Palmyra Area School District

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Palmyra Area School District
Address
1125 Park Drive
Palmyra, Pennsylvania, Lebanon, 17078
United States
Information
School board9 elected members
SuperintendentDr. Larry Schmidt
SpecialistLinda Bare, Supervisor of Special Education
PrincipalBenjamin Ruby, HS
PrincipalAnne Hoover, MS
PrincipalDonna Kuntz, PSE
PrincipalDr. Jacy Clugston-Hess, FRES
PrincipalJames Hale, NES
Vice principalPaul Steigerwald, HS
Vice principalDaryl Reisinger, HS
Vice principalAnthony Hoffman, MS
Vice principalPatricia Bachman NES
GradesK-12
Grade 1230
Grade 2233
Grade 3267
Grade 4264
Grade 5240
Grade 6257
Grade 7253
Grade 8229
Grade 9206
Grade 10278
Grade 11239
Grade 12241
Grade 13241
Website
 
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Palmyra Area School District
Address
1125 Park Drive
Palmyra, Pennsylvania, Lebanon, 17078
United States
Information
School board9 elected members
SuperintendentDr. Larry Schmidt
SpecialistLinda Bare, Supervisor of Special Education
PrincipalBenjamin Ruby, HS
PrincipalAnne Hoover, MS
PrincipalDonna Kuntz, PSE
PrincipalDr. Jacy Clugston-Hess, FRES
PrincipalJames Hale, NES
Vice principalPaul Steigerwald, HS
Vice principalDaryl Reisinger, HS
Vice principalAnthony Hoffman, MS
Vice principalPatricia Bachman NES
GradesK-12
Grade 1230
Grade 2233
Grade 3267
Grade 4264
Grade 5240
Grade 6257
Grade 7253
Grade 8229
Grade 9206
Grade 10278
Grade 11239
Grade 12241
Grade 13241
Website

The Palmyra Area School District is the public school system in southwest Lebanon County, Pennsylvania.

The district serves the residents of Palmyra Borough, North Londonderry Township, South Londonderry Township, Campbelltown, Lawn, and Mount Gretna. This suburban district encompasses approximately 40 square miles (100 km2). According to 2008 local census data, it serves a resident population of 20,487. In 2009, the district residents’ per capita income was $24,082, while the median family income was $58,016.[2] In the Commonwealth, the median family income was $49,501[3] and the United States median family income was $49,445, in 2010.[4]

According to District officials, in school year 2007-08 the Palmyra Area School District provided basic educational services to 3,247 pupils. It employed of 235 teachers, 155 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 15 administrators.[5]

Palmyra Area School District consists of:

Contents

Governance

The 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

Palmyra Area School District was ranked 169th out of 498 Pennsylvania school districts in 2011 by the Pittsburgh Business Times. The ranking was based on student academic achievement based on five years of results on the PSSAs for: reading, writing, math and three years of science.[8]

In 2009, the district ranked in the 67th percentile for student academic achievement among Pennsylvania's 500 school districts.[11]

Graduation Rate

In 2011, the graduation rate was 93%.[12] In 2010, the Pennsylvania Department of Education issued a new, 4 year cohort graduation rate. Palmyra Area Senior High School's rate was 88% for 2010.[13]

According to traditional graduation rate calculations

2006 - 93%[17]

High school

Palmyra Area Senior High School is located at 1125 Park Drive, Palmyra. In 2010 the school had 1,015 students grades 9th through 12th with 133 students receiving the federal free lunch due to family poverty. There are 63 teachers.[18] In 2011, the Palmyra Area Senior HIgh School declined to Warning status due to lagging student achievement in both math and reading. In 2010, the school achieved AYP.[19]

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, 31% of Palmyra Area 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.[30] 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.[31] 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 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.[32] Under the Pennsylvania Transfer and Articulation Agreement, many Pennsylvania colleges and universities accept these credits for students who transfer to their institutions.[33] For the 2009-10 funding year, the school district received a state grant of $9,016 for the program.[34]

SAT Scores

From January to June 2011, 155 Palmyra Area High School students took the SAT exams. The district's Verbal Average Score was 493. The Math average score was 514. The Writing average score was 469.[35] Pennsylvania ranked 40th among state with SAT scores: Verbal - 493, Math - 501, Writing - 479.[36] 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.[37]

Graduation requirements

The Palmyra Area School Board has determined that beginning in 2012, 35 credits will be required for graduation in 2015.[38]

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.[39]

Beginning with the class of 2015, students must take the Keystone Exams in Literature and Algebra 1.[40]

Middle School

Palmyra Area Middle School is located at 50 W Cherry Street, Palmyra, PA. In 2010 there were 705 students grades 6th through 8th grade. One hundred eight pupils received a federal free lunch due to family poverty. The school has 49 teachers.[41] In 2011 and 2010, the school achieved AYP status.[42]

8th Grade Reading:
8th Grade Math:
8th Grade Science:
7th Grade Reading:
  • 2011 - 84% on grade level (3% below basic). State – 76%
  • 2010 - 76%, (9% below basic). State - 73%
  • 2009 - 73%, State - 71%[47]
  • 2008 - 76%, State - 70%
  • 2007 - 70%, State - 66%[48]
7th Grade Math:
  • 2011 - 85% on grade level 57% advanced. State - 78.6%
  • 2010 - 81%, 52% advanced. State - 77%
  • 2009 - 80%, State - 75%
  • 2008 - 73%, State - 70%
  • 2007 - 80%, State - 67%
6th Grade Reading:
  • 2011 - 79% on grade level (5% below basic). State - 69.9%
  • 2010 - 71%, (11% below basic). State - 68%
  • 2009 - 74%, State - 67%
  • 2008 - 69%, State - 67%
  • 2007 - 68%, State - 63%
6th Grade Math:
  • 2011 - 90% on grade level 64% advanced. State - 78.8%
  • 2010 - 83%, 55% advanced. State - 78%
  • 2009 - 83%, State - 75%
  • 2008 - 76%, State - 72%
  • 2007 - 75%, State - 69%

Palmyra Area Middle School Report Card 2005 [1]

Forge Road Elementary School

Forge Road Elementary School is located at 400 South Forge Road, Palmyra, PA. In 2010 there were 403 students grades kindergarten through 5th grade. Thirty eight pupils received a federal free lunch due to family poverty. The school has 26 teachers.[49] The school achieved AYP status in 2010 and 2011.[50]

PSSA Results
5th Grade Reading:
  • 2011 - 77% on grade level (8% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 67.3% of 5th graders are on grade level.[51]
  • 2010 - 83% (8% below basic). State - 64%
  • 2009 - 84%, State - 64%
  • 2008 - 74%, State - 61%[52]
5th Grade Math:
  • 2011 - 82% on grade level (5% below basic). State - 74%
  • 2010 - 85% (4% below basic). State - 74%
  • 2009 - 79%, State - 73%
  • 2008 - 80%, State - 73%

4th Grade Reading:

  • 2011 - 64% (11% below basic). State – 73.3%
  • 2010 - 69% (13% below basic). State - 72%
  • 2009 - 91%, State - 72%
  • 2008 - 88%, State - 70%

4th Grade Math:

  • 2011 - 75% (9% below basic), State – 85.3%
  • 2010 - 88% (3% below basic), State - 84%
  • 2009 - 91%, State - 81%
  • 2008 - 86%, State - 79%

4th Grade Science:

3rd Grade Reading:

  • 2011 - 87%, (4% below basic). State – 77%
  • 2010 - 84%, (3% below basic). State - 75%
  • 2009 - 86%, State - 77%
  • 2008 - 95%, State - 77%

3rd Grade Math:

  • 2011 - 85%, (3% below basic), State – 83%
  • 2010 - 83%, (1% below basic). State - 84%
  • 2009 - 83%. State - 81%
  • 2008 - 90%, State - 80%

Pine Street Elementary School

Pine Street Elementary School is located at 50 W Pine Street, Palmyra. In 2010, there were 509 students grades kindergarten through 5th grade. Eighty one pupils received a federal free lunch due to family poverty. The school has 32 teachers.[53] In 2011 and 2010, Pine Street Elementary School achieved AYP status.[54]

5th Grade Reading:

  • 2011 - 74% on grade level (5% below basic). State - 67.3%[55]
  • 2010 - 83% (6% below basic). State - 64%
  • 2009 - 70%, State - 64%
  • 2008 - 59%, State - 61%[56]

5th Grade Math:

  • 2011 - 86% on grade level (4% below basic). State - 74%
  • 2010 - 85% (5% below basic) State - 74%
  • 2009 - 80%, State - 73%
  • 2008 - 74%, State - 73%

4th Grade Reading:

  • 2011 - 74% (5% below basic), State – 73%
  • 2010 - 73% (6% below basic). State - 72%
  • 2009 - 80%, State - 72%
  • 2008 - 70%, State - 70%

4th Grade Math:

  • 2011 - 86% (4% below basic), State – 85%
  • 2010 - 88% (5% below basic). State - 81%
  • 2009 - 89%, State - 81%
  • 2008 - 78%, State - 79%

4th Grade Science:

3rd Grade Reading:

  • 2011 - 88%, (8% below basic), State – 77%
  • 2010 - 84%, (9% below basic) State - 75%
  • 2009 - 82%, State - 77%
  • 2008 - 78%, State - 77%

3rd Grade Math:

  • 2011 - 91%, (5% below basic). State – 83%
  • 2010 - 83%, (1% below basic). State - 84%
  • 2009 - 85%, State - 81%
  • 2008 - 80%, State - 80%

Northside Elementary School

Northside Elementary School is located at 301 E Spruce Street, Palmyra. In 2010, there were 613 students grades kindergarten through 5th grade. One hundred five pupils received a federal free or reduced price lunch due to family poverty. The school has 42 teachers.[57]In 2010 and 2011, the school achieved AYP status.[58]

5th Grade Reading:

  • 2011 - 80% on grade level (2% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 67.3% of 5th graders are on grade level.[59]
  • 2010 - 64% (13% below basic). State - 64%
  • 2009 - 66%, State - 64%[60]
  • 2008 - 59%, State - 61%[61]

5th Grade Math:

  • 2011 - 82% on grade level (1% below basic). State - 74%
  • 2010 - 75% (% below basic). State - 74%
  • 2009 - 74%, State - 73%
  • 2008 - 67%, State - 73%

4th Grade Reading:

  • 2011 - 76% (9% below basic), State – 73.3%
  • 2010 - 87% (7% below basic). State - 72%
  • 2009 - 74%, State - 72%
  • 2008 - 70%, State - 70%

4th Grade Math:

  • 2011 - 80% (7% below basic), State – 85.3%
  • 2010 - 95% (1% below basic). State - 84%
  • 2009 - 80%, State - 81%
  • 2008 - 82%, State - 79%

4th Grade Science:

3rd Grade Reading:

  • 2011 - 86%, (7% below basic), State – 77%
  • 2010 - 74% (13% below basic). State - 75%
  • 2009 - 84%, State - 77%
  • 2008 - 83%, State - 77%

3rd Grade Math:

  • 2011 - 89%, (4% below basic), State – 83%
  • 2010 - 81%, (3% below basic). State - 84%
  • 2009 - 85%, State - 81%
  • 2008 - 83%, State - 80%

Special Education

In December 2008, the district reported that 428 pupils or 13.5% were receiving special education services.[62][63] Palmyra Area School District provides a wide spectrum of special education services. Services and programs available within the District include learning support, speech/language support, secondary life skills support, occupational therapy, physical therapy, vision, adaptive physical education, ESL/LEP, job training, and alternative education programs at the secondary level. The District contracts with Intermediate Unit 13 to provide classes at various schools in Lebanon County to meet the educational needs of students requiring: life skills support, emotional support, sensory support, physical/MDS support, autistic support, basic occupational skills and transition/school-to-work support. Developmental delays are screened for beginning as early as age 3 by IU13 Early Intervention services.Parents request an evaluation for services in writing. The district is required to conduct child find activities for children who may be eligible for services via Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.[64]

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 Department of Special Education.

The IDEA 2004 requires each school entity to publish a notice to parents, in newspapers or other media, including the student handbook and website regarding the availability of screening and intervention services and how to access them.

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.[65]

Palmyra Area School District received a $1,282,613 supplement for special education services in 2010.[66]

Gifted Education

The District Administration reported that 131 or 4.04% of its students were gifted in 2009.[67] By law, the district must provide mentally gifted programs at all grade levels. The primary emphasis is on enrichment and acceleration of the regular education curriculum through a push in model with the gifted instructor in the classroom with the regular instructor. This approach permits such specialized instructional strategies as tiered assignments, curriculum compacting, flexible grouping, learning stations, independent projects and independent contracts. Students identified as gifted attending the High School have access to honors and advanced placement courses, and dual enrollment with local colleges. 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.[68]

Bullying policy

In 2009, the administrative reported there was one incident of bullying in the district.[69][70]

The Palmyra Area School Board adopted a policy on December 11, 2008 which prohibits bullying by district students and the faculty. The policy defines bullying and cyberbullying.[71] The Board directs that complaints of bullying shall be investigated promptly, and corrective action shall be taken when allegations are verified. No reprisals or retaliation shall occur as a result of good faith reports of bullying. The board expects staff members to be responsible to maintain an educational environment free from all forms of bullying. All Pennsylvania schools are required to have an anti-bullying policy incorporated into their Code of Student Conduct. The policy must identify disciplinary actions for bullying and designate a school staff person to receive complaints of bullying. The policy must be available on the school's website and posted in every classroom. All Pennsylvania public schools must provide a copy of its anti-bullying policy to the Office for Safe Schools every year, and shall review their policy every three years. Additionally, the district must conduct an annual review of that policy with students.[72] The Center for Schools and Communities works in partnership with the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime & Delinquency and the Pennsylvania Department of Education to assist schools and communities as they research, select and implement bullying prevention programs and initiatives.[73]

Education standards relating to student safety and antiharassment programs are described in the 10.3. Safety and Injury Prevention in the Pennsylvania Academic Standards for Health, Safety and Physical Education.[74]

Budget

In 2009, the district reported employing 336 teachers and administrators with a salary range of $38,835 to $133,903.[75]

In 2007, the district employed 196 teachers. The average teacher salary in the district was $48,932 for 180 days worked.[76] 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.[77] Additionally, the teachers receive a defined benefit pension, health insurance, professional development reimbursement, paid personal days, 10 paid sick days, a retirement bonus and other benefits.[78] According to Rep. Glen Grell, a trustee of the state teacher retirement fund, a 40-year educator can retire with a pension equal to 100 percent of their final salary.[79]

Palmyra Area School District administrative costs per pupil were $556.07 in 2008. The administrative spending totaled $1,787,218.66. The lowest administrative cost per pupil in Pennsylvania was $398 per pupil.[80]

The district administration reported that per pupil spending in 2008 was $10,483 which ranked 440th in the state's 501 school districts.[81]

Reserves - In 2008, the district reported $1,968,992.00 in a unreserved-undesignated fund balance. The designated fund balance was repoted as $19,747.00.[82]

In 2008, the district reported Total Expenditures of $34,462,806.58. Of that $21,830,221.90 was in Actual Instructional Expense.[83] The district is funded by a combination of local taxes coupled with substantial funding from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the federal government. The Pennsylvania Auditor General regularly audits the school district. The reports are public information and are posted online at the Auditor General's website.[84]

The school board levies the following taxes: a property tax, a local earned income tax and a real estate transfer tax 0,50%. By Pennsylvania law, pension income and social security income are exempted from both state personal income tax and local earned income regardless of the level of wealth.[85]

State basic education funding

In 2011-12, the district received a $5,757,714, allocation, of state Basic Education Funding.[86][87] Additionally, the School District received $115,826 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.[88] 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.[89] In 2010, the district reported that 443 students received free or reduced price lunches, due to the family meeting the federal poverty level.[90] For the 2010-11 budget year, Palmyra Area School District was allotted a 5.30% increase in Basic Education Funding for a total of $6,327,236. Of the six school districts in Lebanon County, Lebanon School District received the highest a 14.46% increase. One hundred fifty Pennsylvania school districts received the base 2% increase. The highest increase in 2010-11 went to Kennett Consolidated School District in Chester County which received a 23.65% increase in state funding.[91] The amount of increase each school district receives is set by the Governor and the Secretary of Education as a part of the state budget proposal given each February.[92]

In the 2009-2010 budget year, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a 6.67% increase in Basic Education funding for a total of $6,008,988. This was a higher increase, in Basic Education Funding, than most other school districts in Lebanon County received with the exception of Lebanon School District which got an 11.28% increase in BEF. In Pennsylvania, 15 school districts received BEF increases that exceeded 10%. The state Basic Education funding to the district in 2008-09 was $5,633,274.05. Muhlenberg School District in Berks County received the highest with a 22.31% increase in funding.[93]

Accountability Block Grants

Beginning in 2004-2005, the state launched the Accountability Block Grant school funding. This program has provided $1.5 billion to Pennsylvania’s school districts. The Accountability Block Grant program requires that its taxpayer dollars are focused on specific interventions that are most likely to increase student academic achievement. These interventions include: teacher training, All Day Kindergarten, lower class size K-3rd grade, literacy and math coaching programs that provide teachers with individualized job-embedded professional development to improve their instruction, before or after school tutoring assistance to struggling students. For 2010-11 the Palmyra Area School District applied for and received $314,380, in addition to all other state and federal funding. The district used the funding to provide full day kindergarten for the 7th year, to provide lower class sizes K-3rd grade, and to pay for teacher trainings.[94][95]

Classrooms for the Future grant

The Classroom for the Future state program provided districts with hundreds of thousands of extra state funding to buy laptop computers for each core curriculum high school class (English, Science, History, Math) and paid for teacher training to optimize the computers use. The program was funded from 2006-2009. Palmyra Area School District did not apply for funding in 2006-07. In 2007-08 the district received $247,966. For the 2008-09, school year the district received $45,413. Of the 501 public school districts in Pennsylvania, 447 of them received Classrooms for the Future grant awards.[96]

Federal Stimulus Funding

The district received an extra $1,424,329 in ARRA - Federal Stimulus money to be used in specific programs like special education and meeting the academic needs of low income students.[97]

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 311 students qualified for free or reduced lunch due to low family income in 2008.[98]

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.[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 Race to the Top application judging will occur in June 2010.[101]

Environmental Education Grant

The Environmental Education Grant Program was established by the Environmental Education Act of 1993, which mandates that 5 percent of all pollution fines and penalties collected annually by the Department of Environmental Protection be set aside for environmental education. In 2010, Palmyra Area School District was awarded $3000 to coordinate Watershed Awareness Day for fourth grade students with hands-on water-related activities.[102]

Common Cents state initiative

The Palmyra 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.[103] After the review of the information, the district was not required to implement the recommended cost savings changes.

Real estate taxes

Property tax rates in 2009 were set at 88.2500 mills.[104] A mill is $1 of tax for every $1,000 of a property's assessed value. Irregular property reassessments have become a serious issue in the commonwealth as it creates a significant disparity in taxation within a community and across regions.

In 2009, the district proposed a 6.5% tax increase. Real estate taxes would increase to 97.75 mills, which would cost an average taxpayer with an assessment of $23,500 $141 over last year. The administration sought several exceptions under Act 1 of 2006 which can allow the district to exceed its state imposed annual tax increase limit of 3.6% for 2010.[105]

The school board is weighing spending $650,000 to add artificial turf to Buck Swank Athletic Field. The community's reaction is mixed. The project would require costly borrowing.[106] Several board members suggest raising the necessary funds through donation. There have also been calls to institute pay to play for all district athletics and extracurriculars, in order to ease the burden these programs create on local taxpayers.[107]

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.[108] In June 2011, the Pennsylvania General Assembly eliminated six of the ten the exceptions to the Act 1 Index.[109] 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.[110][111]

The School District Adjusted Index for the School District 2006-2007 through 2011-2012.[112]

For the 2011-12 school year, Palmyra Area School Board applied for two exceptions to exceed the Act 1 Index: special education and pension costs. Each year, the Palmyra 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 published annually, by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.[114]

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.[115]

The Palmyra Area School Board applied for three exceptions to exceed the Act 1 index for the budget in 2011: maintenance of local revenue, special education costs and teacher pension costs..[116] For 2009-10 school budget, the Palmyra Area School Board applied for two exceptions to exceed the Index: grandfathered debt and special education costs.[117] 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.[118]

Property tax relief

In 2009, the Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief from gambling for the Palmyra Area School District was $54 per approved permanent primary residence. This was among the lowest amounts in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. In the district, 6380 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.

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%).[119]

Wellness policy

Palmyra Area School Board established a district student wellness policy in 2006 - Policy 246.[120] 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.[121] The Pennsylvania Department of Education required the district to submit a copy of the policy for approval.

Intermediate Unit

Lancaster Lebanon Intermediate Unit (IU#13) region includes: Lebanon County and Lancaster County. The agency provides Palmyra Area School District, charter schools, the district's home schooled students and area private schools many services including: Special education services, combined purchasing, and instructional technology services. It runs Sail Summer Academy which offers both art and academic strands designed to meet the individual needs of gifted, talented and high achieving students.[122] Additional services include: Curriculum Mapping, Professional Development for school employees, Adult Education, Nonpublic School Services, Business Services, Migrant & ESL (English as a Second Language), Instructional Services, Special Education, Management Services, and Technology Services. The IU 13 offers preemployment screening including fingerprinting for prospective public school employees.[123] It also provides a GED program to adults who want to earn a high school diploma and literacy programs. The Lancasert-Lebanon Intermediate Unit is governed by a 22 member Board of Directors, each a member of a local school board from the 22 school districts. Board members are elected by their fellow school directors for three-year terms that begin July 1. There are 29 intermediate units in Pennsylvania. They are funded by school districts, state and federal program specific funding and grants. IUs do not have the power to tax.[124]

Extracurriculars

The schools offers a variety of clubs, activities and sports. Eligibility for participation is determined by school board policy[125]

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.[126]

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