Wilkinsburg School District

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Wilkinsburg School District
Map of Allegheny County Pennsylvania School Districts.png
Address
718 Wallace Avenue
Homewood, Pennsylvania, Allegheny County 15221-2215
United States
Information
Type Public
Closed Johnston Elementary School in 2012
School board 9 elected board members
Superintendent

Dr Joseph Petrella, acting Superintendent (contract July 15, 2015 to July 14, 2016)[1] Salary $110,000[2]
Dr. Daniel J Matsook acting Superintendent (July 2014 - July 15, 2015)
Linda Hippert as acting superintendent (2014)
Donna Micheaux (2014)[3]
Lee McFerren 3 year contract salary $115,000 (2013) Fired (2014)[4][5]
Mr. Archie Perrin salary $132,950 (2006-2012)[6]

Mr. Joseph Tindal (1997 - 2006)[7][8][9]
Specialist Andrea Willams -Special Assistant
President Edward G Donovan
Administrator Barbara Mehalov, Dir. Curriculum
Director Barbara Mehalov, Dir Research
Principal Tanya Smithh, TES
Principal Rosalind Fisher, KES
Principal Stephen Puskar III, WHS Principal
Head teacher Kerry Francis, Special Ed
Staff

115 non teaching staff members

18 administrators (2011)[10]
Faculty 144.6 teachers (2012)
Grades Preschool - 12th
Age 4 years old preschool to 21 years old special education
Pupils

932 pupils (2014)[11]
1,228 pupils (2012-13)
1,372 pupils (2009–10)

1,423 pupils (2006-07)[12]
 • Kindergarten 117 (2012),[13] 111 (2010)
 • Grade 1 96 (2012), 105
 • Grade 2 79 (2012), 116
 • Grade 3 97 (2012), 122
 • Grade 4 82 (2012), 115
 • Grade 5 83 (2012), 113
 • Grade 6 82 (2012), 112
 • Grade 7 62 (2012), 85
 • Grade 8 64 (2012), 76
 • Grade 9 56 (2012), 94
 • Grade 10 52 (2012), 75
 • Grade 11 46 (2012), 87
 • Grade 12 52 (2012), 89 (2010)
 • Other Enrollment projected to decline to 1,000 pupils by 2019[14]
Medium of language English
Budget

$28 million (2014-15)[15]
$28,052,000 (2013)[16]
$27.4 million (2012-13)
$26.9 million (2011-12)

$28,340,917 (2009-10)
Information (412) 371-9667
Per pupil spending $17,971 (2008)
Per pupil spending $20,569.41 (2011)
Website

The Wilkinsburg School District is a small, urban public school district serving the mostly African American community and Pittsburgh suburb of Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania. The District encompasses approximately 3 square miles (7.8 km2). According to 2000 federal census data, it served a resident population of 19,196. By 2010, the District's population declined to 15,933 people.[17] The educational attainment levels for the Wilkinsburg Borough School District population (25 years old and over) were 90% high school graduates and 28.5% college graduates.[18]

According to the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, 80% of the District’s pupils lived at 185% or below the Federal Poverty level as shown by their eligibility for the federal free or reduced price school meal programs in 2012.[19] In 2009, Wilkinsburg School District residents’ per capita income was $16,890, while the median family income was $33,412.[20] In the Commonwealth, the median family income was $49,501 [21] and the United States median family income was $49,445, in 2010.[22] By 2013, the median household income in the United States rose to $52,100.[23]

Per District officials, in school year 2005-06 the School District of the Borough of Wilkinsburg provided basic educational services to 1,568 pupils. The District employed: 169 teachers, 45 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 13 administrators. In school year 2007-08 the Wilkinsburg School District provided basic educational services to 1,428 pupils. The District employed: 161 teachers, 28 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 17 administrators. Wilkinsburg School District received more than $11.9 million in state funding in school year 2007-08. According to District officials, the District had 1,078 pupils enrolled in 2009-10. It employed: 127 teachers, 35 full-time and part-time support personnel, and had increased to 21 the number of administrators during the 2009-10 school year. The District received $11.4 million in state funding in the 2009-10 school year.

Wilkinsburg School District operates four schools: two elementary schools that serve grades K-6: Kelly Elementary School and Turner Elementary School. Wilkinsburg Middle School was originally housed in a separate building. Since 1985 this facility for grades 7–8 has been located on the second floor of Wilkinsburg High School building. The high school building's third floor houses an alternative education academy. Johnston Elementary School was closed when enrollment declined to 180 pupils in grades K-6th inclusive.

The district has a mandated school uniform policy which stipulates both colors and styles of clothes.

Governance[edit]

Wilkinsburg Borough School District is governed by 9 individually elected board members (serve without compensation for a term of four years), the Pennsylvania State Board of Education, the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the Pennsylvania General Assembly.[24] The federal government controls programs it funds like: Title I funding for low income children in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and the No Child Left Behind Act, which mandates the district focus resources on student success in acquiring reading and math skills. The Superintendent and Business Manager are appointed by the school board. The Superintendent is the chief administrative officer with overall responsibility for all aspects of operations, including education and finance. The Business Manager is responsible for budget and financial operations. Neither of these officials are voting members of the School Board.

The Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy Alternatives Sunshine Review gave the school board and district administration a "D" for transparency based on a review of "What information can people find on their school district's website". It examined the school district's website for information regarding; taxes, the current budget, meetings, school board members names and terms, contracts, audits, public records information and more.[25]

Academic achievement[edit]

In April 2014, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) released a report identifying all four Wilkinsburg Borough School District schools remained among the lowest achieving schools for reading and mathematics in the state.[26]

In July 2012, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) released a report identifying Wilkinsburg School District schools as among the lowest achieving schools for reading and mathematics in 2011. Both Elementary Schools, the Middle School and the High School were among the 15% lowest achieving schools in the Commonwealth. Parents and students may be eligible for scholarships to transfer to another public or nonpublic school through the state's Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit Program passed in June 2012.[27] The scholarships are limited to those students whose family's income is less than $60,000 annually, with another $12,000 allowed per dependent. Maximum scholarship award is $8,500, with special education students receiving up to $15,000 for a year's tuition. Parents pay any difference between the scholarship amount and the receiving school's tuition rate. Students may seek admission to neighboring public school districts. Each year the PDE publishes the tuition rate for each individual public school district.[28] Fifty-three public schools in Allegheny County are among the lowest-achieving schools in 2011. According to the report, parents in 414 public schools (74 school districts) were offered access to these scholarships. For the 2012-13 school year, eight public school districts in Pennsylvania had all of their schools placed on the list including: Sto-Rox School District, Chester Upland School District, Clairton City School District, Duquesne City School District, Farrell Area School District, William Penn School District and Steelton-Highspire School District.[29] Funding for the scholarships comes from donations by businesses which receive a state tax credit for donating. In 2014, Monessen City School District had all three of its schools added to the list. Funding for the scholarships comes from donations by businesses which receive a state tax credit for donating.

Western Pennsylvania region ranking

Wilkinsburg School District was ranked 103rd out of 105 western Pennsylvania school districts in 2014, by the Pittsburgh Business Times. The ranking was based on the last three years of student academic performance on the PSSAs for: math, reading, writing and science.[30] 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.[31] 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.

  • 2013 - 103rd[32]
  • 2012 - 103rd
  • 2010 - 104th[33]
  • 2009 - 104th
  • 2008 - ranked 104th.
Statewide academic ranking

In 2009, the academic achievement of the students in the Wilkinsburg School District, was in the lowest percentile among all 500 Pennsylvania school districts Scale (0–99; 100 is state best)[38]

Overachiever statewide ranking

In 2013, the Pittsburgh Business Times also reported an Overachievers Ranking for 498 Pennsylvania school districts. Wilkinsburg School District ranked 496th. In 2011, the district was 494th. [39] The editor describes the ranking as: "a ranking answers the question - which school districts do better than expectations based upon economics? This rank takes the Honor Roll rank and adds the percentage of students in the district eligible for free and reduced-price lunch into the formula. A district finishing high on this rank is smashing expectations, and any district above the median point is exceeding expectations."[40]

  • 2014 - 103rd in Western Pennsylvania region

District AYP status history[edit]

In 2012, Wilkinsburg School District declined to District Improvement II AYP status due to chronic low student achievement and an extremely low graduation rate.[41] In 2011, Wilkinsburg School District was in Making Progress: in District Improvement I due to chronic low reading and math achievement. 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.[42]

Graduation rate[edit]

In 2014, Wilkinsburg School District graduation rate was 62.5%.[48]

  • 2013 - 68.35[49]
  • 2012 - 53%.[50]
  • 2011 - 60%.[51]
  • 2010 - 60%, the Pennsylvania Department of Education issued a new, 4-year cohort graduation rate.[52]

According to traditional graduation rate calculations:

Senior High school[edit]

Wilkinsburg Senior High School is located at 747 Wallace Avenue, Pittsburgh. In 2014, enrollment was reported as 172 pupils in 9th through 12th grades, with 75% 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 37 teachers.[57] Per the PA Department of Education, 93% of the teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under the federal No Child Left Behind Act. The school is not a federally designated Title I school.

In 2010, Wilkinsburg Senior High School's enrollment was 345 pupils in grades 9th through 12th, with 342 receiving a federal free lunch due to family poverty. The school employed 39 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 8:1.[58] By 2012, the enrollment had declined to 290 pupils. The school is not a Title I school. The school employed 44.5 teachers yielding a student teacher ratio of 6.5 to 1.[59]

In January 2011, the Pennsylvania Department of Education identified the Wilkinsburg Senior High School as in the bottom 5% of the state's schools, for student academic achievement. According to the report, just 16% of the pupils were on grade level in both math and reading.[60] The students have access to several local charter school and Pennsylvania Opportunity Scholarships to attend local private schools or neighboring school districts.

Local Academic Ranking

In 2014, the Pittsburgh Business Times ranked Wilkinsburg Senior High School’s eleventh grade 103rd out of 105 western Pennsylvania high schools, based on the last three years of student academic achievement in Pennsylvania System of School Assessments (PSSA) in: reading, math, writing and science.[61] (Includes schools in: Allegheny County, Beaver County, Butler County, Fayette County, Westmoreland County, and Washington County)

In 2011, Wilkinsburg High School ranked 121st of 123 high schools in western Pennsylvania for academic achievement based on three years of PSSA results on: math, reading, writing and 3 year of science, by Pittsburgh Business Times in April 2011.[62]

  • 2010 - 120th of 123 high schools in western Pennsylvania.
  • 2009 - 120th of 123 high school in western Pennsylvania for academic achievement based on three years of PSSA results on: math, reading, writing and one year of science, by Pittsburgh Business Times in May 2009.[63]
2014 School Performance Profile

Wilkinsburg Senior High School achieved 34.6 out of 100. Reflects on grade level reading, mathematics and science achievement. In reading/literature - 13% were on grade level. In Algebra 1, just 8.5% showed on grade level math skills. In Biology, none demonstrated on grade level science understanding at the end of the course.[64][65] 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%.[66]

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 2,134 of 2,947 Pennsylvania public schools (72 percent of Pennsylvania public schools), achieved an academic score of 70 or higher.[67] Fifty-three percent of schools statewide received lower SPP scores compared with last year's, while 46 percent improved. A handful were unchanged.[68][69]

Compared with last year, the percentage of schools that earned below 60 declined by nearly 1 percent per Secretayr of Education Carolyn Dumaresq. She reported that this is an indication that student achievement is improving as school resources are being used better.[70]

2013 School Performance Profile

Wilkinsburg Senior High School achieved 36.3 out of 100. Reflects on grade level reading, mathematics and science achievement. In reading/literature - 18% were on grade level. In Algebra 1, 12.8% showed on grade level skills. In Biology, 2.6% showed on grade level science understanding.[71] 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.[72]

AYP history[edit]

In 2012, Wilkinsburg Senior High School declined to Corrective Action II 5th Year status due to chronic, low student achievement in both Reading and Mathematics and a very low graduation rate.[73] In 2008, the School's administration was required to develop a School Improvement Plan and submit it to the Pennsylvania Department of Education for approval. Under the federal No Child Left Behind law, the School was required to notify parents of its low achievement.

  • 2011 - Corrective Action II 4th Year status due to chronic low student achievement in Reading and Mathematics.[74]
  • 2010 - Corrective Action II 3rd Year due to a low graduation rate coupled with chronically low academic performance
  • 2009 - Corrective Action II 2nd Year
  • 2008 - Corrective Action II First Year
  • 2007 - Corrective Action I First Year
  • 2006 - Making progress School Improvement level I
  • 2005 - School Improvement level I
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.[75] 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.[76]

11th Grade Reading
  • 2012 - 33% on grade level, (38% below basic). State - 67% of 11th graders are on grade level.
  • 2011 - 35% (54% below basic). State - 69.1%[77]
  • 2010 – 17% (61% below basic). State - 66% [78]
  • 2009 – 26% (47% below basic), State – 65%[79]
  • 2008 – 25%, State – 65%[80]
  • 2007 – 34%, State – 65%[81]
11th Grade Math
  • 2012 - 13% on grade level (62% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 59% of 11th graders are on grade level.[82]
  • 2011 - 16% (63% below basic). State - 60.3%[83]
  • 2010 – 16% (73% below basic). State - 59%
  • 2009 – 18% (58% below basic). State – 56%
  • 2008 – 22%, State – 56%[84]
  • 2007 – 20%, State – 53%
11th Grade Science
  • 2012 - 0% on grade level (42% below basic). State - 42% of 11th graders were on grade level.
  • 2011 - 4% (60% below basic). State - 40%[85]
  • 2010 – 3% (62% below basic). State - 39% [86]
  • 2009 – 3% (59% below basic), State – 40%
  • 2008 – 3%, State – 39%

College remediation[edit]

According to a Pennsylvania Department of Education study released in January 2009, 67% of the Wilkinsburg 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.[87] 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.[88] 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 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 the 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.[89] Under the Pennsylvania Transfer and Articulation Agreement, many Pennsylvania colleges and universities accept these credits for students who transfer to their institutions.[90] For the 2009–10 funding year, the school district received a state grant of $14,834 for the program.

SAT scores[edit]

In 2014, Wilkinsburg School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 370. The Math average score was 398. The Writing average score was 330.[91] 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.[92]

In 2012, 28 Wilkinsburg School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 398. The Math average score was 400. The Writing average score was 359. 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.

In 2011, 13 Wilkinsburg School District students took the SAT exams. The district's Verbal Average Score was 393. The Math average score was 395. The Writing average score was 347.[93] Pennsylvania ranked 40th among states with SAT scores: Verbal - 493, Math - 501, Writing - 479.[94] 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.[95]

Wilkinsburg Middle School[edit]

Wilkinsburg Middle School is located at 747 Wallace Avenue, Pittsburgh. In 2014, enrollment was 116 pupils, in grades 7th and 8th, with 79% of pupils eligible for a free lunch due to family poverty. Additionally, 18.9% of pupils received special education services, while none of pupils were identified as gifted.[96]

In 2010, Wilkinsburg Middle School's enrollment was 161 pupils in grades 7th and 8th, with 158 receiving a federal free lunch due to family poverty. The school employed 18 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 9:1.[97] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 6 teachers were rated "Non‐Highly Qualified" under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.[98]

2014 School Performance Profile

Wilkinsburg Middle School achieved 46.4 out of 100. Reflects on grade level reading, mathematics and science achievement. In reading/literature - 33.6% were on grade level. In Algebra 1/Math, 27% showed on grade level mathematics skills. In Science, 15.2% of 8th graders showed on grade level science understanding. In writing, 40% of the 8th grade students demonstrated on grade level writing skills.[99]

2013 School Performance Profile

Wilkinsburg Middle School achieved out of 100. Reflects on grade level reading, writing, mathematics and science achievement. In reading, just 31% of the students were on grade level. In Mathematics/Algebra 1, only 29.4% of the students showed on grade level skills at the end of the course. In Science, only 17.54% of the 8th graders demonstrated on grade level science understanding. In writing, 31.4% of the 8th grade students demonstrated on grade level writing skills.[100] 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[edit]

In 2012, Wilkinsburg Middle School declined to Corrective Action II 3rd Year status due to chronic, low student achievement in reading and mathematics.[101]

  • 2011 - declined to Corrective Action II 2nd Year status due to chronic low student achievement.[102] The school's administration was required to develop a School Improvement Plan to raise student academic achievement and submit it to the Pennsylvania Department of Education for approval. In accordance with NCLB, the parents were notified of the low student achievement.
  • 2010 - Corrective Action II first year for chronic, low student academic achievement.
  • 2009 - Corrective Action I for poor student academic achievement.[103]
Western Pennsylvania region ranking

In 2013, the Wilkinsburg Middle School's 8th grade ranked 148th out of 149 western Pennsylvania eighth grades, by the Pittsburgh Business Times. The ranking was based on the last three years of student academic performance on the PSSAs for math, reading, writing and science.[104]

  • 2012 - 147th
  • 2011 - 145th
  • 2010 - 105th [105]
  • 2009 - 139th out of 141 western Pennsylvania eighth grades[106]
PSSA results

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.[107] 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.[108] The standards were published in 1998 and are mandated by the Pennsylvania State Board of Education.[109] In 2014, the Commonwealth adopted the Pennsylvania Core Standards - Mathematics.[110]

8th Grade Reading
  • 2012 - 42% on grade level (36% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 79% of 8th graders on grade level.[111]
  • 2011 - 38% (39% below basic). State - 81.8%[112]
  • 2010 - 48% (31% below basic). State - 82%
  • 2009 - 39% (29% below basic). State - 80.9%
  • 2008 - 42%, State – 78%[113]
  • 2007 - 34%, State – 75%[114]
8th Grade Math
  • 2012 - 30% on grade level (49% below basic). State - 76% [115]
  • 2011 - 26% (46% below basic). State - 76.9%
  • 2010 - 26% (56% below basic). State – 75% [116]
  • 2009 - 33% (24% below basic), State – 71%[117]
  • 2008 - 37%, State -70%
  • 2007 - 15%, State – 67%
8th Grade Science
  • 2012 - 7% on grade level (76% below basic). State - 59%
  • 2011 - 11% (71% below basic). State – 58.3%
  • 2010 - 5% (86% below basic). State – 55%
  • 2009 - 17% (67% below basic), State – 55%
  • 2008 - 17%, State – 50%
Seventh grade

Wilkinsburg Middle School 7th grade was ranked 149th out of 150 Western Pennsylvania 7th grades for academic achievement in: reading, math and writing in 2013.

  • 2012 - 147th
  • 2011 - 146th[118]
  • 2010 - 144th[119]

Kelly Elementary School[edit]

Kelly Elementary School is located at 400 Kelly Avenue, Wilkinsburg. In 2014, Kelly Elementary School's enrollment was 409 pupils in grades preschool through 6th, with 76% of pupils receiving a federal free or reduced price meals due to family poverty. Additionally, 21% of the pupils receive special education services, while none are identified as gifted.[120] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 92% of the teachers were rated highly qualified under No Child Left Behind. The school provides taxpayer funded preschool and full day kindergarten.[121] The school is a federally designated Title I school.

in 2010, Kelly Elementary School provides preschool through 6th grade to 343 students, with 340 students receiving a federal free lunch due to family poverty. The school employed 32 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 11:1.[122] in 2012, Kelly Elementary School provides preschool through 6th grade to 299 students, with 296 students receiving a federal free lunch due to family poverty. The School is a federally designated Title I school. The school employed 30 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 9:1.[123] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under the No Child Left Behind Act.[124]

Since the 2003-04 school year, the District has provided preschool and full-day kindergarten.[125][126] Proponents of full day kindergarten claim it will reduce special education numbers and it will raise primary student academic achievement especially in reading and math.[127] Those outcomes have not been realized in Wilkinsburg School District. Reading achievement in particular has not improved substantially in 3rd grades.[128]

2014 School Performance Profile

Kelly Elementary School achieved a score of 62.9 out of 100. The score reflects on grade level: reading, science, writing and mathematics achievement. In 2013-14, only 29% of the students were reading on grade level in grades 3rd through 6th. In 3rd grade, just 34% of the pupils were reading on grade level. In math, 38.8% were on grade level (3rd-6th grades). In 4th grade science, just 50% of the pupils demonstrated on grade level understanding. In writing, only 66.6% of 5th grade pupils demonstrated on grade level skills.[129]

2013 School Performance Profile

Kelly Elementary School achieved a score of out of 100. The score reflects on grade level: reading, science, writing and mathematics achievement. In 2012-13, only 28.7% of the students were reading on grade level in grades 3rd through 6th. In 3rd grade, 31.75% of the pupils were reading on grade level. In math, 42.9% were on grade level (3rd-6th grades). In 4th grade science, just 55.8% of the pupils demonstrated on grade level understanding. In writing, only 28% of 5th grade pupils demonstrated on grade level skills.[130]

AYP History

In 2012, Kelly Elementary School declined to Warning AYP status due to lagging student achievement in both reading and mathematics.[131] In 2009, 2010 and 2011, Kelly Elementary School achieved AYP status.[132]

Western Pennsylvania ranking

In 2013, Kelly Elementary School fifth grade was ranked 216th out of 287 western Pennsylvania schools.[133] In 2011, the fifth grade ranked 247th. Kelly Elementary School 5th grade was ranked 241st out of 287 Western Pennsylvania 5th grades for academic achievement in: reading, math and writing in 2010.[134]

PSSA Results: Each year, in the Spring, the 3rd graders and sixth grades 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 - 60%, (15% below basic). State - 82%
  • 2011 - 70%, (3% below basic), State – 82.9%
  • 2010 - 50%, (12% below basic), State - 81%
3rd grade local ranking

In 2012, Kelly Elementary School was ranked 308th out of 327 Western Pennsylvania 3rd grades. In 2012 the third grade ranked 317th.

  • 2011 - ranked 314th out of 327 Western Pennsylvania 3rd grades for academic achievement in reading, math and writing.[147]
  • 2010 - ranked 315th
  • 2009 - ranked 314th.[148]

Turner Elementary School[edit]

Turner Elementary School is located at 1833 Laketon Road, Wilkinsburg. In 2014, the Turner Elementary School's enrollment was 235 pupils in grades preschool through 6th, with 72% of pupils receiving a federal free or reduced price meals due to family poverty. Additionally, 21% of the pupils receive special education services, while none are identified as gifted.[149] 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.[150] The school is a federally designated Title I school.

In 2010, Turner Elementary School provides taxpayer funded preschool through 6th grade to 279 students, with 276 students receiving a federal free lunch due to family poverty. The school employed 26 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 10:1.[151]

2014 School Performance Profile

Turner Elementary School achieved a score of 68 out of 100. The score reflects on grade level: reading, science, writing and mathematics achievement. In 2013-14, only 34% of the students were reading on grade level in grades 3rd through 6th. In 3rd grade, 37.5% of the pupils were reading on grade level. In math, 61.7% were on grade level (3rd-6th grades). In 4th grade science, just 41.6% of the pupils demonstrated on grade level understanding. In writing, only 70.5% of 5th grade pupils demonstrated on grade level skills.[152]

2013 School Performance Profile

Turner Elementary School achieved a score of 55.1 out of 100. The score reflects on grade level: reading, science, writing and mathematics achievement. In 2012-13, only 36% of the students were reading on grade level in grades 3rd through 6th. In 3rd grade, 35.48% of the pupils were reading on grade level. In math, 58.2% were on grade level (3rd-6th grades). In 4th grade science, just 34% of the pupils demonstrated on grade level understanding. In writing, only 46% of 5th grade pupils demonstrated on grade level skills.[153]

AYP status

In 2011, The Turner Elementary School achieved AYP status. In 2010, the school was in Warning status due to lagging student achievement.[154]

Turner Elementary School 5th grade was ranked 250th out of 281 Western Pennsylvania 5th grades in 2011. Turner Elementary School 5th grade was ranked 270th out of 287 Western Pennsylvania 5th grades for academic achievement in reading, math and writing in 2010.[155]

4th Grade Science
  • 2011 - 53% (29% below basic). State – 82.9%
  • 2010 - 40% (42% below basic). State - 81%

Turner Elementary School 3rd grade was ranked 317th out of 322 Western Pennsylvania 3rd grades for academic achievement in: reading, math and writing in 2011.[157] in 2010 the school's 3rd grade ranked 320th out of 327 western Pennsylvania region schools third grades. In 2009, the school ranked 319th out of 327 third grades.

Special education[edit]

In December 2012, the District reported that 286 students or 28.3% of its students were identified for special education services. Thirty-two percent of the special education students were identified as having a specific learning disability.[159]

In December 2010, the District reported that 368 students or 26.1% of its students were identified for special education services. Thirty six percent of the special education students were identified as having a specific learning disability. In December 2009, the district administration reported that 364 pupils or 25% of the district's pupils received Special Education services.[160] In December 2007, the District reported that 378 students or 25.2% of its students were identified for special education services. Thirty six percent of the special education students were identified as having a specific learning disability.

In 2007, Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Gerald Zahorchak testified before the Pennsylvania House Education Committee regarding full day kindergarten and taxpayer funded preschool. He claimed that public school districts that offered these programs would see a significant decrease in special education students due to early identification and early intervention. He asserted that the high costs of full day kindergarten would be recouped by Districts in lower special education costs.[161] Contrary to the predictions of early education advocates, Wilkinsburg School District has seen an increase in the percentage of special education students it serves, yielding no savings.

The District engages in identification procedures to ensure that eligible students receive an appropriate educational program consisting of special education and related services, individualized to meet student needs. At no cost to the parents, these services are provided in compliance with state and federal law; and are reasonably calculated to yield meaningful educational benefit and student progress. To identify students who may be eligible for special education, various screening activities are conducted on an ongoing basis. These screening activities include: review of group-based data (cumulative records, enrollment records, health records, report cards, ability and achievement test scores); hearing, vision, motor, and speech/language screening; and review by the Instructional Support Team or Student Assistance Team. When screening results suggest that the student may be eligible, the District seeks parental consent to conduct a multidisciplinary evaluation. Parents who suspect their child is eligible may verbally request a multidisciplinary evaluation from a professional employee of the District or contact the Special Education Department.[162]

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.[163] 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.[164] The state requires each district to have a three-year special education plan to meet the unique needs of its special education students.[165] 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.[166] In 2012, the Obama Administration's US Department of Education issued a directive requiring schools include students with disabilities in extracurricular activities, including sports.[167]

Wilkinsburg Borough School District received a $1,143,067 supplement for special education services in 2010.[168] For the 2011-12, 2012–13, 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.[169] In 2014-15, the District received $234,847 in 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]

The District Administration reported that 31 or 2.3% of its students were gifted in 2009.[171] By law, the district must provide mentally gifted programs at all grade levels. Wilkinsburg School District works with gifted students and their parents to develop a Gifted Individualized Education Program.[172] The primary emphasis is on enrichment and acceleration of the regular education curriculum through a push in model with the gifted instructor in the classroom with the regular instructor. This approach permits such specialized instructional strategies as tiered assignments, curriculum compacting, flexible grouping, learning stations, independent projects and independent contracts. Students identified as gifted attending the High School have access to honors courses and dual enrollment with local colleges. 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.[173]

Bullying policy[edit]

The Wilkinsburg Borough School District administration reported there were 65 incidents of bullying in the district in 2009.[174][175]

Wilkinsburg School District has effectively implemented the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program in all schools in 2010-2011. In the 2011-12 school year, the school has implemented bi-weekly classroom meetings, on-the-spot and follow-up intervention procedures, and trainings for all staff and school-based personnel on the policy and the program. Specific school-wide Anti-bullying rules are posted throughout the school and in every classroom. The Wilkinsburg Borough School Board has not provided the district's antibully policy online. 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.[176] 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.[177]

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.[178]

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.[179]

In 2013, the Pennsylvania Department of Education placed Wilkinsburg School District on the State's financial watch list.[180] The State provides districts on the list technical assistance to avoid a financial crisis. The action was prompted by the Board going to the Allegheny County Court to get permission to borrow $3 million to pay its bills. Compounding the problem, the 2010-11 tax burden on Wilkinsburg School District property owners is the second-highest among 500 school districts in the state. In June 2013, the Board voted to eliminate 9 faculty positions (five were retirements) and three administrators positions. In September 2013, the superintendent was highly criticized for spending $15,665 on a weekend retreat, at a luxury resort, for the administration which included various giveaways and free gifts.[181]

In 2013, the average teacher salary in Wilkinsburg Borough School District was $54,492 a year, while the cost of the benefits teachers received was $25,685 per employee, for a total annual average teacher compensation of $80,177.[182] The District reported 172 employees and a top salary was $132,950[183][184]

Wilkinsburg Borough 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.)[185] 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.[186]

In 2012, the Wilkinsburg School Board furloughed 43 employees, including: one principal, eight teachers, 15 teaching assistants, seven associate teachers, four behavioral health specialists, five secretaries and three custodians. One elementary school was closed due to sharply declining enrollment in the district.[187] The district continued to employ 162 people.

In 2011, the average teacher salary in Wilkinsburg School District was $51,858 a year, while the cost of the benefits teachers received was $24,934 per employee (among the highest in Pennsylvania), for a total annual average teacher compensation of $76,792.[188] The District employed 162 teachers with an average salary of $56,479 and a top salary of $127,530.[189]

In 2009, the Wilkinsburg School District reported employing over 170 teachers with a starting salary of $40,000 for191 days with 180 days for pupil instruction.[190] The average teacher salary was $54,794 while the maximum salary is $119,054.[191] 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.[192] The teacher’s work day is seven hours and thirty minutes, including a 30-minute duty-free lunch. Additionally, Wilkinsburg Borough School District teachers receive a defined benefit pension, health insurance, professional development reimbursement, 2 paid personal days (which accumulate as sick days), 11 paid sick days, 3 paid death leave days, a variety of special leaves and other benefits. Teachers are paid extra if they are required to work outside of the regular school day. Daily teaching load for elementary classroom teachers may not exceed an average of five-and-one-half hours of pupil contact per day. Elementary teachers monitoring lunchrooms or playgrounds receive extra compensated at the rate of Sixteen Dollars per hour. Sabbatical leave at one half salary is granted in accordance with the provisions of the Pennsylvania Public School Code. All insurance benefits are continued during the terms of the sabbatical leave.[193] According to State Rep. Glen Grell, a trustee of the Pennsylvania Public School Employees’ Retirement System Board, a 40-year educator can retire with a pension equal to 100 percent of their final salary.[194]

In 2007, the average teacher salary in the Wilkinsburg Borough School District was $50,890 for 180 days worked.[195]

Administration spending Wilkinsburg Borough School District per pupil administrative costs were $1,107 per pupil, in 2008. The District ranked 38th out of 500 school districts, for administrative spending per pupil in 2008. The lowest administrative cost per pupil in Pennsylvania was $398 per pupil.[196] 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.[197] The District reports having 13 administrators with a salary range of $74,070 to $123,816 in 2009.[198] Archie D. Perrin Jr. was the acting superintendent in 2012 and the pastor of Macedonia Baptist Church in Duquesne.

Per pupil spending In 2008, Wilkinsburg Borough School District reported spending $17,971 per pupil. This ranked 24th in the commonwealth.[199] In 2010, the per pupil spending had increased to $18,619.57.[200] In 2011, the per pupil spending had risen to $20,569.41 ranking 14th in the state. Among the states, Pennsylvania’s total per pupil revenue (including all sources) ranked 11th at $15,023 per student, in 2008-09.[201] In 2007, the Pennsylvania per pupil total expenditures was $12,759.[202]

Reserves

In 2009, the Wilkinsburg Borough School District reported $1,734,068 in an unreserved-undesignated fund balance. The designated fund balance was reported as 800,000.[203] In 2010, Wilkinsburg School Administration reported $184,038 in the unreserved-undesignated fund balance and $600,000 in its designated fund. Pennsylvania 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.[204]

In October 2009, the Pennsylvania Auditor General conducted a performance audit of the Wilkinsburg Borough School District. Findings were reported to the administration and school board.[205]

Tuition Students who live in the 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 Wilkinsburg Borough 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 2013 tuition rates are Elementary School - $12,805, High School - $18,033.[206]

The Wilkinsburg Borough School District is funded by a combination of: a local 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. Grants can provide an opportunity to supplement school funding without raising local taxes.[207] In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, pension and Social Security income are exempted from state personal income tax and local earned income tax regardless of the individual's wealth.[208]

State basic education funding[edit]

According to a report from Representative Todd Stephens office, Wilkinsburg Borough School District receives 44.6% of its annual revenue from the state.[209]

For the 2015-16 school year, Governor Tom Wolf released a partial Basic Education Funding of $5,104,161 to Wilkinsburg Borough School District, in January 2016.[210] This was part of $10.3 billion in school funding withheld from the public schools, by the Governor since the summer of 2015.[211] The dispersement did not follow the new Basic Education Fair Funding formula which had been established by the Pennsylvania General Assembly in June 2015.[212] The District also received another $471,978 in Ready to Learn Grant funds. Ten (10) Pennsylvania school districts received no increase in Basic Eductaion funding under Governor Wolf.[213][214] In April 2016, Governor Wolf announced his finalized dispersement of 2015-16 state Basic Education Funding. Wilkinsburg Borough School District received a 44.1% increase for a total funding of $10,885,102.[215] This is $3.3 million more than the District was to receive by law under the state’s Fair Funding Formula approved in 2015.[216][217] This was the highest increase in funding statewide and in Allegheny County. The average BEF increase among the Commonwealth’s 500 public school districts for 2015-16 was 2.21%.

For the 2014-15 school year, Wilkinsburg Borough School District received $7,119,886 in State Basic Education funding. The District also received another $234,847 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.[218] 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.[219]

In the 2013-2014 school year, the Wilkinsburg Borough School District received a 1.4% increase or $7,119,886 in Pennsylvania Basic Education Funding. This is $101,520 more than its 2012-13 state BEF to the District. Additionally, Wilkinsburg Borough School District received $150,987 in Accountability Block Grant funding to focus on academic achievement and level funding for special education services. Among the public school districts in Allegheny County, South Fayette Township School District received the highest percentage increase in BEF at 5.5%. The District had 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.[220] 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.[221] 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.[222]

For the 2012-13 school year, the Wilkinsburg Borough School District received $7,017,756 in BEF.[223] 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. Additionally, Wilkinsburg Borough School District received $150,987 in Accountability Block Grant funding to fund all day kindergarten. The state also provided a $544.4 million payment for School Employees’ Social Security and $856 million for School Employees’ Retirement fund called PSERS.[224] 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 the 2011-12 school year, Wilkinsburg Borough School District received a $7,017,756, allocation, of state Basic Education Funding.[225][226] Additionally, the School District received $150,987 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.[227] 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.[228] In 2010, the district reported that 1,100 students received free or reduced-price lunches, due to the family meeting the federal poverty level.[229]

For the 2010–11 school year, Wilkinsburg Borough School District received a 2% increase in state Basic Education Funding (BEF) resulting in a $7,301,273 payment.[230] 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. 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 determined by Governor Edward Rendell and the Secretary of Education, Gerald Zahorchak, through the allocation set in the state budget proposal made in February each year.[231] This was the second year of Governor Rendell’s policy to fund some public school districts at a far greater rate than others.[232]

For the 2009–2010 school year, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a 2% increase in Basic Education funding for a total of $7,158,111. The district also received supplemental funding for English language learners, Title 1 federal funding for low-income students, for district size, a poverty supplement from the commonwealth and more.[233] Chartiers Valley School District received an 8.19% increase, the highest increase in Allegheny County for the 2009–10 school year. Among the 500 school districts in Pennsylvania, Muhlenberg School District in Berks County received the highest with a 22.31% increase in funding.[234]

In 2008-09 school year, the state Basic Education funding to the district was $7,017,755. The District reported 1000 pupils received a free or reduced price lunches. The district also received supplemental funding for English language learners, Title 1 federal funding for low-income students, for district size, a poverty supplement from the commonwealth and more. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 1,147 district students received free or reduced-price lunches due to low family income in the 2007–2008 school year.[235] 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.[236][237]

Accountability Block Grants[edit]

Beginning in 2004–2005, the state launched the Accountability Block Grant school funding. This program has provided $1.5 billion to Pennsylvania’s school districts. The Accountability Block Grant program requires that its taxpayer dollars are focused on specific interventions that are most likely to increase student academic achievement. These interventions include: teacher training, all-day kindergarten, lower class size K-3rd grade, literacy and math coaching programs that provide teachers with individualized job-embedded professional development to improve their instruction, before or after school tutoring assistance to struggling students. For 2010–11, the Wilkinsburg Borough School District applied for and received $409,817 in addition to all other state and federal funding. The District used the funding to provide full-day kindergarten for the 7th year.[238][239]

  • 2009-10 - $409,817 for full-day kindergarten [240]

Education Assistance grant[edit]

The state's Education Assistance Program funding provides for the continuing support of tutoring services and other programs to address the academic needs of eligible students. Funds were available to eligible school districts and full-time career and technology centers (CTC) in which one or more schools have failed to meet at least one academic performance target, as provided for in Section 1512-C of the Pennsylvania Public School Code. In 2010–11 the Wilkinsburg Borough School District received $154,778.[241]

Classrooms for the Future grant[edit]

The Classroom for the Future state program provided districts with hundreds of thousands of extra state funding to buy laptop computers for each core curriculum high school class (English, Science, History, Math) and paid for teacher training to optimize the computers use. The program was funded from 2006 to 2009. Wilkinsburg Borough School District received $193,898 in funding in 2006–07. In 2007–08 the district received $250,000. For the 2008–09, school year the district did not apply for funding. Total funding was $443,898. Of the 501 public school districts in Pennsylvania, 447 of them received Classrooms for the Future grant awards.[242]

PreK Counts grant[edit]

Wilkinsburg School District receives state funding to provide preschool at the elementary schools. For the 2011 school year, Pre-K Counts was funded at the 2010 levels of $83.6 million statewide in Gov. Tom Corbett's proposed budget,. The state also supplements the federal Head Start preschool program with an additional $37.6 million. Pre-K Counts funding was initiated during the Rendell administration. In 2007-08 the state funded Pre-K Counts at $75 million. Wilkinsburg Borough School District received funding in 2007-08.[243] In 2013, Wilkinsburg Bororugh School District received $529,850 in PreK Counts funding from the state.[244]

Literacy Grant[edit]

Wilkinsburg Borough School District was awarded a $886,696 competitive literacy grant. It is to be used to improve reading skills birth through 12th grade. The district was required to develop a lengthy literacy plan, which included outreach into the community. The funds come from a Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy grant, also referred to as the Keystones to Opportunity grant It is a five-year, competitive federal grant program designed to assist local education agencies in developing and implementing local comprehensive literacy plans. Of the 329 pre-applications by school districts reviewed by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, School District was one of only 148 entities that were invited to submit a full application. In County 5 school districts and one charter school were awarded funding for one year.[245] The funds must be used for teacher training, student screening and assessment, targeted interventions for students reading below grade level and research-based methods of improving classroom instruction and practice. Districts must hire literacy coaches. The coaches work with classroom teachers to enhance their literacy teaching skills. Pennsylvania was among six other states, out of the 35 that applied, to be awarded funding. Pennsylvania received $38 million through the federal program. The Department of Education reserved 5% of the grant for administration costs at the state level. The top Pennsylvania grant recipient was Pittsburgh School District which was awarded $1,9983,014.

Science It’s Elementary grant[edit]

Turner Elementary School successfully applied to receive a Science It’s Elementary grant in 2008-09.[246] For the 2008-09 school year, the program was offered in 143 schools reaching 66,973 students across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.[247] In 2007, the Pennsylvania Department of Education initiated an effort to improve science instruction in the Commonwealth’s public elementary schools. Called Science: It’s Elementary, the program was a hands on instruction approach for elementary science classes that develops problem-solving and critical thinking skills.[248] To encourage schools to adopt the program’s standards aligned curriculum, the state provided a grant to cover the costs of materials and extensive mandatory teacher training.[249] The district was required to develop a three-year implementation plan for the participating school. The school district administration was required to appoint a district liaison who was paid $3,000 by PDE to serve as the conduit of all information between the district and the Department and its agents along with submitting orders and distributing supplies to implementing teachers. For the 2006-07 state education budget, $10 million was allocated for the program.[250] The grant program was expanded to $14.5 million in the 2008-09 budget. The grant was discontinued in the state’s 2011 budget by Governor Edward G. Rendell.

Project 720[edit]

Project 720 was a high school reform program implemented for three years under the Rendell administration. The intent was to increase academic rigor and improve the instruction of teachers in the Commonwealth’s high schools. Teachers were expected to use data driven instructional practices and to meet the needs of diverse learners.[251] The 720 in the name referred to the number of days a student was in high school in ninth through 12th grades. High school’s applied for funding and were required to agree to report to the PDE their plans, their actions and the outcomes. In 2007-08 budget year, the Commonwealth provided $11 million in funding. Wilkinsburg Borough School District was one of 161 PA public school district to apply, receiving $62,000 funding over three years.[252][253] For 2010-11, Project 720 funding was decreased to $1.7 million by Governor Rendell. The grant program was discontinued effective with the 2011-12 state budget.[254]

Other grants[edit]

The District did not participate in: Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection's Environmental Education annual grants;[255][256] Education Assistance Grants; 2013 Safe Schools and Resource Officer grants; nor 2012 and 2013 Pennsylvania Hybrid Learning Grants.[257]

Federal Stimulus grant[edit]

The Wilkinsburg Borough School District received $2,199,075 in Federal Stimulus ARRA funds in 2009–2011. This was in addition to all regular state and federal funding.[258] These dollars must be focused on programs to improve the academic achievement of students receiving free and reduced-price lunch or special education students. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 1,147 students qualified for free or reduced-price lunch due to low family income in 2008.[259]

21st Century learning grant[edit]

In July 2003, Wilkinsburg Borough School District received a federal grant which is run by the PDE. The grant calls for the establishment and sustainability of community learning centers that provide additional educational services to students in high-poverty and low-performing schools. The grant was competitive. Applications for the grants were reviewed and scored by a panel of representatives from the educational field and professional grant writers. The school received $135,000. While 101 entities applied for the funding, only 66 were approved including eight charter schools. The funding is for the 2003-04 fiscal year.[260] In 2004, Wilkinsburg Borough School District $353,950 in federal 21st Century Learning funds.[261]

School Improvement Grant[edit]

Wilkinsburg Borough School District Administration did not apply to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, for the School Improvement Grant for 2009–10.[262] Wilkinsburg Borough was eligible for funding due to its student achievement ranking among the lowest-performing schools in the state.

In 2010, Pennsylvania received $141 million from the US Department of Education, to turn around the state's worst-performing schools. The funds were disbursed via a competitive grant program.[263] The Pennsylvania Department of Education identified 200 Pennsylvania schools as "persistently lowest-achieving," making them eligible for this special funding.[264] Pennsylvania required low performing schools to apply or provide documentation about why they had not applied. The funds must be used, by the district, to turn around schools in one of four ways: school closure, restart – close the school and reopen it as a charter school. The other two options involve firing the principal. One would require at least half the faculty in a chronically poor performing school be dismissed. The second involves intensive teacher training coupled with strong curriculum revision or a longer school day.[265]

Race to the Top grant[edit]

Wilkinsburg Borough School District officials did not apply for the Race to the Top federal grant which would have brought the district millions in additional federal dollars for improving student academic achievement.[266] Participation required the administration, the school board and the local teachers' union to sign an agreement to prioritize improving student academic success.[267] In Pennsylvania, 120 public school districts and 56 charter schools agreed to participate.[268] 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.[269]

Common Cents state initiative[edit]

The Wilkinsburg Borough School Board participated 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.[270] After the review of the information, the district was not required to implement any of the recommended cost savings changes. The study found that adopting a wider shared services approach would save the district hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. It proposed a greater use of intermediate unit No. 3 to control costs for a wide variety of student services.

Real estate taxes[edit]

The school board set property tax rates in 2014–15 at 32.6300 mills.[271] 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.[272]

  • 2013-14 - 32.6300 mills reduced due to county-wide property reassessment.

The average yearly property tax paid by Allegheny County residents amounts to about 4.09% of their yearly income. Allegheny County ranked 209th out of the 3143 United States counties for property taxes as a percentage of median income.[279] 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.[280] 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%).[281]

Act 1 Adjusted index[edit]

The Act 1 of 2006 Index regulates the rates at which each school district can raise property taxes in Pennsylvania. Districts are not authorized to raise taxes above that index unless they allow voters to vote by referendum, or they seek an exception from the state Department of Education. The base index for the 2011–2012 school year is 1.4 percent, but the Act 1 Index can be adjusted higher, depending on a number of factors, such as property values and the personal income of district residents. Act 1 included 10 exceptions, including: increasing pension costs, increases in special education costs, a catastrophe like a fire or flood, increase in health insurance costs for contracts in effect in 2006 or dwindling tax bases. The base index is the average of the percentage increase in the statewide average weekly wage, as determined by the PA Department of Labor and Industry, for the preceding calendar year and the percentage increase in the Employment Cost Index for Elementary and Secondary Schools, as determined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the U.S. Department of Labor, for the previous 12-month period ending June 30. For a school district with a market value/personal income aid ratio (MV/PI AR) greater than 0.4000, its index equals the base index multiplied by the sum of .75 and its MV/PI AR for the current year.[282] In June 2011, the Pennsylvania General Assembly eliminated six of the ten the exceptions to the Act 1 Index.[283] 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.[284][285]

The School District Adjusted Index for the Wilkinsburg Borough School District 2006–2007 through 2010–2011.[286]

For the 2014-15 budget year, Wilkinsburg Borough 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).[291] 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.[292]

For the 2013-14 budget year, Wilkinsburg Borough 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.[293]

For the 2012-13 budget year, Wilkinsburg Borough School Board applied for two exceptions to exceed the Act 1 Index: escalating teacher pension costs and rising special education costs. 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.[294]

For the 2011-12 school year, Wilkinsburg Borough School Board did not apply for an exception to exceed the Act 1 Index. Each year, Wilkinsburg Borough 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.[295]

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.[296]

Wilkinsburg Borough School Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed the Act 1 index for the budgets in 2009–2010 or in 2010–2011.[297][298] 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.[299]

Property tax relief[edit]

In 2013, the Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief from gambling for the Wilkinsburg Borough School District was $291 per approved permanent primary residence. In the district 2,763 properties applied for the benefit. The decline in amount was related to more residents applying for tax relief and a decline in table games tax revenues. The amount received by the District must be divided equally among all approved residences.[300] The tax relief is subtracted from the total annual school property on the individual's tax bill.

In 2009, the Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief from gambling for the Wilkinsburg Borough School District was $301 per approved permanent primary residence. In the district, 2,673 property owners applied for the tax relief.[301] 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.[302] In Allegheny County, the highest property tax relief in 2009 was awarded to the approved property owners in Duquesne City School District at $346. 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.[303] This was the second year Chester Upland School District was the top recipient.

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%).[304]

Enrollment[edit]

Wilkinburg Borough School District enrollment is declining and is projected to decline another 300 students by 2019.[305] Over the next 10 years, 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).[306] As the enrollment declines, per pupil administrative costs of the schools continue to rise.[307] In March 2011, the Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants Fiscal Responsibility Task Force released a report which found that consolidating school district administrations with one neighboring district would save the Commonwealth $1.2 billion without forcing the consolidation of any school buildings.[308]

In 2009, a plan was offered by locally prominent citizen, David Wassel, that called for consolidating local school districts in an effort to create more cost-effective, economically competitive and efficient governmental bodies. In the plan, Wilkinsburg Borough School District would consolidate with neighboring Penn Hills School District.[309]

The Commonwealth of 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.[310] This results in excessive school administration bureaucracy and not enough course diversity.[311] In a survey of 88 superintendents of small districts, 42% of the respondents stated that they thought consolidation would save money without closing any schools.[312]

Wellness policy[edit]

Wilkinsburg School Board established a district wellness policy in 2014.[313] The policy deals with nutritious meals served at school, the control of access to some foods and beverages during school hours, age appropriate nutrition education for all students, and physical education for students K-12. The policy is in response to state mandates and federal legislation (P.L. 108 – 265). The law dictates that each school district participating in a program authorized by the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act (42 U.S.C. 1751 et seq) or the Child Nutrition Act of 1966 (42 U.S.C. 1771 et seq) "shall establish a local school wellness policy by School Year 2006." Most districts identified the superintendent and school foodservice director as responsible for ensuring local wellness policy implementation.[314]

The legislation placed the responsibility of developing a wellness policy at the local level so the individual needs of each district can be addressed. According to the requirements for the Local Wellness Policy, school districts must set goals for nutrition education, physical activity, campus food provision, and other school-based activities designed to promote student wellness. Additionally, districts were required to involve a broad group of individuals in policy development and to have a plan for measuring policy implementation. Districts were offered a choice of levels of implementation for limiting or prohibiting low nutrition foods on the school campus. In final implementation these regulations prohibit some foods and beverages on the school campus.[315] The Pennsylvania Department of Education required the district to submit a copy of the policy for approval.

The District offers both a free school breakfast and a free or reduced-price lunch to children in low income families. All students attending the school can eat breakfast and lunch. Children from families with incomes at or below 130 percent of the federal poverty level are provided a breakfast and lunch at no cost to the family. Children from families with incomes between 130 and 185 percent of the federal poverty level can be charged no more than 30 cents per breakfast. A foster child whose care and placement is the responsibility of the State or who is placed by a court with a caretaker household is eligible for both a free breakfast and a free lunch. Runaway, homeless and Migrant Youth are also automatically eligible for free meals.[316] The meals are partially funded with federal dollars through the United States Department of Agriculture.[317]

In 2013, the USDA issued new restrictions to foods in public schools. The rules apply to foods and beverages sold on all public school district campuses during the day. They limit vending machine snacks to a maximum of 200 calories per item. Additionally, all snack foods sold at school must meet competitive nutrient standards, meaning they must have fruits, vegetables, dairy or protein in them or contain at least 10 percent of the daily value of fiber, calcium, potassium, and Vitamin D.[318] In order to comply with the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 all US public school districts are required to raise the price of their school lunches to $2.60 regardless of the actual cost of providing the lunch.[319] The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 mandates that Districts raise their full pay lunch prices every year until the price of non-subsidized lunches equals the amount the federal government reimburses schools for free meals. That subsidy in 2013-2014 was $2.93.

In 2014, President Obama ordered a prohibition of advertisements for unhealthy foods on public school campuses during the school day.[320] The Food and Drug Administration requires that students take milk as their beverage at lunch. In accordance with this law, any student requesting water in place of milk with their lunch must present a written request, signed by a doctor, documenting the need for water instead of milk.[321][322]

Wilkinsburg School District provides health services as mandated by the Commonwealth and the federal government. Nurses are available in the buildings to conduct annual health screenings (data reported to the PDE and state Department of Health) and to dispense prescribed medications to students during the school day. Students can be excluded from school unless they comply with all the State Department of Health’s extensive immunization mandates. School nurses monitor each pupil for this compliance.[323][324] Nurses also monitor each child's weight.[325]

Closed school[edit]

Johnston Elementary School is located at 1256 Franklin Avenue, Wilkinsburg. Johnston Elementary School provides taxpayer funded preschool through 6th grade to 221 students, with 218 students receiving a federal free lunch due to family poverty. The school employed 24 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 9:1.[326] In 2011, The Johnston Elementary School declined to School Improvement I status due to low student achievement, especially in Reading. In 2010, the school was in Warning status.[327] The school's administration was required, by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, to develop a School Improvement Plan to address the low student achievement and to submit it for approval. The school was closed by the school board in 2013 when enrollment declined to 180 students.

Johnston Elementary School 5th grade was ranked 271st out of 281 Western Pennsylvania 3rd grades for academic achievement in: reading, math and writing in 2011.[328] In 2010, the school's 5th grade ranked 227th.[329]

4th Grade Science
  • 2011 - 33%, (17% below basic), State – 82.9%
  • 2010 - 50%, (17% below basic), State - 81%

Johnston Elementary School's 3rd grade was ranked 309th out of 322 Western Pennsylvania 3rd grades for academic achievement in reading, math and writing in 2011.[332] In 2010, the school's 3rd grade ranked 311th out of 327 local 3rd grades. In 2009, the 3rd grade was ranked 316th out of 327 Western Pennsylvania 3rd grades.

Extracurriculars[edit]

Wilkinsburg School District offers a variety of clubs, activities and sports. Eligibility to participate is set in school board policy.

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.[334]

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.[335][336]

Sports[edit]

Coaches receive compensation as outlined in the teachers' union contract. When athletic competition exceeds the regular season, additional compensation is paid.[337] 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.[338]

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.[339][340]

The District funds:

Varsity
Junior High Middle School Sports

According to PIAA directory July 2013 [341]

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