Ellwood City Area School District

The Elwood City Area School District (ECASD) is a diminutive, suburban, public school district located in Beaver County, Pennsylvania and Lawrence County, Pennsylvania. It serves the boroughs of Ellwood City, Ellport, and New Beaver, and the townships of Wayne, and Perry Townships. Elwood City Area School District encompasses approximately 49 square miles (130 km2). According to 2000 federal census data, it served a resident population of 14,040. In 2010 the district's population risen to 14,341 people.[6] In 2009, the district residents’ per capita income was $16,554, while the median family income was $42,326.[7] In the Commonwealth, the median family income was $49,501 [8] and the United States median family income was $49,445, in 2010.[9]

Ellwood City Area School District
Map of Lawrence County Pennsylvania School Districts.png
Address
501 Crescent Ave

Ellwood City
,
Lawrence County and Beaver County
,
16117-1957

Information
TypePublic
ClosedWalnut Ridge Elementary, June 2012 [1]
School board9 locally elected members
SuperintendentMr Joseph E Mancini
DirectorRichard Zarone, Business manager (salary $99,313 in 2012)
PrincipalMr. Kirk Lape, Lincoln HS (salary $94,334 in 2012)
PrincipalMr. Frank Keally, Hartman Intermediate & Perry Lower Int.
PrincipalMrs. Christine Gibson, North Side Primary (salary $97,293 in 2012)
Faculty134 teachers [2]
GradesK-12
Age5 years old to 21 years old for special education students
Number of pupils1,939 (2010-11) [3]
 • Kindergarten145
 • Grade 1141
 • Grade 2120
 • Grade 3141
 • Grade 4148
 • Grade 5127
 • Grade 6165
 • Grade 7167
 • Grade 8148
 • Grade 9166
 • Grade 10127
 • Grade 11119
 • Grade 12120
 • OtherEnrollment projected to decline to 1770 by 2020[4]
Budget$24,863,834 in 2012-13 [5]
Per pupil Spending$10,946 in 2008
Website
Ellwood City Area School District region in Beaver County

According to District officials, in school year 2007-08, Elwood City Area School District provided basic educational services to 2,006 pupils. The District employed: 145 teachers, 78 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 8 administrators. Elwood City Area School District received more than $14.2 million in state funding in school year 2007-08.

Elwood City Area School District operates Lincoln Junior-Senior High School (7th-12th), North Side Primary (K-2nd), Perry Lower Intermediate (3rd-4th), Hartman Intermediate (5th-6th).[10]

GovernanceEdit

Ellwood City Area School District is governed by 9 individually elected board members (serves without compensation for a term of four years.), the Pennsylvania State Board of Education, the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the Pennsylvania General Assembly.[11] 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 "F" 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.[12]

Academic achievementEdit

Ellwood City Area School District was ranked 304th out of 498 Pennsylvania school districts by the Pittsburgh Business Times in 2012.[13] The ranking was based on student academic achievement as demonstrated on the last three years of the PSSAs for: reading, writing math and science.[14] The PSSAs are given to all children in grades 3rd through 8th and the 11th grade in high school. Adapted examinations are given to children in the special education programs.

  • 2011 - 275th [15]
  • 2010 - 264th [16]
  • 2009 - 236th
  • 2008 - 260th
  • 2007 - 186th out of 501 school districts.[17]
Overachiever statewide ranking

In 2012, the Pittsburgh Business Times also reported an Overachievers Ranking for 498 Pennsylvania school districts. Ellwood City School District ranked 208th. In 2011, the District was ranked 182nd. [18] 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."[19]

District AYP status history

In 2012, Ellwood City Area School District declined to Warning Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) status.[20] In 2011, Ellwood City Area School District achieved 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.[21] Ellwood City Area School District achieved AYP status each year from 2004 to 2009, while in 2003 the District was in Warning status due to lagging student achievement.[22]

Graduation rateEdit

In 2012, Ellwood City Area School District's graduation rate was 94%.[23] In 2011, the graduation rate at Ellwood City Area was 82%.[24] In 2010, the Pennsylvania Department of Education issued a new, 4-year cohort graduation rate. Lincoln High School's rate was 67.11% for 2010.[25]

According to traditional graduation rate calculations

Lincoln Junior Senior High SchoolEdit

Lincoln High School is located at 501 Crescent Ave, Ellwood City. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, the school reported an enrollment of 925 pupils in grades 7th through 12th, with 355 pupils eligible for a federal free or reduced-price lunch. The school employed 63 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 14:1.[30] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 7 teachers were rated "Non‐Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[31] Lincoln High School's three-story facility contains two gymnasiums, science and technology laboratories, metal and wood shops and arts facilities. Students may attend Lawrence County Career and Technical Center (LCCTC).

In 2012, Lincoln Junior Senior High School declined to Warning AYP status due to declining student achievement in reading and mathematics. In 2011, Lincoln Junior Senior High School achieved AYP status.[32]

PSSA results

11th Grade Reading:

  • 2012 - 74% on grade level, (11% below basic). State - 67% of 11th graders are on grade level.[33]
  • 2011 - 87% (3% below basic). State - 69.1% [34]
  • 2010 - 72% (10% below basic). State - 66% [35]
  • 2009 - 75% (15% below basic). State - 65% [36]
  • 2008 - 79% (11% below basic). State - 65% [37]
  • 2007 - 70% (11% below basic). State - 65% [38]

11th Grade Math:

  • 2012 - 69% on grade level (17% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 59% of 11th graders are on grade level.[39]
  • 2011 - 67% (10% below basic). State - 60.3% [40]
  • 2010 - 66% (10% below basic). State - 59% [41]
  • 2009 - 64% (16% below basic). State - 56% [42]
  • 2008 - 73% (15% below basic). State - 56% [43]
  • 2007 - 55% (23% below basic). State - 53% [44]

11th Grade Science:

  • 2012 - 50% on grade level (12% below basic). State - 42% of 11th graders were on grade level.[45]
  • 2011 - 33% (14% below basic). State - 40% [46]
  • 2010 - 39% (14% below basic). State - 39%
  • 2009 - 50% (15% below basic). State - 40% [47]
  • 2008 - 44% (13% below basic). State - 39% [48]

College remediation rateEdit

According to a Pennsylvania Department of Education study released in January 2009, 25% of the Lincoln Junior Senior 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.[49] 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.[50] 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 enrollmentEdit

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 college credits are through Butler County Community College. Initially, the state offered a small grant to assist students in costs for tuition, fees and books.[51] Under the Pennsylvania Transfer and Articulation Agreement, many Pennsylvania colleges and universities accept these credits for students who transfer to their institutions.[52] In 2010, the grants were discontinued by Governor Edward Rendell due to a massive state budget crisis.

For the 2009-10 funding year, Ellwood City Area School District received a state grant of $9,548 for the program.[53]

AP coursesEdit

Lincoln High School offers several AP courses based on enrollment. They include: AP Literature & Composition, AP Language and Communications, AP Biology, AP Calculus, and AP US Government. It is the School Board's policy that students taking an AP class must take the AP exam at the end of the course. The expense for the test is paid for by the local taxpayers. Students, who achieve a 3 or better on the College Board's AP exam, may be awarded college credits at US universities and colleges. Each higher education institution sets its own standards about what level of credits are awarded to a student based on their AP exam score. Most higher education institutions award credits for scores of 4 or 5. Some schools also give credits for scores of 3. Local school district give credits towards graduation to students who take the school's AP class.

Graduation requirementsEdit

Among Pennsylvania's 500 public school districts, graduation requirements widely vary. The Ellwood City Area School Board has determined that a pupil must earn 25 credits to graduate, including: Math 4 credits (Algebra 1, Algebra 2 and Geometry), English 4 credits, Speech 0.5 credit, social studies 4 credits, science 3 or 4 credits, Technology 1 0r 2 credits, Physical Education 2 credits, Health 0.5 credits, Arts Humanities 2 credits, Foreign Language 1 credit and electives.

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.[54] Effective with the graduating class of 2017, the Pennsylvania Board of Education eliminated the state mandate that students complete a culminating project in order to graduate.[55]

By Pennsylvania School Board regulations, beginning with the class of 2017, public school students must demonstrate successful completion of secondary level course work in Algebra I, Biology, and English Literature by passing the Keystone Exams.[56][57][58] For the class of 2019, a composition exam will be added. For the class of 2020, passing a civics and government exam will be added to the graduation requirements.[59] 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.[60] Individual student, school or district reports were not made public, although they were reported to district officials by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Students identified as having special needs and qualifying for an Individual Educational Program (IEP) may graduate by meeting the requirements of their IEP.

SAT scoresEdit

In 2012, 94 Ellwood City Area School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 452. The Math average score was 480. The Writing average score was 454. The statewide Verbal SAT exams results were: Verbal 491, Math 501, Writing 480. In the US, 1.65 million students took the exams achieving scores: Verbal 496, Math 514, Writing 488. According to the College Board the maximum score on each section was 800, and 360 students nationwide scored a perfect 2,400.

In 2011, 92 Ellwood City Area School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 477. The Math average score was 487. The Writing average score was 463.[61] Pennsylvania ranked 40th among states with SAT scores: Verbal - 493, Math - 501, Writing - 479.[62] 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.[63]

Junior high schoolEdit

PSSA Results:

8th Grade Science:

  • 2012 - 57% on grade level (23% below basic). State - 59%
  • 2011 - 56% (23% below basic). State – 58.3%
  • 2010 - 56% (23% below basic). State – 57% [68]
  • 2009 - 52% (19% below basic). State - 55% [69]
  • 2008 - 53%, (17% below basic). State - 52% [70]
  • 2007 - tested, but results not made public.

Elementary schoolsEdit

Hartman Intermediate School is located at Crescent Ave And 4th St, Ellwood City. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2011, the school reported pupils in grades k5th and 6th.[71] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of the teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[72] In 2012, Hartman Intermediate School achieved AYP status.[73] In 2012, only 70% of the students were reading on grade level in grades 5th and 6th. In math, 81% of the students in 5th and 6th grades were on grade level and 54% scored advanced.[74]

North Side Primary School is located at. Orchard And North Streets, Ellwood City. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2011, the school had an enrollment of pupils in grades kindergarten through 2nd.[75] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[76] In 2012, North Side Primary School achieved AYP status for attendance.[77][78]

Perry Lower Intermediate School is located at 619 Portersville Rd, Ellwood City. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2011, the school reported an enrollment of pupils in grades 3rd and 4th.[79] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[80] In 2012, Perry Lower Intermediate School was in Warning AYP status due to low student achievement in reading.[81] In 2012, only 78% of the students were reading on grade level with 11% reading at below basic levels. In math, 88% of the students were on grade level and 50% scored advanced. In 4th grade science, 91% of the pupils were on grade level.[82]

Special educationEdit

In December 2010, Ellwood City Area School District administration reported that 251 pupils or just 12% of the district's pupils received Special Education services, with 35% of the identified students having a specific learning disability.[83] In December 2009, the District administration reported that 279 pupils or 13.6% of the district's pupils received Special Education services, with 39% of the identified students having a specific learning disability. Special education services in the Commonwealth are provided to students from ages three years to 21 years old. In the 2010-11 school year, the total student enrollment was more than 1.78 million students with approximately 275,000 students eligible for special education services. Among these students 18,959 were identified with mental retardation and 21,245 students with autism.[84] The largest group of students are identified as Specific Learning Disabilities 126,026 students (46.9 percent) and Speech or Language Impairments with 43,542 students (16.2 percent).

In order to comply with state and federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act rules and regulations, the school district engages in identification procedures to ensure that eligible students receive an appropriate educational program consisting of special education and related services, individualized to meet student needs. At no cost to the parents, these services are provided in compliance with state and federal law; and are reasonably calculated to yield meaningful educational benefit and student progress .[85] To identify students who may be eligible for special education services, various screening activities are conducted on an ongoing basis. These screening activities include: review of group-based data (cumulative records, enrollment records, health records, report cards, ability and achievement test scores); hearing, vision, motor, and speech/language screening; and review by the Special Education administration. When screening results suggest that the student may be eligible, Ellwood City Area School District seeks parental consent to conduct a multidisciplinary evaluation. Parents who suspect their child is eligible may verbally request a multidisciplinary evaluation from a professional employee of the District or contact the district's Special Education Department.[86][87]

In 2010, the state of Pennsylvania provided $1,026,815,000 for special education services. This funding is in addition to the state's basic education per pupil funding, as well as, all other state and federal funding.[88] The Special Education funding structure is through the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) funds and state appropriations. IDEA funds are appropriated to the state on an annual basis and distributed through intermediate units (IUs) to school districts, while state funds are distributed directly to the districts. Total funds that are received by school districts are calculated through a formula. The Pennsylvania Department of Education oversees four appropriations used to fund students with special needs: Special Education; Approved Private Schools; Pennsylvania Chartered Schools for the Deaf and Blind; and Early Intervention. 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.[89] Over identification 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.[90] The state requires each public school district and charter school to have a three-year special education plan to meet the unique needs of its special education students.[91] In 2012, the Obama Administration's US Department of Education issued a directive that schools include students with disabilities in extracurricular activities, including sports.[92]

Ellwood City Area School District received a $1,281,263 supplement for special education services in 2010.[93] For the 2011–12 and 2012-13 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.[94][95]

Gifted educationEdit

Ellwood City Area School District Administration reported that 53 students or 2.69% of its students were gifted in 2009. The highest percentage of gifted students reported among all 500 school districts and 100 public charter schools in Pennsylvania was North Allegheny School District with 15.5% of its students identified as gifted.[96] 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.[97][98]

BudgetEdit

Pennsylvania public school districts budget and expend funds according to procedures mandated by 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.[99]

In 2011, the average teacher salary in Ellwood City Area School District was $55,591 a year, while the cost of the benefits teachers receive was $20,067 per employee, for a total annual average teacher compensation of $75,659.[100]

In 2009, Ellwood City Area School District reported employing 155 teachers and administrators with a median salary of $57,776 and a top salary of $118,638.[101] The teacher's work day is 7 hours 30 minutes, which includes a 30-minute duty-free lunch and daily preparation period. There are 186 days in the contract year. Additionally, the teachers receive a defined benefit pension, health insurance, dental insurance, vision insurance, professional development reimbursement, 3 paid personal days, 10 paid sick days, 5 paid bereavement days, paid emergency days and many other benefits. Teachers receive additional longevity increments at regular intervals and an early retirement bonus. When a teacher is required to work more than 7.5 hours in a day they receive additional pay at an hourly rate.[102] 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.[103]

Ellwood City Area School District administrative costs per pupil in 2008 was $723.88 per pupil. The lowest administrative cost per pupil in Pennsylvania was $398 per pupil.[104] The Pennsylvania School Boards Association collects and maintains 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.[105]

Per pupil Spending In 2008, Ellwood City Area School District administration reported that per pupil spending was $10,946 which ranked 399th among Pennsylvania's 501 school districts. In 2010 the per pupil spending had increased to $11,713.80.[106] Among the states, Pennsylvania's total per pupil revenue (including all sources) ranked 11th at $15,023 per student, in 2008-09.[107] In 2007, the Pennsylvania per pupil total expenditures was $12,759.[108] The U.S. Census Bureau reports that Pennsylvania spent $8,191 per pupil in school year 2000-01.[109]

Reserves In 2008, Ellwood City Area School District reported a balance of $2,213,106.00 in its unreserved-designated fund. The unreserved-undesignated fund balance was reported as $1,608,820. [110] In 2010, Ellwood City Area School District Administration reported an increase to $1,900,000 in the unreserved-undesignated fund balance. The District reported $2,729,442 in its unreserved-designated fund in 2010. Pennsylvania public 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.[111]

Audit In September 2010, the Pennsylvania Auditor General conducted a performance audit of the Ellwood City Area School District. The findings were reported to the School Board and the District's administration.[112]

Tuition Students who live in the Ellwood City Area School 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 Area 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 Ellwood City Area School District's schools. The 2012 tuition rates are Elementary School - 8,416.88, High School - 8,710.49.[113]

Ellwood City Area School District is funded by a combination of: a local earned income tax 1%,[114] an Emergency and Municipal Services Tax of $10 on each person, a property tax, a real estate transfer tax 0.5%, coupled with substantial funding from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the federal government.[115] Interest earnings on accounts also provide nontax income to the district. In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, pension income and Social Security income are exempted from state personal income tax and local earned income tax, regardless of the level of the individual's personal wealth.[116]

State basic education fundingEdit

For the 2012-13 school year, the Elwood City Area School District received $11,103,829.[117] 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 program. Ellwood City Area School District received $137,586. The state also provided a $544.4 million payment for School Employees’ Social Security and $856 million for School Employees’ Retirement fund called PSERS.[118] This amount is 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 2011-12, Ellwood City Area School District received a $11,935,311 allocation, of state Basic Education Funding.[119][120] Additionally, Ellwood City Area School District received $137,586 in state Accountability Block Grant funding. The enacted Pennsylvania state Education budget included $5,354,629,000 for the 2011-2012 Basic Education Funding appropriation. This amount was a $233,290,000 increase (4.6%) over the enacted State appropriation for 2010-2011.[121] 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.[122] In 2010, the district reported that 781 students received free or reduced-price lunches, due to the family meeting the federal poverty level.[123]

In the 2010-11 budget year, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a 4.75% increase in Basic Education Funding for a total of $11,935,311. Among the public school districts in Lawrence County, the highest increase went to New Castle Area School District which got a 6.51% increase. One hundred fifty Pennsylvania school districts received the base 2% increase. The highest increase in 2010-11 went to Kennett Consolidated School District in Chester County which received a 23.65% increase in state funding.[124] 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 set by Governor Edward Rendell and then Secretary of Education Gerald Zahorchak, as a part of the state budget proposal given each February. This was the second year of Governor Rendell's policy to fund some districts at a far greater rate than others.[125]

In the 2009-2010 budget year, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a 3.90% increase in Basic Education Funding for a total of $11,394,137 to Ellwood City Area School District. Among the public school districts in Lawrence County, the highest increase went to Wilmington Area School District which got a 4.36%. The state Basic Education Funding to the district in 2008-09 was $4,787,151.79. Ninety school Pennsylvania public school districts received a 2% increase. Muhlenberg School District in Berks County received a 22.31% increase in state basic education funding in 2009.[126] The amount of increase each school district received was set by Governor Edward G. Rendell and the Secretary of Education Gerald Zahorchak, as a part of the state budget proposal.[127] 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.[128][129]

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 753 district students received free or reduced-price lunches due to low family income in the 2007–2008 school year.[130]

Accountability Block GrantsEdit

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 district applied for and received $373,442 in addition to all other state and federal funding. The district uses the funding to provide full-day kindergarten for the 7th year.[131][132]

Other grantsEdit

Ellwood City Area School District did not participate in: Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection's Environmental Education grants, Science Its Elementary grants, Education Assistance Grants, 2012 Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy grant, nor the federal 21st Century Learning grants.

Federal Stimulus grantEdit

Ellwood City Area School District received an extra $3,516,834 in ARRA - Federal Stimulus money to be used in specific programs like special education and meeting the academic needs of low-income students.[133][134] The funding was limited to the 2009–10 and 2010-2011 school years.[135] Due to the temporary nature of the funding, schools were repeatedly advised to use the funds for one-time expenditures like: acquiring equipment, making repairs to buildings, training teachers to provide more effective instruction or purchasing books and software.

Race to the Top grantEdit

District officials did not apply for the federal Race to the Top grant which would have provided nearly one million dollars in additional federal funding to improve student academic achievement.[136] 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.[137] 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.[138][139][140]

Real estate taxesEdit

Property tax rates in 2012-13 were set by the Ellwood City Area School Board at 15.8100 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.[141] Property taxes, in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, apply only to real estate - land and buildings. The property tax is not levied on cars, business inventory, or other personal property. Certain types of property are exempt from property taxes, including: places of worship, places of burial, private social clubs, charitable and educational institutions and government property. Additionally, service related, disabled US military veterans may seek an exemption from paying property taxes. Pennsylvania school district revenues are dominated by two main sources: 1) Property tax collections, which account for the vast majority (between 75-85%) of local revenues; and 2) Act 511 tax collections, which are around 15% of revenues for school districts.[142] When the school district includes municipalities in two counties, each of which has different rates of property tax assessment, a state board equalizes the tax rates between the counties.[143] In 2010, miscalculations by the State Tax Equalization Board (STEB) were widespread in the Commonwealth and adversely impacted funding for many school districts, including those that did not cross county borders.[144]

  • 2011-12 - 15.8100 mills.[145]
  • 2010-11 - 15.8100 mills [146]
  • 2009-10 - 15.8100 mills.[147]
  • 2008-09 - 15.0600 mills.[148]
  • 2007-08 - 13.0600 mills.[149]
  • 2006-07 - 12.4500 mills.[150]
  • 2005-06 - 12.4500 mills.[151]

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.[152] The average yearly property tax paid by Lawrence County residents amounts to about 2.94% of their yearly income. Lawrence County is ranked 636th of the 3143 United States counties for property taxes as a percentage of median income.[153]

Act 1 Adjusted IndexEdit

The Act 1 of 2006 Index regulates the rates at which each school district can raise property taxes in Pennsylvania. Districts are not permitted to raise property taxes above their annual Index unless they either: allow voters to vote by referendum or they receive an exception from the Pennsylvania Department of Education. The base index for the school year is published by the PDE in the fall of each year. Each individual school district's Act 1 Index can be adjusted higher, depending on a number of factors, such as local property values and the personal income of district residents. Originally, Act 1 or 2006 included 10 exceptions: 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.[154] In June 2011, the Pennsylvania General Assembly eliminated six exceptions to the Act 1 Index.[155] Several 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.[156][157]

The School District Adjusted Index for the Ellwood City Area School District 2006-2007 through 2011-2012.[158]

For the 2012-13 budget year, Ellwood City Area School Board applied for two (2) exceptions to exceed the Act 1 Index: teacher pension costs and special education costs. For 2012-2013, 274 school districts adopted a resolution certifying that tax rates would not be increased above their index; 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.[161]

For the 2011-12 school year, the Ellwood City Area School Board did not apply for an exception to exceed the Act 1 Index. Each year, the Ellwood City Area 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.[162]

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.[163]

Property tax reliefEdit

In 2012, Ellwood Area Area School District approved homestead residents received $174.[164] In 2010, property tax relief for 3,920 approved residents of Ellwood City Area School District was set at $176.[165] In 2009, the Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief from gambling for the Area School District was also $161 per approved permanent primary residence. In the district, 6,534 property owners applied for the tax relief. In Blair County, the highest tax relief went to Williamsburg Community School District which was set at $216.[166] The highest property tax relief, among Pennsylvania school districts, went to the homesteads of Chester Upland School District of Delaware County which received $632 per approved homestead in 2010. Chester-Upland School District has consistently been the top recipient since the programs inception.[167] 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 Lawrence County, 51.25% of eligible property owners applied for property tax relief in 2009.[168]

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 people who have an income of substantially more than $35,000 may still qualify for a rebate. Individuals must apply annually for the rebate. This tax rebate can be taken in addition to Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief. In 2012, Pennsylvania Secretary of the Treasury reported issuing more than half a million property tax rebates totaling $238 million.[169] The program is funded by the Pennsylvania Lottery. Property tax rebates are increased by an additional 50 percent for senior households in the state, so long as those households have incomes under $30,000 and pay more than 15% of their income in property taxes.[170]

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%).[171]

EnrollmentEdit

According to Pennsylvania Department of Education enrollment reports, there were 1939 students enrolled in K-12 in 2009–10 school year at Ellwood City Area Area School District. Enrollment is projected to continue to decline to 1700 in 2020. There were 146 students in the Class of 2009. The district's class of 2010 has 120 students.<[172] In 2008, the district administrative costs were $723.88 per pupil.[173] A study of Pennsylvania public school spending, conducted by Standard and Poor's, examined the consolidation of smaller public school districts. The study found that consolidation of the administration with an adjacent school district would achieve substantial administrative cost savings which varied by district.[174]

According to a 2009 school district administration consolidation proposal by Governor Edward Rendell, the excessive administrative overhead dollars could be redirected to improve lagging academic achievement, to enrich the academic programs or to reduce property taxes.[175] Consolidation of two central administrations into one would not require the closing of any schools. The Governor's proposal called for the savings to be redirected to improving lagging reading and science achievement, to enriching the academic programs or to reducing residents' property taxes.[176] In March 2011, the Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants released a report finding that the state would save hundreds of millions of tax dollars, by cutting the number of school administrations in half through administration consolidation, with no adverse impact on programs offered to students.[177]

Over the 2000 to 2010 decade, rural Pennsylvania school enrollment decreased 8 percent due to a resident population declined, a lower birth rate and a shift to alternative schools.[178] As the enrollment declines, per pupil administrative costs of the schools continue to rise.

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. This results in excessive school administration bureaucracy and not enough course diversity.[179] In a survey of 88 superintendents of small districts, 42% of the 49 respondents stated that they thought consolidation would save money without closing any schools.[180]

ExtracurricularsEdit

Ellwood City Area School District offers a variety of clubs, activities and an extensive and costly sports program. Eligibility for participation is determined by school board policy and PIAA regulations.

By Pennsylvania law, all K-12 students residing 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.[181]

SportsEdit

The District funds:

Junior High School Sports

According to PIAA directory July 2012 [182]

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