[17] South Williamsport Area School District achieved AYP status each year from 2003 to 2009.[18]

Graduation rate[edit]

In 2013, South Williamsport Area School District’s graduation rate was 87.8%.[19] In 2012, the graduation rate was 88%. In 2011, the graduation rate declined to 78%.[20] In 2010, the Pennsylvania Department of Education issued a new, 4-year cohort graduation rate. South Williamsport Area High School's rate was 79% for 2010.[21]

Former AYP graduation rate:

  • 2010 - 91%[22]
  • 2009 - 82%
  • 2008 - 92% [23]

Junior Senior High School[edit]

South Williamsport Area Junior Senior High School is located at 700 Percy Street, South Williamsport. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2012, the school reported an enrollment of 642 pupils in grades 7th through 12th, with 178 pupils eligible for a federal free or reduced price lunch due to the family meeting the federal poverty level. The school employed 50 teachers yielding a student-teacher ratio of 12:1.[24] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 1 teachers were rated "Non‐Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[25]

2013 School Performance Profile

South Williamsport Area Junior Senior High School achieved 82.2 out of 100. Reflects on grade level reading, mathematics and science achievement. In reading/literature, 82% were on grade level. In Algebra 1, 83% showed on grade level skills. In Biology, 72% showed on grade level science understanding.[26]

AYP History

In 2012, South Williamsport Area High School achieved AYP status. In 2010 and 2011, South Williamsport Area High School also achieved AYP status.[27]

PSSA Results
11th Grade Reading
  • 2012 - 75% on grade level, (6% below basic). State - 67% of 11th graders are on grade level.[28]
  • 2011 - 76% (6% below basic). State - 69.1% [29]
  • 2010 - 78%, 39% advanced (7% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 66% of 11th graders on grade level.[30]
  • 2009 - 75%, 40% advanced (11% below basic), State - 65% [31]
  • 2008 - 78%, 28% advanced (11% below basic), State - 65%[32]
  • 2007 - 67%, 19% advanced (11% below basic), State - 65% [33]
11th Grade Math
  • 2012 - 65% on grade level (14% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 59% of 11th graders are on grade level.[34]
  • 2011 - 63%, (13% below basic). State - 60.3%
  • 2010 - 77%, 37% advanced (10% below basic). State - 59% [35]
  • 2009 - 71%, 23% advanced (17% below basic). State - 56%
  • 2008 - 59%, 17% advanced (20% below basic). State - 56% [36]
  • 2007 - 59%, 13% advanced (18% below basic). State - 53%
11th Grade Science
  • 2012 - 43% on grade level (8% below basic). State - 42% of 11th graders were on grade level.[37]
  • 2011 - 40% (7% below basic). State - 40% [38]
  • 2010 - 50%, (4% below basic), State - 39%
  • 2009 - 49%, (9% below basic). State - 40%
  • 2008 - 35%, (9% below basic). State - 39%

Science in Motion South Williamsport Area Senior High School took 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.[39] Susquehanna University provided the science enrichment experiences to schools in the region.

College remediation

According to a Pennsylvania Department of Education study released in January 2009, 3% of South Williamsport Senior High School graduates required remediation in mathematics and or reading before they were prepared to take college level courses in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education or community colleges.[40] 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.[41] 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 mathematics or English.

Graduation requirements[edit]

The South Williamsport Area School Board has determined that a student must earn 24 credits to graduate, including English 4 credits, Math 4 credits, Social Studies 4 credits, Science 3 credits, and Health/PE 1 credit.[42]

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.[43] The students at South Williamsport Area School Senior High School are required to complete a portfolio, a mock interview and a presentation.[44]

By Pennsylvania State School Board regulations, for the graduating classes of 2015 and 2016, students must demonstrate successful completion of secondary level course work in Algebra I, Biology, English Composition, and Literature for which the Keystone Exams serve as the final course exams. Students’ Keystone Exam scores shall count for at least one-third of the final course grade.[45]

SAT scores[edit]

In 2013, South Williamsport Area School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 494. The Math average score was 506. The Writing average score was 466. 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.[46]

In 2012, 74 South Williamsport Area School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 475. The Math average score was 480. The Writing average score was 456. 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, 71 South Williamsport Area School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 492. The Math average score was 515. The Writing average score was 475.[47] Pennsylvania ranked 40th among states with SAT scores: Verbal - 493, Math - 501, Writing - 479.[48] 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.[49]

Junior high school[edit]

8th Grade Reading
  • 2012 - 83% on grade level 67% advanced (4% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 79% of 8th graders on grade level.
  • 2011 - 85%, 60% advanced (8% below basic). State - 81.8%
  • 2010 - 88%, 66% advanced (5% below basic) State - 81% [50]
  • 2009 - 90%, 63% advanced (7% below basic), State - 80%
  • 2008 - 84%, 51% advanced (4% below basic), State - 78%
  • 2007 - 87%, 58% advanced (6% below basic), State - 75%[51]
8th Grade Math
  • 2012 - 89% on grade level, 67% advanced (2% below basic). State - 76%
  • 2011 - 85%, 59% advanced (6% below basic). State - 76.9%
  • 2010 - 88%, 72% advanced (5% below basic). State - 75%
  • 2009 - 84%, 55% advanced (9% below basic). State - 71%
  • 2008 - 84%, 50% advanced (6% below basic). State - 70% [52]
  • 2007 - 85%, 65% advanced (5% below basic). State - 67%
8th Grade Science
  • 2012 - 71% on grade level (9% below basic). State - 59%
  • 2011 - 58%, (20% below basic). State – 58.3%
  • 2010 - 67%, (19% below basic). State - 57%.
  • 2009 - 61%, (16% below basic). State: - 54% [53]
  • 2008 - 51%, (20% below basic). State - 52% [54]
7th Grade Reading
  • 2012 - 83% on grade level 40% advanced (6% below basic). State – 76%
  • 2011 - 80%, 38% advanced (3% below basic). State – 76%
  • 2010 - 74%, 42% advanced, (10% below basic). State - 73%
  • 2009 - 82%, 53% advanced (8% below basic). State - 71.7%
  • 2008 - 82%, 39% advanced (8% below basic). State - 70%
  • 2007 - 87%, 58% advanced (6% below basic). State - 66%
7th Grade Math
  • 2012 - 90% on grade level, 58% advanced (3% below basic). State - 80%
  • 2011 - 88%, 62% advanced (2% below basic). State - 78.6%
  • 2010 - 79%, 54% advanced (12% below basic). State - 77%
  • 2009 - 82%, 49% advanced (7% below basic). State - 75%
  • 2008 - 83%, 51% advanced (11% below basic). State - 72%
  • 2007 - 85%, 39% advanced (5% below basic). State - 67%

Rommelt Elementary School[edit]

Rommelt Elementary School is located at. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2012, the school reported an enrollment of 203 pupils in grades 5th and 6th, with 77 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 13.58 teachers yielding a student-teacher ratio of 14:1.[55] 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.[56]

2013 School Performance Profile

Rommelt Elementary School achieved a score of 80.5 out of 100. The score reflects on grade level: reading, science, writing and mathematics achievement. In 2012-13, only 68% of the students were reading on grade level. In math, 82.7% were on grade level (3rd-5th grades). In writing only 69.89% of the pupils demonstrated on grade level skills.[57]

In 2011 through 2012 the school achieved AYP status.[58] In 2011 the attendance rate was 95%.[59] In 2010, the school reported a 96% attendance rate.

6th Grade Reading
  • 2012 - 79%, 37% advanced (10% below basic). State - 68%
  • 2011 - 74%, 40% advanced (5% below basic). State - 69.9%
  • 2010 - 77%, 39% advanced (7% below basic). State - 68%
  • 2009 - 82%, 50% advanced (5% below basic). State - 67%
  • 2008 - 84%, 43% advanced (6% below basic). State - 67%
  • 2007 - 75%, 41% advanced (11% below basic). State - 63%
6th Grade Math
  • 2012 - 82%, 59% advanced (4% below basic). State - 77%
  • 2011 - 91%, 61% advanced (5% below basic). State - 78.8%
  • 2010 - 91%, 70% advanced (2% below basic). State - 78%
  • 2009 - 85%, 54% advanced (4% below basic). State - 75.9%
  • 2008 - 86%, 67% advanced (5% below basic). State - 72%
  • 2007 - 83%, 53% advanced (5% below basic). State - 69%
5th Grade Reading
  • 2012 - 89% on grade level 40% advanced (3% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 65% of 5th graders are on grade level.[60]
  • 2011 - 73%, 19% advanced (5% below basic). State - 67.3%
  • 2010 - 74%, 23% advanced, State - 64% [61]
  • 2009 - 70%, 20% advanced, State - 64%
  • 2008 - 75%, 43% advanced, State - 62% [62]
  • 2007 - 74%, 29% advanced, State - 60%
5th Grade Math
  • 2012 - 91% on grade level, 66% advanced (0% below basic). State - 73%
  • 2011 - 84%, 55% advanced (2% below basic). State - 74%
  • 2010 - 88%, 57% advanced, State - 74%
  • 2009 - 90%, 69% advanced, State - 73%
  • 2008 - 88%, 65% advanced, State - 73%
  • 2007 - 93%, 70% advanced, State - 71%

Central Elementary School[edit]

Central Elementary School is located at 555 West Mountain Ave, South Williamsport. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2012, the school reported an enrollment of 512 pupils in grades kindergarten through 4th grades, with 33% receiving a federal free lunch due to family poverty. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2011, Central Elementary School reported an enrollment of 480 pupils in grades kindergarten through 4th, with 157 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school employed 33 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 14:1.[63] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 95% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[64] Central Elementary School provides full day kindergarten to all its pupils.[65]

2013 School Performance Profile

Central Elementary School achieved a score of 82.3 out of 100. The score reflects on grade level: reading, science and mathematics achievement. In 2012-13, only 75.89% of the students were reading on grade level in grades 3rd through 4th. In 3rd grade, 80.9% of the pupils were reading on grade level. In math, 87.95% were on grade level (3rd-4th grades). In 4th grade science, 92.47% of the pupils demonstrated on grade level understanding.[66]

PSSA History

In 2011 and 2012 Central Elementary School achieved AYP status under No Child Left Behind. In 2010, Central Elementary School reported a 96% attendance rate.[67]

4th Grade Reading;
  • 2012 - 76% (13% below basic). State - 72% [68]
  • 2011 - 88% (3% below basic). State – 73.3%
  • 2010 - 89%, 31% advanced. State - 73% [69]
  • 2009 - 83%, 34% advanced. State - 72% [70]
  • 2008 - 82%, 31% advanced. State - 70%
  • 2007 - 71%, 37% advanced. State - 60%
4th Grade Math
  • 2012 - 83%, 54% advanced (9% below basic). State - 82%
  • 2011 - 98%, 85% advanced. State – 85.3%
  • 2010 - 92%, 72% advanced. State - 84%
  • 2009 - 95%, 75% advanced. State - 81%
  • 2008 - 95%, 70% advanced. State - 80%
  • 2007 - 92%, 64% advanced. State - 78%
4th Grade Science
  • 2012 - 90%, 48% advanced, (1% below basic). State - 82%
  • 2011 - 93%, 52% advanced. State – 82.9%
  • 2010 - 89%, 56% advanced. State - 81%
  • 2009 - 91%, 43% advanced. State - 83%
  • 2008 - 87%, 44% advanced. State - 81%
3rd Grade Reading
  • 2012 - 85%, (7% below basic). State - 74%
  • 2011 - 79%, (15% below basic), State – 77.2%
  • 2010 - 85%, 29% advanced, State - 75%
  • 2009 - 87%, 20% advanced, State - 77%
  • 2008 - 77%, 10% advanced, State - 70%
  • 2007 - 78%, 37% advanced, State - 72%
3rd Grade Math
  • 2012 - 88%, 45% advanced (2% below basic). State - 80%
  • 2011 - 83%, 43% advanced (2% below basic), State – 83.5%
  • 2010 - 94%, 54% advanced, State - 84%
  • 2009 - 90%, 46% advanced, State - 81%
  • 2008 - 85%, 34% advanced, State - 80%
  • 2007 - 92%, 62% advanced, State - 78%

Special education[edit]

In December 2011, the South Williamsport Area School District administration reported that 158 pupils or 11.9% of the district's pupils received Special Education services, with 63.9% of the identified students having a specific learning disability.[71] In December 2009, South Williamsport Area School District administration reported that 173 pupils or 12.9% of the district's pupils received Special Education services, with 64% of identified students having a specific learning disability. In December 2009, the district administration reported that 176 pupils or 12% of the district's pupils received Special education services.[72]

The 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. To identify students who may be eligible for special education, various screening activities are conducted on an ongoing basis. These screening activities include: review of group-based data (cumulative records, enrollment records, health records, report cards, ability and achievement test scores); hearing, vision, motor, and speech/language screening; and review by the Instructional Support Team or Student Assistance Team. 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 Special Education Department.[73]

In 2010, the state of Pennsylvania provided $1,026,815,000 for Special Education services. The funds were distributed to districts based on a state policy which estimates that 16% of the district's pupils are receiving special education services. This funding is in addition to the state's basic education per pupil funding, as well as, all other state and federal funding.[74] It also assumes that each student’s needs accrue the same level of costs.[75] The state requires each district to have a three-year special education plan to meet the unique needs of its special education students.[76] The overidentification of students, in order to increase state funding, has been an issue in the Commonwealth. Some public school districts have reported more than 20% of their students are receiving special education services, while others have 10% supported through special education funding.[77]

South Williamsport Area School District received a $804,884 supplement for special education services in 2010.[78] For the 2011-12 budget year the districts received the same level of funding. 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 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.[79][80]

Gifted education[edit]

South Williamsport Area School District administration reported that 19 or 1.4% of its students were gifted in 2009.[81] By law, the district must provide mentally gifted programs at all grade levels. The primary emphasis is on enrichment and acceleration of the regular education curriculum through a push in model with the gifted instructor in the classroom with the regular instructor. This approach permits such specialized instructional strategies as tiered assignments, curriculum compacting, flexible grouping, learning stations, independent projects and independent contracts. 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.[82] 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.[83]

Bullying policy[edit]

The South Williamsport Area School District administration reported there were no incidents of bullying in the district in 2009.[84][85]

The South Williamsport Area School Board has provided the district's antibully policy online.[86] All Pennsylvania schools are required to have an anti-bullying policy incorporated into their Code of Student Conduct. The policy must identify disciplinary actions for bullying and designate a school staff person to receive complaints of bullying. The policy must be available on the school's website and posted in every classroom. All Pennsylvania public schools must provide a copy of its anti-bullying policy to the Office for Safe Schools every year, and shall review their policy every three years. Additionally, the district must conduct an annual review of that policy with students.[87] The Center for Schools and Communities works in partnership with the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime & Delinquency and the Pennsylvania Department of Education to assist schools and communities as they research, select and implement bullying prevention programs and initiatives.[88]

Education standards relating to student safety and antiharassment programs are described in the 10.3. Safety and Injury Prevention in the Pennsylvania Academic Standards for Health, Safety and Physical Education.[89]

Budget[edit]

In 2011, the average teacher salary in South Williamsport Area School District was $56,468 a year, while the cost of the benefits teachers receive was $16,800 per employee, for a total annual average teacher compensation of $72,269.[90] The District reported employing 102 teachers and administrators, with the highest salary being $105,500.[91]

In 2009, South Williamsport Area School District reported employing over 100 teachers with a starting salary of $40,000 for 180 days for pupil instruction.[92] The average teacher salary was $54,609 while the maximum salary is $113,797.[93] 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.[94]

Additionally, South Williamsport Area School District teachers receive a defined benefit pension, health insurance, professional development reimbursement, paid personal days, 10 sick days and other benefits. Teachers are paid extra if they are required to work outside of the regular school day [95] According to State Rep. Glen Grell, a trustee of the Pennsylvania Public School Employees’ Retirement System Board, a 40-year educator can retire with a pension equal to 100 percent of their final salary.[96]

In 2007, the district employed 97 teachers. The average teacher salary in the district was $50,233 for 180 school days worked.[97]

South Williamsport Area School District administrative costs per pupil in 2008 was $845.83 per pupil. The district is ranked 142nd out of 500 in Pennsylvania for administrative spending. The lowest administrative cost per pupil in Pennsylvania was $398 per pupil.[98]

In 2008, South Williamsport Area School District reported spending $10,823 per pupil. This ranked 410th in the commonwealth.[99]

Reserves

In 2009, South Williamsport Area School District reported $1,462,887 in an unreserved-undesignated fund balance. The designated fund balance was reported as $175,000.[100] In 2010, South Williamsport Area Administration reported $1,392,213.00 in the unreserved-undesignated fund balance and $525,000 in its designated fund. Pennsylvania public school district reserve funds are divided into two categories – designated and undesignated. The undesignated funds are not committed to any planned project. Designated funds and any other funds, such as capital reserves, are allocated to specific projects. School districts are required by state law to keep 5 percent of their annual spending in the undesignated reserve funds to preserve bond ratings. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, from 2003 to 2010, as a whole, Pennsylvania school districts amassed nearly $3 billion in reserved funds.[101]

In November 2010, the Pennsylvania Auditor General conducted a performance audit of the District. Findings were reported to the administration and school board.[102]

The District is funded by a combination of: a local earned income tax 1.6%,[103] a property tax, and a real estate transfer tax 0.5%, coupled with substantial funding from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and from the federal government. Grants can provide an opportunity to supplement school funding without raising local taxes. In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, pension and Social Security income are exempted from state personal income tax and local earned income tax regardless of the individual's wealth.[104]

State basic education funding[edit]

For the 2012-13 school year, the South Williamsport Area School District received $5,752,878.[105] The Governor's Executive Budget for 2012-2013 includes $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. The state also provides $100 million for the Accountability Block grant. The state will also provide $544.4 million for School Employees’ Social Security and $856 million for School Employees’ Retirement fund called PSERS.[106] 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, South Williamsport Area School District received $5,672,963 in state Basic Education Funding.[107] Additionally, the district will receive $79,883 in Accountability Block Grant funding. The enacted Pennsylvania state Education budget includes $5,354,629,000 for the 2011-2012 Basic Education Funding appropriation. This amount is a $233,290,000 increase (4.6%) over the enacted State appropriation for 2010-2011. The highest increase in state basic education funding was awarded to Duquesne City School District, which got a 49% increase in state funding for 2011-12.[108] Districts experienced a reduction in total funding, due to the state's loss of federal stimulus funding, which ended in 2011. In 2010, the district reported that 483 pupils received a free or reduced-price lunch due to the family meeting the federal poverty level.

For the 2010-11 school year, South Williamsport Area School District received a 4.10% increase in state Basic Education Funding resulting in a $6,229,088 payment.[109] Loyalsock Township School District received an 8.13% increase, which was the highest increase in Basic Education Funding in Lycoming County. Kennett Consolidated School District in Chester County received the highest increase in the state at 23.65% increase in funding for the 2010-11 school year. One hundred fifty school districts received the base 2% increase in 2010-11. The state's hold harmless policy regarding state basic education funding continued where each public school district received at least the same amount it received the prior school year, even when enrollment had significantly declined. The amount of increase each school district received was determined by Governor Edward Rendell and the Secretary of Education Gerald Zahorchak, through the allocation set in the state budget proposal made in February each year. It was the second year of Governor Rendell’s policy to fund some districts at a far greater rate than others.[110]

In the 2009-2010 budget year, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a 5.47% increase in Basic Education funding for a total of $5,983,494 to South Williamsport Area School District. The state Basic Education funding to the District, in 2008-09, was $5,672,963.11. The District also received supplemental funding for English language learners, Title 1 federal funding for low-income students, for district size, a poverty supplement from the commonwealth and more.[111] Loyalsock Township School District received a 5.94% increase, the highest increase in Lycoming County for the 2009-10 school year. Among the 500 school districts in Pennsylvania, Muhlenberg School District in Berks County received the highest with a 22.31% increase in funding.[112] According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 448 district students received free or reduced-price lunches due to low family income in the 2007-2008 school year.[113]

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, South Williamsport Area School District applied for and received $216,823 in addition to all other state and federal funding. The district used the funding to provide full-day kindergarten for the 6th year.[114][115]

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. South Williamsport Area School District did not apply for funding. Of the 501 public school districts in Pennsylvania, 447 of them received Classrooms for the Future grant awards.[116]

Other state grants[edit]

The District did not participate in the state's PreK Counts grant (taxpayer funded preschool), the DEP's Environmental Education Grant Program, the Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy grant, the Science Its Elementary Grants or the Education Assistance after school tutoring grant program. The District is also not part of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program. The 21st Century Community Learning Center, or 21st CCLC, program provides funding to establish community learning centers to provide academic, artistic and cultural enhancement activities to students and their families when school is not in session. The primary goal of these centers is to assist students to meet state and local standards for core subjects, such as reading and mathematics, by providing them with academic enrichment opportunities.

Federal stimulus grant[edit]

The district received an extra $866,044 in ARRA - federal stimulus money to be used in specific programs like special education and meeting the academic needs of low-income students.[117] The funding was limited to the 2009-10 and 2010-2011 school years.[118] Due to the temporary nature of the funding, schools were repeatedly advised to use the funds for one-time expenditures like acquiring equipment, making repairs to buildings, training teachers to provide more effective instruction or purchasing books and software.

Race to the Top grant[edit]

School district officials did not apply for the Race to the Top federal grant which would have brought the district up to one million additional federal dollars for improving student academic achievement.[119] 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.[120] 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.[121]

Common Cents state initiative[edit]

The South Williamsport Area School Board chose to participate in the Pennsylvania Department of Education Common Cents program.[122] 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.[123] After the review of the information, the district was not required to implement the recommended cost savings changes. The review identified potential annual savings of over $130,000 over a variety of cost centers, including food services, transportation, purchasing and utility costs. Opportunities for savings in food services and utility costs appeared particularly promising for the district.[124]

Real estate taxes[edit]

The school board set property tax rates in 2012-13 at 13.3000 mills.[125] 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. 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 (Local Tax Enabling Act), which are around 15% of revenues for school districts.[126] The school district includes municipalities in three counties, each of which has different rates of property tax assessment, necessitating a state board equalization of the tax rates between the counties.

  • 2011-12 - 13.3000 mills.[127]
  • 2010-11 - 12.3000 mills [128]
  • 2009-10 - 12.3000 mills.[129]
  • 2008-09 - 12.3000 mills.[130]
  • 2007-08 - 12.3000 mills.[131]
  • 2006-07 - 11.9000 mills.[132]
  • 2005-06 - 11.9000 mills.[133]

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.[134] The average yearly property tax paid by Lycoming County residents amounts to about 3.53% of their yearly income. Lycoming County is ranked 364th of the 3143 United States counties for property taxes as a percentage of median income.[135]

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 authorized 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.[136] In June 2011, the Pennsylvania General Assembly eliminated six of the ten exceptions to the Act 1 Index.[137] 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.[138][139]

The School District Adjusted Index for the South Williamsport Area School District 2006-2007 through 2010-2011.[140]

  • 2006-07 - 5.5%, Base 3.9%
  • 2007-08 - 4.8%, Base 3.4%
  • 2008-09 - 6.2%, Base 4.4%
  • 2009-10 - 5.8%, Base 4.1%
  • 2010-11 - 4.1%, Base 2.9%
  • 2011-12 - 2.0%, Base 1.4%
  • 2012-13 - 2.4%, Base 1.7% [141]
  • 2013-14 - 2.4%, Base 1.7% [142]

For the 2012-13 budget year, South Williamsport Area 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.[143]

For the 2011-12 school year, the South Williamsport Area School Board applied for three exceptions to exceed the Act 1 Index. They were for Maintenance of Local Tax Revenue, special education costs and for employee pension costs. Each year, the South Williamsport 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 publisher each year by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.[144]

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.[145]

South Williamsport Area School Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed the Act 1 index for the budgets in 2009-10 or in 2010-11.[146] 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.[147]

Property tax relief[edit]

In 2009, the Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief from gambling for the South Williamsport Area School District was $229 per approved permanent primary residence. In the District, 2,444 property owners applied for the tax relief through gaming.[148] The tax relief was subtracted from the total annual school property on the individual's tax bill. Property owners apply for the relief through the county Treasurer's office. Farmers can qualify for a farmstead exemption on building used for agricultural purposes. The farm must be at least 10 contiguous acres and must be the primary residence of the owner. Farmers can qualify for both the homestead exemption and the farmstead exemption. The Pennsylvania Auditor General found that 69% of property owners applied for tax relief in Lycoming County.[149] In Lycoming County, the highest property tax relief in 2009 was $310 awarded to the approved property owners in Williamsport Area School District. Pennsylvania awarded the highest property tax relief to residents of the Chester-Upland School District in Delaware County at $632 per homestead and farmstead in 2010.[150] This was the second year Chester Upland School District was the top recipient.

Additionally, the Pennsylvania Property Tax/Rent Rebate program is provided for low income Pennsylvanians aged 65 and older; widows and widowers aged 50 and older; and people with disabilities age 18 and older. The income limit is $35,000 for homeowners. The maximum rebate for both homeowners and renters is $650. Applicants can exclude one-half (1/2) of their Social Security income, consequently individuals who have income substantially more than $35,000, may still qualify for a rebate. Individuals must apply annually for the rebate. This can be taken in addition to Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief.[151]

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%).[152]

Extracurriculars[edit]

South Williamsport Mounties Marching Band in 2011

The South Williamsport Area School District offers a variety of clubs, activities and sports.

By Pennsylvania law, all K-12 students in the district, including those who attend a private nonpublic school, cyber charter school, charter school and those homeschooled, are eligible to participate in the extracurricular programs, including all athletics. They must meet the same eligibility rules as the students enrolled in the district's schools.[153]

Sports[edit]

The District funds:

Junior High School Sports

According to PIAA directory July 2012 [154]

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