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Valley View School District (Pennsylvania)

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Valley View School District (Pennsylvania)

Valley View School District
Address
1 Columbus Drive
Archbald, Pennsylvania, Lackawanna, 18403
United States
Information
School board 9 elected members
Superintendent Donald Kanavy
Grades K-12
Age range 5-18
Kindergarten 215
Grade 1 169
Grade 2 209
Grade 3 192
Grade 4 197
Grade 5 206
Grade 6 200
Grade 7 218
Grade 8 221
Grade 9 214
Grade 10 213
Grade 11 225
Grade 12 202
Other Enrollment projected to be 2700 in 2019[1]
Mascot Cougar Here
Team name Valley View Cougars
Website

The Valley View School District is the public school district in Lackawanna County, located in Archbald, Pennsylvania. The school serves the towns of Archbald, Blakely, Jessup, Peckville, and the Eynon section of Archbald borough, which are suburbs of Scranton. Valley View School District encompasses approximately 27 square miles. In 2009, the school districts' per capita income was $18,247, while the median family income was $48,966 a year.[2] According to 2004 local census data, it serves a resident population of 17,715. Per school district officials, the Valley View School District provided basic educational services to 2,675 pupils. It employed 182 teachers, 81 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 10 administrators for the 2007–08 school year.

The school operates an elementary center for grades K-2, an intermediate school for grades 3–5, a middle school for grades 6–8, and a high school for grades 9–12.

Academic achievement

Valley View School District was ranked 198th out of 498 Pennsylvania School Districts in 2011 by the Pittsburgh Business Times. The ranking was based on five years of student academic performance based on the PSSA's on reading, mathematics and writing as well as three years of science achievement.[3]

  • 2010 – 244th
  • 2009 – 267th
  • 2008 – 261st
  • 2007 – 215th

In 2009, the academic achievement of the students at Valley View School District was in the 68th percentile among Pennsylvania's 500 public school districts. Scale (0–99; 100 is state best).[4]

In 2008, the combined SAT score of the students in Valley View School District was 939. in 2007 it had been 941. Lackawanna County's average SAT score was 954 in 2008. This was a 12 point increase over the 2007 average. Among Lackawanna County school districts, the highest SAT score average was achieved at Abington Heights School District at 1007.[5]

Graduation rate

In 2010, the Pennsylvania Department of Education issued a new, 4-year cohort graduation rate. Valley View School District's rate was 96% for 2010.[6]

  • 2010 – 99%[7]
  • 2009 – 98%
  • 2008 – 97%[8]
  • 2007 – 97%[9]

High school

Valley View High School has been accredited by the Middle States Commission on Secondary Schools.

PSSA Results
11th Grade Reading
  • 2010 – 76% on grade level (10% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 66% of 11th graders on grade level.[10]
  • 2009 – 68%, State – 65%[11]
  • 2008 – 66%. State – 65%[12]
  • 2007 – 63%, State – 65%[13]
11th Grade Math
  • 2010 – 73% on grade level (16% below basic). State – 59% of 11th graders are on grade level.[14]
  • 2009 – 65%, State – 56%[15]
  • 2008 – 57%, State – 56%[16]
  • 2007 – 62%, State – 53%
11th Grade Science
  • 2010 – 44% on grade level. State – 39% of 11th graders were on grade level.
  • 2009 – 37%, State – 40%
  • 2008 – 29%, State – 39%
College remediation

According to a Pennsylvania Department of Education study released in January 2009, 25% of Valley View 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.[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.

Graduation requirements

The Valley View School Board has determined that students must earn 28 credits to graduate, including: English 4 credits, Social Studies 4 credits, Math 3 credits, Science 3 credits, Health & Physical Education 2.8 credits, Practical Arts &/or Humanities 2 credits and 8 electives.[19]

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.[20]

By Pennsylvania School Board regulations, for the graduating class of 2016, students must demonstrate successful completion of secondary level course work in Algebra I, Biology, English Composition, and Literature for which the Keystone Exams serve as the final course exams. Students’ Keystone Exam scores shall count for at least one-third of the final course grade.[21]

Dual enrollment

Valley View School District offers a dual enrollment program. Dual Enrollment is a state education program which allows high school students to attend Pennsylvania colleges and universities while remaining enrolled at their high school. The credits students earn count towards both: high school graduation and earn college credits. Colleges offer the credits at a deeply discounted rate. Students have full access to their high school's extracurricular programs and participate in the high school's graduation event. Using Pennsylvania's PATRAC system, students identify PA colleges and universities that have agreed to accept these credits.[22]

Valley View School District received a state grant of $12,413 to assist students with the cost of books, tuition and fees.[23]

Middle school

The attendance rate was reported as 94% in 2010 and 2009.[24] The school achieved AYP status in both 2009 and 2010.[25]

8th Grade Science
  • 2010 – 63% on grade level (27% advanced). State – 57%.
  • 2009 – 74% (32% advanced), State – 54%[29]
  • 2008 – 62%, State – 52%[30]

Special education

In December 2009, the district administration reported that 390 pupils or 15% of the district's pupils received Special Education services.[31]

In 2010, the state of Pennsylvania provided $1,026,815,000 for Special Education services. The funds were distributed to districts based on a state policy which estimates that 16% of the district's pupils are receiving 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.[32]

Valley View School District received a $1,298,455 supplement for special education services in 2010.[33]

Gifted education

The District Administration reported that 93 or 3.56% of its students were gifted in 2009.[34] 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.[35] Through the strategic planning process, the Superintendent must ensure that Valley View School District provides a continuum of program and service options to meet the needs of all mentally gifted students for enrichment, acceleration, or both.[36]

Bullying

The Valley View School District administration reported there were no incidents of bullying in the district in 2009.[1]

Wellness policy

Valley View School Board established a district wellness policy in June 2010 – Policy 246.[39] The policy deals with nutritious meals served at school, the control of access to some foods and beverages during school hours, age appropriate nutrition education for all students, and physical education for students K-12. The policy is in response to state mandates and federal legislation (P.L. 108 – 265). The law dictates that each school district participating in a program authorized by the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act (42 U.S.C. 1751 et seq) or the Child Nutrition Act of 1966 (42 U.S.C. 1771 et seq) "shall establish a local school wellness policy by School Year 2006."

The legislation placed the responsibility of developing a wellness policy at the local level so the individual needs of each district can be addressed. According to the requirements for the Local Wellness Policy, school districts must set goals for nutrition education, physical activity, campus food provision, and other school-based activities designed to promote student wellness. Additionally, districts were required to involve a broad group of individuals in policy development and to have a plan for measuring policy implementation. Districts were offered a choice of levels of implementation for limiting or prohibiting low nutrition foods on the school campus. In final implementation these regulations prohibit some foods and beverages on the school campus.[40] The Pennsylvania Department of Education required the district to submit a copy of the policy for its approval.[41] This includes classroom party guidelines from the Pennsylvania Department of Education.[42]

Budget

In 2009, the district reports employing over 190 teachers with a starting salary of $37,967 for 185 days worked.[43] The median salary is $49,699 and the highest salary was $125,000. Teachers are paid at an hourly rate for work that is required after regular school hours ($22/hour in 2013). An extra stipend is paid to department head teachers. The work day is 7 hours and 15 minutes. Additionally, Valley View School District teachers receive a defined benefit pension, health insurance, fully paid prescription plan, dental insurance, vision insurance, professional development reimbursement, 2 paid personal days, and 10 sick days, life insurance and other benefits. Teachers are paid $45 each for unused sick days upon resigning. A retirement incentive is a payment of up to 80% of one year base salary.[44] According to State Rep. Glen Grell, a trustee of the Pennsylvania Public School Employees’ Retirement System Board, a 40-year educator can retire with a pension equal to 100 percent of their final salary.[45]

The district's average teacher salary, in 2007 was $47,555, when the district employed 158 teachers.[46] 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 United States for average teacher compensation.[47][48]

Valley View School District administration costs per pupil in 2008 was $522.12 per pupil. The district was ranked 489th out of 500 in Pennsylvania for administration spending. The lowest administrative cost per pupil in Pennsylvania was $398 per pupil.[49] In the Spring of 2011, the Board approved using taxpayer dollars to send three school board members to a national school board convention in California.[50]

In 2008, Valley View School District administration reported spending $8,586 per pupil. This spending ranked lowest of all school districts in the commonwealth.[51]

Reserves

In 2009, the district reported a $4,525,590 in an unreserved-undesignated fund balance. The designated fund balance was reported as zero.[52]

In January 2010, the Pennsylvania Auditor General conducted a performance audit of the district. Findings were reported to the administration and school board.[53]

The district is funded by a combination of: a local 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. Grants can 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 wealth.[54]

State basic education funding

In 2011–12, the district will receive $7,314,326 in state Basic Education Funding.[55][56] Additionally, the district will receive $147,409 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. 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.[57] Districts experienced a reduction in funding due to the loss of federal stimulus funding which ended in 2011.

In 2010, the district reported that 726 pupils received a free or reduced-price lunch due to the family meeting the federal poverty level.

For 2010–11 the Valley View School District received a 6.65% increase in state Basic Education Funding resulting in a $8,058,799 payment.[58] Dunmore School District received 11.88% increase which was the highest increase in BEF in Lackawanna County. Kennett Consolidated School District in Chester County received the highest increase in the state at 23.65% increase in funding for the 2010–11 school year. One hundred fifty school districts received the base 2% increase in 2010–11. The amount of increase each school district receives is determined by the Governor and the Secretary of Education through the allocation set in the state budget proposal made in February each year.[59]

In the 2009–2010 budget year the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a 7.80% increase in Basic Education funding for a total of $7,556,453. The state Basic Education funding to the district in 2008–09 was $7,009,395. The district also received supplemental funding for English language learners, Title 1 federal funding for low-income students, for district size, a poverty supplement from the commonwealth and more.[60] Scranton School District received the highest increase in Lackawanna County a 9.46% increase, for the 2009–10 school year. Among the 500 school districts in Pennsylvania, Muhlenberg School District in Berks County received the highest with a 22.31% increase in funding.[61]

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 578 district students received free or reduced-price lunches due to low family income in the 2007–2008 school year.[62]

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 the Valley View School District applied for and received $400,103 in addition to all other state and federal funding. The district used the funding to provide full-day kindergarten for the 6th year, to provide training for teachers for the 5th year, to add teacher training coaches and to increase instructional time.[63][64]

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 2006–2009. Valley View School District applied for funding in the final year of the program. It received $138,210 in 2008–09. Of the 501 public school districts in Pennsylvania, 447 of them received Classrooms for the Future grant awards.[65]

Education Assistance grant

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 the Valley View School District did not apply for funding.[66]

Federal Stimulus grant

The district received an extra $1,969,380 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 is for the 2009–10 and 2010–11 school years.

Race to the Top grant

School district officials did not apply to participate in the Race to the Top federal grant which would have brought the district over one million in additional federal dollars for improving student academic achievement.[68] Participation required the administration, the school board and the local teachers' union to sign an agreement to prioritize improving student academic success.[69] In Pennsylvania, 120 public school districts and 56 charter schools agreed to participate.[70] Pennsylvania was not approved for the grant. According to then Governor Rendell, failure of districts to agree to participate was cited as one reason that Pennsylvania was not approved.[71]

Common Cents state initiative

The Valley View School Board did 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.[72] After the review of the information, the district was not required to implement the recommended cost savings changes.

Real estate taxes

The school board set property tax rates in 2011–2012 at 95.5000 mills.[73] 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. 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 (Local Tax Enabling Act), which are around 15% of revenues for school districts.[74] 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.

  • 2010–11 – 95.5000 mills.[75]
  • 2009–10 – 95.5000 mills.[76]
  • 2008–09 – 95.5000 mills.[77]

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 authorized 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.[78]

The School District Adjusted Index for the Valley View School District 2006–2007 through 2011–2012.[79]

  • 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%

For the 2011–12 school year, the Valley View School Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed the Act 1 Index. Each year, the Valley View 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 publisher each year by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.[80] With the 2011 state education budget, the General Assembly repealed most of the Act 1 tax increase exceptions leaving only special education costs, pension costs and prior voter approved (ballot referendum) debt for construction. The cost of construction projects in the future will go to the voters for approval via ballot referendum. Districts can no longer raise property taxes to cover increasing health insurance costs for employees.[81]

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.[82] The Valley View School Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed the Act 1 index for the budgets in 2010–11.[83] 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.[84]

Property tax relief

In 2011 the property tax relief, for Valley View School District residents, was set at $174 for 5,156 approved properties. In 2009, the Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief from gambling for the Valley View School District was $184 per approved permanent primary residence. In the district, 4,872 property owners applied for the tax relief.[85] The tax relief was subtracted from the total annual school property on the individual's 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 and must be the primary residence of the owner. Farmers can qualify for both the homestead exemption and the farmstead exemption.[86] Among Lackawanna County school districts, Scranton School District property owners received the highest relief at $334. Pennsylvania awarded the highest property tax relief to residents of the Chester-Upland School District in Delaware County at $632 per homestead and farmstead in 2010.[87] This was the second 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 individuals who have income substantially more than $35,000, may still qualify for a rebate. Individuals must apply annually for the rebate. This can be taken in addition to Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief.[88]

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%).[89]

Extracurriculars

The students at Valley View are incredibly talented at many extracurriculars, including art, athletics, and music. Eligibility to participate is determined in school board policies.[90][91][92]

The district offers a variety of clubs, activities and sports. Eligibility to participate is set by school board policies. 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.[93][94][95]

Art

Some of school's students are talented at art, and are involved in an Art Explorations program for the advanced students. Some are recipients of the Scholastic Award.

Music

The school's students perform musicals such as Grease, The Sound of Music, and recently became the first school in America to do the official, never been released production of The Phantom of the Opera. They also go to the Music in the Parks at Dorney Park for band and chorus (including the advanced chorus Vivace!), every year and so far have never lost. Also, they go to Walt Disney World every two years to compete in a music competition (for band only). The school features an advanced chorus called Vivace!. They go on a trip to Ohio every year.

References

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