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Northgate School District is diminutive, suburban, public school district located in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. It serves the communities Bellevue and Avalon, Pennsylvania. Northgate School District encompasses approximately 1 square mile (2.6 km2). According to 2000 federal census data, it serves a resident population of 13,113. In 2009, the district residents' per capita income was $19,001, while the median family income was $41,896.[6] Per school district officials, in school year 2007-08, the Northgate School District provided basic educational services to 1,333 pupils through the employment of 121 teachers, 63 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 8 administrators. In school year 2009-10, 'Northgate School District provided basic educational services to 1,285 pupils. It employed: 121 teachers, 90 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 9 administrators. Northgate School District received more than $6.6 million in state funding in school year 2009-10.

Northgate School District
Map of Allegheny County Pennsylvania School Districts.png
Address
591 Union Avenue

Pittsburgh
,
Allegheny County
,
15202

United States
Information
TypePublic
SuperintendentDr. Caroline Johns
Faculty110 teachers [1]
GradesK-12
Age5 years old to 21 years old for special ed.
Number of pupils1277 (2009-10)[2]
 • Kindergarten93
 • Grade 1114
 • Grade 298
 • Grade 3105
 • Grade 493
 • Grade 585
 • Grade 697
 • Grade 790
 • Grade 8119
 • Grade 9114
 • Grade 10104
 • Grade 1195
 • Grade 12106
 • OtherEnrollment is projected to decline to 1200 by 2015 and to remain there for 10 years.[3]
Budget$19.3 million 2012-13 [4]
Tuitionfor nonresident and charter school students ES - $10,041.48, HS - $11,605.81 [5]
Per pupil spending$12,966 2008
Per pupil spending$13,849.25 (2010)
Website

Northgate School District operates three schools: Bellevue Elementary, Avalon Elementary, and Northgate Junior - Senior High School. The district has approximately 1,200 students enrolled. Bellevue Elementary and Avalon Elementary are K-6 while the Jr./Sr. High is 7-12. Enrollment is projected to decline to 1200 by 2015 and to remain there for 10 years.[7]

Contents

Academic achievementEdit

Statewide High School PSSA RankingsEdit

The following statewide rankings (out of 676 public school districts) are based solely on the PSSA results of the high school's junior class:[8]

  • 2016- 550th
  • 2015- Unknown
  • 2014- 499th
  • 2013- 533rd
  • 2012- 535th

Northgate School District was ranked 267th out of 498 Pennsylvania school districts in 2012 by the Pittsburgh Business Times. The ranking was based on the last three years of student academic performance on the PSSAs for: reading, writing, math and science.

  • 2011 - 259th [9]
  • 2010 - 240th
  • 2009 - 203rd [10]
  • 2008 - 184th out of 498 Pennsylvania School Districts
  • 2007 -166th of 500 school districts in 2007.[11]

In 2012, the Pittsburgh Business Times also reported an Overachievers Ranking for 498 Pennsylvania school districts. Northgate School District ranked 41st. In 2011, the district was 89th. [12] 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."[13]

Western Pennsylvania local ranking Northgate School District was ranked 63rd out of 105 western Pennsylvania school districts, in 2012, by the Pittsburgh Business Times. The ranking was based on the last three years of student academic performance on the PSSAs on: math, reading, writing and science.[14] (includes 105 districts in: Allegheny County, Armstrong County, Beaver County, Butler County, Fayette County, Washington County and Westmoreland County excludes Duquesne City School District & Midland Borough School District due to no high schools).

  • 2011 - 63rd
  • 2010 - 58th [15]
  • 2009 - 51st out of 105 western Pennsylvania school districts[16]
  • 2008 - 47th out of 105 western Pennsylvania school districts.

In 2012, Northgate School District declined to Warning AYP status due to lagging student achievement in reading and math. In 2010 and 2011, Northgate School District achieved AYP status.[17] 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 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.

In 2009, the academic achievement, of the students in the Northgate School District, was in the 59th percentile among all 500 Pennsylvania school districts Scale (0-99; 100 is state best) [18]

Graduation rateEdit

In 2012, Northgate School District's graduation rate was 86%. In 2011, the graduation rate was 89%.[19] In 2010, the Pennsylvania Department of Education issued a new, 4-year cohort graduation rate. Northgate Senior High School's rate was 86% for 2010.[20]

According to traditional graduation rate calculations
  • 2010 - 91%
  • 2009 - 90%
  • 2008 - 89%
  • 2007 - 89% [21]

Graduation requirementsEdit

Northgate School Board has determined that a students must earn 26 credits to graduate, including: Mathematics 4 credits, Science 4 credits, English 4 credits, Social Studies 4 credits, Computer applications 1.5 credit, Oral Communications 0.5 credit, Physical Education 1.75 credits, Health .25 credits, and Elective 6 credits. A personal finance course will be required beginning in 2014.[22]

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.[23]

By Pennsylvania State School Board regulations, for the graduating classes of 2017, 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.[24]

Northgate Middle/High SchoolEdit

Northgate Middle/High School is located at 589 Union Avenue, Pittsburgh. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, the school reported an enrollment of 629 pupils in grades 7th through 12th, with 243 pupils eligible for a federal free or reduced-price lunch. The school employed 56.5 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 11:1.[25] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[26]

In 2012, Northgate Middle/High School declined to Warning AYP status, In 2011, Northgate Middle/High School achieved AYP status.[27] In 2010, Northgate Middle/High School was in Warning status despite a 91% graduation rate.

11th GradeEdit

In 2010, the high school's 11th grade ranked 91st out of 122 western Pennsylvania high schools based on five years of results in PSSAs on: reading, math writing and three years of science.[28] In 2010 - 71st out of 105 schools.[29] In 2009, the school ranked 64th out of 123 western Pennsylvania high schools [30]

11th Grade Reading
  • 2012 - 62% on grade level (18% below basic). State - 67% of 11th graders are on grade level.
  • 2011 - 67% (20% below basic). State - 69.1%[31]
  • 2010 - 59% (22% below basic). State - 66% [32]
  • 2009 - 61% (29% below basic), State - 65% [33]
  • 2008 - 69%, State - 64% [34]
  • 2007 - 66%, State - 65% [35]
11th Grade Math
  • 2012 - 57% on grade level (26% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 60.3% of 11th graders are on grade level.[36]
  • 2011 - 51% (32% below basic). State - 60.3% .[37]
  • 2010 - 33% (42% below basic). State - 59%
  • 2009 - 51% (28% below basic). State - 55%
  • 2008 - 60%, State - 56%
11th Grade Science
  • 2012 - 38% on grade level (13% below basic). State - 42% of 11th graders were on grade level.
  • 2011 - 43% (20% below basic). State - 40% [38]

2010 - 26% (22% below basic). State - 39% [39] 2009 - 26% (21% below basic). State - 40% 2008 - 28%, State - 39% [40]

College remediationEdit

According to a Pennsylvania Department of Education study released in January 2009, 41% of Northgate 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.[41] 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.[42] 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 school district 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, including the graduation ceremony. 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.[43] Under the Pennsylvania Transfer and Articulation Agreement, many Pennsylvania colleges and universities accept these credits for students who transfer to their institutions.[44] Over 400 school districts in Pennsylvania offer a dual enrollment program in 2009. 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.[45]

For the 2009-10 funding year, the school district received a state grant of $1,476 for the program.[46]

SAT scoresEdit

In 2012, 51 Northgate School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 492. The Math average score was 488. The Writing average score was 471. 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. According to the College Board the maximum score on each section was 800, and 360 students nationwide scored a perfect 2,400.

In 2011, 49 Northgate students took the SAT exams. The district's Verbal Average Score was 476. The Math average score was 480. The Writing average score was 463.[47] Pennsylvania ranked 40th among states with SAT scores: Verbal - 493, Math - 501, Writing - 479.[48] 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.[49]

Eighth GradeEdit

In 2009, the 8th grade was ranked 94th out of 141 western Pennsylvania middle schools based on three years of student academic achievement in PSSAs in: reading, math writing and one year of science.[50] (Includes schools in: Allegheny County, Beaver County, Butler County, Fayette County, Westmoreland County, and Washington County

8th Grade Reading:
  • 2012 - 73% on grade level (10% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 79% of 8th graders on grade level.
  • 2011 - 89% (4% below basic). State - 81.8%
  • 2010 - 84% (3% below basic). State - 81%
  • 2009 - 74% (15% below basic). State - 80.9% [51]
  • 2008 - 79% (13% below basic). State - 78%[52]
8th Grade Math:
  • 2011 - 73% on grade level (12% below basic). State - 76%
  • 2011 - 72% (11% below basic). State - 76.9%
  • 2010 - 75% (10% below basic). State - 75%
  • 2009 - 67% (14% below basic). State - 71% [53]
  • 2008 - 60%, (19% below basic). State -70%
8th Grade Science:
  • 2012 - 49% on grade level (27% below basic). State – 59% of 8th graders were on grade level.
  • 2011 - 59% (13% below basic). State – 58.3%
  • 2010 - 53% (22% below basic). State – 57% [54]
  • 2009 - 56% (22% below basic). State: 55% of 8th graders were on grade level.
  • 2008 - 47%, (24% below basic). State - 50%

In last year's Keystone exam for Algebra, 2/3 of Northgate 8th graders scored proficient or advanced. This is almost twice the percentage of Pennsylvania students generally who scored that well.[citation needed]

Seventh gradeEdit

PSSA Result

Elementary schoolsEdit

Avalon Elementary School is located at 721 California Avenue, Pittsburgh. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, the school reported an enrollment of 235 pupils in grades kindergarten through 6th, with 114 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school employed 24 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 9.65:1.[55] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[56] In 2010 and 2011, Avalon Elementary School achieved AYP status.[57] In 2011, only 74% of the students were reading on grade level in grades 3rd through 6th. In math, 81% of the students in 3rd through 6th grades were on grade level and 47% scored advanced. In 4th grade science, 91% of the pupils were on grade level.[58] In 2012, only 78% of the students were reading on grade level in grades 3rd through 6th. In math, 71% of the students in 3rd through 6th grades were on grade level and 44% scored advanced. In 4th grade science, 83% of the pupils were on grade level.[59]

Bellevue Elementary School is located at 435 Lincoln Avenue, Pittsburgh. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, the school reported an enrollment of 428 pupils in grades kindergarten through 6th, with 195 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school employed 29 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 14:1.[60] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[61] In 2010 and 2011, Bellevue Elementary School achieved AYP status.[62] In 2011, only 79% of the students were reading on grade level in grades 3rd through 6th. In math, 86% of the students in 3rd through 6th grades were on grade level and 52% scored advanced. In 4th grade science, 94% of the pupils were on grade level.[63] In 2012, only 70% of the students were reading on grade level in grades 3rd through 6th. In math, 82% of the students in 3rd through 6th grades were on grade level and 43% scored advanced. In 4th grade science, 82% of the pupils were on grade level.[64]

Special educationEdit

In December 2010, the district administration reported that 252 pupils or 20% of the district's pupils received Special Education services, with 40% of identified students having a specific learning disability. In December 2009, the district administration reported that 228 pupils or 17.5% of the district's pupils received Special Education services.[65]

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 .[66] 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, 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 district's Special Education Department.[67][68]

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.[69] 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.[70] The state requires each district to have a three-year special education plan to meet the unique needs of its special education students.[71] 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.[72]

Northgate School District received a $821,027 supplement for special education services in 2010.[73] For the 2011–12 and 2012-13 school year, 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.[74][75]

In 2009, Northgate School District was identified by the Pennsylvania Department of Education for Least Restrictive Environment monitoring. One hundred ninety six schools districts were selected in 2008-09. The district received an alert letter from the PDE - Bureau of Special Education.[76] School districts were placed in one of three categories: Tier 1, Tier 2 or Tier 3. The district was placed in Tier 3 due to being Identified for category of too many students with IEPs being served in settings outside regular schools. The monitoring is a product of the PDE addressing its voluntary settlement in Gaskin V. Pennsylvania which ordered that special education students spend most of their school day (80%) in regular education classrooms with supplementary aids and services to assist funded by the taxpayers.[77][78][79] In 2010, the district continued to be on Tier 3 monitoring list. The district received a letter of “Warning” letter from the Pennsylvania Department of Education.[80]

Gifted educationEdit

Northgate School District Administration reported that fewer than 10 of its students were gifted in 2009.[81] 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.[82][83]

BudgetEdit

In 2013, Superintendent Joseph Pasquerilla recommended to the School Board to eliminate 23 teaching positions and 10 teacher aide positions for the next school year. He reported that the District‘s enrollment dropped from 1,644 pupils with a staff of 110 teachers during the 1995-96 school year to 1,211 students taught by 115 teachers in 2013.[84]

In 2011, the average teacher salary in Northgate School District was $58,123.81 a year, while the cost of the benefits teachers receive was $16,757 per employee, for a total annual average teacher compensation of $74,881.23.[85] 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.[86]

In 2009, Northgate School District reported employing 148 teachers and administrators with a median salary of $60,615 and a top salary of $151,666.[87] The teacher’s work day is with days in the contract year. Additionally, the teachers receive a defined benefit pension, health insurance (teachers pay $35 per month), professional development reimbursement, paid personal days, 10 paid sick days, and other benefits.[88][89]

In 2007, the district employed 106 teachers with the average teacher salary in the district at $48,325 for 180 days worked.[90]

The district administrative costs in 2008 were $937.72 per pupil. The district ranked 82nd out of 500 school districts for administrative spending. The lowest administrative cost per pupil in Pennsylvania was $398 per pupil.[91] Dr. Reggie Bonfield served as Superintendent (salary $151,666 in 2009) resigning July 1, 2012. Kathleen Gallagher assistant to the superintendent, also resigned.[92]

In 2008, Northgate School District Administration reported that per pupil spending was $12,966 which ranked 177th among Pennsylvania's 501 school districts. In 2010, Northgate's per pupil spending had increased to $13,849.25.[93] Among the states, Pennsylvania’s total per pupil revenue (including all sources) ranked 11th at $15,023 per student, in 2008-09.[94] In 2007, the Pennsylvania per pupil total expenditures was $12,759.[95] The U.S. Census Bureau reports that Pennsylvania spent $8,191 per pupil in school year 2000-01.[96]

Reserves In 2008, the district reported a balance of $1,200,000.00 in an unreserved-designated fund. The unreserved-undesignated fund balance was reported as $1,408,958.00. [97] In 2010, Northgate's Administration reported $685,213.00 in the unreserved-undesignated fund balance. 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.[98]

For the 2010-11 school year, Northgate School Board reduced overstaffing at the high school by 4 positions in order to balance the annual budget. The Board also reduced kindergarten to one half day with a limited full day program for students that need the full day program.[99]

In August 2010, the Pennsylvania Auditor General conducted a performance audit of the district. Findings were reported to the administration and school board.[100]

The District is funded by a combination of: a local earned income tax, a property tax, a real estate transfer tax, coupled with substantial funding from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the federal government. Grants 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 level of wealth.[101]

State basic education fundingEdit

For the 2012-13 school year, Northgate School District received $3,839,297.[102] The Governor's Executive Budget for 2012-2013 includes $9.34 billion for kindergarten through 12th grade public education, including $5.4 billion in basic education funding, which is an increase of $49 million over the 2011-12 budget. The state also provides $100 million for the Accountability Block grant. The state will also provide $544.4 million for School Employees’ Social Security and $856 million for School Employees’ Retirement fund called PSERS.[103] 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, Northgate School District received a $3,760,082, allocation, of state Basic Education Funding.[104][105] Additionally, Northgate School District received $79,215 in 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 is a $233,290,000 increase (4.6%) over the enacted State appropriation for 2010-2011.[106] 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.[107] In 2010, the district reported that 575 students received free or reduced-price lunches, due to the family meeting the federal poverty level.[108]

In the 2010-2011 budget year, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a 2% increase in Basic Education Funding to Northgate SD for a total of $4,009,049. Among the districts in Allegheny County, the highest increase went to South Fayette Township School District which got an 11.32% increase. One hundred fifty Pennsylvania public 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.[109] 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 where 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.

In the 2009-2010 budget year the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a 4.53% increase in Basic Education funding for a total of $3,930,440. This was a mid level percentage point increase, in Basic Education Funding, for the school districts in Allegheny County. Many districts received the minimum 2% increase. Four county school districts received increases of over 6% in Basic Education Funding in 2008-10. Chartiers Valley School District received an 8.17% increase. In Pennsylvania, over 15 school districts received Basic Education Funding increases in excess of 10% in 2009. Muhlenberg School District in Berks County received the highest with a 22.31% increase in funding. The state's Basic Education Funding to the Northgate School District in 2008-09 was $3,760,081.99.[110] The amount of increase each school district receives is determined by the Governor and the Secretary of Education through the allocation made in the budget proposal made in February each year. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 563 students received free or reduced-price lunches due to low family income in the 2007-2008 school year.[111]

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, Northgate School District applied for and received $215,009 in addition to all other state and federal funding. The district uses the funding to provide full-day kindergarten for the seventh year.[112][113]

Science It’s Elementary grantEdit

Avalon Elementary School successfully applied to participate and received a Science It’s Elementary grant in 2008-09. For the 2008-09 school year, the program was offered in 143 schools reaching 2,847 teachers and 66,973 students across Pennsylvania.[114] 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 is a hands on instruction approach for elementary science classes that develops problem-solving and critical thinking skills.[115] 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.[116] The district was required to develop a three-year implementation plan for the participating school. The District was required to appoint a district liaison who was paid $3000 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. The 2006-07 State Education Budget provided $635 million in new spending for pre-K through 12th grades for the 2006-07 school year. This marks an 8-percent increase over 2005-06 public school funding.[117] The grant program was expanded to $14.5 million in the 2008-09 budget.

Classrooms for the Future grantEdit

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. Northgate School District successfully applied to participate in 2006-07 receiving $256,903. In 2007-08, the district received another $250,000. The district did not apply in 2008-09.[118] In Allegheny County, the highest award was given to Highlands School District which received $835,286. The highest funding statewide was awarded to Philadelphia City School District in Philadelphia County - $9,409,073. In 2010, Classrooms for the Future funding was curtailed statewide due to a massive state financial crisis.

Education Assistance grantEdit

The state's EAP funding provides for the continuing support of tutoring services and other programs to address the academic needs of eligible students. Funds are 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, Northgate School District did not apply for funding.[119]

Literacy grantEdit

Northgate School District was awarded a $710,746 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.[120] 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.

Federal StimulusEdit

The district received $995,601 in ARRA - Federal Stimulus money to be used in specific programs like special education and meeting the academic needs of low-income students.[121] The funding was limited to the 2009–10 and 2010-2011 school years.[122] 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 TopEdit

Northgate School District officials did not apply for the Race to the Top federal grant, fearing that costs of administering the grant would be too high.[123] In Pennsylvania, only 120 public school districts (out of more than 500) and 56 charter schools decided to participate.[124] Pennsylvania was not approved for the grant. The low number of districts agreeing to participate was cited as one reason that Pennsylvania was not approved.[125][126][127]

ConsolidationEdit

A proposal was made, by David Wassel, a prominent citizen, to consolidate Allegheny County school districts to save tax dollars, focus dollars on student achievement, and improve student services. The plan calls for a proposed district that includes: Avonworth School District and Northgate School District. The proposed district would serve the communities of: Avalon, Bellevue, Ben Avon, Ben Avon Heights, Emsworth and Kilbuck.[128]

Governor Edward Rendell proposed a consolidation of Pennsylvania's 500 school district to 100 with adjacent school districts, in each county. He suggested that the administrative cost savings be redirected to improving lagging reading, math and science achievement, to enriching the academic programs or to reducing residents' property taxes.[129] A study of Pennsylvania public school spending, conducted by Standard and Poor's, found that consolidation of the administration with an adjacent school district would achieve substantial administrative cost savings for people in both communities.[130]

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.[131] This results in excessive school administration bureaucracy and not enough course diversity.[132] 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.[133] 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 consolidation, with no impact on programs offered to students.[134]

Real estate taxesEdit

Property tax rates in 2012-13 were set by the school board at 28.6 mills.[135] 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.[136] 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.[137] 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.[138] 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.[139]

  • 2011-12 - 28.6000 mills
  • 2010-11 - 27.6000 mills [140]
  • 2009-10 - 24.5000 mills.[141]
  • 2008-09 - 24.5100 mills.[142]
  • 2007-08 - 24.5000 mills.[143]
  • 2006-07 - 24.5000 mills.[144]

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 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 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.[145] In June 2011, the Pennsylvania General Assembly eliminated six of the ten exceptions to the Act 1 Index.[146] 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.[147][148]

The School District Adjusted Index for Northgate School District 2006-2007 through 2011-2012.[149]

  • 2006-07 - 5.2%, Base 3.9%
  • 2007-08 - 4.6%, Base 3.4%
  • 2008-09 - 6.0%, Base 4.4%
  • 2009-10 - 5.6%, Base 4.1%
  • 2010-11 - 4.0%, Base 2.9%
  • 2011-12 - 1.9%, Base 1.4%
  • 2012-13 - 2.3%, Base 1.7% [150]
  • 2013-14 - 2.3%, Base 1.7% [151]

For the 2012-13 budget year, Northgate School Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed the Act 1 Index. 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.[152]

For the 2011-12 school year, Northgate School Board applied for three exceptions to exceed the Act 1 Index: Maintenance of Selected Revenue Sources, Special Education costs, and Teacher pension costs. While the District received approval for all three exceptions, they did not receive the full amounts requested. Each year, Northgate 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.[153]

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.[154]

Northgate School Board applied for three exceptions to exceed the Act 1 index for the budget in 2011, including: Maintenance of Selected Revenue Sources, Special Education costs, and Teacher pension costs. All three were fully approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.[155] For 2009-10 school budget, the board did not apply for exceptions to exceed the Index.[156] 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.[157]

Property tax reliefEdit

In 2012, Northgate School District approved homestead residents received $276.[158] In 2010, property tax relief for 2,482 approved residents of Northgate School District was set at $281.[159] In 2009, the Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief from gambling for the Northgate School District was $286 per approved permanent primary residence. In the district, 2,437 property owners applied for the tax relief. In Allegheny County, the highest tax relief went to Duquesne City School District resident which was set at $351.[160] 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.[161] 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 Beaver County, 62% of eligible property owners applied for property tax relief in 2009.[162]

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.[163] 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.[164]

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%).[165]

ExtracurricularsEdit

The district offers a variety of clubs, activities and sports. 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.[166]

SportsEdit

The District funds:

Boys:

  • Baseball - Varsity and Junior Varsity
  • Basketball - Varsity, Junior Varsity, Middle School
  • Cross Country
  • Football - Varsity and Junior Varsity
  • Golf
  • Swimming and Diving
  • Track and Field
  • Wrestling - Varsity and MS

Girls:

  • Basketball - Varsity and Junior Varsity
  • Cross Country
  • Softball - Varsity and Middle School
  • Swimming and Diving - Varsity and Middle School
  • Volleyball - Varsity and Middle School
  • According to PIAA directory July 2012 [167]

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External linksEdit