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Wellsboro Area School District

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Wellsboro Area School District

Wellsboro Area School District
Address
227 Nichols Street
Wellsboro, Pennsylvania, Tioga, 16901
United States
Information
Superintendent Christopher Morral (salary $101,365 in 2012)
Faculty 119 teachers 2010 [1]
Grades K-12
Pupils 1528 pupils in 2010 [2]
Kindergarten 101
Grade 1 105
Grade 2 123
Grade 3 111
Grade 4 106
Grade 5 102
Grade 6 124
Grade 7 114
Grade 8 107
Grade 9 150
Grade 10 124
Grade 11 130
Grade 12 130
Other Enrollment projected to decline to 1431 pupils in 2013-14
Budget $22 million 2012-13 [3]
Tuition for nonresident and charter school students ES - $8,343.38, HS - $9,951.51 [4]
Per pupil Spending $13,365 in 2008
Per pupil Spending $13,939.87 (2010)
Website


The Wellsboro Area School District is a public school district located in central Tioga County. The school serves the borough of Wellsboro and also serves: Middlebury Township, Charleston Township, Delmar Township, Duncan Township, and Shippen Township. Pine Township in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania, which is not connected to the rest of the district, is also served. Wellsboro Area School District encompasses approximately 330 square miles. According to 2000 federal census data, it serves a resident population of 11,689. In 2009, the district residents' per capita income was $17,091, while the median family income was $39,850.[5] Per District officials, in school year 2007-08 the Wellsboro Area School District provided basic educational services to 1,655 pupils through the employment of 134 teachers, 92 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 9 administrators. Wellsboro Area School District received more than $8.5 million in state funding in school year 2007-08.

The district operates four schools: Charlotte Lappla Elementary (K-1), Don Gill Elementary (3 & 4), Rock Butler Middle (5 -8 grades), and Wellsboro Area High Schools (9-12).

Governance

The Wellsboro Area School District is governed by 9 individually elected board members (serve four-year terms), the Pennsylvania State Board of Education, the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the Pennsylvania General Assembly.[6] 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 Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy Alternatives Sunshine Review gave the school board and district administration a "D" 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.[7]

Academic achievement

Wellsboro Area School District was ranked 352nd out of the 498 ranked Pennsylvania school districts in 2012 by the Pittsburgh Business Times. The ranking was based on student academic performance as demonstrated in the last three years of PSSA results in: reading, writing, math and science.[8]

  • 2011 - 307th [9]
  • 2010 - 230th [8]
  • 2009 - 218th
  • 2008 - 218th
  • 2007 - 218th out of 501 districts[10]
District AYP status history

In 2012, Wellsboro Area School District declined to Warning AYP status due to lagging student achievement.[11] In 2011, the 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 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.[12] School District achieved AYP status each year from 2004 to 2009, while in 2003 the District was in Warning status due to lagging student achievement.[13]

Graduation rate

In 2012, the Wellsboro Area School District graduation rate was 83%.[14] In 2011, the graduation rate was 89%.[15] In 2010, the Pennsylvania Department of Education issued a new, 4-year cohort graduation rate. Wellsboro Area School District's rate was 92% for 2010.[16]

  • 2010 - 89% [17]
  • 2009 - 91%
  • 2008 - 95% [18]
  • 2007 - 95% [19]

High school

Wellsboro Area High School is located at 225 Nichols Street, Wellsboro. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, the school reported an enrollment of 487 pupils in grades 9th through 12th, with 129 pupils eligible for a federal free or reduced-price lunch. The school employed 40 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 12:1.[20] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 56 classes were taught by teachers who were rated "Non‐Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[21]

In 2012, Wellsboro Area High School remained in Warning AYP status due to a low graduation rate.[22] In 2011, Wellsboro Area High School declined to Warning level due to low math achievement.[23] In 2010, the High School achieved Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP).

PSSA Results
11th Grade Reading:
  • 2012 - 83% on grade level, (8% below basic). State - 67% of 11th graders are on grade level.[24]
  • 2011 - 71% (11% below basic). State - 69.1% [25]
  • 2010 - 67% (17% below basic). State - 67%.[26]
  • 2009 - 78%, State - 65%[27]
  • 2008 - 68%, State - 65% [28]
  • 2007 - 69%, State - 65% [29]
11th Grade Math:
  • 2012 - 67% on grade level (14% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 59% of 11th graders are on grade level.[30]
  • 2011 - 57% (20% below basic). State - 60.3%
  • 2010 - 63.7%, (19% below basic). State - 59% [31]
  • 2009 - 67.5%, State - 56% [32]
  • 2008 - 69%, State - 55% [33]
  • 2007 - 47%, State - 53%
11th Grade Science:
  • 2012 - 66% on grade level (5% below basic). State - 42% of 11th graders were on grade level.[34]
  • 2011 - 47% (10% below basic). State - 40% [35]
  • 2010 - 36% (18% below basic). State - 39%
  • 2009 - 47%, State - 40%
  • 2008 - 54%, State - 39%

Graduation requirements

The Wellsboro School Board requires students to earn 25 credits to graduate. The following credits are required of all students for graduation: English 4 credits, Social Studies 4 credits, Mathematics 4 credits, Science 4 credits, Arts & Humanities 2 credits, Health 0.5 credit, Physical Education 2 credits, Driver Education .25 credit, Computer 0.5 credit, Career Pathway Electives 3.50 credits and the Graduation project .25 credit.[36]

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.[37][38]

By Pennsylvania School Board regulations, for the graduating class of 2017, students must demonstrate successful completion of secondary level course work in Algebra I, Biology, English Composition, and Literature for which the Keystone Exams serve as the final course exams. Students’ Keystone Exam scores shall count for at least one-third of the final course grade.[39][40][41] 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.[42] 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 Individual Education Plan (IEP).

College remediation

According to a Pennsylvania Department of Education study released in January 2009, 16% of Wellsboro Area 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.[43] 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.[44] 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

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 at their high school. The college credits are offered at a deeply discounted rate. The state offers a small grant to assist students in costs for tuition, fees and books.[45] Under the Pennsylvania Transfer and Articulation Agreement, many Pennsylvania colleges and universities accept these credits for students who transfer to their institutions.[46] For the 2009-10 funding year, the school district received a state grant of $11,588 for the program.

SAT scores

From January to June 2011, 81 Wellsboro students took the SAT exams. The district's Verbal Average Score was 489. The Math average score was 484. The Writing average score was 462.[47] Pennsylvania ranked 40th among state with SAT scores: Verbal - 493, Math - 501, Writing - 479.[48] In the United States 1.65 million students took the exam in 2011. They averaged 497 (out of 800) verbal, 514 math and 489 in writing.[49]

Rock L. Butler Middle School

Rock L Butler Middle School is located at 9 Nichols Street, Wellsboro. The administration reported 477 students enrolled in grades 5th through 8th grade with 163 students eligible for a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school employed 36 teachers yielding a 13:1 student–teacher ratio.[50]

In 2012, Rock L. Butler Middle School remained in School Improvement II status due to lagging reading and math achievement.[51] In 2011, Rock L. Butler Middle School declined to School Improvement II status due to low math achievement.[52] The district reported that 17 core subject classes were taught by teachers that were not highly qualified under No Child Left Behind. Wellsboro Area School District is a Title I eligible and participating district under the No Child Left Behind Act, parents may contact their child’s school to determine which professional employees are, by definition, highly qualified. Due to the low student achievement, the district was required to notify parents that they could transfer their child to another district middle school that was achieving AYP.[53]

In 2010, the school was in "Making Progress: School Improvement Level 1". The administration was required to write a school improvement plan, make it public and submit it to the Pennsylvania Department of Education. The school was in School Improvement I due to chronic, low student achievement in 2009.[54] In 2010 and 2009 the attendance rate was 95%.[55] In 2011, the school board revised the attendance policy to permit 10 days of absence without a doctor's note. Previously the policy had permitted 20 sick days without a note.[56]

8th Grade Science:
  • 2012 - 62% on grade level (11% below basic). State - 59% of 8th graders were on grade level.
  • 2011 - 59% (17% below basic). State – 58.3%
  • 2010 - 62% (19% below basic). State - 57%
  • 2009 - 64%, State - 54%
  • 2008 - 59%, State - 52% [62]

Don Gill Elementary School

Don Gill Elementary School is located at 10 Sherman Street, Wellsboro. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, the school reported an enrollment of 358 pupils in grades kindergarten through 4th, with 142 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school employed 25 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 14:1.[64] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 45 classes were taught by teachers who were rated "Non‐Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.

In 2011 and 2012, Don Gill Elementary School achieved AYP status.[65] In 2010, the school was in Warning status due to not making AYP under No Child Left Behind. In 2009, the school achieved AYP.[66] The attendance rate in 2010 and 2009 was 95%.[67]

4th Grade Science:
  • 2012 - 86%, (2% below basic). State - 82%
  • 2011 - 86%, (2% below basic). State - 82.9%
  • 2010 - 84%, State - 81%
  • 2009 - 87%, State - 83%
  • 2008 - 89%, State - 81%

Charlotte Lappla Elementary School

Charlotte Lappla Elementary School is located at 32 Meade Street, Wellsboro. Provides kindergarten and 1st grade. In 2010, there were 213 pupils and 15 teachers. Eighty one pupils qualified for a federal free lunch or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty.[73]

Wellness policy

Wellsboro Area School Board established a district wellness policy in 2006 - Policy 246.[74] 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 hat are aligned with the The Pennsylvania Department of Education required the district to submit a copy of the policy for its approval.

Special education

In December 2010, Wellsboro Area School District reported that 15.9% of the students received Special Education services, with 48% of identified students having a specific learning disability. In December 2008, the district reported that 15% of the students received special education services.[76] The district currently employs 16 certified special education teachers. The district also contracts for speech support, occupational therapy, physical therapy, vision support and music therapy.[77]

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 .[78] 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.[79][80]

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.[81] 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.[82] The state requires each district to have a three-year special education plan to meet the unique needs of its special education students.[83] 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.[84]

Wellsboro Area School District received a $925,949 supplement for special education services in 2010.[85] 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.[86] 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.[86][87]

Gifted education

The District Administration reported that 80 students or 5.08% of its students were gifted in 2009.[88] 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.[89][90]

School safety and bullying

The school district administration reported there were zero incidents of bullying in the district in 2009. There were 8 incidents involving local police.[91]

Budget

In 2011, the District employed 131 teachers with an average teacher salary in Wellsboro Area School District was $59,964 a year, while the cost of the benefits teachers receive was $16,913 per employee, for a total annual average teacher compensation of $72,267.76.[92] According to a study conducted at the American Enterprise Institute, in 2011, public school teachers’ total compensation is roughly 50 percent higher than they would likely receive in the private sector. The study found that the most generous benefits that teachers receive are not accounted for in many studies of compensation, including: pension, retiree health benefits and job security.[93]

In 2009, Wellsboro Area School District reported that it employed 130 teachers with a salary range of $38,428 to $101,000.[94] The teachers also receive a benefits package which includes: a defined benefit pension, health insurance, life insurance, reimbursement for college credits, 10 paid sick days (which accumulate), 3 paid personal days, and paid bereavement leave of absence. The teachers receive extra duty compensation and payment for work beyond the regular school day and school year. The district also offers a retirement incentive to teachers of $1,000 to $10,000. The district gives the union 6 paid days to use for conducting union business.[95]

In 2007, the Wellsboro Area School District employed 119 teachers and the average teacher salary in the district was $51,718 for 180 days worked.[96] In 2009, salaries for 115 professional staff range between $38,428 to $91,000. Fifty two teachers earned over $60,000 in 2009. The superintendent earned $101,000.[97] The superintendent also receives an extensive benefits package including: health insurance, life insurance, the taxpayer pays for conferences, dues, up to $500/month to rent for one year and $6,000 for moving and a defined benefit pension.[98]

The district administrative costs per pupil were $922 in 2008. The lowest administrative cost per pupil in Pennsylvania was $398 per pupil.[99] This was 91st out of 500 school districts for administrative spending.

The district ranked 144th in Pennsylvania for per pupil spending at $13,365 in 2008.[100] In 2010, the per pupil spending had increased to $13,816.89 per child.

In 2009, the district reported having an unreserved-undesignated fund balance of $1,710,155.00.[101]

The Pennsylvania Auditor General conducted a performance audit of the school district in January 2010. It was noted that district personnel should improve controls over remote access to its computers.[102]

The district conducts an annual audit. The reports are posted in the district's website after review by the school board.[103]

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. By Pennsylvania law, pension income and social security income are exempt from Pennsylvania personal income tax and from local earned income tax, regardless of the individual's level of wealth.[104]

State basic education funding

For the 2012-13 school year, the District received $5,788,868 in state funding.[105] The Governor's Executive Budget for 2012-2013 includes $9.34 billion for kindergarten through 12th grade public education, including $5.4 billion in basic education funding, which is an increase of $49 million over the 2011-12 budget. The state also provides $100 million for the Accountability Block grant. The state will also provide $544.4 million for School Employees’ Social Security and $856 million for School Employees’ Retirement fund called PSERS. [106] 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, Wellsboro Area School District received a $5,697,891 allocation, of state Basic Education Funding.[107][108] Additionally, the School District received $90,978 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.[109] 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.[110] In 2010, the district reported that 584 students received free or reduced-price lunches, due to the family meeting the federal poverty level.[111]

For the 2010-2011 school year, the state provided Wellsboro Area School District a 2% increase in state basic education funding for $6,087,259. Among Tioga County public school districts, the highest increase went to Southern Tioga School District which received a 3.23% increase. In the state the highest increase went to Kennett Consolidated School District in Chester County which was given a 23.65% increase in state funding.[112]

In the 2009-2010 budget year the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a 4.74% increase in Basic Education Funding for a total of $5,967,902. The state Basic Education funding to the district in 2008-09 was $5,697,891.20. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 679 students received free or reduced-price lunches due to low family income in the 2007-2008 school year.[113] The district also received supplemental funding for: Title I (federal funding for low-income students), for district size, a poverty supplement from the Commonwealth and more. In Pennsylvania, the highest state funding increase was 22% to Muhlenberg School District.[114] 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 given each February.[115]

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, and before or after school tutoring assistance to struggling students. For 2010-11 the district applied for and received $246,936 in addition to all other state and federal funding. The district used the funding to provide full-day kindergarten for the past 5 years.[116][117]

Classrooms for the Future

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. Wellsboro Area School District was denied funding in 2006-07. In 2007-08 the district received $161,987. The district received $45,413 in 2008-09.[118]

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 Wellsboro Area School District did not apply for funding.[119]

Federal Stimulus

Wellsboro Area School District received $1,314,561 in ARRA - Federal Stimulus money to be used in specific programs like special education and meeting the academic needs of low-income students.[120] This was in addition to a regular annual state and federal funding. The funding was limited to the 2009-10 and 2010-2011 school years.[121] 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 Grant

Wellsboro School District officials did not apply for the Race to the Top federal grant which would have brought the district hundreds of thousands to one million additional federal dollars for improving student academic achievement.[122] Participation required the administration, the school board and the local teachers' union to sign an agreement to prioritize improving student academic success.[123] In Pennsylvania, 120 public school districts and 56 charter schools agreed to participate.[124] 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.[125]

School Improvement Grant

In the summer of 2011, the district administration was again notified that the middle school qualified for School Improvement Grant funding, from the federal government (over $9.9 million available). The middle school was eligible for funding due to chronic low achievement. The grant stipulates the funds be used for improving student achievement using one of four federally dictated strategies. The strategies are: transformation, turnaround, restart with new faculty and administration or closure of failing schools.[126] The Pennsylvania Education Secretary awarded $66 million to reform Pennsylvania's lowest-achieving schools in August 2011. The funding is for three years.[127]

For the 2010-11 school year, Wellsboro Area School District administration did not apply for a School Improvement Grant. It was eligible for funding due to the chronic, low achievement at the middle school.[128] In 2011-12 the District was also eligible for School Improvement Grant funding due to the School Improvement II status of the middle school. The Administration did not participate in the funding opportunity.

In 2010, Pennsylvania received $141 million from the federal –US Department of Education, to turn around its worst-performing schools. The funds were disbursed via a competitive grant program.[129] The Pennsylvania Department of Education has identified 200 Pennsylvania schools as "persistently lowest-achieving," making them eligible for this special funding.[130] Pennsylvania required low performing schools to apply or provide documentation about why they had not applied. The funds must be used, by the district, to turn around schools in one of four ways: school closure, restart - close the school and reopen it as a charter school. The other two options involve firing the principal. One would require at least half the faculty in a chronically poor performing school be dismissed. The second involves intensive teacher training coupled with strong curriculum revision or a longer school day.[131]

Wellness fitness grant

Wellsboro Area School District was awarded a $342,457 federal grant in 2010, for its Wellsboro Fitness for Life program to reform and develop physical education (PE) and nutrition programs that are in alignment with the Pennsylvania Academic Standards for Health, Safety and PE and to address gaps identified in the School Health Index self-assessment. The level of reform required for the district to go from sports-center PE to a fitness-centered focus with nutrition elements requires a system wide, coordinated approach to include fitness and nutrition assessments, equipment, curriculum, professional development, evaluations, and extensive community partnership support. The primary goal of the program is to help students achieve lifelong fitness and health habits, the school district plans a comprehensive, integrated program providing state-of-the-art fitness equipment, consistent fitness assessments, student fitness planning and portfolio development, daily physical activities meeting all student interests, and providing nutritional information, activities, with active monitoring of individual dietary improvement plans; improved curriculum; and staff development opportunities.[132]

Common Cents state initiative

The Wellsboro Area 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.[133] After the review of the information, the district was not required to implement the recommended cost savings changes.

Real estate taxes

In 2012, Wellsboro Area School Board set real estate taxes at 16.7545 mils for residents in Tioga County. District residents living in Lycoming County had property taxes set at 13.6498 mills.[134] A mill is $1 of tax for every $1,000 of a property's assessed value. 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.[135] 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. 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.[136] In 2010, miscalculations by the board were widespread in the Commonwealth and adversely impacted funding for many school districts.[137]

  • 2011-12: 16.3806 mills in Tioga County. Lycoming County 14.2833 mills.[138]
  • 2010-11: 16.0827 mills in Tioga County. Lycoming County 14.2752 mills.
  • 2009-10: 15.4430 mills in Tioga County. Lycoming County 14.6757 mills.[139]
  • 2008-09: 15.4435 mills in Tioga County. Lycoming County 14.6984 mills.[140]
  • 2007-08 - 15.0420 mills in Tioga County. Lycoming County 13.8570 mills.[141]

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.[142] The average yearly property tax paid by Tioga County residents amounts to about 3.44% of their yearly income. Tioga County is ranked 401st of the 3143 United States counties for property taxes as a percentage of median income.[143]

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

The School District Adjusted Index for the Wellsboro Area School District 2006-2007 through 2011-2012.[148]

For the 2012-13 budget year, Wellsboro Area School Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed the Act 1 Index. For 2012-2013, 274 Pennsylvania public 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. 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.[150]

For the 2011-12 school year, the Wellsboro Area School Board applied for several exceptions to exceed the Act 1 Index. This included: Pension costs, Maintenance of Selected Revenue and Maintenance of Local Tax Revenue. Each year the Wellsboro Area School Board has the option of adopting either 1) a resolution in January certifying they will not increase taxes above their index or 2) a preliminary budget in February. A school district adopting the resolution may not apply for referendum exceptions or ask voters for a tax increase above the inflation index. A specific timeline for these decisions is publisher each year by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.[151]

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.[152] In June 2011, the Commonwealth's General Assembly passed an Omnibus Education Bill House Bill 1326 which repealed several Act 1 Index exceptions except: pension costs, special education costs and building costs that have already been approved by voter referendum.[153]

In 2010, the Wellsboro Area School Board did not apply for an exception to exceed the index.[154] 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.[155]

Property tax Relief

In 2011, the property tax relief was set at $119 for 3,174 eligible properties that applied. In 2009, the Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief from gambling, for the Wellsboro Area School District, was $123 per approved permanent primary residence. In the district, 3088 property owners applied for the tax relief. 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 and must be the primary residence of the owner. Farmers can qualify for both the homestead exemption and the farmstead exemption.[156]

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, so people who make substantially more than $35,000 may still qualify for a rebate. Individuals must apply annually for the rebate.

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%).[157]

Enrollment

Enrollment in Wellsboro Area School District is projected to decline by 100 students by 2015. Over the next 10 years, rural Pennsylvania school enrollment is projected to decrease 8 percent. The most significant enrollment decline is projected to be in western Pennsylvania, where rural school districts may have a 16 percent decline.[158] As the enrollment declines, per pupil administrative costs of the schools will continue to rise. A study of Pennsylvania public school spending, conducted by Standard and Poor's, examined the consolidation of Wellsboro Area School Administration with neighboring Galeton Area School District. The study found that consolidation of the school's central administration with Galeton Area school district would achieve a $3 million administrative cost savings in the new district.[159]

In March 2011, the Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants released a report finding that the state would save hundreds of millions of tax dollars, by cutting the number of school administrations in half through consolidation, with no impact on programs offered to students.[160]

Pennsylvania has one of the highest numbers of pupil school districts in the nation. In Pennsylvania, 80% of the school districts serve student populations under 5,000, and 40% serve less than 2,000. Less than 95 of Pennsylvania's 501 school districts have enrollment below 1250 students, in 2007.[161] This results in excessive school administration bureaucracy and not enough course diversity.[162] In a survey of 88 superintendents of small districts, 42% of the 49 respondents stated that they thought consolidation would save money without closing any schools.[163]

Extracurriculars

The district offers an extensive extracurricular program, including clubs, arts and a costly interscholastic athletics. Eligibility to participate is determine by school board policy. The sports programs are through the Pennsylvania Heartland Athletic Conference and the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association.[164] The Pennsylvania Heartland Athletic Conference is a voluntary association of 25 PIAA High Schools within the central Pennsylvania region.

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.[165]

Sports

The District funds:

Middle School Sports

According to PIAA directory July 2012 [166]

References

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