West Mifflin Area School District
|West Mifflin Area School District
|3000 Lebanon Church Road
West Mifflin, Pennsylvania, Allegheny 15122
|Superintendent||Mr. Daniel Castagna|
|Administrator||Robyn Tedesco, Buildings & Grounds|
|• Grade 1||212|
|• Grade 2||191|
|• Grade 3||196|
|• Grade 4||228|
|• Grade 5||211|
|• Grade 6||206|
|• Grade 7||216|
|• Grade 8||266|
|• Grade 9||294|
|• Grade 10||299|
|• Grade 11||297|
|• Grade 12||297|
|• Other||Enrollment projected by PDE to decline to 2974 by 2015|
|Color(s)||Blue @ Gold|
West Mifflin Area School District is a suburban, public school district in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It is located in the south hills of Allegheny County. It serves the boroughs of West Mifflin, and Whitaker. As of 2007, the district also serves some students from the neighboring City of Duquesne. West Mifflin Area School District encompasses approximately 15 square miles. According to 2000 federal census data, it serves a resident population of 22,802. In 2009, the district residents' per capita income was $18,240, while the median family income was $45,660. Per District officials, in school year 2005–06, the West Mifflin Area School District provided basic educational services to 3,273 pupils through the employment of 199 teachers, 111 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 18 administrators. In 2009, the school districts served 3,149 students.
- 1 Schools
- 2 Academic achievement
- 3 Special education
- 4 Budget
- 5 Enrollment Declining and Consolidation
- 6 Extracurriculars
- 7 References
- 8 External links
- West Mifflin Area High School: Grades served: 9–12
- West Mifflin Area Middle School: Grades served: 4–8
- Elementary schools
- Clara Barton Elementary School: Grades served: K-3
- Homeville Elementary: Grades served : K-3
- New Emerson Elementary School: Grades served: K-3
- Early Childhood Education Center
West Mifflin Area School District was ranked 345th out of 498 Pennsylvania school districts in 2011 by the Pittsburgh Business Times. The ranking was based on five years of student academic performance based on the PSSAs for: reading, writing, math and three years of science.
- 2010 – 381st
- 2009 – 413th
- 2008 – 424th
- 2007 – 400th out of 501 Pennsylvania school districts.
West Mifflin Area School District was ranked 73rd out of 105 local school district in 2010. It ranked 77th out of 105 western Pennsylvania school districts in 2009 by the Pittsburgh Business Times. The ranking was based on five years of student academic performance on the PSSAs on: math, reading, writing and three years of science. The school district ranked 90th out of 105 western Pennsylvania school districts, in 2008, in the Pittsburgh Business Times rating.
In 2009, the academic achievement, of the students in the West Mifflin Area School District, was in the 37th percentile among all 500 Pennsylvania school districts Scale (0–99; 100 is state best)
In 2010, the Pennsylvania Department of Education issued a new, 4-year cohort graduation rate. West Mifflin Area School District's rate was 88% for 2010.
According to traditional graduation rate calculations:
In 2010, the high school declined to Corrective Action I AYP status due to chronic low student achievement over the past several years.
In 2009, West Mifflin Area High School ranked 99th out of 123 high schools in the western Pennsylvania region. The ranking was based on three years of PSSAs on reading, writing, math and one year of science.
- PSSA Results
- 11th Grade Reading
- 2010 – 72% on grade level (13% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 66% of 11th graders on grade level.
- 2009 – 63% (17% below basic). State – 65%
- 2008 – 53%, State – 65%
- 2007 – 57%, State – 65%
- 11th Grade Math:
- 2010 – 60% on grade level (22% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 56% of 11th graders are on grade level.
- 2009 – 50% (27% below basic). State – 56%
- 2008 – 44%, State – 56%
- 2007 – 45%, State – 53%
- 11th Grade Science:
- 2010 – 33% on grade level (25% below basic). State – 39% of 11th graders were on grade level.
- 2009 – 34%, State – 40%
- 2008 – 27%, State – 39%
College Remediation According to a Pennsylvania Department of Education study released in January 2009, 42% of West Mifflin Area School District 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. 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.
The high school offers a dual enrollment program. This state program permits high school students to take courses, at local higher education institutions, to earn college credits. Students remain enrolled at their high school. The courses count towards high school graduation requirements and towards earning a college degree. The students continue to have full access to activities and programs at their high school. The college credits are offered at a deeply discounted rate. The state offers a small grant to assist students in costs for tuition, fees and books. Under the Pennsylvania Transfer and Articulation Agreement, many Pennsylvania colleges and universities accept these credits for students who transfer to their institutions. The Pennsylvania College Credit Transfer System reported in 2009, that students saved nearly $35.4 million by having their transferred credits count towards a degree under the new system.
For the 2009–10 funding year, the school district received a state grant of $6,299 for the program.
By law, all Pennsylvania secondary school students must complete a project as a part of their eligibility to graduate from high school. The type of project, its rigor and its expectations are set by the individual school district.
By Pennsylvania State School Board regulations, for the graduating classes of 2016, students must demonstrate successful completion of secondary level course work in Algebra I, Biology, English Composition, and Literature for which the Keystone Exams serve as the final course exams. Students’ Keystone Exam scores shall count for at least one-third of the final course grade.
In 2009 and 2010, the school achieved AYP. The attendance rate was 94%.
- 8th Grade Reading:
- 2010 – 85% on grade level (5% below basic).In 2010 boys were 84% on grade level while 85% of girls were on grade level. State – 82% of 8th graders were on grade level.
- 2009 – 88% (6% below basic), State – 80.9%
- 2008 – 71%, State – 78%
8th Grade Math:
- 2010 – 85% (10% below basic), State – 75% of 8th graders were on grade level.
- 2009 – 87% (10% below basic), State – 71%
- 2008 – 81%, State – 70%
- 8th Grade Science:
- 2010 – 41% (41% below basic), State – 57% of 8th graders were on grade level.
- 2009 – 39% (34% below basic), State – 55%
- 2008 – 43%, State – 50%
- 7th Grade Reading:
- 2010 – 72% on grade level (12% below basic). In 2010 boys were 63% on grade level while 83% of girls were on grade level. State – 73%
- 2009 – 74% (8% below basic), State – 71%
- 2008 – 71%, State – 70%
- 7th Grade Math:
- 2010 – 82% on grade level (10% below basic). State – 78%
- 2009 – 82% (5% below basic). State – 75%
- 2008 – 77%, State – 70%
- 6th Grade Reading:
- 2010 – 65% on grade level (17% below basic). In 2010 boys were 54% on grade level while 75% of girls were on grade level. State – 68% of 6th graders were on grade level.
- 2009 – 61% (15% below basic), State – 67%
- 2008 – 65%, State – 67%
- 6th Grade Math:
- 2010 – 85% on grade level. State – 78%
- 2009 – 81%, State – 75%
- 2008 – 86%, State – 72%
Clara Barton Elementary School is located at 764 Beverly Drive, West Mifflin. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2011, the school reported an enrollment of 222 pupils in grades kindergarten through 5th, with 128 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school is a federally designated Title I school. The school employed 16 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 13:1. According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.
In 2011 and 2012, Clara Barton Elementary School achieved AYP status. The school was named a 2007 NCLB Blue Ribbon School for improved student achievement, but has not received the recognition since then.
- PSSA results
5th Grade Reading:
5th Grade Math:
- 4th Grade Science
- 2012 - 71%, (6% below basic). State - 82%
- 2011 - 73%, (3% below basic). State - 82.9%
Homeville Elementary School is located at 4315 Eliza Street, West Mifflin. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2011, the school reported an enrollment of 395 pupils in grades kindergarten through 5th, with 234 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school is a federally designated Title I school. The school employed 31 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 12:1. According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.
In 2012, Homeville Elementary School declined to Warning AYP status due to lagging student achievement in reading and mathematics. In 2011, Homeville Elementary School achieved to AYP status.
5th Grade Reading:
5th Grade Math:
- 4th Grade Science
- 2012 - 75%, (7% below basic). State - 82%
- 2011 - 83%, (5% below basic). State - 82.9%
In 2010, the state of Pennsylvania provided $1,026,815,000 for Special Education services. The funds were distributed to districts based on a state policy which estimates that 16% of the district's pupils are receiving special education services. This funding is in addition to the state's basic education per pupil funding, as well as, all other state and federal funding.
West Mifflin Area School District received a $1,841,244 supplement for special education services in 2010. The state provided the same level of funding for 2011–12.
The District Administration reported that 73 or 2.3% 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 2007, the district employed 181 teachers. The average teacher salary in the district was $53,071 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, personal days, sick days, and other benefits. According to Rep. Glen Grell, a trustee of the Public School Employees’ Retirement System Board of Trustees, a 40-year educator can retire with a pension equal to 100 percent of their final salary.
West Mifflin School District administrative costs per pupil was $934.39 in 2008. The district ranked 83rd out of 501 Pennsylvania school districts in administration centered spending. The lowest administrative cost per pupil in Pennsylvania was $398 per pupil. In February 2010, the school board promoted Daniel Castagna to Assistant Superintendent with a five-year contract that included an initial salary of $106,900. In a controversial vote, the board promoted Dr. Janet Sardon to superintendent in November 2009. She was given a five-year contract with a starting salary of $120,000. The Pennsylvania School Boards Association keeps statistics on salaries of public school district employees in Pennsylvania. According to the association, 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. In February 2011, the Pittsburgh Post Gazette reported that former Superintendent Patrick Risha, had charged the district $9,294 for meals, during his three years as superintendent. He abruptly resigned in November 2009 citing poor health and died in 2011.
In 2010, the district faced a $5 million revenue shortfall. This was precipitated by several factors, including the loss of $1.2 million in property tax paid by the Century III Mall which won a reassessment that reduced its value from $112 million in 2006 to $58 million in 2009. Additionally, earned income tax revenues were reported by the district's business manager to have declined. There was also a significant under budgeting for special education costs. The district cut twelve positions as a part of balancing the budget. From 2007 to 2010, the district employed a public relations coordinator/grant writer at an annual cost of over $59,000. The position was cut in 2010. The PR employee, Robyn Tedesco, sued the school district alleging she had a five-year contract which ended in April 2012. In June 2011, the district settled her suit for an undisclosed amount. In March 2011, the district's former director of security, Joseph Gajdos, whose position was also eliminated in June 2010, agreed to a $65,000 settlement. He also claimed he had a five-year contract.
In March 2011, the board approved eliminating 52 jobs in the district for the 2011–12 school year. This change was in response to a $3.1 million deficit. Additionally, the district anticipated the loss of over $1 million in state funding for the next budget year. One serious issue impacting the revenue side of the budget is the many successful tax assessment appeals in 2010 and 2011. In several cases, the district has had to pay back over paid taxes totaling over $751,000. The reduced assessments also means substantially less revenue for future budgets.
In April 2011, four incumbent school board member lost the local primary. Their terms end in early December 2011. West Mifflin board President Kathy Bracco and fellow school directors Ned Mervos, Albert Graham and Diana Olasz all lost in the primary.
In May 2009, the Pennsylvania Auditor General conducted a performance audit of the district. Significant findings were reported to the administration and school board.
In 2008, West Mifflin Area School District reported spending $13,985 per pupil. This ranked 106th in the commonwealth.
In 2009, the district reported $1,335,609 in an unreserved-undesignated fund balance. The designated fund balance was reported as zero.
The 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. Grants can provide an opportunity to supplement school funding without raising local taxes. In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, pension income and Social Security income are exempted from state personal income tax and local earned income tax, regardless of the individual's wealth.
State basic education funding
For 2010–11, West Mifflin Area School District received a 2% increase in state Basic Education Funding resulting in a $6,638,579 payment. South Fayette Township School District received an 11.32% increase, which was the highest increase in BEF in Allegheny County. Kennett Consolidated School District in Chester County received the highest increase in the state at 23.65% increase in funding for the 2010–11 school year. One hundred fifty school districts received the base 2% increase in 2010–11. The amount of increase each school district receives is determined by the Governor and the Secretary of Education through the allocation set in the state budget proposal made in February each year.
In the 2009–2010 budget year the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a 2.66% increase in Basic Education funding for a total of $6,508,834. Four county school districts received increases of over 6% in Basic Education Funding in 2008–10. Chartiers Valley School District received an 8.17% increase. In Pennsylvania, over 15 school districts received Basic Education Funding increases in excess of 10% in 2009. Muhlenberg School District in Berks County received the highest with a 22.31% increase in funding. The state's Basic Education Funding to the West Mifflin School District in 2008–09 was $6,340,317.81. The amount of increase each school district receives is determined by the Governor and the Secretary of Education through the allocation made in the budget proposal made in February each year.
Federal Stimulus funding
The district received $1,805,085 in ARRA – Federal Stimulus money to be used in specific programs like special education and meeting the academic needs of low-income students. This funding is for 2009–2011.
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 1,239 students received free or reduced-price lunches due to low family income in the 2007–2008 school year.
Race to the Top
School district officials did not apply for the Race to the Top federal grant which would have brought the district millions of additional federal dollars for improving 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 in the first round of the grant. The failure of districts to agree to participate was cited as one reason that Pennsylvania was not approved. A second round of state RTTT application judging will occur in June 2010.
Common Cents state initiative
The West Mifflin Area School Board chose to not permit the Pennsylvania Department of Education Common Cents program access to the district records. 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
The West Mifflin Area School Board set the 2010–11 the property taxes were 22.9920 mills. A mill is $1 of tax for every $1,000 of a property's assessed value. Irregular property reassessments have become a serious issue in the commonwealth as it creates a significant disparity in taxation within a community and across a region. Pennsylvania school district revenues are dominated by two main sources: 1) Property tax collections, which account for the vast majority (between 75–85%) of local revenues; and 2) Act 511 tax collections (Local Tax Enabling Act), which are around 15% of revenues for school districts.
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 authorized to raise taxes above that index unless they allow voters to vote by referendum, or the school board seeks one or more exceptions from the state's 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.
The School District Adjusted Index for the West Mifflin Area School District 2006–2007 through 2010–2011.
- 2006–07 – 5.0%, Base 3.9%
- 2007–08 – 4.5%, Base 3.4%
- 2008–09 – 5.8%, Base 4.4%
- 2009–10 – 5.5%, Base 4.1%
- 2010–11 – 4.0%, Base 2.9%
- 2011–12 – 1.9%, Base 1.4%
West Mifflin Area School Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed the Act 1 index for the budgets in 2009–10 or in 2010–11. 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 2011, the Pennsylvania Department of Education announced the district's property tax relief from gambling would be $216 for each of the 6,787 approved properties. Within Allegheny County the highest property tax relief for 2011–12 was awarded to residents of Duquesne City School District at $351.
In 2009, the Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief from gambling for the West Mifflin Area School District was $218 per approved permanent primary residence. In the district, 6,6728 property owners applied for the tax relief. Within Allegheny County the highest property tax relief for 2011–12 was awarded to residents of Duquesne City School District at $346 per approved residence. The tax relief was subtracted from the total annual school property on the individual's tax bill. Property owners apply for the relief through the county Treasurer's office. Farmers can qualify for a farmstead exemption on building used for agricultural purposes. The farm must be at least 10 contiguous acres and must be the primary residence of the owner. Farmers can qualify for both the homestead exemption and the farmstead exemption. The Pennsylvania Auditor General found that 60% of property owners applied for tax relief in Allegheny County, in 2009. Pennsylvania awarded the highest property tax relief to residents of the Chester-Upland School District in Delaware County at $632 per homestead and farmstead in 2010. This was the second year Chester Upland School District was the top recipient.
Additionally, the Pennsylvania Property Tax/Rent Rebate program is provided for low income Pennsylvanians aged 65 and older; widows and widowers aged 50 and older; and people with disabilities age 18 and older. The income limit is $35,000 for homeowners. The maximum rebate for both homeowners and renters is $650. Applicants can exclude one-half (1/2) of their Social Security income, consequently individuals who have income substantially more than $35,000, may still qualify for a rebate. Individuals must apply annually for the rebate. This can be taken in addition to Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief.
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%).
Enrollment Declining and Consolidation
A proposal was made, by prominent local citizen, David Wassel, to consolidate many Allegheny County school districts to save tax dollars and improve student services. The plan calls for a new district that combines: West Mifflin Area School District, Duquesne City School District and Steel Valley School District. The new district would serve the communities of: Duquesne City, Homestead, Munhall, West Homestead, West Mifflin, Whitaker. The high school in Duquesne School District was closed in 2007 due to low achievement, district financial distress, and low enrollment. The 9–12 grade students in the Duquesne School District may choose to attend West Mifflin Area High School. Tuition is paid by residents of West Mifflin Area School District and the state reimburses the district about $9,400 per student. West Mifflin Area per pupil spending was $14,500 in 2010.
Over the next 10 years, rural Pennsylvania school enrollment is projected to decrease 8 percent. The most significant enrollment decline is projected to be in western Pennsylvania, where rural school districts may have a 16 percent decline. More than 40 percent of elementary schools and more than 60 percent of secondary schools in western Pennsylvania are projected to experience significant enrollment decreases (15 percent or greater).
Pennsylvania has one of the highest numbers of school districts in the nation. In Pennsylvania, 80% of the school districts serve student populations under 5,000, and 40% serve less than 2,000. Less than 95 of Pennsylvania's 501 school districts have enrollment below 1250 students, in 2007.
The district offers a variety of clubs, activities and sports. Eligibility for participation is set by the school board.
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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- Cloonan, Patrick & Kurutz, D. (April 15, 2010). "Education secretary shares optimism on Duquesne City.". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
- Mary Niederberger (April 1, 2010). "West Mifflin to share Duquesne concerns with state". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
- "Research Analyzes Rural School District Enrollment and Building Capacity", The Center for Rural Pennsylvania. October 2009.
- Pennsylvania Legislative Budget and Finance Committee, Study of the Cost Effectiveness of Consolidating Pennsylvania School Districts, 2007.
- West Mifflin School District Policy Manual – Policy 122 Extracurriculars Policy and Policy 123 Interscholastic Athletics
- Home-Schooled, Charter School Children Can Participate in School District Extracurricular Activities, Pennsylvania Office of the Governor Press Release, November 10, 2005