Sullivan County School District

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Sullivan County School District
Map of Sullivan County Pennsylvania with Municipal and Township Labels.png
Map of Sullivan County, Pennsylvania
Address
777 South Street
Laporte, Pennsylvania, Sullivan 18626
United States
Information
Type Public
Closed Turnpike Elementary School
School board 9 locally elected members
Oversight Pennsylvania Department of Education, US Department of Education
Superintendent

Mrs. Patricia A Cross (July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2018)[1]
Dr Kathryn Gruber, substitute superintendent (2014)
Mr Craig R Skaluba, Superintendent (contract August 21, 2013 -June 30, 2017) salary $118,182 (2013)[2]

former Mr. Steve Gobble through June 2012
Administrator

Douglas Lindner, Business Manager[3] Salary $82,750 (2013)
Randi Dickinson, Special Education Supervisor
Lance Mabus, Technology Director
Chris McMahon, Facilities Director

Cindy Fitzgerald, Food Service Director
Principal Ed Pietroski , HS salary $92,700 (2013)
Principal Mary McClintock, ES salary $101,120 (2013)
Staff

45 non teaching staff members

58 nonteaching staff members
Faculty

47 teachers (2014)[4]

46 teachers (2012)[5]
Grades K-12
Age 5 years old to 21 years old special education
Pupils

625 pupils (2015)[6]
604 pupils (2014)[7]
630 pupils (2013)[8]
630 pupils (2010)
668 pupils (2008)

739 pupils (2006)
 • Kindergarten 64 (2012), 49 (2010)
 • Grade 1 41 (2012), 36 (2010)
 • Grade 2 45 (2012), 58 (2010)
 • Grade 3 35 (2012), 33 (2010)
 • Grade 4 59 (2012), 50 (2010)
 • Grade 5 37 (2012), 42 (2010)
 • Grade 6 54 (2012), 42 (2010)
 • Grade 7 40 (2012), 42 (2010)
 • Grade 8 48 (2012), 50 (2010)
 • Grade 9 42 (2012), 57 (2010)
 • Grade 10 46 (2012), 61 (2010)
 • Grade 11 56 (2012), 58 (2010)
 • Grade 12 63 (2012), 52 (2010)
 • Other Enrollment projected to further decline to 536 in 2019[9]
Language English
Mascot Griffins
Per pupils spending 2008

$16,504
$18,277.17 (2012)

$20,075.73 (2014) ranked 29th out of 500
Website

The Sullivan County School District is a rural public school district which serves the whole of Sullivan County, Pennsylvania. The District operates Sullivan County High School grades 7-12 and the Sullivan County Elementary School K-6. It encompasses approximately 479 square miles (1,240 km2) square miles. According to 2000 federal census data, it served a resident population of 6,556. By 2010, the District's population declined to 6,411 people.[10] The educational attainment levels for the Sullivan County School District population (25 years old and over) were 86.9% high school graduates and 13% college graduates.[11] The District is one of the 500 public school districts of Pennsylvania.

According to the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, 31.5% of the District’s pupils lived at 185% or below the Federal Poverty Level [1] as shown by their eligibility for the federal free or reduced price school meal programs in 2012.[12] In 2009, the Sullivan County School District residents’ per capita income was $16,438, while the median family income was $37,196.[13] In the Commonwealth, the median family income was $49,501[14] and the United States median family income was $49,445, in 2010.[15] In Sullivan County, the median household income was $36,250.[16] By 2013, the median household income in the United States rose to $52,100.[17]

According to District officials, in school year 2011-2012, the SCSD provided basic educational services to 648 pupils through the employment of 63 teachers, 49 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 5 administrators. The District received $4 million in state funding in the 2011-12 school year. In school year 2009-10, Sullivan County School District had 622 pupils enrolled. The District employed: 61 teachers, 43 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 5 administrators. The District received more than $4 million in state funding in school year 2009-10.[18]

Sullivan County School District operates two schools: Sullivan County Elementary School and Sullivan County Junior Senior High School. Until 2011, the District also operated a second elementary school in Mildred, Pennsylvania. Turnpike Elementary School was closed in June 2011 due to declining enrollment.[19] The former Turnpike Elementary School was a recipient of the 2007 NCLB - Blue Ribbon Schools Award.

Sullivan County Junior Senior High school students may choose to attend Northern Tier Career Center for training in the construction and mechanical trades. The BLaST Intermediate Unit IU17 provides the District with a wide variety of services like specialized education for disabled students and hearing, speech and visual disability services and professional development for staff and faculty.

Governance[edit]

The Sullivan County School District is governed by 9 individually elected board members (serve four-year terms), the Pennsylvania State Board of Education, the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the Pennsylvania General Assembly.[20] The federal government controls programs it funds like Title I funding for low-income children in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and the No Child Left Behind Act (renamed Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in December 2015), which mandates the district focus its resources on student success in acquiring reading and math skills.[21] The school board is required by state law to post a financial report on the district in its website by March of each school year.[22] The Superintendent and Business Manager are appointed by the school board. The Superintendent is the chief administrative officer with overall responsibility for all aspects of operations, including education and finance. The Business Manager is responsible for budget and financial operations. Neither of these officials are voting members of the School Board. The School Board enters into individual employment contracts for these positions. These contracts must be in writing and are subject to public discloure under the state’s Right to Know Act. In Pennsylvania, public school districts are required to give 150 days notice to the Superintendent regarding renewal of the employment contract.[23] Pursuant to Act 141 of 2012 which amended the Pennsylvania School Code, all school districts that have hired superintendents on/after the fall of 2012 are required to develop objective performance standards and post them on the district’s website.[24]

The Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy Alternatives Sunshine Review gave the Sullivan County School Board and school district administration a "C-" 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.[25]

Communication

An Internet-based school-to-parent communication system, calls parents and homes during emergencies. It is also activated to inform parents/guardians of upcoming events such as Open House. A second internet based program gives parents access to their children's current grade reports in grades 7-12, plus notification through email of any grade updates.

Academic achievement[edit]

Sullivan County School District was ranked 241st out of 493 Pennsylvania school districts in 2015 by the Pittsburgh Business Times.[26] The ranking is based on the last 3 years of student academic achievement as demonstrated by PSSAs results in: reading, writing, math and science and the three Keystone Exams (literature, Algebra 1, Biology I) in high school.[27] Three school districts were excluded because they do not operate high schools (Saint Clair Area School District, Midland Borough School District, Duquesne City School District). The PSSAs are given to all children in grades 3rd through 8th. Adapted PSSA examinations are given to children in the special education programs. Writing exams were given to children in 5th and 8th grades.

In 2009, the academic achievement of the students in the Sullivan County School District was in the 57th percentile of Pennsylvania's 500 school districts. Scale (0-99; 100 is state best)[33]

Overachievers ranking

In 2010, the Pittsburgh Business Times reported an Overachievers Ranking for 498 Pennsylvania school districts. Sullivan County ranked 200th. In 2009 the district was 190th. The paper 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."[34]

District AYP status history[edit]

In 2012, Sullivan County School District achieved Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) status.[35] In 2011, Sullivan County 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.[36][37] Sullivan County School District achieved AYP status each year from 2003 to 2010.[38]

Graduation Rate[edit]

In 2015, the District’s graduation rate was 94.23%.[39]

According to traditional graduation rate calculations

High school[edit]

Sullivan County Junior Senior High School is located at 749 South Street, Laporte, PA. In 2015, enrollment declined further to 274 pupils in 7th through 12th grades, with 33.9% of pupils eligible for a free lunch due to family poverty. Additionally, 16% of pupils received special education services, while 0.36% of pupils were identified as gifted.[49] The school employed 23 teachers.[50] Per the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of the teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

In 2014, enrollment was reported as 285 pupils in 7th through 12th grades, with 33% of pupils eligible for a free lunch due to family poverty. Additionally, 16.8% of pupils received special education services, while less than 1% of pupils were identified as gifted. The school employed 22 teachers.[51] Per the PA Department of Education 2% of the teachers were rated "Non‐Highly Qualified" under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.[52]

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2011, the school reported an enrollment of 318 pupils in grades 7th through 12th, with 84 pupils eligible for a federal free or reduced price lunch due to the family meeting the federal poverty level. In 2011, the Junior Senior High School employed 21 teachers yielding a student-teacher ratio of 14:1.[53] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 1 teacher was rated "Non‐Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[54]

2015 School Performance Profile

Sullivan County Junior Senior High School achieved 73.8 out of 100. Reflects on grade level reading, mathematics and science achievement.The PDE reported that 76% of the High School’s students were on grade level in reading/literature. In Algebra 1, 71% of students showed on grade level skills at the end of the course. In Biology I, 76% demonstrated on grade level science understanding at the end of the course.[55] Statewide, 53 percent of schools with an eleventh grade achieved an academic score of 70 or better. Five percent of the 2,033 schools with 11th grade were scored at 90 and above; 20 percent were scored between 80 and 89; 28 percent between 70 and 79; 25 percent between 60 and 69 and 22 percent below 60. The Keystone Exam results showed: 73 percent of students statewide scored at grade-level in English, 64 percent in Algebra I and 59 percent in biology.[56][57]

2014 School Performance Profile

Sullivan County Junior Senior High School achieved out of 100. Reflects on grade level reading, mathematics and science achievement. In reading/literature - 78% of tested pupils were on grade level. In Algebra 1, 72.9% showed on grade level skills at the end of the course. In Biology, 68% demonstrated on grade level science understanding at the end of the course. In 8th grade writing, 76% demonstrated on grade level skills.[58][59] Statewide, the percentage of high school students who scored proficient and advanced in Algebra I increased to 39.7% to 40.1%. The percentage of high school students who scored proficient and advanced in reading/literature declined to 52.5%. The percentage of high school students who scored proficient and advanced in biology improved from 39.7% to 41.4%.[60]

2013 School Performance Profile

Sullivan County Junior Senior High School achieved 85.8 out of 100. Reflects on grade level reading, mathematics and science achievement. In reading/literature - 79.56% were on grade level. In Algebra 1, 69.34% showed on grade level skills. In Biology, 56.70% showed on grade level science understanding. In writing, 88.37% of 8th graders demonstrated on grade level writing skills.[61] According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 2,181 public schools (less than 73 percent of Pennsylvania public schools), achieved an academic score of 70 or higher. Pennsylvania 11th grade students no longer take the PSSAs. Instead, beginning in 2012, they take the Keystone Exams at the end of the associated course.[62]

AYP History

In 2012, Sullivan County Junior Senior High School declined to Warning AYP status due to lagging student achievement in math and a declining graduation rate.[63] In 2011, Sullivan County Junior Senior High School achieved Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) status.[64] The school achieved AYP status each school year 2003 through 2010. Effective with Spring 2013, the Pennsylvania Department of Education discontinued administering the PSSA's to 11th graders.

PSSA Results

Pennsylvania System of School Assessments, commonly called PSSAs are No Child Left Behind Act related examinations which were administered from 2003 through 2012, in all Pennsylvania public high schools. The exams were administered in the Spring of each school year. The goal was for 100% of students to be on grade level or better in reading and mathematics, by the Spring of 2014. The tests focused on the state's Academic Standards for reading, writing, mathematics and science. The Science exam included content in science, technology, ecology and the environmental studies. The mathematics exam included: algebra I, algebra II, geometry and trigonometry. The standards were first published in 1998 and are mandated by the Pennsylvania State Board of Education.[65]

In 2013, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania changed its high school assessments to the Keystone Exams in Algebra 1, Reading/literature and Biology1. The exams are given at the end of the course, rather than all in the spring of the student's 11th grade year.[66]

11th Grade Reading;
  • 2012 - 80% on grade level, (8% below basic). State - 67% of 11th graders are on grade level.[67]
  • 2011 - 68% (14% below basic). State - 69.1%[68]
  • 2010 - 71%, State - 67%[69]
  • 2009 - 70%, State - 65%[70]
  • 2008 - 72%, State - 65%[71]
  • 2007 - 60%, State - 65%[72]
11th Grade Math
  • 2012 - 59% on grade level (18% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 59% of 11th graders are on grade level.[73]
  • 2011 - 67% (11% below basic). State - 60.3%[74]
  • 2010 - 59% on grade level, State - 59%
  • 2009 - 54%, State - 56%[75]
  • 2008 - 58%, State - 55%[76]
  • 2007 - 58%, State 53%[77]
11th Grade Science
  • 2012 - 61% on grade level (7% below basic). State - 42% of 11th graders were on grade level.[78]
  • 2011 - 56% (11% below basic). State - 40%[79]
  • 2010 - 45.9% on grade level. State - 40%
  • 2009 - 49%, State - 40%[80]
  • 2008 - 37%, State - 39%[81]
  • 2007 - students field tested. Results withheld from the public by PDE.

Science in Motion Sullivan County Junior Senior High School did not take advantage of a state program called Science in Motion which brought college professors and sophisticated science equipment to the school to raise science awareness and to provide inquiry-based experiences for the students. The Science in Motion program was funded by a state appropriation and cost the school nothing to participate.[82] Wilkes University provided the science enrichment experiences to schools in the region

Graduation requirements[edit]

The Sullivan County School Board has determined that graduation requirements are 28 credits, including four required English classes, four credits in social studies, four credits in mathematics, three credits in science, two and a half credits in health, physical education and driver education and two credits in the arts and/or humanities.[83][84]

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.[85] Effective with the graduating class of 2017, the Pennsylvania State Board of Education eliminated the state mandate that students complete a culminating project in order to graduate.[86]

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.[87] The exam is given at the end of the course. Keystone Exams replace the PSSAs for 11th grade.[88]

Students have several opportunities to pass the exam. Schools are mandated to provide targeted assistance to help the student be successful. Those who do not pass after several attempts can perform a project in order to graduate.[89][90] 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.[91] In 2011, Pennsylvania high school students field tested the Algebra 1, Biology and English Lit exams. The statewide results were: Algebra 1 38% on grade level, Biology 35% on grade level and English Lit - 49% on grade level.[92] 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.

College Remediation[edit]

According to a Pennsylvania Department of Education study released in January 2009, 33% of Sullivan County 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.[93][94] 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.[95] Per the Pennsylvania Department of Education, one in three recent high school graduates, who attend Pennsylvania's public universities and community colleges, takes at least one remedial course in math, reading or English.

Dual enrollment[edit]

The Sullivan County Junior Senior 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, including the graduation ceremony. The college credits are offered at a deeply discounted rate. The state offers a small grant to assist students in costs for tuition, fees and books.[96] Under the Pennsylvania Transfer and Articulation Agreement, many Pennsylvania colleges and universities accept these credits for students who transfer to their institutions.[97] For the 2009-10 funding year, Sullivan County School District received a state grant of $31,720 for the program.[98] In 2010, Governor Edward Rendell eliminated the grants to students.

In 2014, Sullivan County School District offered three dual enrollment courses in conjunction with Pennsylvania College of Technology. Penn College NOW classes are taught by approved Sullivan County High School teachers at the high school.[99][100] Penn College NOW is partially funded by the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Improvement Act of 2006 (Public Law 109-270) through the Pennsylvania Department of Education, by the support of Pennsylvania companies through the Educational Improvement Tax Credit program managed by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development and by Pennsylvania College of Technology.

SAT scores[edit]

In 2014, 25 Sullivan County School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 516. The Math average score was 536. The Writing average score was 485.[101] Statewide in Pennsylvania, Verbal Average Score was 497. The Math average score was 504. The Writing average score was 480. The College Board also reported that nationwide scores were: 497 in reading, 513 in math and 487 in writing.[102]

In 2013, 38 Sullivan County School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 496. The Math average score was 506. The Writing average score was 461. 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.[103]

In 2012, 38 Sullivan County School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 501. The Math average score was 504. The Writing average score was 481. 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, 33 Sullivan County School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 497. The Math average score was 485. The Writing average score was 457.[104] Pennsylvania ranked 40th among states with SAT scores: Verbal - 493, Math - 501, Writing - 479.[105] 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.[106]

The Center for Rural Pennsylvania, a research arm of the Pennsylvania General Assembly, compared the SAT data of students in rural areas of Pennsylvania to students in urban areas. From 2003 to 2005, the average total SAT score for students in rural Pennsylvania was 992, while urban students averaged 1,006. During the same period, 28 percent of 11th and 12th graders in rural school districts took the exam, compared to 32 percent of urban students in the same grades. The average math and verbal scores were 495 and 497, respectively, for rural students, while urban test-takers averaged 499 and 507, respectively. Pennsylvania’s SAT composite score ranked low on the national scale in 2004. The composite SAT score of 1,003 left Pennsylvania ranking 44 out of the 50 states and Washington, DC.[107]

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

AP Courses[edit]

In 2014, Sullivan County Junior Senior High School offered 4 Advanced Placement (AP) courses at a higher cost than regular courses. Students have the option of taking College Board approved courses and then taking the College Board's examination in the Spring. The fee for each AP Exam is $91 (2014).[108] The school normally retains $9 of that fee as a rebate to help with administrative costs. In 2012, the fee was $89 per test per pupil. Students, who achieve a 3 or better on the exam, may be awarded college credits at US universities and colleges. Each higher education institution sets its own standards about what level of credits are awarded to a student based on their AP exam score. Most higher education give credits for scores of 4 or 5. Some schools also give credits for scores of 3. High schools give credits towards graduation to students who take the school's AP class. At Sullivan County Junior Senior High School just 24% of students who took an AP course earned a 3 or better on the exam.[109]

In 2015, Sullivan County Junior Senior High School offered 4 Advanced Placement (AP) courses, with 31% of pupils who took the course earning a 3 or better on the end of course AP exam administered by the College Board.[110]

ExCEL[edit]

Sullivan County Junior Senior High School has a program called ExCEL dedicated to assisting students in their success. Students with a year-to-date grade below 70 in math, English, social studies, and/or science are referred to the program by their classroom teachers. Students that are referred to the program are required to attend a designated quiet study. Students are also limited in their ability to attend extracurricular or co-curricular activities based on required attendance for ExCEL. When the student has improved their yearly grade to a 70 or above they are eligible to exit the program. Students are entered into ExCEL and removed from ExCEL on a weekly basis.

Junior high school[edit]

PSSAs are given in the Spring of each school year. Seventh grades have been tested in reading and mathematics since 2006. Eighth graders are tested in: reading, writing, mathematics and Science. Beginning in the Spring of 2013, eighth graders, who are enrolled in Algebra I take the Keystone Exam for Algebra I at the end of the course. The testing of 8th grade in reading and mathematics began in 1999, as a state initiative.[111] Testing in science began in 2007. The goal is for 100% of students to be on grade level or better in reading and mathematics, by the Spring of 2014. The tests focus on the state's Academic Standards for reading, writing, mathematics and science.[112] The standards were published in 1998 and are mandated by the Pennsylvania State Board of Education.[113] In 2014, the Commonwealth adopted the Pennsylvania Core Standards - Mathematics.[114]

2015 School Performance Profile

The PDE reported that 76% of 8th grade students at Sullivan County Junior Senior High School students were on grade level in reading on the PSSAs given in April 2015. In math/Algebra 1, 32% of 8th grade students showed on grade level skills. In science, 78% of the school’s 8th graders demonstrated on grade level science understanding. No eighth grade writing scores were reported. In 7th grade, 71% were on grade level in reading, while 40% showed on grade level math skills.[115] Statewide 58% of eighth (8th) graders were on grade level in reading, while 29% demonstrated on grade level math skills. Pennsylvania 7th graders were 58% on grade level in reading and 33% demonstrated on grade level math skills.[116]

Both 2013 and 2014 achievement data are included in the School Performance Profile data for the whole school.

Eighth Grade Reading
  • 2012 - 71% on grade level (18% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 79% of 8th graders on grade level.[117]
  • 2011 - 96% (2% below basic) State - 81.8%[118]
  • 2010 - 83%, State - 81%
  • 2009 - 90%, State - 80%
  • 2008 - 82%, State - 78%
Eighth Grade Math
  • 2012 - 61% on grade level (12% below basic). State - 76%[119]
  • 2011 - 81% (0% below basic). State - 76.9%
  • 2010 - 77%, State - 75%
  • 2009 - 73%, State - 71%
  • 2008 - 74%, State - 70%
Eighth Grade Science
  • 2012 - 72% on grade level (13% below basic). State - 59%[120]
  • 2011 - 80% (4% below basic). State – 58.3%
  • 2010 - 66%, State - 57%
  • 2009 - 66%, State - 55%
  • 2008 - 60%, State - 52%
Dropout Early Warning System

In 2013, Sullivan County School District did not implement a free dropout prevention Early Warning System and Interventions Catalog at the junior high school.[121] The process identifies students at risk for dropping out by examining the pupil’s: attendance, behavior and course grades. Interventions are implemented to assist at-risk pupils to remain in school. The program is funded by federal and private dollars.[122]

Elementary school[edit]

Sullivan County Elementary School is located at 767 South Street, Laporte. In 2015, the School's enrollment was 351 pupils in grades kindergarten through 6th, with 39% of pupils receiving a federal free or reduced price meals due to family poverty. Additionally, 16% of the pupils receive special education services, while 1% are identified as gifted.[123] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of the teachers were rated highly qualified under No Child Left Behind. The school provides full day kindergarten since 2003.[124] The school is a federally designated Title I school.

In 2014, the School's enrollment was 319 pupils in grades kindergarten through 6th, with 38% of pupils receiving a federal free or reduced price meals due to family poverty. Additionally, 15% of the pupils receive special education services, while 1% are identified as gifted.[125] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of the teachers were rated highly qualified under No Child Left Behind. The school provides full day kindergarten since 2003.[126] The school is a federally designated Title I school.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2011, enrollment was 323 pupils in grades kindergarten through 6th, with 115 pupils receiving a free or reduced price lunch. The School employed 24 teachers yielding a student-teacher ratio of 13:1.[127] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Non‐Highly Qualified" under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.[128] The school provided full day kindergarten to all its pupils.[129]

2015 School Performance Profile

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 58% of 5th grade students at Sullivan County Elementary School were on grade level in reading on the PSSAs given in April 2015. In mathematics, 47% of 5th grade students showed on grade level skills. No fifth grade writing scores were reported. In 4th grade, 68% were on grade level in reading, while 50% showed on grade level math skills. In science, 88% of fourth graders showed on grade level understanding. Among third (3rd) graders, 48% were on grade level in reading and 40% were on grade level in mathematics. Among 6th graders, 58% were on grade level in reading and 33% were on grade level in mathematics.[130] Statewide 61.9% of fifth (5th) graders were on grade level in reading, while 42.8% demonstrated on grade level math skills. Pennsylvania 4th graders were 58.6% on grade level in reading and 44.4% demonstrated on grade level math skills. In science, 77.3% of fourth graders showed on grade level understanding. Among Pennsylvania third (3rd) graders, 62% were reading on grade level, while 48.5% demonstrated on grade level math skills.[131]

2014 School Performance Profile

Sullivan County Elementary School achieved a score of 88.8 out of 100. The score reflects on grade level: reading, science, writing and mathematics achievement. In 2013-14, only 72% of the students were reading on grade level in grades 3rd through 6th. In 3rd grade, 77.5% of the pupils were reading on grade level. In math, 82% were on grade level (3rd-6th grades). In 4th grade science, 94% of the pupils demonstrated on grade level understanding. In writing, 80% of 5th grade pupils demonstrated on grade level skills.[132]

2013 School Performance Profile

Sullivan County Elementary School achieved a score of 87.4 out of 100. The score reflects on grade level: reading, science, writing and mathematics achievement. In 2012-13, only 72% of the students were reading on grade level in grades 3rd through 6th. In 3rd grade, only 69.7% of the pupils were reading on grade level. In math, 87.43% were on grade level (3rd-6th grades). In 4th grade science, 87.50% of the pupils demonstrated on grade level understanding. In writing, only 77.78% of 5th grade pupils demonstrated on grade level skills.[133] According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 2,181 public schools (less than 73 percent of Pennsylvania public schools), achieved an academic score of 70 or higher.

AYP status history

In 2012, Sullivan County Elementary School declined to Warning Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) status.[134] In 2011, Sullivan County Elementary School achieved AYP status.

PSSA History

Each year, in the Spring, the 3rd graders and sixth graders take the PSSAs in math and reading. The fourth grade is tested in reading, math and science. The fifth grade is evaluated in reading, mathematics and writing. Pennsylvania System of School Assessments, commonly called PSSAs are No Child Left Behind Act related examinations which were administered beginning 2003 to all Pennsylvania public school students in grades 3rd-8th.[135] The goal was for 100% of students to be on grade level or better in reading and mathematics, by the Spring of 2014.[136][137][138] The tests focused on the state's Academic Standards for reading, writing, mathematics and science. The Science exam is given to 4th grades and includes content in science, technology, ecology and the environmental studies.[139]

4th Grade Science
  • 2012 - 90%, (3% below basic). State - 82%
  • 2011 - 87%, (6% below basic). State - 82.9%
  • 2010 - 83%, (0% below basic). State - 81%
  • 2009 - 85%, (0% below basic). State - 83%

Bullying policy[edit]

The Sullivan County School District administration reported there were zero incidents of bullying in the District in 2012. Additionally, there was an incident of harassment and no sexual incidents involving students. The local law enforcement was involved in five incidents at the schools, with three arrests.[145] [146] Each year, the school safety data is reported by the District's Administration to the Safe School Center, which then publishes the compiled reports online. Nationally, nearly 20% of pupils report being bullied at school.[147]

In 2009, the administration reported there were zero incidents of bullying in the district.[148][149]

In 2014, Sullivan County School District approved an anti bullying/cyberbullying policy.[150] The Sullivan County School Board prohibits bullying by district students and faculty. The Board directs that complaints of bullying shall be investigated promptly, and corrective action shall be taken when allegations are verified. No reprisals or retaliation shall occur as a result of good faith reports of bullying. The district has implemented an intervention program called Rachel's Promise. The board expects staff members to be responsible to maintain an educational environment free from all forms of bullying. 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.[151] 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.[152]

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.[153]

Special education[edit]

In December 2015, the District administration reported that 114 pupils or 18.2% of the district's pupils received Special Education services, with 36% of the identified students having a specific learning disability.[154]

In December 2012, Sullivan County School District administration reported that 104 pupils or 16.5% of the District's pupils received Special Education services, with 49% of the identified students having a specific learning disability.[155] Special education services in the Commonwealth are provided to students from ages three years to 21 years old. In the 2010-2011 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.[156] 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 December 2009, the District Administration reported that 102 pupils or 15% of the District's pupils received Special Education services.[157]

In 2007, Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Gerald Zahorchak testified before the Pennsylvania House Education Committee regarding full day kindergarten. He claimed that districts which offered the program would see a significant decrease in special education students due to early identification and early intervention. He asserted the high cost of full day kindergarten would be recouped by Districts in lower special education costs.[158] Despite offering the program for nearly a decade, Sullivan County School District has not seen a decrease in the percentage of special education students it serves, yielding no savings. In fact the number of pupils receiving services has steadily risen.

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. When a child experiences difficulty within the classroom, screening information will be gathered by a multidisciplinary team located within the child’s school to determine his or her specific needs. 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 make a written request for a multidisciplinary evaluation to the building principal.[159][160][161] 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 2010, the state of Pennsylvania provided $1,026,815,000 for Special Education services. This funding was in addition to the state's basic education per pupil funding, as well as, all other state and federal funding.[162] 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.[163] Over identification of students, in order to increase state funding, has been an issue in the Commonwealth. Some districts have more than 20% of its students receiving special education services while others have 10% supported through special education.[164] 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.[165] In 2012, the Obama Administration's US Department of Education issued a directive requiring schools include students with disabilities in extracurricular activities, including sports.[166]

The Sullivan County School District received a $404,181 supplement for special education services in 2010.[167] For the 2011-12, 2012–13 and 2013-14 school years, all Pennsylvania public school districts received the same level of funding for special education that they received in 2010-11. This level funding 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.[168][169] For the 2014-2015 school year, Sullivan County School District will receive an increase to $406,972 from the Commonwealth for special education funding.[170] Additionally, the state provides supplemental funding for extraordinarily impacted students. The District must apply for this added funding.

Gifted education[edit]

Sullivan County School District Administration reported that 4 or 0.63% 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.[171] By law, the district must provide mentally gifted programs at all grade levels. The referral process for a gifted evaluation can be initiated by teachers or parents by contacting the student’s building principal and requesting an evaluation. All requests must be made in writing. To be eligible for mentally gifted programs in Pennsylvania, a student must have a cognitive ability of at least 130 as measured on a standardized ability test by a certified school psychologist. Other factors that indicate giftedness will also be considered for eligibility.[172][173]

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.[174]

In 2013, the average teacher salary in Sullivan County School District was $69,006 a year, while the cost of the benefits teachers received was $22,899 per employee, for a total annual average teacher compensation of $91,906.[175][176][177]

Sullivan County School District teacher and administrator retirement benefits are equal to at least 2.00% x Final Average Salary x Total Credited Service. (Some teachers benefits utilize a 2.50% benefit factor.)[178] After 40 years of service, a teacher can retire with 100% of the average salary of their final 3 years of employment. According to a study conducted at the American Enterprise Institute, in 2011, public school teachers’ total compensation is roughly 50 percent higher than they would likely receive in the private sector. The study found that the most generous benefits that teachers receive are not accounted for in many studies of compensation including: pension, retiree health benefits and job security.[179]

In 2009, Sullivan County School District reported employing over 60 teachers with a salary range of $44,250 to $94,000.[180] The average salary in the district is $65,239.[181]

In 2007, Sullivan County School District employed 58 teachers. The average teacher salary in Sullivan County School District was $$61,492 for 187 days worked.[182] 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.[183] Additionally, the district's teachers receive: a defined benefit pension, health insurance, life insurance, college credit reimbursement, 2 paid personal days, sick days, a lump sum retirement bonus of up to $15,000 and other benefits.[184] Teachers receive additional pay for extra duties and meetings held outside of regular school hours.

Administrative costs Sullivan County School District administrative costs per pupil in 2008 was $1,217.35 per pupil. This ranked 20th in the state for administration spending. The lowest administrative cost per pupil in Pennsylvania was $398 per pupil.[185]

Per pupil spending Sullivan County School District administration reported that per pupil spending in 2008 was $16,504 which ranked 34th in the state's 501 school districts for per pupil spending. In 2010, the District’s per pupil spending had increased to $17,880.45.[186] In 2013, the per pupil spending was reported as $18,277.[187] In 2011, Pennsylvania’s per pupil spending was $13,467, ranking 6th in the United States.[188] In 2007, the Pennsylvania per pupil total expenditures was reported as $12,759.[189]

The U.S. Census Bureau reported that Pennsylvania spent $8,191 per pupil in school year 2000-01.[190] In 2007, the Pennsylvania per pupil total expenditures was reported as $12,759.[191] Among the fifty states, Pennsylvania’s total per pupil revenue (including all sources) ranked 11th at $15,023 per student, in 2008-09.[192] Pennsylvania’s total revenue per pupil rose to $16,186 ranking 9th in the nation in 2011.[193]

State Audit

In August 2010, the Pennsylvania Auditor General conducted a performance audit of the district. The findings were reported to the administration and the school board.[194] In October 2014, the District was audited again.[195]

Reserves In 2008, the Sullivan County School District reported a $837,087 balance in an unreserved-undesignated fund. The designated fund balance was reported as $350,000.[196] In 2012, Sullivan County School District Administration reported an increase to $2,290,850 in its reserves. 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.[197] In 2005, the total reserve funds held by Pennsylvania public school districts was $1.9 billion.[198] By 2013, reserves held by Pennsylvania public school districts, as a whole, had increased to over $3.8 billion.[199][200][201]

Tuition Students who live in the Sullivan County 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 Area School District. For these cases, the Pennsylvania Department of Education sets an annual tuition rate for each school district. It is the amount the public school district pays to a charter school for each resident student that attends the charter and it is the amount a nonresident student's parents must pay to attend the District's schools. The 2012 tuition rates are Elementary School - $11,732, High School - $15,734.87.[202]

Sullivan County School District is funded by a combination of: a local earned income tax, a property tax, a real estate transfer tax, coupled with substantial funding from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the federal government.[203] Grants can provide an opportunity to supplement school funding without raising local taxes. 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 personal wealth.[204] 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.[205]

State basic education funding[edit]

According to a report from Representative Todd Stephens office, Sullivan County School District receives 33% of its annual revenue from the state.[206]

In December 2014, the Pennsylvania Education Funding Reform Commission conducted a hearing. Testimony was given regarding state funding at the fastest growing districts and those with the greatest decline in enrollment since 1996. Sullivan County School District was identified as a district with a large decline in enrollment (-30%) since 1996. State funding per pupil to the District grew by 98% from $3,129 per pupil in 1996 to $6,208 in 2013.[207][208]

For the 2014-15 school year, Sullivan County School District will receive $2,477,517 in State Basic Education funding. The District will also receive $41,315 in new Ready To Learn Block grant. The State’s enacted Education Budget includes $5,526,129,000 for the 2014-2015 Basic Education Funding.[209] The Education budget also includes Accountability Block Grant funding at $100 million and $241 million in new Ready to Learn funding for public schools that focus on student achievement and academic success. The State is paying $500.8 million to Social Security on the school employees behalf and another $1.16 billion to the state teachers pension system (PSERS). In total, Pennsylvania’s Education budget for K-12 public schools is $10 billion. This was a $305 million increase over 2013-2014 state spending and the greatest amount ever allotted by the Commonwealth for its public schools.[210]

In the 2013-2014 school year, the Sullivan County School District received $2,477,517 in Pennsylvania Basic Education Funding. This is $20,395 more than its 2012-13 state BEF to the District. Additionally, Sullivan County School District received $23,045 in Accountability Block Grant funding to focus on academic achievement and level funding for special education services. Among the public school districts in County, School District received the highest percentage increase in BEF at 5.5%. The District has the option of applying for several other state and federal grants to increase revenues. The Commonwealth’s budget increased Basic Education Funding statewide by $123 million to over $5.5 billion. Most of Pennsylvania’s 500 public school districts received an increase of Basic Education Funding in a range of 0.9% to 4%. Eight public school districts received exceptionally high funding increases of 10% to 16%. The highest increase in state funding was awarded to Austin Area School District which received a 22.5% increase in Basic Education Funding.[211] The highest percent of state spending per student is in the Chester-Upland district, where roughly 78 percent comes from state coffers. In Philadelphia, it is nearly 49 percent.[212] As a part of the education budget, the state provided the PSERS (Pennsylvania school employee pension fund) with $1,017,000,000 and Social Security payments for school employees of $495 million.[213]

For the 2012-13 school year, the Sullivan County School District received $2,457,338.[214] 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. The state also provided a $544.4 million payment for School Employees’ Social Security and $856 million for School Employees’ Retirement fund called PSERS.[215] This amount was 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 school year, the Sullivan County School District received a $2,457,349 allocation, of state Basic Education Funding.[216][217] Additionally, the Sullivan County School District received $23,045 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.[218] The highest increase in state basic education funding was awarded to Duquesne City School District of Allegheny County, which got a 49% increase in state funding for 2011-12.[219] In 2010, the district reported that 882 students received free or reduced price lunches, due to the family meeting the federal poverty level.[220] Some public school Districts experienced a reduction abruptly total funding due to the loss of federal stimulus funding which ended in 2011.

For the 2010-11 budget year, the Sullivan County School District received a 2% increase in Basic Education Funding for a total of $2,556,626. One hundred fifty Pennsylvania school districts received the base 2% increase. Among Pennsylvania school districts, the highest increase in 2010-11 went to Kennett Consolidated School District in Chester County which received a 23.65% increase in state funding.[221] Fifteen (15) Pennsylvania public school districts received a BEF increase of greater than 10%. The state's hold harmless policy regarding state basic education funding continued where each district received at least the same amount as it received the prior school year, even when enrollment had significantly declined. The amount of increase each school district received was set by Governor Edward Rendell and then Secretary of Education Gerald Zahorchak, as a part of the state budget proposal given each February. This was the second year of Governor Rendell’s policy to fund some public school districts at a far greater rate than others.[222]

In the 2009-2010 budget year, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a 2% increase in Basic Education funding for a total of $2,506,496. Ninety school districts in the commonwealth were given the base 2% increase. Among the 500 school districts in Pennsylvania, Muhlenberg School District in Berks County received the highest with a 22.31% increase in funding.[223] 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.[224]

The state Basic Education funding to Sullivan County School District in 2008-09 was $2,457,349.[225]

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 208 students, in the district, received free or reduced-price lunches due to low family income in the 2007-2008 school year.[226] 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.[227][228]

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.[229][230]

All Pennsylvania school districts also receive additional funding from the state through several other funding allocations, including Reimbursement of Charter School Expenditures; Special Education Funding; Secondary Career & Technical Education Subsidy; PA Accountability Grants; and low achieving schools were eligible for Educational Assistance Program Funding. Plus all Pennsylvania school districts receive federal dollars for various programs including: Special Education funding and Title I funding for children from low income families. In 2010, Pennsylvania spent over $24 billion for public education - local, state and federal dollars combined.[231]

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 school year, the Sullivan County School District applied for and received $62,549 in addition to all other state and federal funding. The district used the funding to provide all-day kindergarten for the 6th year.[232]

Ready to Learn grant[edit]

Beginning in the 2014-2015 budget, the State funded a new Ready to Learn Grant for public schools. A total of $100 million is allocated through a formula to districts based on the number of students, level of poverty of community as calculated by its market value/personal income aid ratio (MV/PI AR) and the number of English language learners. Ready to Learn Block Grant funds may be used by the Districts for: school safety; Ready by 3 early childhood intervention programs; individualized learning programs; and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs.[233]

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. Sullivan County School District applied, but was denied funding in 2006-07. In 2007-08 SCSD received $98,836 and another $45,413 in 2008-09 for a total funding of $144,249.[234] The highest funding statewide was awarded to Philadelphia City School District in Philadelphia County - $9,409,073. The grant program was discontinued by Governor Edward Rendell as part of the 2009-10 state budget.

Biomass energy project[edit]

Sullivan County School District received a $630,000 state grant to assist in developing a biomass energy heating system and hot water system for the district's buildings. The system was estimated to cost between $1.5 million and $1.9 million. The district also received a $200,000 USDA State & Private Forestry Grant for the project.[235][236] The project is expected to reduce conventional fuel oil utilization by approximately 53,000 gallons, which is expected to produce an annual energy savings of nearly $163,240.[237]

Other grants[edit]

Sullivan County School District did not participate in: Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection's Environmental Education annual grants;[238][239] PA Science Its Elementary grants (discontinued effective with 2009-10 budget by Governor Rendell);[240] Education Assistance Grants; 2012 Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy grant;[241] 2013 Safe Schools and Resource Officer grants; 2012 and 2013 Pennsylvania Hybrid Learning Grants;[242] Project 720 High School Reform grants (discontinued effective with 2011-12 budget); nor the federal 21st Century Learning grants.

Federal Stimulus funding[edit]

The district received an extra $678,644 in ARRA - Federal Stimulus money to be used in specific programs like special education and meeting the academic needs of low-income students.[243] The funding was limited to the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 school years.[244] Due to the temporary nature of the funding, the Pennsylvania Department of Education advised the districts to use the money for nonrecurring expenses like purchasing equipment and teaching resources like books, manipulatives and software.

Race to the Top grant[edit]

Sullivan County School District officials did not apply for the Race to the Top federal grant. When approved for the grant, the district would have received hundreds of thousands in additional federal dollars for improving student academic achievement.[245] 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. The failure of districts to agree to participate was cited as one reason that Pennsylvania was not approved.[246][247][248][249]

Common Cents state initiative[edit]

The Sullivan County School Board decided to not participate in the Pennsylvania Department of Education Common Cents program. The program called for the state to audit the district, at no cost to local taxpayers, to identify ways the district could save tax dollars.[250] After the review of the information, the district was not required to implement the recommended cost savings changes.

Real estate taxes[edit]

Property tax rates in 2014-2015 were set by the Sullivan County School Board at 12.133 mills.[251] A mill is $1 of tax for every $1,000 of a property's assessed value. Property taxes, in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, apply only to real estate - land and buildings. The property tax is not levied on cars, business inventory, or other personal property. Certain types of property are exempt from property taxes, including: places of worship, places of burial, private social clubs, charitable and educational institutions and all government property (local, state and federal). 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.[252] 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. On the local level, Pennsylvania 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.[253] 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.[254]

The average yearly property tax paid by Sullivan County residents amounts to about 3.1% of their yearly income. Sullivan County ranked 549th out of the 3143 United States counties for property taxes as a percentage of median income.[264] 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.[265] 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%).[266] Pennsylvania's 2011 tax burden of 10.35% ranked 10th highest out of 50 states. The tax burden was above the national average of 9.8%. Pennsylvania's taxpayers paid $4,374 per capita in state and local taxes, including school taxes.[267]

Act 1 Adjusted index[edit]

The Act 1 of 2006 Index regulates the rates at which each school district can raise property taxes in Pennsylvania. Districts are not allowed to raise taxes above that index unless they allow voters to vote by referendum, or they seek an exception from the state Department of Education. The base index for the 2011-2012 school year is 1.4 percent, but the Act 1 Index can be adjusted higher, depending on a number of factors, such as property values and the personal income of district residents. Act 1 included 10 exceptions, including: increasing pension costs, increases in special education costs, a catastrophe like a fire or flood, increase in health insurance costs for contracts in effect in 2006 or dwindling tax bases. The base index is the average of the percentage increase in the statewide average weekly wage, as determined by the PA Department of Labor and Industry, for the preceding calendar year and the percentage increase in the Employment Cost Index for Elementary and Secondary Schools, as determined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the U.S. Department of Labor, for the previous 12-month period ending June 30. For a school district with a market value/personal income aid ratio (MV/PI AR) greater than 0.4000, its index equals the base index multiplied by the sum of .75 and its MV/PI AR for the current year.[268]

The School District Adjusted Index for the Sullivan County School District 2006-2007 through 2011-2012.[269]

For the 2014-15 budget year, Sullivan County School Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed their Act 1 Index limit. In 2014-15, all Pennsylvania school districts were required to make a 21.4% of payroll payment to the teacher’s pension fund (PSERS).[274] For the school budget 2014-15, 316 Pennsylvania public school districts adopted a resolution certifying that tax rates would not be increased above its Act 1 Index limit. Another 181 school districts adopted a preliminary budget leaving open the option of exceeding the Index limit. Districts may apply for multiple exceptions each year. For the pension costs exception, 163 school districts received approval to exceed the Index in full, while others received a partial approval of their request. For special education costs, 104 districts received approval to exceed their tax limit. Seven Pennsylvania public school districts received an approval for the grandfathered construction debts exception.[275]

For the 2013-14 budget year, Sullivan County School Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed their Act 1 Index limit. In 2013-14, all Pennsylvania school districts were required to make a 16.93% of payroll payment to the teacher’s pension fund (PSERS). For the school budget year 2013-14, 311 Pennsylvania public school districts adopted a resolution certifying that tax rates would not be increased above their index. Another 171 school districts adopted a preliminary budget leaving open the option of exceeded the Index limit. For the pension costs exception, 169 school districts received approval to exceed the Index. For special education costs, 75 districts received approval to exceed their tax limit. Eleven Pennsylvania public school districts received an approval for grandfathered construction debts.[276]

For the 2012-13 budget year, Sullivan County School Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed the Act 1 Index. In 2012-13, all Pennsylvania school districts were required to make a 12.36% of payroll payment to the teacher’s pension fund (PSERS). For 2012-2013 budget year, 274 school districts adopted a resolution certifying that tax rates would not be increased above their index; while 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.[277]

For the 2011-12 school year, the Sullivan County School Board did not apply for an exception to exceed the Act 1 Index. In 2011-12, all Pennsylvania school districts were required to make an 8.65% of payroll payment to the teacher’s pension fund. 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.

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.[278]

For the 2010-11 school year, the Sullivan County School Board did not apply for any exceptions to exceed the Act 1 index.[279] 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.[280]

For the 2009-10 school budget, Sullivan County School Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed the Index.[281] 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.[282]

Property tax relief[edit]

In 2013, Sullivan County School District' 1,702 approved homestead properties received $122 each.[283] The amount increased due to a decline in resident participation.

In 2010, the Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief from gambling for the Sullivan County School District was $110 per approved permanent primary residence. In the district, 1,888 property owners applied for the tax relief.[284] In 2009, the District's property tax relief amount was set at $111 to 1,863 approved homestead owners. The property tax relief was subtracted from the total annual school property tax bill. Property owners apply for the relief through the county Treasurer's office. Farmers can qualify for a farmstead exemption on building used for agricultural purposes. The farm must be at least 10 contiguous acres and must be the primary residence of the owner. Farmers can qualify for both the homestead exemption and the farmstead exemption. Pennsylvania awarded the highest property tax relief to residents of the Chester-Upland School District in Delaware County at $641 per homestead and farmstead in 2010.[285] Chester-Upland School District was given $632 in 2009. In 2014, Chester-Upland School District remains the top recipient of property tax relief. The tax relief was started by Governor Edward G. Rendell with passage of his gaming law. Rendell promised taxpayers substantial property tax relief from legalized gambling. In 2010, Auditor General Jack Wagner extensively audited the program. He found that many residents have failed to register for the tax relief.[286]

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

Extracurriculars[edit]

The district's students have access to a variety of clubs, activities and sports. Eligibility for participation is determined by the school board policy.[287] The district provides an activity bus to provide transportation home for students who participate in after school activities.

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.[288]

According to PA Child Abuse Recognition and Reporting Act 126 of 2014, all volunteer coaches and all those who assist in student activities, must have criminal background checks. Like all school district employees, they must also attend an anti child abuse training once every three years.[289][290][291]

Sports[edit]

Coaches receive compensation as outlined in the teachers' union contract. When athletic competition exceeds the regular season, additional compensation is paid.[292]

Sullivan County School District does not provide its athletics disclosure forms on its web site.[293] Article XVI-C of the Public School Code requires the disclosure of interscholastic athletic opportunities for all public secondary school entities in Pennsylvania. All school entities with grades 7-12 are required to annually collect data concerning team and financial information for all male and female athletes beginning with the 2012-13 school year and submit the information to the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Beginning with the 2013-14 school year, all non-school (booster club and alumni) contributions and purchases must also be reported to PDE.

According to Pennsylvania’s Safety in Youth Sports Act, all sports coaches, paid and volunteer, are required to annually complete the Concussion Management Certification Training and present the certification before coaching.[294][295]

The District funds:

Varsity
Junior High School Sports

According to PIAA directory July 2014[296]

References[edit]

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  247. ^ U.S. Department of Education, Race to the Top Fund, March 29, 2010
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  250. ^ Common Cents program - Making Every Dollar Count
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Coordinates: 41°25′07″N 76°29′51″W / 41.41872°N 76.49763°W / 41.41872; -76.49763