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North Pocono School District

North Pocono School District
Address
701 Church Street
Moscow,
Information
School board 9 locally elected members
Superintendent Bryan McGraw contract through July 12, 2015
Administrator Mr. Daniel J. Powell, Assistant Superintendent

Mrs. Carole Myron, Supervisor of Pupil Personnel Services
Mr. Dennis Cawley, Business Manager
Mrs. Ann Marie Strempek, Transportation Coordinator
Mrs. Cathy May , Human Resource Supervisor
Mrs. Lisa Miller, Director of Food Service
Mr. Walter Bell, Director of Buildings and Grounds
Mr. Richard Brazen, Supervisor of Buildings and Grounds
Mr. Chip DeWolfe, Technology Coordinator
Mr. Christopher Summa, Assistant Technology Coordinator
Mr. Thomas Chesko, Athletic Director/Instructional Technology

Principal Mr. John Marichak, HS
Principal Mr. Edward Bugno, MS
Principal Mr. Ian R. Farr, NPIS
Principal Mr. Jeff Hatala, MEC
Principal Mrs. Judy Castrogiovanni, JEC
Vice principal Mr. Christopher Sload, HS
Vice principal Mrs. Laurie Davis, MS
Faculty 211 teachers in 2011[1]
Grades K-12
Age 5 years old to 21 years old for special education students
Pupils 3,173 students (2010-11) [2]
Kindergarten 252
Grade 1 226
Grade 2 231
Grade 3 216
Grade 4 199
Grade 5 273
Grade 6 217
Grade 7 251
Grade 8 270
Grade 9 247
Grade 10 242
Grade 11 270
Grade 12 264
Other Enrollment projected to be 2,900 students in 2020[3]
Nickname North Pocono Trojan
Budget $42,999,964 in 2012-13[4]

$42,608,086 in 2010-11 [5]

Per pupil spending $11,376 (2008)
$12,921.92 (2010)
Website


North Pocono School District is a rural public school district located in southern Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania in the United States. This region is considered to be the northern tip of the Pocono Mountain region in Northeast Pennsylvania. North Pocono School District encompasses approximately 198 square miles (510 km2). The District serves Jefferson Township, Roaring Brook Township, Elmhurst Township, Madison Township, Borough of Moscow, Spring Brook Township, Covington Township, Clifton Township, and Thornhurst Township in Lackawanna County, as well as Lehigh Township in Wayne County, including the communities within these townships, such as Mount Cobb, Daleville, and Gouldsboro. According to 2000 federal census data, North Pocono School District serves a resident population of 18,429 people. By 2010, the District's population increased to 20,806 people.[6] In 2009, North Pocono School District residents’ per capita income was $19,688, while the median family income was $49,766.[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]

North Pocono School District officials, in school year 2009-10 the District provided basic educational services to 3,168 pupils. The District employed: 233 teachers, 146 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 22 administrators. North Pocono School District received more than $14.4 million in state funding in school year 2009-10.

A new North Pocono High School was built in 2009, and it opened during the school year of 2009-2010. The old high school, located on Church Street, is now the North Pocono Middle School. It houses grades 6 through 8. The new High School, which is located on Bochicchio Boulevard in Covington Township, houses grades 9 through 12.[10]

North Pocono School District operates 5 schools: Jefferson Elementary Center (K to 3); Moscow Elementary Center (K to 3); North Pocono Intermediate School (4 to 5), North Pocono Middle School (6 to 8), and North Pocono High School (9 to 12).

Governance

North Pocono 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 achievement

North Pocono School District was ranked 151st out of 500 Pennsylvania school districts by the Pittsburgh Business Times in 2013.[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.

  • 2012 - 196th [15]
  • 2008 - 135th[16]
  • 2007 - 158th out of 501 school districts.[17]
Overachiever statewide ranking

In 2013, the Pittsburgh Business Times also reported an Overachievers Ranking for 498 Pennsylvania school districts. North Pocono School District ranked 335th. In 2012, the District was 390th. [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, North Pocono School District declined to Warning AYP status due to a low graduation rate.[20] In 2011, North Pocono 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] School District achieved AYP status each year from 2004 to 2009, while in 2003 the North Pocono School District was in Warning status due to lagging student achievement.[22]

Graduation rate

In 2012, North Pocono School District’s graduation rate was 84.72%.[23] In 2011, the graduation rate was 97%.[24] In 2010, the Pennsylvania Department of Education issued a new, 4-year cohort graduation rate. North Pocono High School's rate was 97% for 2010.[25]

According to traditional graduation rate calculations

High school

North Pocono High School is located at 97 Bochicchio Blvd, Covington Township, Pennsylvania. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2011, the school reported an enrollment of 1,059 pupils in grades 9th through 12th, with 255 pupils eligible for a federal free or reduced-price lunch. North Pocono High School employed 69 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 15:1.[30] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 14 courses were taught by teachers who were rated "Non‐Highly Qualified" under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.[31] North Pocono High School opened a new building in Covington Township in 2009.[32]

In 2012, North Pocono High School declined to Warning AYP status due to a declining graduation rate and low academic achievement in mathematics. In 2011, North Pocono High School achieved AYP status.[33]

PSSA results

11th Grade Reading:

  • 2012 - 81% on grade level, (8% below basic). State - 67% of 11th graders are on grade level.[34]
  • 2011 - 82% (8% below basic). State - 69.1% [35]
  • 2010 - 74% (15% below basic). State - 66% [36]
  • 2009 - 64% (19% below basic). State - 65% [37]
  • 2008 - 68% (15% below basic). State - 65% [38]
  • 2007 - 73% (13% below basic). State - 65% [39]

11th Grade Math:

  • 2012 - 65% on grade level (15% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 59% of 11th graders are on grade level.[40]
  • 2011 - 67% (18% below basic). State - 60.3% [41]
  • 2010 - 62% (23% below basic). State - 59% [42]
  • 2009 - 54% (25% below basic). State - 56% [43]
  • 2008 - 53% (24% below basic). State - 56% [44]
  • 2007 - 57% (23% below basic). State - 53% [45]

11th Grade Science:

  • 2012 - 44% on grade level (7% below basic). State - 42% of 11th graders were on grade level.[46]
  • 2011 - 45% (9% below basic). State - 40% [47]
  • 2010 - 36% (18% below basic). State - 39%
  • 2009 - 36% (16% below basic). State - 40% [48]
  • 2008 - 38% (12% below basic). State - 39% [49]

College remediation rate

According to a Pennsylvania Department of Education study released in January 2009, 7% of the North Pocono 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.[50] 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.[51] Per the Pennsylvania Department of Education, one in three recent high school graduates who attend Pennsylvania's public universities and community colleges takes at least one remedial course in math, reading or English.

Dual enrollment

North Pocono High School does not offer the Pennsylvania dual enrollment program which permits students to earn deeply discounted college credits while still enrolled in high school. The program has been offered through over 400 school districts with the assistance of a state grants for the students and deep discounts at the colleges and universities. The students continue to have full access to activities and programs at their high school. 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, Governor Edward Rendell eliminated the grants to students, from the Commonwealth, due to a state budget crisis.

Graduation requirements

Among Pennsylvania's 500 public school districts, graduation requirements widely vary. The North Pocono School Board has determined that a pupil must earn 21 credits to graduate, including: Math 3 credits, English 4 credits, social studies 4 credits, science 3 credits, Physical Education and health 1 credit, Arts and Humanities 1 credit, Family and Consumer Science 1 credit and electives 4 credits.[53] A student must earn a minimum of 4 credits to move from 9th grade to 10th grade. To move to 11th grade the student must earn 9 credits.

By law, all Pennsylvania secondary school students were required to 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] North Pocono High School's graduation project requires the students to independently plan, organize and complete a project that serves the greater North Pocono community, a nationally recognized charity or service group, or the North Pocono School District. The project must require at least 15 hours of work on the student's part. 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 scores

In 2012, 193 North Pocono School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 494. The Math average score was 494. The Writing average score was 488. 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, 198 North Pocono School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 492. The Math average score was 509. The Writing average score was 497.[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]

Middle school

North Pocono Middle School is located at 701 Church St, Moscow. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2011, the middle school reported an enrollment of 760 pupils in grades 6th through 8th, with 190 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school employed 51 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 14:1.[64] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 16 courses were taught by teachers who were rated "Non‐Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[65]

In 2011 and 2012, North Pocono Middle School achieved AYP status.[66]

PSSA Results
8th Grade Reading
  • 2012 - 87% on grade level (6% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 79% of 8th graders on grade level.[67]
  • 2011 - 85% (7% below basic) State - 81.8%
  • 2010 - 84%, 57% advanced (6% below basic). State - 81%[68]
  • 2009 - 88%, 65% advanced (4% below basic), State - 80%
  • 2008 - 88%, 67% advanced (7% below basic), State - 78% [69]
  • 2007 - 85% (7% below basic), State - 75%

8th Grade Math:

  • 2012 - 76% on grade level (9% below basic). State - 76% [70]
  • 2011 - 75% (13% below basic). State - 76.9%[71]
  • 2010 - 71% (14% below basic). State - 75% [72]
  • 2009 - 70% (9% below basic). State - 71% [73]
  • 2008 - 78% (12% below basic). State - 70%
  • 2007 - 74% (12% below basic). State - 68%

8th Grade Science:

  • 2012 - 71% on grade level (12% below basic). State - 59%
  • 2011 - 68% (13% below basic). State – 58.3%
  • 2010 - 66% (14% below basic). State – 57% [74]
  • 2009 - 64% (7% below basic). State - 55% [75]
  • 2008 - 67% (10% below basic). State - 52% [76]
  • 2007 - tested, but results not made public.

Intermediate school

North Pocono Intermediate School is located at 701 Church Street, Moscow. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2011, North Pocono Intermediate School reported an enrollment of 486 pupils in 4th and 5th grades, with 134 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school is a federally designated Title I school. North Pocono Intermediate School employed 27.5 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 17:1.[80] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.[81] North Pocono Intermediate School building was built in 1968.

In 2011 and 2012, North Pocono Intermediate School achieved (Adequate Yearly Progress) AYP status.[82]

4th Grade Science
  • 2012 - 92%, 55% advanced. State - 82%
  • 2011 - 95%, 54% advanced. State - 82.9%
  • 2010 - 90%, 54% advanced. State - 81%

Elementary schools

Jefferson Elementary School is located at 825 Lions Road, Jefferson Township. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2011, Jefferson Elementary School reported an enrollment of 269 pupils in grades kindergarten through 3rd, with 61 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school is a federally designated Title I school. The school employed 21 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 12:1.[83] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under the No Child Left Behind Act.[84]

In 2011 and 2012, Jefferson Elementary School achieved AYP status.[85]

Moscow Elementary School is located at 851 Church Street, Moscow. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2011, Moscow Elementary School reported an enrollment of 599 pupils in grades kindergarten through 3rd, with 171 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school is a federally designated Title I school. The school employed 42 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 14:1.[88] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Non‐Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[89]

In 2011 and 2012, Moscow Elementary School achieved AYP status.[90]

Special education

In December 2010, the District administration reported that 470 pupils or 14.8% of the district's pupils received Special Education services, with 44.7% of the identified students having a specific learning disability.[93] In December 2009, the District administration reported that 467 pupils or 14.2% of the district's pupils received Special Education services, with 48.6% 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.[94] 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 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 funding and federal Title I funding and competitive grants.[95] 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.[96] Over identification of students, in order to increase state funding, has been an issue in the Commonwealth. Some Pennsylvania public school districts have identified more than 20% of its students as needing special education services, while others have 10% supported through special education.[97] 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.[98] In 2012, the Obama Administration's US Department of Education issued a directive that schools include students with disabilities in extracurricular activities, including sports.[99]

North Pocono School District received a $1,642,944 supplement for special education services in 2010.[100] 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.[101][102] Additionally, the state provides supplemental funding for extraordinarily impacted students. The District must apply for this added funding.

Gifted education

North Pocono School District Administration reported that 54 or 1.65% 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.[103] By law, North Pocono School 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.[104][105]

Budget

Pennsylvania public school districts budget and expend funds according to procedures mandated by the General Assembly and 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.[106]

In 2011, the average teacher salary in North Pocono School District was $48,611 a year, while the cost of the benefits teachers receive was $18,782 per employee, for a total annual average teacher compensation of $67,394.[107] In 2012, North Pocono School District teachers voted to go on strike over a contract dispute.

The North Pocono School Board voted to not fill 14 positions were vacant due to retirements at the end of the 2011-12 school year, saving the district taxpayers over $860,000.[108]

In 2009, North Pocono School District reported employing 250 teachers and administrators with a top salary of $120,000.[109] The teachers have 180 student days and 184 total days in the contract year. The work day is 7 hours 15 minutes which includes a 30-minute duty-free lunch and a daily preparation period. Additionally, the North Pocono School District teachers receive a defined benefit pension, health insurance, professional development reimbursement, 3 paid personal days each year, 10 paid sick days which accumulate, 3 paid bereavement days, sabbatical leave with one half pay and full benefits for one year and other benefits.[110] 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.[111]

Audits In January 2011, the Pennsylvania Auditor General conducted a performance audit of the District. The findings were reported to both the North Pocono School Board and the District’s administration. No improprieties were found.[112]

In 2008, the Pennsylvania Auditor General conducted a special investigation of the North Pocono School District. Findings included: misconduct and financial improprieties by both Dr. Louis V. DeFazio, Superintendent and the North Pocono School Board. Additionally, they were found to have violated of the Pennsylvania Sunshine Act and the Public School Code.[113]

Administration costs North Pocono School District administrative costs per pupil in 2008 was $557.51 per pupil. The lowest administrative cost per pupil in Pennsylvania was $398 per pupil.[114] 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.[115] According to PSBA, the median Superintendent salary rose to over $130,000 in 2011.[116]

Per pupil spending In 2008, North Pocono School District administration reported that per pupil spending was $11,376 which ranked 357th among Pennsylvania's 501 school districts. In 2010 the per pupil spending had increased to $12,921.92.[117] Among the 50 states, Pennsylvania’s total per pupil revenue (including all sources) ranked 11th at $15,023 per student, in 2008-09.[118] In 2007, the Pennsylvania per pupil total expenditures was $12,759.[119] The U.S. Census Bureau reports that Pennsylvania spent $8,191 per pupil in school year year 2000-01.[120]

Reserves In 2008, North Pocono School District reported a balance of $2,522,375.00 in its unreserved-undesignated fund. The unreserved-designated fund balance was reported as zero. [121] In 2010, North Pocono School District Administration reported an increase to $3,084,317 in the unreserved-undesignated fund balance. The District reported $$750,000 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. By law the state limits the total unreserved-undesignated fund balance at 8% of the annual budget for school districts that have budgets over $19 million a year. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, from 2003 to 2010, as a whole, Pennsylvania school districts amassed nearly $3 billion in reserved funds.[122]

Tuition Students who live in the North Pocono 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 North Pocono 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 North Pocono School District's schools. The 2012 tuition rates are Elementary School - $7,625.35, High School - $9,461.50.[123]

North Pocono School District is funded by a combination of: a local earned income tax,[124] a property tax, a real estate transfer tax 0.5%, coupled with substantial funding from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the federal government.[125] 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.[126]

State basic education funding

For the 2012-13 school year, North Pocono School District received $7,966,145 in state Basic Education Funding (BEF).[127] 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 (ABG). North Pocono School District received $161,292 in AGB funding. The state also provided a $544.4 million payment for School Employees’ Social Security and $856 million for School Employees’ Retirement fund called PSERS.[128] 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, North Pocono School District received a $7,803,633 allocation of state Basic Education Funding.[129][130] Additionally, the North Pocono School District received $161,292 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 was a $233,290,000 increase (4.6%) over the enacted State appropriation for 2010-2011.[131] 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.[132] In 2010, North Pocono School District reported that 901 students received free or reduced-price lunches, due to the family meeting the federal poverty level.[133]

In the 2010-11 budget year, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a 5.10% increase in Basic Education Funding for a total of $8,593,935 to North Pocono School District. Among the public school districts in Lackawanna County, the highest increase went to Dunmore School District which got a 11.88% increase. One hundred fifty Pennsylvania school districts received the base 2% increase. The highest increase state-wide in 2010-11, went to Kennett Consolidated School District in Chester County which received a 23.65% increase in state funding.[134] The state's hold harmless policy regarding state basic education funding continued where each public school 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.[135]

In the 2009-2010 budget year, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a 4.99% increase in Basic Education Funding for a total of $8,176,865. Among the public school districts in Lackawanna County, the highest increase went to Scranton School District which got a 6.46% increase 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.[136] 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.[137]

The state Basic Education Funding to North Pocono School District in 2008-09 was $7,788,444.31. In 2007-08, 799 pupils received a free or reduced-price lunch. 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.[138][139]

Accountability Block Grants

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, North Pocono School District applied for and received $437,787 in addition to all other state and federal funding. North Pocono School District used the funding to provide full-day kindergarten to 221 children and increased instructional time for some students.[140][141]

Classrooms for the Future grant

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 to 2009. North Pocono School District received $318,043 in 2006-07. It received $300,000 in 2007-08. Finally, North Pocono School District received $24,308 in 2008-09, for a total funding of $642,351 in Classrooms for the Future grant funding.[142] Among Lackawanna County public school districts the highest award was given to Scranton School District which received $888,647. The largest funding state wide was awarded to Philadelphia City School District in Philadelphia County - $9,409,073. In 2010, Classrooms for the Future funding was curtailed by Governor Rendell due to a massive state financial crisis.

Other grants

North Pocono School District did not participate in: Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection's Environmental Education grants, PA Science Its Elementary grants, Education Assistance Grants, 2012 Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy grant, nor the 21st Century learning grants.

Federal Stimulus grant

North Pocono School District received an extra $2,735,784 in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) - Federal Stimulus money to be used in specific programs like special education and meeting the academic needs of low-income students.[143][144] The funding was limited to the 2009-10 and 2010-2011 school years.[145] 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 grant

North Pocono School District officials did not apply for the federal Race to the Top grant which would have provided nearly one half million dollars in additional federal funding to improve student academic achievement.[146] 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.[147] 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.[148][149][150]

Real estate taxes

Property tax rates in 2012-13 were set by the North Pocono School Board at 125.3700 mills for district residents in Lackawanna County and 19.8900 mills for Wayne County district residents. 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.[151] 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.[152] When a Pennsylvania public school district includes municipalities in two counties, as North Pocono School District does (Lackawanna County and Wayne County) each of which has different rates of property tax assessment, a state board equalizes the tax rates between the counties.[153] 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.[154]

  • 2011-12 - 122.6700 mills for residents in Lackawanna County and 19.8900 mills for Wayne County residents[155]
  • 2010-11 - 120.5100 mills for residents in Lackawanna County and 20.0000 mills for Wayne County residents [156]
  • 2009-10 - 116.1000 mills for residents in Lackawanna County and 19.5000 mills for Wayne County residents [157]
  • 2008-09 - 104.6000 mills for residents in Lackawanna County and 18.1000 mills for Wayne County residents [158]
  • 2007-08 - 93.2000 mills for residents in Lackawanna County and 16.8000 mills for Wayne County residents [159]
  • 2006-07 - 90.2000 mills for residents in Lackawanna County and 18.1000 mills for Wayne County residents [160]
  • 2005-06 - 86.3000 mills for residents in Lackawanna County and 17.9000 mills for Wayne County residents [161]

The average yearly property tax paid by Lackawanna County residents amounts to about 3.4% of their yearly income. Lackawanna County ranked 412th of the 3143 United States counties for property taxes as a percentage of median income. For Wayne County residents, the average property taxes are 3.78% of residents income ranking 287th among United States counties.[162] 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.[163] 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%).[164]

Act 1 Adjusted Index

The Act 1 of 2006 Index regulates the rates at which each school district can raise property taxes in Pennsylvania. Districts are not 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.[165] In June 2011, the Pennsylvania General Assembly eliminated six exceptions to the Act 1 Index.[166] 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.[167][168]

The School District Adjusted Index for the North Pocono School District 2006-2007 through 2011-2012.[169]

For the 2012-13 budget year, North Pocono School Board did not apply for any exceptions to exceed the Act 1 Index. For 2012-13, 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.[172]

For the 2011-12 school year, the North Pocono School Board did not apply for an exception to exceed its Act 1 Index limit. Each year, the North Pocono 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.[173]

According to a state report, for the 2011-12 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.[174]

North Pocono School Board did not apply for any exceptions to exceed the Act 1 index for the budget in 2010-11.[175] For the 2009-10 school budget, North Pocono School Board applied for two exceptions to exceed the Index: Maintenance of Local Tax Revenue and Maintenance of Selected Revenue. The full amount of the request was approved by the PDE.[176] 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.[177]

Extracurriculars

North Pocono School District offers a variety of clubs, activities, an expansive music program, and an extensive, costly sports program. Eligibility for participation is determined by school board policy and in compliance with standards set by the Pennsylvania interscholastic Athletics Association (PIAA).[178][179]

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.[180]

Sports

The District funds:

Middle School Sports

References

External links

  • District web site

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