Allegheny Valley School District

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Allegheny Valley School District
Map of Allegheny County Pennsylvania School Districts.png
Address
300 Pearl Avenue
Cheswick, Pennsylvania, Allegheny County, 15024-1066
United States
Information
School board9 elected members
SuperintendentDr. Cheryl Griffith
School number(724) 274-5300
AdministratorMr Brad Rau, Business Manager
PrincipalJoshua Weaver, JSHS
PrincipalJennifer Vecchio, CUES
PrincipalGregory Heavner, APS
Staff117 non teaching staff members
Faculty71 teachers[1]
GradesK–12
Number of students1,075 pupils (2011), 1,107 pupils (2010)[2]
Kindergarten74
Grade 173
Grade 272
Grade 371
Grade 483
Grade 584
Grade 693
Grade 773
Grade 890
Grade 9102
Grade 1096
Grade 1194
Grade 12102
Student to teacher ratio15.78
Budget$19.3 million [3]
Website
 
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Allegheny Valley School District
Map of Allegheny County Pennsylvania School Districts.png
Address
300 Pearl Avenue
Cheswick, Pennsylvania, Allegheny County, 15024-1066
United States
Information
School board9 elected members
SuperintendentDr. Cheryl Griffith
School number(724) 274-5300
AdministratorMr Brad Rau, Business Manager
PrincipalJoshua Weaver, JSHS
PrincipalJennifer Vecchio, CUES
PrincipalGregory Heavner, APS
Staff117 non teaching staff members
Faculty71 teachers[1]
GradesK–12
Number of students1,075 pupils (2011), 1,107 pupils (2010)[2]
Kindergarten74
Grade 173
Grade 272
Grade 371
Grade 483
Grade 584
Grade 693
Grade 773
Grade 890
Grade 9102
Grade 1096
Grade 1194
Grade 12102
Student to teacher ratio15.78
Budget$19.3 million [3]
Website

The Allegheny Valley School District is a small, suburban, public school district located in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. It covers Cheswick and Springdale boroughs and Harmar and Springdale townships in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. The district encompasses approximately 10 square miles (26 km2). According to 2000 federal census data, it serves a resident population of 10,771 people. In 2009, the district residents’ per capita income was $22,071, while the median family income was $45,562.[4] In the Commonwealth, the median family income was $49,501[5] and the United States median family income was $49,445, in 2010.[6] According to District officials, in school year 2007-08 the Allegheny Valley School District provided basic educational services to 1,193 pupils. It employed 92 teachers, 79 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 11 administrators. Allegheny Valley School District received more than $4.2 million in state funding in school year 2007-08.

Allegheny Valley School District operates: Acmetonia Primary School (K–3), Colfax Upper Elementary School (4–6), and Springdale Jr/Sr High (7–12) School.

In 2011, the district agreed to participate in a pilot program to develop a new way to evaluate teachers that, in part, takes into account student achievement. Several Cumberland County school districts are participating.[7] The pilot program had 104 K-12 entities, including: nine career and technical centers, nine charter schools and nine intermediate units.

Governance[edit]

The 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.[8] 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.[9]

Academic achievement[edit]

Allegheny Valley School District was ranked 242nd out of 498 Pennsylvania school districts, in 2011, by the Pittsburgh Business Times. The ranking was based on five years of student academic achievement as demonstrated on the PSSAs for: math, reading, writing and three years of science.[10]

Western Pennsylvania School District Ranking - out of 105 western PA school districts

Graduation rate[edit]

in 2011, the graduation rate was 100%.[17] In 2010, the Pennsylvania Department of Education issued a new, 4-year cohort graduation rate. Allegheny Valley School District's rate was 95% for 2010.[18]

Former calculation graduation rate

Springdale Senior High School[edit]

According to the Pittsburgh Business Times, in 2010, the 11th grade ranked 61st of 123 western Pennsylvania high schools for academic achievement in reading, math and science. In 2011 and 2010, the school achieved AYP status.[22]

PSSA Results
11th Grade Reading
11th Grade Math:
11th Grade Science:

College Remediation[edit]

According to a Pennsylvania Department of Education study released in January 2009, 33% of Allegheny Valley School District graduates required remediation in mathematics and or reading before they were prepared to take college level courses in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education or community colleges.[31] 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.[32] 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[edit]

The high school offers a dual enrollment program. This state program permits high school students to take courses, at local higher education institutions, to earn college credits. Students remain enrolled at their high school. The courses count towards high school graduation requirements and towards earning a college degree. The students continue to have full access to activities and programs at their high school. The college credits are offered at a deeply discounted rate. The state offers a small grant to assist students in costs for tuition, fees and books.[33] Under the Pennsylvania Transfer and Articulation Agreement, many Pennsylvania colleges and universities accept these credits for students who transfer to their institutions.[34] The Pennsylvania College Credit Transfer System reported in 2009, that students saved nearly $35.4 million by having their transferred credits count towards a degree under the new system.[35]

In the 2010-11 school year, the school received a $2,183.00 grant. For the 2009–10 funding year, the school district received a state grant of $1,920 for the program.[36]

SAT scores[edit]

From January to June 2011, 67 Allegheny Valley School District students took the SAT exams. The district's Verbal Average Score was 465. The Math average score was 483. The Writing average score was 421.[37] Pennsylvania ranked 40th among states with SAT scores: Verbal - 493, Math - 501, Writing - 479.[38] 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.[39]

Graduation requirements[edit]

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.[40]

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.[41][42][43] 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.[44] Individual student, school or district reports were not made public, although they were reported to district officials by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

Springdale Junior High School[edit]

In 2009, the 8th grade was ranked 139th out of 141 western Pennsylvania schools based on three years of results in PSSAs in: reading, math writing and one year of science.[45] (Includes schools in: Allegheny County, Beaver County, Butler County, Fayette County, Westmoreland County, and Washington County)

PSSA Results:
8th Grade Reading

8th Grade Math:

8th Grade Science:

Colfax Upper Elementary School[edit]

Colfax Upper Elementary School is located at 430 Colfax Street, Springdale. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2011, the School reported an enrollment of 243 pupils in grades 4th through 6th, with 81 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced price lunch due to family poverty. The school is not a federally designated Title I school. The Colfax Upper Elementary School employed 18.5 teachers yielding a student-teacher ratio of 13:1.[52] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[53]

In 2011 and 2012, Colfax Upper Elementary School achieved AYP status.[54] In 2012, only 80% of the students were reading on grade level in grades 4th through 6th. In math, 87% of the students in 4th through 6th grades were on grade level and 58% scored advanced. In 4th grade science, 94% of the pupils were on grade level, with 64% achieving advanced.[55]

Budget[edit]

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.[56]

In 2011, the average teacher salary in Allegheny Valley School District was $62,609.09 a year, while the cost of the benefits teachers received was $18,716 per employee, for a total annual average teacher compensation of $81,325.10.[57] The District employed 100 teachers with an median salary of $61,923 and a top salary of $120,000.[58]

In 2009, Allegheny Valley School District reported employing 105 teachers and administrators with a median salary of $58,156 and a top salary of $120,000.[59] The teacher’s work day is 7 hours 30 minutes which includes a 30-minute duty-free lunch period and a daily preparation period. There are 195 days in the contract year (183 student days). Teachers who work beyond the regular school day are paid at an hourly rate of $36 per hour. Additionally, the teachers receive a defined benefit pension, health insurance, dental insurance, vision insurance, professional development reimbursement, 4 paid personal days which accumulate as sick days, 10 paid sick days which infinitely accumulate, 3 paid bereavement days, life insurance and other benefits.[60] Upon retirement, teachers receive a bonus payment based on their accumulated, unused sick days with a maximum of $12,000. In Pennsylvania, the PSERS retirement system provides teachers, who retire with 40 years of service, a pension equal to the average of their last three years of employment.

In 2007, Allegheny Valley School District employed 79 teachers. The average teacher salary in the district was $55,836 for 180 days worked.[61] 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.[62]

Per pupil spending Allegheny Valley School District administrative costs in 2008 were $1,056.04 per pupil. The lowest administrative cost per pupil in Pennsylvania was $398 per pupil.[63] Allegheny Valley School District ranked 50th out of 500 Pennsylvania school districts for administrative spending. The Pennsylvania School Boards Association keeps statistics on salaries of public school district employees in Pennsylvania. According to the association, the average salary for a superintendent for the 2007-08 school year was $122,165.[64] In 2008, Gabe Ziccarelli, Superintendent, received $146,050.[65] Superintendents and administrators receive a benefit package commensurate with that offered to the district's teachers' union. Elementary School Principal, Janice Nuzzo was paid $104,315.

In 2008, the Allegheny Valley School District administration reported that per pupil spending was $16,009, which ranked 40th among Pennsylvania's then 501 public school districts. In 2010, Allegheny Valley School District’s per pupil spending had increased to $19,340.45, which ranked 28th in Pennsylvania.[66] In 2011, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s per pupil spending was $13,467, ranking 6th in the United States.[67] In 2007, the Pennsylvania per pupil total expenditures was reported as $12,759.[68]

The U.S. Census Bureau reported that Pennsylvania spent $8,191 per pupil in school year 2000-01.[69] In 2007, the Pennsylvania per pupil total expenditures was reported as $12,759.[70] Among the fifty states, Pennsylvania’s total per pupil revenue (including all sources) ranked 11th at $15,023 per student, in 2008-09.[71] Pennsylvania’s total revenue per pupil rose to $16,186 ranking 9th in the nation in 2011.[72]

Reserves In 2008, Allegheny Valley School District reported an unreserved designated fund balance of $148,180.00 and an unreserved-undesignated fund balance of $1,323,015.00.[73] In 2010, Allegheny Valley School District Administration reported an increase to $1,561,369.00 in the unreserved-undesignated fund balance. In 2013, the Administration reported the reserves had increased to $4,292,050.[74] 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. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, from 2003 to 2010, as a whole, Pennsylvania school districts amassed nearly $3 billion in reserved funds.[75] By 2013, reserves held by Pennsylvania public school districts, as a whole, had increased to over $3.8 billion.[76]

State Audit In November 2010, the Pennsylvania Auditor General conducted a performance audit of the district. The findings were reported to the administration and school board.[77]

Tuition Students who live in the 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 Allegheny Valley 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 District's schools. The 2012 tuition rates are Elementary School - $11,280.63, High School - $12,753.18.[78]

Allegheny Valley School District is funded by a combination of: a local earned income tax 0.5%, a property tax, a real estate transfer tax 0.5%, grants, per capita tax coupled with substantial funding from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the federal government.[79] Grants can provide an opportunity to supplement school funding without raising local taxes. 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.[80] The average Pennsylvania public school teacher pension in 2011 exceeds $60,000 a year plus they receive federal Social Security benefits: both are free of Pennsylvania state income tax and local income tax which funds local public schools.[81]

State basic education funding[edit]

For the 2013-14 school year, the Allegheny Valley School District received a 1.8% increase or $2,317,213 in Pennsylvania Basic Education Funding. This is $41,974 more than its 2012-13 state BEF to the District. Additionally, Allegheny Valley School District received $41,247 in Accountability Block Grant funding to focus on academic achievement and level funding for special education services. Among the public school districts in Allegheny County, South Fayette Township School District received the highest percentage increase in BEF at 5.5%. The District has the option of applying for several other state and federal grants to increase revenues. The Commonwealth’s budget increased Basic Education Funding statewide by $123 million to over $5.5 billion. Most of Pennsylvania’s 500 public school districts received an increase of Basic Education Funding in a range of 0.9% to 4%. Eight public school districts received exceptionally high funding increases of 10% to 16%. The highest increase in state funding was awarded to Austin Area School District which received a 22.5% increase in Basic Education Funding.[82] The state funded the PSERS (Pennsylvania school employee pension fund) with $1,017,000,000 and Social Security payments for school employees of $495 million.[83]

For the 2012-13 school year, the Allegheny Valley School District received $2,275,239.[84] 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 (ABG) program. Allegheny Valley School District received $41,247 in Accountability Block Grant funding to focus on academic achievement. The state also provided a $544.4 million payment for School Employees’ Social Security and $856 million for School Employees’ Retirement fund called PSERS.[85] This amount was 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, Allegheny Valley School District received $2,656,423 in state Basic Education Funding.[86] Additionally, Allegheny Valley School District received $44,585 in Accountability Block Grant funding. The highest increase in state basic education funding was awarded to Duquesne City School District of Allegheny County, which got a 49% increase in state funding for 2011-12. Allegheny Valley School District also received $41,247 in Accountability Block Grant funding from the state and had the opportunity to apply for several other state funded education grants.

For the 2010-11 budget year, Allegheny Valley School District received the base 2% increase in state basic education funding for a total of $2,367,159. In Allegheny County, the highest BEF increase went to South Fayette Township School District which received an 11.32% increase in state funding. One hundred fifty school districts in Pennsylvania received the 2% base increase for budget year 2010-11. The highest increase in the state was given to Kennett Consolidated School District of Chester County which was given a 23.65% increase in state funding.[87] Fifteen (15) Pennsylvania public school districts received a BEF increase of greater than 10%. The state's hold harmless policy regarding state basic education funding continued where each district received at least the same amount as it received the prior school year, even 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 public school districts at a far greater rate than others.[88]

In the 2009–10 budget year, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a 2% increase in Basic Education Funding to Allegheny Valley School District, for a total of $2,320,744. This was the lowest percentage point increase, in Basic Education Funding, for the school districts in Allegheny County and the state. Ninety school districts in Pennsylvania received the minimum 2% increase in 2009. Four Allegheny County school districts received increases of over 6% in Basic Education Funding. Additionally, Governor Edward Rendell gave 15 Pennsylvania school districts education funding increases of over 10% in 2009. The highest funding increase went to Muhlenberg School District in Berks County which received a 22.31% increase in 2009-10.[89] The amount of increase each school district receives is determined by the Governor Edward G. Rendell and the Secretary of Education, Gerald Zahorchak through the allocation set in the state budget proposal made in February each year.[90] According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 445 students received free or reduced-price lunches due to low family income in the 2009–10 school year.[91]

The state Basic Education Funding to Allegheny Valley School District in 2008-09 was $2,275,238.77. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, at Allegheny Valley School District, 331 students received free or reduced-price lunches due to low family income in the 2007–08 school year.[92]

Accountability Block Grants[edit]

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, Allegheny Valley School District applied for and received $111,953 in addition to all other state and federal funding. The district uses the funding to reduce class size K-3rd grade.[93][94]

Classrooms for the Future grant[edit]

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. The Allegheny Valley School District did not apply to participate in 2006-07, in 2007-08 nor in 2008-09.[95] Among the public school districts in Allegheny County the highest award was given to Highlands School District which received $835,286. The highest funding statewide was awarded to Philadelphia City School District in Philadelphia County - $9,409,073. The grant program was discontinued by Governor Edward Rendell as part of the 2009-10 state budget.

Other grants[edit]

Allegheny Valley School District did not participate in: Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection's Environmental Education annual grants, PA Science Its Elementary grants (discontinued effective with 2009-10 budget by Governor Rendell), Education Assistance Grants, 2012 Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy grant, nor the federal 21st Century Learning grants.

Federal Stimulus grant[edit]

Allegheny Valley School District received an extra $630,933 in ARRA – Federal Stimulus money to be used in specific programs like special education and meeting the academic needs of low-income students.[96][97] The funding was limited to the 2009-10 and 2010-2011 school years.[98] 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[edit]

Allegheny Valley School District officials applied for the Race to the Top federal grant. When approved for the grant, the district will receive hundreds of thousands of additional federal dollars for improving student academic achievement.[99] 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.[100] Pennsylvania was not approved in the first round of the grant. The failure of districts to agree to participate was cited as one reason that Pennsylvania was not approved. A second round of state RTTT application judging occurred in June 2010.[101]

STEAM grant[edit]

In 2013, Allegheny Valley School District received a $20,000 grant from the Claude Worthington Benedum and Grable foundations. The STEAM funds are to be used to support science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics programs. The curriculum is to involve students in kindergarten through fifth grade.[102] School administration were required to apply for the grants. Recipients include 24 schools located in: Allegheny County, Beaver County, Butler County, Fayette County, Greene County, Lawrence County, Mercer County, Washington County and Westmoreland County. Allegheny Valley School District will use the funds for Rachel's Neighborhood Garden programs.[103]

Enrollment and Consolidation[edit]

In 2009, a proposal was made by David Wassell, a prominent resident and leader in Allegheny County, to consolidate Allegheny County school districts to save tax dollars and improve student services. The proposal is that Allegheny Valley School District join with Deer Lakes School District.[104]

Governor Edward Rendell proposed that consolidation with adjacent school districts, in each county, would achieve substantial cost savings. The savings could be redirected to improving lagging reading and science achievement, to enriching the academic programs or to reducing residents' property taxes.[105]

Pennsylvania has one of the highest numbers of school districts in the nation. In Pennsylvania, 80% of the school districts serve student populations under 5,000, and 40% serve less than 2,000. Less than 95 of Pennsylvania's 501 school districts have enrollment below 1250 students, in 2007.[106] This results in excessive school administration bureaucracy and not enough course diversity.[107] In a survey of 88 superintendents of small districts, 42% of the respondents stated that they thought consolidation would save money without closing any schools.[108]

Real estate taxes[edit]

In 2013, the Allegheny Valley School Board set the real estate tax rate at 19.94 mills. The rate declined as a part of a mandated change due to the county reassessment.[109] A mill is $1 of tax for every $1,000 of a property's assessed value. Irregular property reassessments has become a serious issue in the commonwealth as it creates a significant disparity in taxation within a community and across a region. The property reassesment in Allegheny County has been a contentious process for several years. 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 all government property (local, state and federal). 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.[110] When a Pennsylvania public school district includes municipalities in two counties, each of which has different rates of property tax assessment, a state board equalizes the tax rates between the counties.[111] 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.[112]

The average yearly property tax paid by Allegheny County residents amounts to about 4.09% of their yearly income. Allegheny County ranked 209th out of the 3143 United States counties for property taxes as a percentage of median income.[119] 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.[120] 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%).[121]

Act 1 Adjusted index[edit]

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 2010-2011 school year is 2.9 percent, but it 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.[122]

In June 2011, the Pennsylvania General Assembly passed legislation eliminating six of the exceptions to the Act 1 Index.[123] 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.[124][125] The legislature also froze the payroll amount public school districts use to calculate the pension-plan exception at the 2012 payroll levels. Further increases in payroll cannot be used to raise the district’s exception for pension payments.

The School District Adjusted Index for the Allegheny Valley School District 2006-2007 through 2010-2011.[126]

For the 2013-14 budget year, Allegheny Valley School Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed their Act 1 Index limit. For the school budget year 2013-14, 311 Pennsylvania public school districts adopted a resolution certifying that tax rates would not be increased above their index. Another 171 school districts adopted a preliminary budget leaving open the option of exceeded the Index limit. For the exception for pension costs, 89 school districts received approval to exceed the Index in full while others received a partial approval of their request. For special education costs, 75 districts received approval to exceed their tax limit. For the pension costs exception, 169 school districts received approval to exceed the Index. Eleven Pennsylvania public school districts received an approval for grandfathered construction debts.[130]

For the 2012-13 budget year, Allegheny Valley School Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed the Act 1 Index. For 2012-2013, 274 school districts adopted a resolution certifying that tax rates would not be increased above their index; 223 school districts adopted a preliminary budget leaving open the option of exceeded the Index limit. For the exception for pension costs, 194 school districts received approval to exceed the Index. For special education costs, 129 districts received approval to exceed the tax limit.[131]

For the 2011-12 school year, Allegheny Valley School Board did not apply for an exception to exceed the Act 1 Index. Each year, the School Board has the option of adopting either: 1) a resolution in January certifying they will not increase taxes above their index or 2) a preliminary budget in February. A school district adopting the resolution may not apply for referendum exceptions or ask voters for a tax increase above the inflation index.

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.[132]

The Allegheny Valley School Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed the Act 1 index for the budgets in 2009-10 or in 2010-11.[133][134]

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.[135]

Property tax relief[edit]

In 2011, the Property tax relief from gaming, for Allegheny Valley School District homesteads was $129. In 2010, property tax relief was set at $130 for the 3,049 approved homesteads.[136] In 2009, the Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief from gambling for the Allegheny Valley School District was $133 per approved permanent primary residence. In the district, 2971 property owners applied for the property tax relief. In 2010 and 2009, the highest property tax relief in Allegheny County goes to Duquesne City School District at $348. The highest property tax relief, among Pennsylvania school districts, went to the residents of Chester Upland School District of Delaware County who received $632 per approved homestead in 2010. This was the second year they received this amount.[137] The relief was subtracted from the total annual school property tax bill. Property owners apply for the relief through the county Treasurer's office. Farmers can qualify for a farmstead exemption on building used for agricultural purposes. The farm must be at least 10 contiguous acres (40,000 m2) and must be the primary residence of the owner. Farmers can qualify for both the homestead exemption and the farmstead exemption. In Allegheny County, 60% of eligible property owners applied for property tax relief in 2009.[138]

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. This can be taken in addition to Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief.

Wellness policy[edit]

Allegheny Valley School Board established a district wellness policy in 2006 - Policy 246.[139] 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 and physical education that are aligned with the Pennsylvania State Academic Standards for Health, Safety and Physical Education, 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.[140]

The Pennsylvania Department of Education required the district to submit a copy of the policy for approval.

Extracurriculars[edit]

The district offers a variety of clubs, activities and sports. Eligibility for participation is determined by school board policy.[141]

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.[142]

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External links[edit]