Allegheny Valley School District
|Allegheny Valley School District|
|300 Pearl Avenue
Cheswick, Pennsylvania, Allegheny, 15024
|School board||9 elected members|
|Principal||Joshua Weaver, JSHS|
|Principal||Jennifer Vecchio, CUES|
|Principal||Gregory Heavner, APS|
|Number of students||1107 (2010)|
|Student to teacher ratio||15.78|
|Budget||$19.3 million |
The Allegheny Valley School District is a small, suburban, public school district located in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. It covers Cheswick and Springdale boroughs and Harmar and Springdale townships in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. The district encompasses approximately 10 square miles (26 km2). According to 2000 federal census data, it serves a resident population of 10,771 people. In 2009, the district residents’ per capita income was $22,071, while the median family income was $45,562. In the Commonwealth, the median family income was $49,501 and the United States median family income was $49,445, in 2010. According to District officials, in school year 2007-08 the Allegheny Valley School District provided basic educational services to 1,193 pupils. It employed 92 teachers, 79 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 11 administrators. Allegheny Valley School District received more than $4.2 million in state funding in school year 2007-08.
The district operates: Acmetonia Primary School (K–3), Colfax Upper Elementary School (4–6), and Springdale Jr/Sr High (7–12) School.
In 2011, the district agreed to participate in a pilot program to develop a new way to evaluate teachers that, in part, takes into account student achievement. Several Cumberland County school districts are participating. The pilot program had 104 K-12 entities, including: nine career and technical centers, nine charter schools and nine intermediate units.
The school district is governed by 9 individually elected board members (serve four year terms), the Pennsylvania State Board of Education, the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the Pennsylvania General Assembly. The federal government controls programs it funds like Title I funding for low income children in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and the No Child Left Behind Act which mandates the district focus resources on student success in acquiring reading and math skills.
The Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy Alternatives Sunshine Review gave the 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.
Allegheny Valley School District was ranked 242nd out of 498 Pennsylvania school districts, in 2011, by the Pittsburgh Business Times. The ranking was based on five years of student academic achievement as demonstrated on the PSSAs for: math, reading, writing and three years of science.
- Western Pennsylvania School District Ranking - out of 105 western PA school districts
- Former calculation graduation rate
Springdale Senior High School
According to the Pittsburgh Business Times, in 2010, the 11th grade ranked 61st of 123 western Pennsylvania high schools for academic achievement in reading, math and science. In 2011 and 2010, the school achieved AYP status.
- PSSA Results
- 11th Grade Reading
- 2011 - 78% on grade level, (4% below basic). State - 69.1% of 11th graders are on grade level.
- 2010 - 57%, State - 67% of 11th graders on grade level.
- 2009 - 55%, State - 65%
- 2008 - 62%, State - 65%
- 2007 - 65%, State - 65%
- 11th Grade Math:
- 2011 - 69%, on grade level (13% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 60.3% of 11th graders are on grade level.
- 2010 - 60%, State - 59%
- 2009 - 57%, State - 56%
- 2008 - 57%, State - 56%
- 2007 - 62%, State - 53%
- 11th Grade Science:
- 2011 - 38% on grade level (8% below basic). State - 40% of 11th graders were on grade level.
- 2010 - 41%, State - 39%
- 2009 - 34%, State - 40%
- 2008 - 29%, State - 39%
College Remediation: According to a Pennsylvania Department of Education study released in January 2009, 33% of Allegheny Valley School District graduates required remediation in mathematics and or reading before they were prepared to take college level courses in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education or community colleges. Less than 66% of Pennsylvania high school graduates, who enroll in a four-year college in Pennsylvania, will earn a bachelor's degree within six years. Among Pennsylvania high school graduates pursuing an associate degree, only one in three graduate in three years. Per the Pennsylvania Department of Education, one in three recent high school graduates who attend Pennsylvania's public universities and community colleges takes at least one remedial course in math, reading or English.
The high school offers a Dual Enrollment program. This state program permits high school students to take courses, at local higher education institutions, to earn college credits. Students remain enrolled at their high school. The courses count towards high school graduation requirements and towards earning a college degree. The students continue to have full access to activities and programs at their high school. The college credits are offered at a deeply discounted rate. The state offers a small grant to assist students in costs for tuition, fees and books. Under the Pennsylvania Transfer and Articulation Agreement, many Pennsylvania colleges and universities accept these credits for students who transfer to their institutions. The Pennsylvania College Credit Transfer System reported in 2009, that students saved nearly $35.4 million by having their transferred credits count towards a degree under the new system.
In the 2010-11 school year, the school received a $2,183.00 grant. For the 2009–10 funding year, the school district received a state grant of $1,920 for the program.
From January to June 2011, 67 Allegheny Valley School District students took the SAT exams. The district's Verbal Average Score was 465. The Math average score was 483. The Writing average score was 421. Pennsylvania ranked 40th among states with SAT scores: Verbal - 493, Math - 501, Writing - 479. In the United States 1.65 million students took the exam in 2011. They averaged 497 (out of 800) verbal, 514 math and 489 in writing.
By law, all Pennsylvania secondary school students must complete a project as a part of their eligibility to graduate from high school. The type of project, its rigor and its expectations are set by the individual school district.
By Pennsylvania School Board regulations, for the graduating class of 2016, students must demonstrate successful completion of secondary level course work in Algebra I, Biology, English Composition, and Literature for which the Keystone Exams serve as the final course exams. Students’ Keystone Exam scores shall count for at least one-third of the final course grade. In 2011, Pennsylvania high school students field tested the Algebra 1, Biology and English Lit exams. The statewide results were: Algebra 1 38% on grade level, Biology 35% on grade level and English Lit - 49% on grade level. Individual student, school or district reports were not made public, although they were reported to district officials by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.
Springdale Junior High School
In 2009, the 8th grade was ranked 139th out of 141 western Pennsylvania schools based on three years of results in PSSAs in: reading, math writing and one year of science. (Includes schools in: Allegheny County, Beaver County, Butler County, Fayette County, Westmoreland County, and Washington County)
- PSSA Results:
- 8th Grade Reading
- 2011 - 89.9% on grade level. In Pennsylvania, 81.8% of 8th graders on grade level.
- 2010 - 87% (6% below basic). State - 81%
- 2009 - 83% (9% below basic), State - 80%
- 2008 - 81% (9% below basic), State - 78%
8th Grade Math:
- 2011 - 82% on grade level (5% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 76.9% of 8th graders are on grade level
- 2010 - 80% (7% below basic), State - 75%
- 2009 - 61% (15% below basic), State - 71%
- 2008 - 62% (18% below basic), State - 70%
8th Grade Science:
In 2007, the district employed 79 teachers. The average teacher salary in the district was $55,836 for 180 days worked.
The district administrative costs per pupil in 2008 were $1,056.04 per pupil. The lowest administrative cost per pupil in Pennsylvania was $398 per pupil. The district ranked 50th out of 500 Pennsylvania school districts for administrative spending. The Pennsylvania School Boards Association keeps statistics on salaries of public school district employees in Pennsylvania. According to the association, the average salary for a superintendent for the 2007-08 school year was $122,165. In 2008, Gabe Ziccarelli, Superintendent, received $146,050. Superintendents and administrators receive a benefit package commensurate with that offered to the district's teachers' union. Elementary School Principal, Janice Nuzzo was paid $104,315.
Reserves In 2008, the district reported an unreserved designated fund balance of $148,180.00 and an unreserved-undesignated fund balance of $1,323,015.00.
In November 2010, the Pennsylvania Auditor General conducted a performance audit of the district. The findings were reported to the administration and school board.
The district is funded by a combination of: a local earned income tax, a property tax, a real estate transfer tax 0.5%, grants, per capita tax coupled with substantial funding from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the federal government. In Pennsylvania, pension income and social security income are exempt from Pennsylvania personal income tax and local earned income tax, regardless of the level of income.
State basic education funding
In 2011-12, the district received $2,656,423 in state Basic Education Funding. Additionally, the district received $44,585 in Accountability Block Grant funding. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 445 students received free or reduced lunches due to low family income in the 2009–10 school year.
For the 2010-11 budget year the Allegheny Valley School District received the base 2% increase in state basic education funding for a total of $2,367,159. In Allegheny County, the highest increase went to South Fayette Township School District which received an 11.32% increase in state funding. One hundred fifty school districts in Pennsylvania received a 2% base increase for budget year 2010-11. The highest increase in the state was given to Kennett Consolidated School District of Chester County which was given a 23.65% increase in state funding.
In the 2009–10 budget year the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a 2% increase in Basic Education Funding to Allegheny Valley, for a total of $2,320,744. This was the lowest percentage point increase, in Basic Education Funding, for the school districts in Allegheny County and the state. Ninety school districts in Pennsylvania received the minimum 2% increase in 2009. Four county school districts received increases of over 6% in Basic Education Funding. Additionally, Governor Edward Rendell gave 15 Pennsylvania school districts education funding increases of over 10% in 2009. The highest funding increase went to Muhlenberg School District in Berks County which received a 22.31% increase in 2009-10. The state Basic Education Funding to the district in 2008-09 was $2,275,238.77. 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.
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 331 students received free or reduced lunches due to low family income in the 2007–08 school year.
Race to the Top grant
School district officials applied for the Race to the Top federal grant. When approved for the grant, the district will receive hundreds of thousands of additional federal dollars for improving student academic achievement. Participation required the administration, the school board and the local teachers' union to sign an agreement to prioritize improving student academic success. In Pennsylvania, 120 public school districts and 56 charter schools agreed to participate. Pennsylvania was not approved in the first round of the grant. The failure of districts to agree to participate was cited as one reason that Pennsylvania was not approved. A second round of state RTTT application judging will occur in June 2010.
Federal Stimulus Grant
The district received an extra $630,933 in ARRA – Federal Stimulus money to be used in specific programs like special education and meeting the academic needs of low income students. The funding is for 2009-2011.
Enrollment and Consolidation
In 2009, a proposal was made by David Wassell, a prominent resident and leader in Allegheny County, to consolidate Allegheny County school districts to save tax dollars and improve student services. The proposal is that Allegheny Valley School District join with Deer Lakes School District.
Governor Edward Rendell proposed that consolidation with adjacent school districts, in each county, would achieve substantial cost savings. The savings could be redirected to improving lagging reading and science achievement, to enriching the academic programs or to reducing residents' property taxes.
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. This results in excessive school administration bureaucracy and not enough course diversity. 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.
Real estate taxes
In 2012, the Allegheny Valley School Board set the real estate tax rate at 23.4600 mills. A mill is $1 of tax for every $1,000 of a property's assessed value. Irregular property reassessments have become a serious issue in the commonwealth as it creates a significant disparity in taxation within a community and across a region.
- 2011 - 23.4600 mills.
- 2010 - 23.4600 mills.
- 2009 - 23.4600 mills.
- 2008 - 23.2080 mills. 
- 2007 - 22.2300 mills.
Act 1 Adjusted index
The Act 1 of 2006 Index regulates the rates at which each school district can raise property taxes in Pennsylvania. Districts are not allowed to raise taxes above that index unless they allow voters to vote by referendum, or they seek an exception from the state Department of Education. The base index for the 2010-2011 school year is 2.9 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 including: increasing pension costs, increases in special education costs, a catastrophe like a fire or flood, increase in health insurance costs for contracts in effect in 2006 or dwindling tax bases. The base index is the average of the percentage increase in the statewide average weekly wage, as determined by the PA Department of Labor and Industry, for the preceding calendar year and the percentage increase in the Employment Cost Index for Elementary and Secondary Schools, as determined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the U.S. Department of Labor, for the previous 12-month period ending June 30. For a school district with a market value/personal income aid ratio (MV/PI AR) greater than 0.4000, its index equals the base index multiplied by the sum of .75 and its MV/PI AR for the current year.
The School District Adjusted Index for the Allegheny Valley School District 2006-2007 through 2010-2011.
- 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 - 3.4%, Base 2.9%
- 2011-12 - 1.7%, Base 1.4%
- 2012-13 - 2.0%, Base 1.7%
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.
In the Spring of 2010, 135 Pennsylvania school boards asked to exceed their adjusted index. Approval was granted to 133 of them and 128 sought an exception for pension costs increases.
Property tax relief
In 2010, property tax relief was set at $130 for the 3,049 approved homesteads. In 2009, the Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief from gambling for the Allegheny Valley School District was $133 per approved permanent primary residence. In the district, 2971 property owners applied for the property tax relief. In 2010 and 2009, the highest property tax relief in Allegheny County goes to Duquesne City School District at $348. The highest property tax relief, among Pennsylvania school districts, went to the residents of Chester Upland School District of Delaware County who received $632 per approved homestead in 2010. This was the second year they received this amount. The relief was subtracted from the total annual school property tax bill. Property owners apply for the relief through the county Treasurer's office. Farmers can qualify for a farmstead exemption on building used for agricultural purposes. The farm must be at least 10 contiguous acres (40,000 m2) and must be the primary residence of the owner. Farmers can qualify for both the homestead exemption and the farmstead exemption. In Allegheny County, 60% of eligible property owners applied for property tax relief in 2009.
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, so people who make substantially more than $35,000 may still qualify for a rebate. Individuals must apply annually for the rebate. This can be taken in addition to Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief.
Property taxes in Pennsylvania are relatively high on a national scale. According to the Tax Foundation, Pennsylvania ranked 11th in the U.S. in 2008 in terms of property taxes paid as a percentage of home value (1.34%) and 12th in the country in terms of property taxes as a percentage of income (3.55%).
Allegheny Valley School Board established a district wellness policy in 2006 - Policy 246. 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."
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 and physical education that are aligned with the Pennsylvania State Academic Standards for Health, Safety and Physical Education, 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.
The Pennsylvania Department of Education required the district to submit a copy of the policy for approval.
The district offers a variety of clubs, activities and sports. Eligibility for participation is determined by 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.
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