Saucon Valley School District

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Saucon Valley School District
Map of Northampton County, Pennsylvania with Saucon Valley School District Highlighted.png
Location of the Saucon Valley School District in Northhampton County
2097 Polk Valley Road
, Northampton County, Pennsylvania, 18055
United States
District information
GradesKindergarten through 12th grade
SuperintendentDr. Craig Butler (2019)
Budget$40.2 million in 2012
Students and staff
Students2408 (2010)[1]
Teachers173.40 (2010)
District mascotPanthers
Other information
AIE per student$11,473[2]
Projected enrollment2459 (2020)[3]
School Districts of Northampton County

Saucon Valley School District is a midsized suburban public school district located in Northampton County, Pennsylvania, in the United States. It serves the borough of Hellertown and Lower Saucon Township. Saucon Valley School District encompasses approximately 20 square miles. According to 2000 federal census data, it serves a resident population of 15,490. In 2009, district residents' per capita income was $26,599, while the district's median family income was $59,049.[4] Per District officials, in school year 2007-08 the Saucon Valley School District provided basic educational services to 2,447 pupils through the employment of 174 teachers, 116 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 13 administrators.


Academic achievement[edit]

Saucon Valley School District was ranked 84th 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.[5]

  • 2010 - 1ST
  • 2009 - 1ST
  • 2008 - 1ST
  • 2007 - 1ST out of 501 Pennsylvania school districts.[6]

In 2009, the academic achievement, of the students in the Saucon Valley School District, was in the 1ST percentile among all 500 Pennsylvania school districts Scale (0-99; 100 is state best) [7]

Graduation rate[edit]

In 2010, the Pennsylvania Department of Education issued a new, 4-year cohort graduation rate. Saucon Valley School District's rate was 83% for 2010.[8]

According to traditional graduation rate calculations:

  • 2010 - 97% [9]
  • 2009 - 95%
  • 2008 - 95% [10]
  • 2007 - 95% [11]

Graduation requirements[edit]

Saucon Valley School District School Board has determined that a student must earn 28 credits in order to graduate, including: English 4 credits, Math 4 credits, Social Studies 4 credits, Science 4 credits, Health/Physical Education 2 credits, Fine or Practical Arts & Humanities 3 credits, Computer Literacy 0.5 credit, Career Exploration 0.5 credit, Writing Course 1 credit and Elective Courses 5 credits.[12] Beginning with the class of 2012 all students are required to take and pass four science credits which must include: Physics First, Chemistry, Environmental/Earth Space Science and Biology.

By law, all Pennsylvania high 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.[13]

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.[14]

By orders of the Pennsylvania school board association you must have a drivers license starting with the class of 2018 in order to graduate this order went into effect on July 24, 2015

Summer school[edit]

Students who fail an English, Social Studies, Science, or Mathematics course may make up the credit during the district's Summer Learning Academy. A student must have earned a 55% to be eligible for Summer Learning Academy. Students are expected to pass the end of course final exam. A fee is charged for each course taken during the Summer Learning Academy session.

High school[edit]

In 2010 and 2009 the school achieved AYP status under the federal government's No Child Left Behind law.[15]

11th Grade Reading

  • 2010 - 74% on grade level (11% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 66% of 11th graders are on grade level.[16]
  • 2009 - 62% (21% below basic), State - 65% [17]
  • 2008 - 74% (14% below basic), State - 65% [18]
  • 2007 - 77% (12% below basic), State - 65% [19]

11th Grade Math:

  • 2010 - 65%, on grade level (15% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 59% of 11th graders are on grade level.[20]
  • 2009 - 56% (17% below basic). State - 56%.
  • 2008 - 68% (17% below basic), State - 56%
  • 2007 - 58% (15% below basic), State - 53%

11th Grade Science:

  • 2010 - 42% on grade level (8% below basic). State - 39% of 11th graders were on grade level.
  • 2009 - 42% (17% below basic). State - 40% [21]
  • 2008 - 38%, State - 39%
College remediation

According to a Pennsylvania Department of Education study released in January 2009, 17% of Saucon Valley 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.[22] 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.[23] 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 Saucon Valley High School does not offer the Pennsylvania dual enrollment program. This state program permits high school students to take courses, at local higher education institutions, to earn college credits. Under the program, students have full access to all 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.[24] Under the Pennsylvania Transfer and Articulation Agreement, many Pennsylvania colleges and universities accept these credits for students who transfer to their institutions.[25] 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.[26]


Saucon Valley offers a total of 18 varsity sports that students can participate in. These sports are baseball, boys basketball, boys soccer, boys lacrosse, cheerleading, cross country, field hockey, football, girls lacrosse, girls soccer, girls basketball, golf, softball, swimming, tennis, track and field, volleyball, and wrestling. These sports are all PIAA registered and compete in the Coloional League. The athletic director is Mr. Bob Frey.[27]

Middle school[edit]

In 2009 and 2010, the school achieved AYP status. The attendance rate was 96%.[28]

8th Grade Reading

  • 2010 - 94% on grade level (2% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 81% of 8th graders on grade level.
  • 2009 - 88% (5% below basic), State - 80%
  • 2008 - 87% (3% below basic), State - 78% [29]
  • 2007 - 86% (4% below basic), State - 75%

8th Grade Math:

  • 2010 - 97% on grade level (1% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 75% of 8th graders are on grade level.[30]
  • 2009 - 86% (7% below basic), State - 71% [31]
  • 2008 - 86% (6% below basic), State - 70%
  • 2007 - 84% (6% below basic), State - 68%

8th Grade Science:

  • 2010 - 74% on grade level (7% below basic). State - 57% of 8th graders were on grade level.
  • 2009 - 67% (12% below basic), State - 55% [32]
  • 2008 - 62%, State - 52% [33]

7th Grade Reading

  • 2010 - 84% on grade level (5% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 73% of 7th graders on grade level.
  • 2009 - 91% (1% below basic), State - 71%
  • 2008 - 83% (5% below basic), State - 70%
  • 2007 - 75% (9% below basic), State - 67%

7th Grade Math:

  • 2010 - 90% on grade level (3% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 77% of 7th graders are on grade level.
  • 2009 - 94% (2% below basic), State - 75%
  • 2008 - 90% (4% below basic), State - 71%
  • 2007 - 76% (10% below basic), State - 67%

6th Grade Reading

  • 2010 - 74% on grade level (9% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 68% of 6th graders on grade level.
  • 2009 - 79% (6% below basic), State - 67%
  • 2008 - 90% (1% below basic), State - 67%
  • 2007 - 72% (7% below basic), State - 63%

6th Grade Math:

  • 2010 - 89% on grade level (3% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 78% of 6th graders are on grade level.
  • 2009 - 92% (1% below basic), State - 75%
  • 2008 - 96% (0% below basic), State - 72%
  • 2007 - 91% (1% below basic), State - 69%

Special education[edit]

In December 2009, the district administration reported that 345 pupils or 14% of the district's pupils received Special Education services.[34]

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.[35]

Saucon Valley School District received a $932,440 supplement for special education services in 2010.[36]

Gifted education[edit]

The District Administration reported that 109 or 4.52% of its students were gifted in 2009.[37] 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.[38]

Bullying policy[edit]

The Saucon Valley School District administration reported there was 1 incident of bullying in the district in 2009.[39][40]


In 2009, the district reports employing over 190 teachers with a starting salary of $40,573 for 180 days for pupil instruction.[41] The average teacher salary was $61,814 while the maximum salary is $138,565.[42] 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.[43] Additionally, Saucon Valley School District teachers receive a defined benefit pension, health insurance, professional development reimbursement, paid personal days, 10 sick days and other benefits. Teachers are paid extra if they are required to work outside of the regular school day [44] 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.[45]

In both 2008 and 2009, the teachers went on strike regarding contract issues.[46]

In June 2011, The Saucon Valley School Board adopted a budget for 2011-12 with no tax increase and no layoffs. The board eliminated 3,5 teacher positions. The Superintendent, Assistant Superintendent, Business Manager, administrators, secretaries, clerical workers and cafeteria workers accepted a wage freeze.[47]

In 2007, the district employed 166 teachers. The average teacher salary in the district was $60,148 for 180 school days worked.[48]

Saucon Valley School District administrative costs per pupil in 2008 was $862.45 per pupil. The district is ranked 132nd out of 500 in Pennsylvania for administrative spending. The lowest administrative cost per pupil in Pennsylvania was $398 per pupil.[49]

In 2008, Saucon Valley School District reported spending $14,604 per pupil. This ranked 136th in the commonwealth.[50]


In 2009, the district reported $1,997,515 in an unreserved-undesignated fund balance. The designated fund balance was reported as $6,364,132.[51]

In January 2010, the Pennsylvania Auditor General conducted a performance audit of the district. Findings were reported to the administration and school board.[52]

The district is funded by a combination of: a local 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 and Social Security income are exempted from state personal income tax and local earned income tax regardless of the individual's wealth.[53]

State basic education funding[edit]

For 2010-11 the Saucon Valley School District received a 2% increase in state Basic Education Funding resulting in a $2,887,591 payment.[54] Bethlehem Area School District received a 13.44% increase, which was the highest increase in BEF in Northampton 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.[55]

In the 2009-2010 budget year the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a 2% increase in Basic Education funding for a total of $2,830,972. The state Basic Education funding to the district in 2008-09 was $2,775,462.95. 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.[56] Bethlehem Area School District received an 8.98% increase, the highest increase in Lycoming County for the 2009-10 school year. Among the 500 school districts in Pennsylvania, Muhlenberg School District in Berks County received the highest with a 22.31% increase in funding.[57]

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 204 district students received free or reduced-price lunches due to low family income in the 2007-2008 school year.[58]

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 Saucon Valley School District applied for and received $143,331 in addition to all other state and federal funding. The district used the funding to provide full-day kindergarten for the 7th year and to increase instructional time.[59][60]

Classrooms for the Future grant[edit]

The Classroom for the Future state program provided districts with hundreds of thousands of extra state funding to buy laptop computers for each core curriculum high school class (English, Science, History, Math) and paid for teacher training to optimize the computers use. The program was funded from 2006-2009. Saucon Valley School District did not apply for funding in 2006-07 nor in 2007-08. For the 2008–09, school year the district received $124,791. Of the 501 public school districts in Pennsylvania, 447 of them received Classrooms for the Future grant awards.[61]

Real estate taxes[edit]

The school board set property tax rates in 2011-2012 at 51.7400 mills. The board reported that this was the third year without a property tax increase. The owner of a property assessed at $100,000 will pay $5,174.[47][62] 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.[63]

Act 1 Index[edit]

The Act 1 of 2006 Index regulates the rates at which each school district can raise property taxes in Pennsylvania. Districts are not allowed to raise taxes above that index unless they allow voters to vote by referendum, or they seek an exception from the state Department of Education. The base index for the 2011-2012 school year is 1.4 percent, but it 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: increasing pension costs, increases in special education costs, a catastrophe like a fire or flood, increasing rising health care costs for contracts in effect in 2006 or declining local 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.[64]

The School District Adjusted Index for the Saucon Valley School District 2006-2007 through 2011-2012.[65]

  • 2006-07 - 3.9%, Base 3.9%
  • 2007-08 - 3.4%, Base 3.4%
  • 2008-09 - 4.4%, Base 4.4%
  • 2009-10 - 4.1%, Base 4.1%
  • 2010-11 - 2.9%, Base 2.9%
  • 2011-12 - 1.4%, Base 1.4% [66][67]

The Saucon Valley School Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed the Act 1 index for the budgets in 2009-10 or in 2010-11.[68][69] 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.[70]

Property tax relief[edit]

In 2009, the Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief from gambling for the Saucon Valley School District was $181 per approved permanent primary residence. In the district, 5,144 property owners applied for the tax relief.[71] 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 72% of property owners applied for tax relief in Northampton County.[72] In Northampton County, the highest property tax relief in 2009 was $284 awarded to the approved property owners in Bangor Area School District. Pennsylvania awarded the highest property tax relief to residents of the Chester-Upland School District in Delaware County at $632 per homestead and farmstead in 2010.[73] 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.[74]

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%).[75]


The Saucon Valley School District offers a variety of clubs, activities and sports. Eligibility to participate is set by school board policies.[76][77]

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 home schooled, 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.[78][79]


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  76. ^ Saucon Valley School Board (October 24, 2005). "Interscholastic athletics Policy 123". Archived from the original on September 30, 2011. Retrieved June 16, 2011.
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  79. ^ Saucon Valley School Board (October 24, 2005). "Extracurricular Participation By Charter/Cyber Charter Students Policy 140.1". Archived from the original on September 30, 2011. Retrieved June 16, 2011.

External links[edit]