Otto-Eldred School District

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Otto-Eldred School District
Address
143 Sweitzer Drive
Duke Center, Pennsylvania, McKean County, 16729
United States
Information
School board9 regionally elected members
SuperintendentRobert J. Falk
PrincipalMatthew D. Splain, HS
PrincipalTerry L. Stanley, ES
GradesK-12
Kindergarten64
Grade 151
Grade 246
Grade 353
Grade 443
Grade 548
Grade 650
Grade 760
Grade 855
Grade 941
Grade 1049
Grade 1159
Grade 1260
NewspaperOtto Horn
Website
 
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Otto-Eldred School District
Address
143 Sweitzer Drive
Duke Center, Pennsylvania, McKean County, 16729
United States
Information
School board9 regionally elected members
SuperintendentRobert J. Falk
PrincipalMatthew D. Splain, HS
PrincipalTerry L. Stanley, ES
GradesK-12
Kindergarten64
Grade 151
Grade 246
Grade 353
Grade 443
Grade 548
Grade 650
Grade 760
Grade 855
Grade 941
Grade 1049
Grade 1159
Grade 1260
NewspaperOtto Horn
Website

The Otto-Eldred School District is a diminutive, rural, public school district in McKean County. The school district is named after three of the four municipalites it serves: Eldred, Eldred Township, and Otto Township. Annin Township is also within its boundaries. It encompasses approximately 86 square miles. According to 2000 federal census data, it serves a resident population of 4,493. In 2009, district residents' per capita income was $15,580, while the median family income was $38,393.[1] According to District officials, in school year 2007-08 the Otto-Eldred School District provided basic educational services to 741 pupils through the employment of 60 teachers, 35 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 4 administrators. Otto-Eldred School District received more than $7.3 million in state funding in school year. The district is part of the Seneca Highlands Intermediate Unit 9 which provides services for special education students, curriculum development and teacher training.

Contents

Academic achievement

The Otto-Eldred School District was ranked 315th out of 498 Pennsylvania school district based, in 2011, on five years of student achievement on PSSAs in reading, writing, mathematics and three years of science.[2]

Graduation rate

In 2010, the Pennsylvania Department of Education issued a new, 4 year cohort graduation rate. Otto-Eldred School District's rate was 92% for 2010.[5]

According to traditional graduation rate calculations:

Junior/High school

In 2009 and 2010, the school achieved AYP status.[10]

PSSA Results

';11th Grade Reading'

11th Grade Math:

11th Grade Science:

College remediation: According to a Pennsylvania Department of Education study released in January 2009, 19% of the Otto-Eldred Junior-Senior 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.[13] 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.[14] 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 both high school graduation requirements and towards earning a college degree. Otto-Eldred School District has Dual Enrollment offers an inhouse program.[15] 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.[16] Under the Pennsylvania Transfer and Articulation Agreement, many Pennsylvania colleges and universities accept these credits for students who transfer to their institutions.[17] 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.[18]

For the 2009-10 funding year, the school district received a state grant of $4,346 for the program.[19]

Eighth grade

8th Grade Reading:
  • 2010 - 75% on grade level. State - 82% of 8th graders were on grade level.
  • 2009 - 87%, State - 80.9% [20]
  • 2008 - 74%, State - 78%
8th Grade Math:
  • 2010 - 74% on grade level. State - 75% of 8th graders were on grade level.
  • 2009 - 72%, State - 71%
  • 2008 - 59%, State - 70%
8th Grade Science:

Seventh grade

7th Grade Reading:
  • 2010 - 73% on grade level. State - 73% of 7th graders were on grade level.
  • 2009 - 70%, State - 71%
  • 2008 - 73%, State - 70%
  • 2007 - 61%, State - 66% [21]
7th Grade Math:
  • 2010 - 77% on grade level. State - 78% of 7th graders were on grade level.
  • 2009 - 79%, State - 75%
  • 2008 - 61%, State - 70% [22]
  • 2007 - 65%, State - 67%

Elementary School

The school achieved AYP status in 2010 and 2009.[23] In 2010 the attendance rate was 95%, while in 2009 the attendance rate was 96%.[24]

6th Grade Reading:
  • 2010 - 94% on grade level. State - 68% on grade level.[25]
  • 2009 - 75%, State - 67% [26]
  • 2008 - 79%, State - 67%
  • 2007 - 61%, State - 63%
6th Grade Math:
  • 2010 - 94%, State - 78% on grade level.
  • 2009 - 80%, State - 75%
  • 2008 - 75%, State - 72%
  • 2007 - 74%
5th Grade Reading:
  • 2010 - 89%, State - 64% of 5th graders on grade level.
  • 2009 - 73%, State - 64%
  • 2008 - 69%, State - 61%
  • 2007 - 78%, State - 60%
5th Grade Math:
  • 2010 - 91%, State - 74% of 5th graders on grade level.
  • 2009 - 71%, State - 73%
  • 2008 - 76%, State - 73%
  • 2007 - 87%, State - 71%
4th Grade Reading:
  • 2010 - 93% on grade level. State - 73% on grade level.
  • 2009 - 89%, State - 71%
  • 2008 - 81%, State - 70%
  • 2007 - 67%, State - 60%

4th Grade Math:

  • 2010 - 95% on grade level. State - 84% on grade level.
  • 2009 - 96%, State - 81%
  • 2008 - 88%, State - 79%
  • 2007 - 67%, State - 71%
4th Grade Science
3rd Grade Reading:
  • 2010 - 77% on grade level. State - 75% on grade level.
  • 2009 - 78%, State - 77%
  • 2008 - 80%, State - 77%
  • 2007 - 70%, State - 60%
3rd Grade Math:
  • 2010 - 79% on grade level. State - 84% on grade level.
  • 2009 - 83%, State - 81%
  • 2008 - 82%, State - 80%
  • 2007 - 79%, State - 71%

Special Education

In December 2009, the district administration reported that 127 pupils or 17.7% of the district's pupils received Special Education services.[27][28]

Seeking to comply with state and federal laws, 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.[29] To identify students who may be eligible for special education, 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 Coordinator of Special Education.[30]

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.[31]

Otto-Eldred School District received a $526,078 supplement for special education services in 2010.[32]

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. 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.[33]

Gifted Education

The District Administration reported that 13 or 1.63% 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]

Enrollment

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, there are 679 students enrolled in K-12. There were 70 students in the Class of 2009. The senior class of 2010 has 60 students. Enrollment in Otto-Eldred School District is projected to continue to sharply decline by 2019.[36] The district's administrative costs per pupil in 2008 was $784 per pupil. The lowest administrative cost per pupil in Pennsylvania was $398 per pupil.[37] In a Pennsylvania Legislative Budget and Finance Committee study on school consolidation, 63% of the superintendents that responded expressed agreement that consolidation with another district could help them provide additional academic enrichment opportunities for their students.[38] Consolidation of the administrations with adjacent school districts would achieve substantial administrative cost savings for people in the impacted communities.[39] Governor Edward Rendell asserts that the excessive administrative overhead dollars could be redirected to improve lagging academic achievement, to enrich the academic programs or to substantially reduce property taxes.[40] Consolidation of central administrations into one would not necessitate the closing of any schools.

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. More than 40 percent of elementary schools and more than 60 percent of secondary schools in western Pennsylvania are projected to experience significant enrollment decreases (15 percent or greater).[41]

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. This results in excessive school administration bureaucracy and not enough course diversity.[42] 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.[43]

Budget

In 2007, the average teacher salary in the district was $48,804 for 180 days worked.[44]

In 2009, the district employed 63 teachers. The average teacher salary in the district was $50,511 for 185 days worked. The beginning salary was $37,760, while the highest salary was $109,951.[45] Teachers work an 7 hour 40 minutes day, with one planning period and a paid 30 minute lunch included. Additionally, the teachers receive: a defined benefit pension, health insurance, dental insurance, life insurance, professional development reimbursement, 2 paid personal days, 10 paid sick days which accumulate, 1 day paid leave in the event of death in the family and many other benefits. The district offers an extensive retirement/longevity package which includes payment for unused sick days accumulated in Otto-Eldred School District and $150 per year for years of service. Additionally, teacher can receive a retirement incentive of up to $18,000. Teachers who act as mentors for new employees receive additional pay.[46] According to Rep. Glen Grell, a trustee of the Public School Employees’ Retirement System Board of Trustees, a 40-year educator can retire with a pension equal to 100 percent of their final salary.[47][48]

The district administrative costs per pupil in 2008 was $639 per pupil. The lowest administrative cost per pupil in Pennsylvania was $398 per pupil.[49]

In 2008, per pupil spending at Otto-Eldred School District was $12,376 for each child. This ranked 235th among Pennsylvania's 500 school districts.[50]

In 2008, the Otto-Eldred School District reported an unreserved designated fund balance of $254,800 and a unreserved-undesignated fund balance of $1,769,482.[51]

In April 2011, the Pennsylvania Auditor General conducted a performance audit on the district. The findings were reported to the school board and administration.[52]

The district is funded by a combination of: a local earned income tax, a property tax, a real estate transfer tax, coupled with substantial funding from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the federal government. Grants provide an opportunity to supplement school funding without raising taxes. In Pennsylvania, pension income and Social Security income are exempted from state personal income tax and local earned income tax, regardless of the level of wealth.[53]

State basic education funding

In 2011-12, the district will receive $5,386,586in state Basic Education Funding.[54][55] Additionally, the district will receive $65,341 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.[56]

In 2010, the district reported that 343 pupils received a free or reduced lunch due to their family meeting the federal poverty level.

For the 2010-11 budget year the Otto-Eldred School District received a 3.17% increase in state basic education funding for a total of $5,746,653. The highest increase in state funding, among McKean County school districts, was awarded to Kane Area School District at 4.28% increase. One hundred fifty school districts in Pennsylvania received the 2% base increase for budget year 2010-11. The highest increase in the state was awarded to Kennett Consolidated School District of Chester County which was given a 23.65% increase in state basic education funding.[57]

In the 2009-2010 budget year, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a 3.41% increase in Basic Education funding for a total of $5,570,240. The state Basic Education funding to the district in 2008-09 was $5,386,585.59. For comparison, Governor Edward Rendell gave a 7.46% increase in funding to Bradford Area School District, a 13% increase to Hazleton Area School District and Kane Area School District received a 5.32% increase in state funding. Ninety Pennsylvania school district received a 2% increase in state basic education funding.[58] 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 2008, the district reported that 330 pupils received a free or reduced lunch due to their family meeting the federal poverty level.

Accountability Block Grant

The state provides additional education funding to schools in the form of Accountability Block Grants. The use of these funds is strictly focused on specific state approved uses designed to improve student academic achievement. Bradford Area School District uses its $177,353 to fund paying teachers for new curriculum development, and teacher training. These annual funds are in addition to the state's basic education funding and other federal funding sources.[60] Schools Districts apply each year for Accountability Block Grants.[61] In 2009-10, the state provided $271.4 million dollars in Accountability Block grants $199.5 million went to providing all day kindergartens.[62]

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, Mathematics) and paid for teacher training to optimize the computers use. The program was funded from 2006-2009. Bradford Area School District did not apply in 2006-07 nor in 2007-08. For the 2008-09, school year the district received a final $74,691 for a total funding of $365,176. Of the 501 public school districts in Pennsylvania, 447 of them received Classrooms for the Future grant awards.[63]

Federal Stimulus Grant

The district also received $977,141 in ARRA - Federal Stimulus money to be used in specific programs like special education and meeting the academic needs of low income students.[64]

Race to the Top Grant

School district officials did not apply for the Race to the Top federal grant which would have brought the district up to one million additional federal dollars for improving student academic achievement.[65] The administration, school board and teachers' union prioritized local control over free resources to improve student success.[66] In Pennsylvania, 120 public school districts and 56 charter schools agreed to participate.[67] Pennsylvania was not approved for the grant. The failure of districts to agree to participate was cited as one reason that Pennsylvania was not approved.[68] A substantial property tax increase would be needed to make up for the rejected funding opportunity.

Common Cents state initiative

The Otto-Eldred School District School Board chose to not participate in the Pennsylvania Department of Education Common Cents program. The program called for the state to audit the district, at no cost to local taxpayers, to identify ways the district could save tax dollars.[69] After the review of the information, the district was not required to implement the recommended cost savings changes. The report found multiple opportunities for savings.

Real estate taxes

The Otto-Eldred School Board set property tax rates in 2010-11 for district residents were set at 16.0000 mills.[70] 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. 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. 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.[71]

Act 1 Adjusted index

The Act 1 of 2006 Index regulates the rates at which each school district can raise property taxes in Pennsylvania. Districts are not permitted to raise taxes above that index, unless they allow voters to vote by referendum, or they seek an exception from the Pennsylvania 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.[75] With the 2011 state education budget, the General Assembly voted to end most of the Act 1 exceptions leaving only special education costs and pension costs. The cost of construction projects will go to the voters for approval via ballot referendum.[76]

The School District Adjusted Index for the Otto-Eldred School District 2006-2007 through 2011-2012.[77]

For the 2011-12 school year, the Otto-Eldred School Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed the Act 1 Index. Each year the Otto-Eldred 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.[78]

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.[79] In 2011, the state passed an Education Omnibus Bill which amended Act 1 of 2006 to further limit when school boards can raise taxes above the Act 1 index.[80]

Otto-Eldred School Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed the Act 1 index for the budgets in 2009-10 or in 2010-11.[81][82] 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.[83]

Property tax relief

In 2009, the Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief from gambling for the Otto-Eldred School District was $163 per approved permanent primary residence. In the district, 1156 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. In 2009, 68% of McKean County property owners applied for the property tax relief.[84]

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%).[85]

Extracurriculars

The district offers a variety of clubs, activities and sports.

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.[86]

References

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  36. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education Enrollment and Projections for Otto-Eldred School District, January 2009
  37. ^ Fenton, Jacob. Pennsylvania School District Data: Will School Consolidation Save Money?, The Morning Call, Feb 2009.
  38. ^ Pennsylvania Legislative Budget and Finance Committee Public School Consolidation Study. June 1, 2007
  39. ^ Fenton, Jacob, Administrative Costs for McKean County School Districts 2007-08, The Morning Call, July 2009
  40. ^ 2009-10 Executive Budget Facts Pennsylvania School District Consolidation, Edward Rendell, Governor and Mary Soderberg, Secretary of the Budget. February 2009
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