Wallingford-Swarthmore School District
|Wallingford-Swarthmore School District|
|200 South Providence Road
Wallingford, Pennsylvania, Delaware County, 19086
|Grades||K through 12|
|Superintendent||Michael Pladus (acting)|
|Schools||3 Elementary; 1 Middle; 1 High|
|Students and staff|
|District mascot||The Panther|
Wallingford-Swarthmore School District is a midsized, suburban public school district in south-eastern Delaware County, Pennsylvania in the United States. It serves the boroughs of Swarthmore, Rose Valley and Rutledge, and the township of Nether Providence (consisting largely of the unincorporated community of Wallingford). encompasses approximately 7 square miles. According to 2000 federal census data, it serves a resident population of 21,430. In 2009, the district residents' per capita income was $35,604, while the median family income was $86,442. In the Commonwealth, the median family income was $49,501 and the United States median family income was $49,445, in 2010. According to Wallingford-Swarthmore School District officials, in the school year 2007–08, the Wallingford-Swarthmore School District provided basic educational services to 3,539 pupils. It employed 317 teachers, 208 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 22 administrators. Wallingford-Swarthmore School District received more than $8.2 million in state funding, in school year 2007–08.
The school district has one high school, one middle school, and three elementary schools. Wallingford-Swarthmore schools are highly regarded, and the district is one of the best in suburban Philadelphia. Strath Haven High School has won two Blue Ribbons of Excellence, and in 2004 Wallingford Elementary School received one from the state and one from the National government.
- 1 High school
- 2 Middle school
- 3 Elementary schools
- 4 Governance
- 5 Academic achievement
- 6 Special education
- 7 Budget
- 8 Extracurriculars
- 9 References
- 10 External links
- Strath Haven Middle School (SHMS)
- Swarthmore-Rutledge Elementary (SRS)
- Wallingford Elementary (WES)
- Nether Providence Elementary (NPE)
The 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. The federal government controls programs it funds like Title I funding for low-income children in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and the No Child Left Behind Act, which mandates the district focus resources on student success in acquiring reading and math skills.
The Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy Alternatives Sunshine Review gave the Wallinford-Swarthmore School Board and district administration a "D" for transparency based on a review of "What information can people find on their school district's website". It examined the school district's website for information regarding; taxes, the current budget, meetings, school board members names and terms, contracts, audits, public records information and more.
Wallingford-Swarthmore School District was ranked 9th out of 498 Pennsylvania school districts in 2016, by the Pittsburgh Business Times. The ranking was based on the last three years of student academic performance on the reading, writing, math and science PSSAs.
- 2011 - 15th 
- 2010 - 16th 
- 2009 - 17th
- 2008 - 17th
- 2007 - 16th out of 501 school districts.
In 2011, the Pittsburgh Business Times reported an Overachievers Ranking for 498 Pennsylvania school districts. Wallingford-Swarthmore School District ranked 144th. In 2009 the district was 77th. 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."
In 2009, the academic achievement of the students of School District was in the 99th percentile among 500 Pennsylvania school districts. Scale - (0-99; 100 is state best)
In January 2012, the school district was cleared of wrongdoing regarding its scores on the 2009 PSSAs. A study had noted an unusually high number of erasures where the answer was changed from incorrect to correct on the 11th grade students' tests.
In 2015, Wallingford-Swarthmore School District's graduation rate was 98%. In 2011, the District's graduation rate was 93%. In 2010, the Pennsylvania Department of Education issued a new, 4-year cohort graduation rate. Strath Haven High School's rate was 98% for 2010.
- According to traditional graduation rate calculations
Strath Haven High School
Strath Haven High School is located at 205 S Providence Rd., Wallingford, Pennsylvania. In 2010, the high school had 1299 pupils grades 9th through 12th with 96 teachers. In 2010 and 2011, Strath Haven High School achieved AYP status. Strath Haven High School building was renamed from the former Nether Providence High School, in September 1983, as a part of the consolidation of Nether Providence and Swarthmore High Schools. In June 1985, and again in June 2002, Strath Haven was selected by the United States Department of Education to receive the Blue Ribbon School of Excellence Award. Schools apply for consideration for the award. In 2001, the Pennsylvania Department of Education presented Strath Haven with the Secondary School of Distinction Award.
11th Grade Reading:
- 2012 - 90% on grade level, (4% below basic). State - 67% of 11th graders are on grade level.
- 2011 - 91% (3% below basic). State - 69.1% 
- 2010 - 87% (7% below basic). State - 66%
- 2009 - 90% (3% below basic). State - 65%
- 2008 - 70% (14% below basic). State - 65%
- 2007 - 80% (11% below basic). State - 65%
11th Grade Math:
- 2012 - 86% on grade level (6% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 59% of 11th graders are on grade level.
- 2011 - 85% (5% below basic). State - 60.3%
- 2010 - 82% (8% below basic). State - 59%
- 2009 - 84% (7% below basic). State - 56%.
- 2008 - 74% (16% below basic). State - 56%
- 2007 - 74% (13% below basic). State - 53%
11th Grade Science:
- 2012 - 63% on grade level (8% below basic). State - 42% of 11th graders were on grade level.
- 2011 - 68% (3% below basic). State - 40% 
- 2010 - 65% (8% below basic). State - 39%
- 2009 - 68% (4% below basic). State - 40%
- 2008 - 50% (12% below basic)s. State - 39%
From January to June 2011, 200 Strath Haven High School students took the SAT exams. The district's Verbal Average Score was 567. The Math average score was 588. The Writing average score was 553. Pennsylvania ranked 40th among state with SAT scores: Verbal - 493, Math - 501, Writing - 479. 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.
College remediation rate
According to a Pennsylvania Department of Education study released in January 2009, 51% of Strath Haven 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 schools or Pennsylvania community colleges. 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. 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.
Strath Haven Middle School
Strath Haven Middle School provides grades 6 through 8, at 200 South Providence Road, Wallingford, Pennsylvania. In 2010, there were 774 students and 68 teachers. In 2010 and 2011, the Strath Haven Middle School achieved AYP status. In 2011, the attendance rate rose to 96%. It was 95% in 2010.
8th Grade Reading
8th Grade Math:
8th Grade Science:
- 2012 - 85% on grade level (3% below basic). State – 59% of 8th graders were on grade level.
- 2011 - 83% (5% below basic). State – 58.3%
- 2010 - 81% (9% below basic). State – 57%
- 2009 - 74% (8% below basic). State - 55%
- 2008 - 74% (7% below basic), State - 52%
7th Grade Reading:
7th Grade Math:
6th Grade Reading:
6th Grade Math:
Nether Providence Elementary School
Nether Providence Elementary School is located at 410 Moore Road, Wallingford, Pennsylvania. It provides grades first through fifth. In 2010, there were 362 students and 30 teachers. In 2010 and 2011, the school achieved AYP status. The attendance rate rose to 96% in 2011, while in 2010 it was 95%.
5th Grade Reading:
5th Grade Math:
- 4th Grade Science
- 2012 - 95%, 69% Advanced, State – 82%
- 2011 - 93%, (3% below basic), State – 82.9%
- 2010 - 84%, (6% below basic), State - 81%
- 2009 - 89%, (1% below basic), State - 83%
- 2008 - 91%, (1% below basic), State - 81%
In December 2010, the district administration reported that 650 pupils or 18% of the district's pupils received Special Education services. Among identified students, 74% had learning disabilities, while 8% were autistic.
In order to comply with state and federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act rules and regulations, Wallingford-Swarthmore School District engages in identification procedures to ensure that eligible students receive an appropriate educational program consisting of special education and related services, individualized to meet student needs. At no cost to the parents, these services are provided in compliance with state and federal law; and are reasonably calculated to yield meaningful educational benefit and student progress . To identify students who may be eligible for special education services, various screening activities are conducted on an ongoing basis. These screening activities include: review of group-based data (cumulative records, enrollment records, health records, report cards, ability and achievement test scores); hearing, vision, motor, and speech/language screening; and review by the Special Education administration. When screening results suggest that the student may be eligible, the District seeks parental consent to conduct a multidisciplinary evaluation. Parents who suspect their child is eligible may verbally request a multidisciplinary evaluation from a professional employee of the District or contact the district's Special Education Department.
In 2010, the state of Pennsylvania provided $1,026,815,000 for special education services. This funding is in addition to the state's basic education per pupil funding, as well as, all other state and federal funding. 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. The state requires each district to have a three-year special education plan to meet the unique needs of its special education students. Overidentification of students in order to increase state funding has been an issue in the Commonwealth. Some districts have more than 20% of its students receiving special education services while others have 10% supported through special education.
Wallingford-Swarthmore School District received a $1,768,633 supplement for special education services in 2010. For the 2011–12 school year, all Pennsylvania public school districts received the same level of funding for special education that they received in 2010. This level funding is provided regardless of changes in the number of pupils who need special education services and regardless of the amount of services the identified students required.
Wallingford-Swarthmore School District Administration reported that 195 or 5.41% of its students were gifted in 2009. 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.
In 2009, the district reported employing over 330 teachers and administrators with a salary range of $46,000 to $203,890 for 182 days worked with 180 pupil days The average teacher salary is $74,396. Administrator salaries begin at $107,801.
In 2007, the district employed 266 teachers. The average teacher salary in the district was $61,967 for 180 days worked. 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. Additionally, the teachers receive a defined benefit pension, health insurance, professional development reimbursement, paid personal days, 10 paid sick days, and other benefits. Teachers work 7.75 hour days. Teachers receive a 45-minute duty-free lunch and a daily prep period.
Wallingford-Swarthmore School District administrative costs per pupil in 2008 was $808.24 per pupil which ranked in the top 20% statewide. The lowest administrative cost per pupil in Pennsylvania was $398 per pupil. The Pennsylvania School Boards Association keeps statistics on salaries of public school district employees in Pennsylvania. According to the association's report, the average salary for a superintendent, for the 2007–08 school year, was $122,165. Superintendents and administrators receive a benefit package commensurate with that offered to the district's teachers' union.
Reserves In 2008, the district reported zero in an unreserved-designated fund balance. The unreserved-undesignated fund balance was reported as $5,698,803. in 2010, the district reported an unreserved-designated fund balance of $1,160,000 and an unreserved-undesignated fund balance of $6,648,064. PA 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. Pennsylvania 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.
In 2008, the Wallingford-Swarthmore School District administration reported that per pupil spending was $15,911 which ranked 43rd among Pennsylvania's 501 school districts. In 2010 the per pupil spending had increased to $17,298.72 Among the states, Pennsylvania's total per pupil revenue (including all sources) ranked 11th at $15,023 per student, in 2008–09. In 2007, the Pennsylvania per pupil total expenditures was $12,759.
In January 2010, the Pennsylvania Auditor General conducted a performance audit of the district. The findings were reported to the school board and administration.
The district is funded by a combination of: a local earned income tax, a property tax, a real estate transfer tax 0.5%, coupled with substantial funding from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the federal government. 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 personal wealth.
State basic education funding
In 2011–12, Wallingford-Swarthmore School District received a $3,055,698 allocation, of state Basic Education Funding. Additionally, the Wallingford-Swarthmore School District received $77,799 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. In 2010, the district reported that 381 students received free or reduced-price lunches, due to the family meeting the federal poverty level.
For the 2010–11 budget year, Wallingford=Swarthmore School District received a 2.66% increase for $3,116,811. One hundred fifty Pennsylvania school districts received the base 2% increase. The highest increase in Delaware County was given to the Southeast Delco School District a 10.34% increase in Basic Education Funding. The highest increase statewide, in 2010–11, went to Kennett Consolidated School District, in Chester County which received a 23.65% increase in state basic education funding.
In the 2009–2010 budget year, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a 2% increase in Basic Education Funding for a total of $3,116,811. Among the districts in Delaware County, the highest increase went to Upper Darby School District which got an 11.61%. The state Basic Education Funding to the district in 2008–09 was $3,055,697.60. Ninety school districts received a 2% increase. Muhlenberg School District in Berks County received a 22.31% increase, in state basic education funding, in 2009. The amount of increase each school district received was set by the Governor Edward G Rendell and the Secretary of Education as a part of the state's annual budget plan.
Accountability Block Grants
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, Wallingford-Swarthmore School District applied for and received $211,167 in addition to all other state and federal funding. The district uses the funding to provide full-day kindergarten.
Classrooms for the Future grant
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. Wallingford-Swarthmore School District did not apply to participate in 2006–07 or in 2007–08. The district received $188,223 in 2008–09.
Federal Stimulus grant
The district received an extra $946,764 in ARRA - Federal Stimulus money to be used in specific programs like special education and meeting the academic needs of low-income students. The funding was limited to the 2009–10 and 2010–2011 school years. Due to the temporary nature of the funding, schools were repeatedly warned to use the funds for one-time expenditures like acquiring equipment, making repairs or purchasing books and software.
Race to the Top grant
District officials did not apply for the federal Race to the Top grant which would have provided over one million dollars in additional federal funding to improve student academic achievement. 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. 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.
Common Cents state initiative
The School Board elected 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. After the review of the information, the district was not required to implement the recommended cost savings changes.
Real estate taxes
Property tax rates in 2011–12 were set by the school board at 38.1520 mills for Nether Providence Township/Rose Valley Boro and 38.1520 mills for Rutledge/Swarthmore Boro. 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. Property taxes, in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, apply only to real estate - land and buildings. The property tax is not levied on cars, business inventory, or other personal property. Certain types of property are exempt from property taxes, including: places of worship, places of burial, private social clubs, charitable and educational institutions and government property. Additionally, service related, disabled US military veterans may seek an exemption from paying property taxes. Pennsylvania school district revenues are dominated by two main sources: 1) Property tax collections, which account for the vast majority (between 75-85%) of local revenues; and 2) Act 511 tax collections, which are around 15% of revenues for school districts. The school district includes municipalities in two counties, each of which has different rates of property tax assessment, necessitating a state board equalization of the tax rates between the counties.
- 2010–11 - 37.6260 mills for Nether Providence Township/Rose Valley Boro and 37.6260 mills for Rutledge/Swarthmore Boro.
- 2009–10 - 36.5660 mills for Nether Providence Township/Rose Valley Boro and 36.9880 mills for Rutledge/Swarthmore Boro.
- 2008–09 - 35.5700 mills for Nether Providence Township/Rose Valley Boro and 35.9760 mills for Rutledge/Swarthmore Boro.
- 2007–08 - 33.6100 mills for Nether Providence Township/Rose Valley Boro and 33.9700 mills for Rutledge/Swarthmore Boro.
Act 1 Adjusted Index
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. In June 2011, the Pennsylvania General Assembly eliminated six of the ten the exceptions to the Act 1 Index. The following 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.
The School District Adjusted Index for the Wallingford-Swarthmore School District 2006–2007 through 2011–2012.
- 2006–07 - 3.9%, Base 3.9%
- 2007–08 - 3.4%, Base 3.4%
- 2008–09 - 4.4%, Base 4.4%
- 2009–10 - 4.1%, Base 4.1%
- 2010–11 - 2.9%, Base 2.9%
- 2011–12 - 1.4%, Base 1.4%
- 2012–13 - 1.7%, Base 1.7%
For the 2011–12 school year, the Wallingford-Swarthmore School Board did not apply for an exception to exceed the Act 1 Index. Each year, the School Board has the option of adopting either 1) a resolution in January certifying they will not increase taxes above their index or 2) a preliminary budget in February. A school district adopting the resolution may not apply for referendum exceptions or ask voters for a tax increase above the inflation index. A specific timeline for these decisions is published annually, by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.
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.
The Wallingford-Swarthmore School Board did not apply for any exceptions to exceed the Act 1 index for the budget in 2011. For 2009–10 school budget, the WSSD Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed the Index. 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.
Property tax relief
In 2010, the Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief from gambling for the Wallingford-Swarthmore School District was $330 per approved permanent primary residence. In the district, 5,576 property owners applied for the tax relief. The relief was subtracted from the total annual school property tax bill. Property owners apply for the relief through the county Treasurer's office. Farmers can qualify for a farmstead exemption on building used for agricultural purposes. The farm must be at least 10 contiguous acres (40,000 m2) and must be the primary residence of the owner. Farmers can qualify for both the homestead exemption and the farmstead exemption. In Delaware County, 66% of eligible property owners applied for property tax relief in 2009. The highest property tax relief in Pennsylvania went to the residents of Chester Upland School District of Delaware County who received $632 per approved homestead. This was the third year they were 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, individual with income much 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.
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%).
The district offers a variety of clubs, activities and sports. Eligibility for participation is determined by school board policy. Student eligibility status is determined at the end of each grading period. If student accumulates "2" or more points, they are ineligible for all extracurricular activities for twenty-one calendar days. The minimum academic standards for eligibility mandated by the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association take precedence only when they are more stringent than the school's standards.
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.
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- Asbury Park Press (2009). "PA. Public School Salaries".
- openpagov.org. "Wallingford-Swarthmore School District Payroll report". Retrieved February 6, 2012.
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