Upper St. Clair School District

The Upper St Clair School District is a public school district serving the Pittsburgh suburb of Upper St. Clair, Pennsylvania. The District encompasses approximately 10 square miles. Upper Saint Clair School District features three elementary schools for grades K-4: Albert F. Baker Elementary, Dwight D. Eisenhower Elementary, and Carl R. Streams Elementary. The school district also includes two middle schools, Fort Couch Middle School and Boyce Middle School. Boyce Middle School contains both 5th level students and 6th level students. Fort Couch Middle School contains grades 7th and 8th grades, and is the oldest running school of the school district, and has recently undergone a renovation.[3] According to 9001 uuh census data, it serves a resident population of 20,053. Per District officials, in school year 2007-08 Upper Saint Clair School District provided basic educational services to 4,103 pupils. It employed 286 teachers, 73 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 19 administrators. Upper Saint Clair School District received more than $9.6 million in state funding in school year 2007-08.

Upper St. Clair School District
Map of Allegheny County Pennsylvania School Districts.png
Address
1775 McLaughlin Run Road

Upper St. Clair
,
Allegheny
,
Pennsylvania
15241

United States
Information
TypePublic
School board9 elected members
SuperintendentDr. John Rozzo
GradesK-12
Enrollment4089 students (2010-11) [1]
 • Grade 1241
 • Grade 2322
 • Grade 3290
 • Grade 4308
 • Grade 5299
 • Grade 6332
 • Grade 7295
 • Grade 8315
 • Grade 9349
 • Grade 10358
 • Grade 11370
 • Grade 12357
 • OtherEnrollment projected to be 3811 in 2019[2]
Color(s)Black&Red
AthleticsWPIAL
NicknameUSC
Team namePanthers
RivalMt. Lebanon, Bethel Park

In 2018, Niche ranked Upper St. Clair Schools #38 nationwide.[4]

Academic achievementEdit

Upper Saint Clair School District was ranked first out of 498 Pennsylvania school districts in 2011, by the Pittsburgh Business Times. The ranking was based on five years of student academic performance on the reading, writing, math and three years of science PSSAs.[5] The district has been ranked first among Pennsylvania's 500 public school districts since 2006.

District wide PSSA testing resultsEdit

Since 2005 the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has used the Pennsylvania System of State Assessments (PSSA) to test students in grades 3 through 8 and 11 in math and reading, in grades 5, 8 and 11 in writing, and in grades 4, 8 and 11 in science.

Reading
  • 2011 - 13% on grade level. State - 72% [6]
  • 2010 - 16%, State - 67% [7]
  • 2009 - 12%, State - 71% [8]
  • 2008 - 13%, State - 69% [9]
  • 2007 - 13%
Science
  • 2010 - 81%, State - 40%
  • 2009 - 75%, State - 59%
Writing
  • 2010 - 96%, State - 81%
  • 2009 - 98%, State - 70%
  • 2008 - 98%
  • 2007 - 99%
Math
  • 2011 - 95%, State - 76%
  • 2010 - 96%, State - 71%
  • 2009 - 91%, State - 73%
  • 2008 - 89%
  • 2007 - 86%

The state average for Math was 60% in 2010.[10]

Graduation rateEdit

In 2011, the graduation rate at Upper Saint Clair School District was 99%.[11] In 2010, the Pennsylvania Department of Education issued a new, 4-year cohort graduation rate. High School's rate was 97% for 2010.[12]

According to traditional graduation rate calculations

College remediation rateEdit

According to a Pennsylvania Department of Education study released in January 2009, 17% of Upper Saint Clair High School's 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.[17] 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.[18] 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 state offered a small grant to assist students in costs for tuition, fees and books [19] Under the Pennsylvania Transfer and Articulation Agreement, many Pennsylvania colleges and universities accept these credits for students who transfer to their institutions.[20] For the 2009-10 funding year, the school district received a state grant of $4,398 for the program.[21]

SAT scoresEdit

From January to June 2011, 330 students took the SAT exams. The district's Verbal Average Score was 574. The Math average score was 594. The Writing average score was 580.[22] Pennsylvania ranked 40th among state with SAT scores: Verbal - 493, Math - 501, Writing - 479.[23] 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.[24]

Special educationEdit

In December 2010, Upper Saint Clair School District administration reported that 559 pupils or 13% of the district's pupils received Special Education services. Additionally, forty seven percent of the district's special education students are identified as having specific learning disabilities.[25]

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 .[26] 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.[27][28]

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.[29] 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.[30] The state requires each district to have a three-year special education plan to meet the unique needs of its special education students.[31] 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.[32]

The Upper Saint Clair School District received a $1,751,309 supplement for special education services in 2010.[33] For the 2011-12 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.[34]

Gifted educationEdit

The District Administration reported that 175 or 4.23% of Upper Saint Clair School District students were identified as gifted in 2009.[35] 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.[36][37]

District administrative school leadersEdit

  • Superintendent of Schools - Dr. John Rozzo[38]
  • High School Principal - Dr. Timothy Wagner [39]
  • Fort Couch Middle School Principal - Joseph Demar[40]
  • Boyce Middle School Principal - Daniel O'Rourke
  • Baker Elementary Principal - Dr. Patrick McClintock-Comeaux
  • Eisenhower Elementary Principal - Mark Miller[41]
  • Streams Elementary Principal - Dr. Claire Miller[42]

BudgetEdit

In 2009, the district reported employing over 330 teachers and administrators with a salary range of $40,000 to $147,050.[43] The average salary was $66,733.

In 2007, the district employed 271 teachers. The average teacher salary in the district was $62,942 for 180 days worked.[44] 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.[45] Additionally, the teachers receive a defined benefit pension, health insurance, professional development reimbursement, paid personal days, 10 paid sick days, and other benefits.[46]

Upper Saint Clair School District administrative costs per pupil in 2008 was $707.46 per pupil. This ranks 307th out of 501 public school districts. The lowest administrative cost per pupil in Pennsylvania was $398 per pupil.[47] The Pennsylvania School Boards Association keeps statistics on salaries of public school district employees in Pennsylvania. According to the association's report, the average salary for a superintendent, for the 2007-08 school year, was $122,165. Superintendents and administrators receive a benefit package commensurate with that offered to the district's teachers' union.[48]

Reserves In 2008, the district reported $610,872 in an unreserved-designated fund balance. The unreserved-undesignated fund balance was reported as $3,114,715. [49] In 2010 unreserved-designated fund balance $3,909,726.00 and an unreserved-undesignated fund balance of zero. PA 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.[50]

In 2008, the district administration reported that per pupil spending was $13,248 which ranked 220th among Pennsylvania's 501 school districts. In 2010, the per pupil spending had increased to $14,203.55 [51] Among the states, Pennsylvania's total per pupil revenue (including all sources) ranked 11th at $15,023 per student, in 2008-09.[52] In 2007, the Pennsylvania per pupil total expenditures was $12,759.[53]

The district is funded by a combination of: a local earned income tax, a property tax, a real estate transfer tax 0.5%, coupled with substantial funding from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the federal government. 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 individual's personal wealth.[54]

State basic education fundingEdit

In 2011-12, the district received a $3,900,422 allocation, of state Basic Education Funding.[55][56] Additionally, the School District received $79,515 in Accountability Block Grant funding. The enacted Pennsylvania state Education budget includes $5,354,629,000 for the 2011-2012 Basic Education Funding appropriation. This amount is a $233,290,000 increase (4.6%) over the enacted State appropriation for 2010-2011.[57] 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.[58] In 2010, the district reported that 166 students received free or reduced-price lunches, due to the family meeting the federal poverty level.[59]

In the 2010-2011 budget year, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a 2% increase in Basic Education Funding for a total of $3,978,430.47. 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 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.[60]

In the 2009-2010 budget year, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a 2% increase in Basic Education Funding for a total of $3,978,430. Among the districts in Allegheny County, the highest increase went to East Allegheny School District which got a 7.69%. The state Basic Education Funding to the district in 2008-09 was $3,900,422.03. Ninety school districts received a 2% increase. Muhlenberg School District in Berks County received a 22.31% increase in state basic education funding in 2009.[61] The amount of increase each school district receives is set by the Governor and the Secretary of Education as a part of the state budget proposal given each February.[62] According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 192 district students received free or reduced-price lunches due to low family income in the 2007–2008 school year.[63]

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 $215,823 in addition to all other state and federal funding. The district uses the funding to provide Intensive instruction for struggling students during the school day and to develop new courses.[64][65]

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. The Upper Saint Clair School District was denied funding in 2006-07. In 2007-08, the district received $439,801. The district received $79,716 in 2008-09.[66]

Federal Stimulus grantEdit

The district received an extra $1,203,869 in ARRA - Federal Stimulus money to be used in specific programs like special education and meeting the academic needs of low-income students.[67] The funding was limited to the 2009–10 and 2010-2011 school years.[68] Due to the temporary nature of the funding, schools were repeatedly warned 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 over one million dollars in additional federal funding to improve student academic achievement.[69] 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.[70] 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.[71][72][73]

Common Cents state initiativeEdit

The Upper Saint Clair School Board elected to not participate in the Pennsylvania Department of Education Common Cents program. The program called for the state to audit the district, at no cost to local taxpayers, to identify ways the district could save tax dollars.[74] After the review of the information, the district was not required to implement the recommended cost savings changes.

International Baccalaureate controversyEdit

An academic controversy during the 2005–2006 school year was the elimination of the International Baccalaureate (IB) program. Members of the new school board elected in 2005 criticized the program as being too costly, a needless duplication of Advanced Placement, and claimed its international perspective was in conflict with "Judeo-Christian values." In February 2006 the new school board voted 5–4 to phase out the IB program over two years, allowing only current 11th and 12th grade students to complete requirements.[12] In March 2006, the ACLU filed a lawsuit[13] and an out-of-court settlement was reached in May 2006 [14] with two main stipulations. First, the program was reinstated for a minimum of two years. Second, a nine-month study to determine the value of the IB program was conducted as part of the settlement agreement. The study resulted in a recommendation to retain the IB curriculum.[15]

Middle School Renovation ProjectEdit

Both Fort Couch Middle School and Boyce Middle School are undergoing an extensive renovation and modernization which began during the 2009-2010 school year. These projects are scheduled to continue through the 2010-2011 school year with completion slated by the start of the 2011-2012 school year. Although the exact cost is currently unknown, it is projected to be over budget. The completion of the middle schools means that the district will be operating in all new schools, the high school was refurbished, and extended in the year 2000, and the elementary schools were renovated soon after.[75]

Real estate taxesEdit

Property tax rates in 2011-12 were set by the school board at 24.1000 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.[76] 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.[77] The school district includes municipalities in two counties, each of which has different rates of property tax assessment, necessitating a state board equalization of the tax rates between the counties.[78] In 2010, miscalculations by the board were widespread in the Commonwealth and adversely impacted funding for many school districts.[79]

  • 2010-11 - 23.7700 mills [80]
  • 2009-10 - 23.3700 mills.[81]
  • 2008-09 - 22.4500 mills.[82]
  • 2007-08 - 22.4500 mills.[83]

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.[84] In June 2011, the Pennsylvania General Assembly eliminated six of the ten the exceptions to the Act 1 Index.[85] The following exceptions were maintained: 1) costs to pay interest and principal on indebtedness incurred prior to September 4, 2004 for Act 72 schools and prior to June 27, 2006 for non-Act 72 schools; 2) costs to pay interest and principal on electoral debt; 3) costs incurred in providing special education programs and services (beyond what is already paid by the State); and 4) costs due to increases of more than the Index in the school's share of payments to PSERS (PA school employees pension fund) taking into account the state mandated PSERS contribution rate.[86][87]

The School District Adjusted Index for the Upper Saint Clair School District 2006-2007 through 2011-2012.[88]

  • 2006-07 - 3.9%, Base 3.9%
  • 2007-08 - 3.4%, Base 3.4%
  • 2008-09 - 4.4%, Base 4.4%
  • 2009-10 - 4.1%, Base 4.1%
  • 2010-11 - 2.9%, Base 2.9%
  • 2011-12 - 1.4%, Base 1.4%
  • 2012-13 - 1.7%, Base 1.7% [89]

For the 2011-12 school year, the School Board did not apply for an exception to exceed the Act 1 Index. Each year, the 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.[90]

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.[91]

The Upper Saint Clair School Board did not apply for any exceptions to exceed the Act 1 index for the budget in 2011.[92] For 2009-10 school budget, the board did not apply for exceptions to exceed the Index.[93] 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.[94]

Property tax reliefEdit

In 2010, the Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief from gambling for the Upper Saint Clair School District was $241 per approved permanent primary residence. In the district, 5,760 property owners applied for the tax relief.[95] 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 County, % of eligible property owners applied for property tax relief in 2009.[96] In Allegheny County, the highest amount of tax relief in 2010, went to property owners in Duquesne City School District for $359. The highest property tax relief in Pennsylvania went to the residents of Chester Upland School District of Delaware County who received $632 per approved homestead.[97] This was the third year they were the top recipient.

Additionally, the Pennsylvania Property Tax/Rent Rebate program is provided for low income Pennsylvanians aged 65 and older; widows and widowers aged 50 and older; and people with disabilities age 18 and older. The income limit is $35,000 for homeowners. The maximum rebate for both homeowners and renters is $650. Applicants can exclude one-half (1/2) of their Social Security income, consequently, individual with income much more than $35,000 may still qualify for a rebate. Individuals must apply annually for the rebate. This can be taken in addition to Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief.[98]

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%).[99]

ExtracurricularsEdit

The district offers a variety of clubs, activities and sports. Eligibility for participation is determined by school board policy.

By Pennsylvania law, all K-12 students in the district, including those who attend a private nonpublic school, cyber charter school, charter school and those homeschooled, are eligible to participate in the extracurricular programs, including all athletics. They must meet the same eligibility rules as the students enrolled in the district's schools.[100]

ReferencesEdit

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Coordinates: 40°20′06″N 80°04′19″W / 40.334954°N 80.071824°W / 40.334954; -80.071824