Pocono Mountain School District

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Pocono Mountain School District
Address
Pocono Mountain School Road
Northeastern Pennsylvania
Swiftwater, Pennsylvania, Monroe, 18370
United States
Information
ClosedCoolbaugh Elementary Center, Swiftwater Intermediate, and Coolbaugh Learning Center July 2012 [1]
SuperintendentDr. Elizabeth Robison
Teaching staff975 classroom teachers [2]
GradesK-12
Pupils10,708 pupils (2010-11) [3]
Kindergarten708
Grade 1684
Grade 2688
Grade 3712
Grade 4791
Grade 5758
Grade 6864
Grade 7831
Grade 8887
Grade 9903
Grade 10998
Grade 11899
Grade 12985
OtherEnrollment projected to be 10,138 in 2019[4]
Student to teacher ratio11:1 Student teacher ratio
Website
 
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Pocono Mountain School District
Address
Pocono Mountain School Road
Northeastern Pennsylvania
Swiftwater, Pennsylvania, Monroe, 18370
United States
Information
ClosedCoolbaugh Elementary Center, Swiftwater Intermediate, and Coolbaugh Learning Center July 2012 [1]
SuperintendentDr. Elizabeth Robison
Teaching staff975 classroom teachers [2]
GradesK-12
Pupils10,708 pupils (2010-11) [3]
Kindergarten708
Grade 1684
Grade 2688
Grade 3712
Grade 4791
Grade 5758
Grade 6864
Grade 7831
Grade 8887
Grade 9903
Grade 10998
Grade 11899
Grade 12985
OtherEnrollment projected to be 10,138 in 2019[4]
Student to teacher ratio11:1 Student teacher ratio
Website
Pocono Mountain School District region in Monroe County

Pocono Mountain School District (PMSD for short) is a large, rural public school district located in Monroe County, in northeastern Pennsylvania, USA. It encompasses approximately 304 square miles (790 km2) square miles. The district is divided into two parts: Pocono Mountain East and Pocono Mountain West. The Pocono Mountain East attendance area includes: Jackson Township, Pocono Township, Paradise Township, Barrett Township and Mount Pocono Borough. It also includes a small area east of Route 380 that is Coolbaugh Township. Pocono Mountain West attendance area includes: Tobyhanna Township, Tunkhannock Township and Coolbaugh Townships. According to 2000 local census data, the district serves a resident population of approximately 60,000 people. District officials reported that in school year 2007-08, the Pocono Mountain School District provided basic educational services to 11,506 pupils. It employed: 984 teachers, 622 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 51 administrators. The Pocono Mountain School District received more than $42.4 million in state funding in school year 2007-08.

Pocono Mountain East High School is located in Swiftwater, Pennsylvania in the heart of the Poconos. The school currently houses students in grades ten through twelve and is joined on the campus by East Junior High School, Swiftwater Intermediate School and the newly constructed Swiftwater Elementary Center. Motto: Our mission is to prepare all students for tomorrow's challenges and opportunities. . [5]

Contents

History and facts

Before the need for another campus complex, one high school served the entire district. The first high school of the district and originally called Pocono Mountain High School, Pocono Mountain East High School (PMEHS) is located in Swiftwater, Pennsylvania, along with Swiftwater Elementary Center (SEC), Swiftwater Intermediate School (SIS), and Pocono Mountain East Junior High School (PMEJHS). All four schools share the same campus. Those who attend the East campus attend either SEC, Pocono Elementary Center (PEC- Tannersville), or Barrett Elementary Center (BEC- Mountainhome). Students all then attend SIS for two years, before going to PMEHS for the last four years of school. Before 2008, the building that is now SEC did not exist. The current intermediate school was then the elementary school, and the junior high school was the intermediate school. Students will now attend PMEJHS for two years before going to PMEHS for the remaining three.

Once the district split, the West high school was built in 2002. Those who attend the West campus attend either Tobyhanna Elementary Center (TEC- Pocono Pines), Clear Run Elementary Center (CREC -Mt. Pocono), or Coolbaugh Elementary and Learning Centers (CEC/CLC -Tobyhanna). Students then all come together and attend the middle school at Clear Run Intermediate School (CRIS- Mt.Pocono) across from CREC. After spending two years there, students are then moved over to the West Junior High School on the Sullivan Trail Campus, across from the West high school. The Class of 2006 was the first graduating class to attend West for the full four years.

In May 2012, the Pocono Mountain School Board closed three schools due to sharply declining enrollment and significant budget shortfall. It closed:Coolbaugh Elementary Center, Swiftwater Intermediate, and Coolbaugh Learning Center. The closing brought the layoffs of 280 district employees, 142 of which are professional staff, which includes administrators and teachers.

Governance

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.[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 "B-" 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

In 2011, Pocono Mountain School District achieved AYP status. [8] In 2010, the Pocono Mountain School District was in Corrective Action II - Making Progress AYP status due to chronic, low student achievement. In 2009, Pocono Maountain School District was in Corrective Action II status due to the low student achievement in math and in reading. [9]

The Pocono Mountain School District was ranked 347th out of 498 Pennsylvania school districts, in 2012, by the Pittsburgh Business Times. The ranking was based on student academic performance on the last three years of PSSA results in: reading, writing, mathematics and science.[10]

In 2012, the Pittsburgh Business Times also reported an Overachievers Ranking for 498 Pennsylvania school districts. Pocono Mountain School District ranked 136th. In 2010 the district was 154th. The editor describes the ranking as: "a ranking answers the question - which school districts do better than expectations based upon economics? This rank takes the Honor Roll rank and adds the percentage of students in the district eligible for free and reduced lunch into the formula. A district finishing high on this rank is smashing expectations, and any district above the median point is exceeding expectations."[14]

In 2009, the academic achievement of the students in the Pocono Mountain School District was in the bottom 30th percentile among Pennsylvania's 500 school districts. Scale (0-99; 100 is state best) [15]

Graduation rate

In 2011, the District graduation rate was 92%. [16] In 2010, the Pennsylvania Department of Education issued a new, 4 year cohort graduation rate. Pocono Mountain School District's rate was 82% for 2010. [17]

According to traditional graduation rate calculations:

College remediation

According to a Pennsylvania Department of Education study released in January 2009, 26% of Pocono Mountain School Districts 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.[21] 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.[22] 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.

West High School

Pocono Mountain West High School is located at Panther Lane, Pocono Summit, Pennsylvania. The school served 1,509 students in grades 10th and 12th, with 820 students qualifying for a federal free lunch due to family poverty. It had 114 classroom teachers in 2010, a principal and 4 assistant principals. [23] In 2011, Pocono Mountain West High School declined to Corrective Action II 4th Year status due to chronic low achievement in mathematics and reading. In 2010, the school was in Making Progress: in Corrective Action II Level AYP status. [24] The graduation rate from PMWHS was 92% in 2011 and 94% in 2010. [25] The Pennsylvania Department of Education required the school administration to develop a school improvement plan and submit it for approval. Due to its low academic performance, the high school administration was required by No Child Left Behind to offer the opportunity to students to transfer to a successful high school in the district. Letters were sent to each student's parents in August. The transfer right was available beginning in 2007-08. Since Pocono Mountain East High School declined to Corrective Action I status in 2011, students could not transfer.[26] The school's administration was required to develop a School Improvement Plan and submit it to teh Pennsylvania Department of education for approval. The Pocono Mountain West High School offers Supplemental Educational Services (free tutoring outside of class) and the Pathways to Proficiency tutoring program to support academic achievement.[27]

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

SAT Scores

From January to June 2011, 318 Pocono Mountain West High School students took the SAT exams. The school's Verbal Average Score was 449. The Math average score was 4444. The Writing average score was 431. [34] Pennsylvania students as a whole ranked 40th among states, with SAT scores: Verbal - 493, Math - 501, Writing - 479. [35] 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. [36]

West Junior High School

Pocono Mountain West Junior High School is located at Panther Lane, Pocono Summit. In 2010, the school had 1,045 pupils in grades 8th and 9th, with 603 receiving a federal free lunch due to family poverty. There were 96 teachers yielding a student teacher ratio of 10:1. [37] In 2011, Pocono Mountain West Junior High School achieved AYP status. [38]

PSSA Results:

8th Grade Reading

  • 2011 - 76% on grade level (11% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 81.8% of 8th graders on grade level. [39]
  • 2010 - 80% (9% below basic). State - 81%
  • 2009 - 73% (14% below basic). State - 80%
  • 2008 - 70% (18% below basic). State - 78% [40]
  • 2007 - 67% (14% below basic). State - 75%

8th Grade Math:

  • 2011 - 75% on grade level (13% below basic). State - 76.9%
  • 2010 - 77% (10% below basic). State - 75% [41]
  • 2009 - 63% (15% below basic). State - 71% [42]
  • 2008 - 61% (22% below basic). State - 70%
  • 2007 - 58% (21% below basic). State - 68%

8th Grade Science:

Clear Run Intermediate School

Clear Run Intermediate School is located at 3600 Memorial Blvd., Tobyhanna, Pennsylvania. The school provides grades 6th and 7th. In 2010 the school had 932 pupils, with 593 students receiving a federal free lunch due to family poverty. The school employed 108 teachers making the student teacher ratio an exceptionally low 8:1. [46] In 2011, Clear Run Intermediate School declined to Warning status due to chronic low student achievement in Reading and math. In 2010, the school achieved AYP status. [47] Due to its low academic performance in 2007-08, 2008-09 and 2009-10, the school administration was required by No Child Left Behind to offer the opportunity to students to transfer to Swiftwater Intermediate School which was a successful intermediate school in the district. Letters were sent to each student's parents in August. [48] Clear Run Intermediate School offered Supplemental Educational Services (free tutoring outside of class) program to support improved academic achievement.[49] In 2006, the Pennsylvania Department of Education required the school administration to develop a School Improvement Plan which it submitted for approval. [50]

PSSA Results

7th Grade Reading

  • 2011 - 70% on grade level (13% below basic). State – 76% [51]
  • 2010 - 70% (14% below basic). State - 73%
  • 2009 - 70% (11% below basic). State - 71%
  • 2008 - 64% (18% below basic). State - 70%

7th Grade Math:

  • 2011 - 69% on grade level (16% below basic). State - 78.6%
  • 2010 - 76% (12% below basic). State - 77%
  • 2009 - 75% (10% below basic), State - 75%
  • 2008 - 58% (21% below basic), State - 71%

6th Grade Reading:

  • 2011 - 60% on grade level (14% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 69.9% of 6th graders are on grade level.
  • 2010 - 55% (24% below basic). State - 68%
  • 2009 - 58% (20% below basic), State - 67%
  • 2008 - 60% (17% below basic), State - 67%

6th Grade Math:

  • 2011 - 74% on grade level (12% below basic). State - 78.8%
  • 2010 - 68% (15% below basic). State - 78%
  • 2009 - 68% (13% below basic), State - 75%
  • 2008 - 69% (13% below basic), State - 72%

Clear Run Elementary Centre

Clear Run Elementary Centre is located at 3700 Memorial Blvd., Tobyhanna. In 2010, the school had 841 pupils in grades kindergarten through 5th, with 582 pupils receiving a federal free lunch due to family poverty. The school had 84 teachers for a very low student teacher ratio of 9:1. The school is designated as a Title I School-Wide Program. [52] In 2011, the school declined to Warning status due to low student achievement in reading and mathematics. In 2010 the school achieved AYP status. [53]

PSSA Results

5th Grade Reading:

  • 2011 - 68% on grade level (12% below basic). In Pennsylvania, 67.3% of 5th graders are on grade level.
  • 2010 - 63% (21% below basic). State – 64%
  • 2009 - 64% (18% below basic), State - 64%
  • 2008 - 56% (24% below basic), State - 62%

5th Grade Math:

  • 2011 - 90% on grade level (1% below basic). State - 74%
  • 2010 - 88% (2% below basic). State - 76.3%
  • 2009 - 81% (5% below basic), State - 73%
  • 2008 - 75% (6% below basic), State - 73%
4th Grade Reading
  • 2011 - 65% (19% below basic), State – 73.3%
  • 2010 - 66% (22% below basic), State - 73%
  • 2009 - 68% (13% below basic), State - 72%
  • 2008 - 61% (16% below basic), State - 70%
4th Grade Math
  • 2011 - 82% (10% below basic), State – 85.3%
  • 2010 - 84% (6% below basic), State - 84%
  • 2009 - 86% (5% below basic), State - 81%
  • 2008 - 69% (18% below basic), State - 80%
4th Grade Science
3rd Grade Reading
  • 2011 - 68%, (19% below basic), State – 77%
  • 2010 - 66%, (19% below basic), State - 75%
  • 2009 - 77%, (15% below basic), State - 77%
  • 2008 - 73%, (15% below basic), State - 70%
3rd Grade Math
  • 2011 - 82%, (6% below basic), State – 83%
  • 2010 - 78%, (6% below basic), State - 84%
  • 2009 - 82%, (7% below basic), State - 81%
  • 2008 - 73%, (6% below basic), State - 80%

Tobyhanna Elementary Center

Tobyhanna Elementary Center is located at Old Route 940, Pocono Pines, Pennsylvania. In 2010, the school had 697 pupils grades kindergarten through 5th, with 352 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced price lunch due to family poverty. The school employed 59 teachers for a student pupil ratio of 11:1. [54] In 2011, Tobyhanna Elementary Center declined to Warning status due to low student achievement in reading. In 2011, Tobyhanna Elementary Center achieved to AYP status. [55]

PSSA Results

5th Grade Reading:

  • 2011 - 74% on grade level, (5% below basic). State - 67.3% [56]
  • 2010 - 75%, (7% below basic). State – 64%
  • 2009 - 57% (16% below basic), State - 64%
  • 2008 - 59% (22% below basic), State - 62%

5th Grade Math:

  • 2011 - 96% on grade level. 70% advanced. State - 74%
  • 2010 - 96%, 70% advanced. State - 76.3%
  • 2009 - 74%, 45% advanced. State - 73%
  • 2008 - 72%, 35% advanced. State - 73%
4th Grade Reading
  • 2011 - 85% (5% below basic). State – 73.3%
  • 2010 - 78% (8% below basic). State - 73%
  • 2009 - 77% (9% below basic). State - 72%
  • 2008 - 69% (9% below basic). State - 70%
4th Grade Math
  • 2011 - 96% (2% below basic). State – 85.3%
  • 2010 - 96% (1% below basic). State - 84%
  • 2009 - 91% (3% below basic). State - 81%
  • 2008 - 77% (6% below basic). State - 80%
4th Grade Science
3rd Grade Reading
  • 2011 - 73%, (10% below basic), State – 77%
  • 2010 - 83%, (9% below basic), State - 75%
  • 2009 - 80%, (9% below basic), State - 77%
  • 2008 - 72%, (14% below basic), State - 70%
3rd Grade Math
  • 2011 - 91%, (3% below basic), State – 83%
  • 2010 - 93%, (4% below basic), State - 84%
  • 2009 - 90%, (4% below basic), State - 81%
  • 2008 - 87%, (3% below basic), State - 80%

East High School

Pocono Mountain East High School is located at Pocono Mountain School Road, Swiftwater, Pennsylvania. The school served 1,448 students with 516 students qualifying for a federal free lunch due to family poverty. It had 108 classroom teachers in 2010. [57] In 2011, Pocono Mountain East High School declined to Corrective Action I status due to chronic low achievement in mathematics and reading. In 2010, the school was in School Improvement II Level AYP status. [58] Due to its low academic performance, the high school administration was required by No Child Left Behind to offer the opportunity to students to transfer to a successful high school in the district. Letters were sent to each student's parents in August. Since Pocono Mountain West High School was in Corrective Action Level II status, students could not transfer.[59][60]

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

SAT Scores

From January to June 2011, 293 PMEHS students took the SAT exams. The district's Verbal Average Score was 480. The Math average score was 494. The Writing average score was 452. [62] Pennsylvania students as a whole ranked 40th among states with SAT scores: Verbal - 493, Math - 501, Writing - 479.

East Junior High School

Pocono Mountain East Junior High School is located at Pocono Mountain School Road, Swiftwater. The school has 841 pupils in grades 8th and 9th, with 341 receiving a federal free lunch due to family poverty. There are 71 teachers, yielding a student teacher ratio of 11:1.[63] In 2011, Pocono Mountain East Junior High School achieved AYP status. [64]

PSSA Results:

8th Grade Reading

  • 2011 - 85% on grade level (7% below basic). State - 81.8%
  • 2010 - 82% (9% below basic). State - 81%
  • 2009 - 79% (10% below basic), State - 80%

8th Grade Math:

  • 2011 - 87% on grade level (5% below basic). State - 76.9%
  • 2010 - 80% (8% below basic). State - 75%
  • 2009 - 76% (9% below basic). State - 71%

8th Grade Science:

Swiftwater Intermediate School

Swiftwater Intermediate School is located at Pocono Mountain School Road, Swiftwater. According to the National Center for Education Stattistics, in 2010 the school had 779 pupils, in grades 6th and 7th, with 272 pupils receiving a federal free lunch due to family poverty. The school employed 71 teachers yielding a student:teacher ratio of 11:1. Swiftwater Intermediate School achieved AYP status in 2010 and 2011. [65] The school was closed in June 2012 due to sharply declining enrollment district wide and a serious budget shortfall for 2012-13.

PSSA Results

8th Grade Reading 2011 - 86% on grade level (10% below basic). State - 81.8%

8th Grade Math' 2008 - 75% (13% below basic). State - 70%

8th Grade Science' 2008 - 56% (20% below basic). State - 52%

7th Grade Reading

  • 2011 - 87% on grade level (4% below basic). State – 76% [66]
  • 2010 - 81% (5% below basic). State - 73%
  • 2009 - 81% (6% below basic). State - 71%
  • 2008 - 77% (8% below basic). State - 70%

7th Grade Math:

  • 2011 - 90% on grade level, 65% advanced. State - 78.6%
  • 2010 - 89%, 65% advanced. State - 77%
  • 2009 - 84%, 56% advanced. State - 75%
  • 2008 - 72%, 41% advanced. State - 71%

6th Grade Reading:

  • 2011 - 73% on grade level (9% below basic). State - 69.9%
  • 2010 - 71% (10% below basic). State - 68%
  • 2009 - 70% (9% below basic), State - 67%

6th Grade Math:

  • 2011 - 85% on grade level, 58% advanced. State - 78.8%
  • 2010 - 85%, 59% advanced. State - 78%
  • 2009 - 80%, 56% advanced. State - 75%

Dual enrollment

The district offers the Pennsylvania Dual Enrollment program. This state program permits high school students to take courses, at local higher education institutions, to earn college credits. 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.[67] Under the Pennsylvania Transfer and Articulation Agreement, many Pennsylvania colleges and universities accept these credits for students who transfer to their institutions.[68] 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.[69] In 2010, the district received a 33,131 state grant to be used to assist students with tuition, fees and books.

Special Education

In December 2009, the district administration reported that 1878 pupils or 16% of the district's pupils received Special Education services.[70]

The 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. 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 Instructional Support Team. 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 Special Education Department.[71] [72] [73]

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.[74] The Pennsylvania Special Education funding system assumes that 16% of the district’s students receive special education services. It also assumes that each student’s needs accrue the same level of costs. [75] The state requires each district to have a three-year special education plan to meet the unique needs of its special education students. [76] Overidentification of students, in order to increase state funding, has been an issue in the Commonwealth. Some districts have more than 20% of its students receiving special education services while others have 10% supported through special education. [77]

Pocono Mountain School District received an additional $4,975,423 supplement for special education services in 2010.[78] For the 2011-12 school year, all Pennsylvania public school districts received the same level of funding for special education that they received in 2010-11. This level funding is provided regardless of changes in the number of pupils who need special education services and regardless of the level of services the respective students required.[79]

Gifted Education

The District Administration reported that 264 or 2.42% of its students were gifted in 2009.[80] 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.[81][82]

Bullying policy

The Pocono Mountain School District administration reported there were no incidents of bullying in the district in 2009.[83][84]

The Pocono Mountain School Board has provided the district's antibully policy online.[85] 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.[86] 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.[87]

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.[88]

Budget

In 2009, the district reported employing 1,333 teachers and administrators with a salary range of $36,985 to $165,000.[89] Additionally, the teachers receive a defined benefit pension, health insurance, dental insurance, vision insurance, life insurance, professional development reimbursement, paid personal days, 10 paid sick days, and other benefits.[90]

In 2007, the district employed 828 teachers. The average teacher salary in the district was $45,953 for 180 days worked.[91] 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.[92]

Pocono Mountain School District administrative costs in 2008 was $1,048 per pupil. This ranked 54th out of 500 public school districts in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The lowest administrative cost per pupil in Pennsylvania was $398 per pupil.[93] The district had 60 administrators in 2010, with 25 receiving a salary in excess of $100,000 a year plus substantial benefits. [94] In 2011, Dr. Dwight Pfennig, Superintendent since March 2005, announced his retirement, effective August 31, 2011. The board hired Dr. Elizabeth Robison as Suoerintendent effective September 1, 2011. Dr. Robinson has been a district employee for 23 years. The Pennsylvania School Boards Association keeps statistics on salaries of public school district employees in Pennsylvania. According to the association's report, the average salary for a superintendent, for the 2007-08 school year, was $122,165. Superintendents and administrators receive a benefit package commensurate with that offered to the district's teachers' union.[95]

In 2008, the district administration reported that per pupil spending was $14,295 which ranked 90th among Pennsylvania's 501 school districts. In 2010, the per pupil spending had significantly increased to $16,554.05. [96] Among the states, Pennsylvania’s total per pupil revenue (including all sources) ranked 11th at $15,023 per student, in 2008-09. [97] In 2007, the Pennsylvania per pupil total expenditures was $12,759. [98]

Reserves In 2008, the district reported zero in a unreserved-designated fund balance. The unreserved-undesignated fund balance was reported as -$3,810,871. [99] In 2010, Pocono Mountain Administration reported a deficit fund balance of -$3,829,295. in the unreserved-undesignated fund balance. The Pennsylvania Auditor General reported that the district had a general fund balance surplus of $3,570,631 as of June 30, 2007. Pennsylvania 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.[100]

A special investigation by Auditor General Jack Wagner conducted in 2005, revealed that officials at Pocono Mountain School District failed to properly oversee more than $7.3 million in computer equipment in the district's possession. As a result, Wagner found that the district spent more than $77,000 for 69 computers that the district could not locate or are not in use. [101]

In 2008, the district experienced a serious security breech through computer hacking that exposed student's private information. [102]

In January 2012, the school board proposed closing three buildings to deal with declining enrollment. Pocono Mountain School District lost 567 students between October 2010 and January 2012. [103] The administration projects to lose another 289 students by 2013. The buildings to be closed due to sharply declining enrollment are Coolbaugh Elementary Center, Coolbaugh Learning Center and Swiftwater Intermediate School. [104] The 2012-13 budget plan included cuts of at least 160 teachers, 108 support staff employees, 16 security officers and various supervisory and administrative positions.

In December of 2010, the Pennsylvania Auditor General conducted a performance audit of the Pocono Mountain School District. The findings were reported to the school board and administration. The findings included a negative fund balance and continuing errors in reporting pupil membership which resulted in subsidy and reimbursement overpayments. It was noted that the district administration had failed to correct pupil membership reporting processes noted in the 2005-06 audit. [105]

The district is funded by a combination of: a local earned income tax, a property tax, a real estate transfer tax 0.5%, coupled with substantial funding from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the federal government. In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, pension income and Social Security income are exempted from state personal income tax and local earned income tax, regardless the of individual’s personal wealth.[106]

State basic education funding

In 2011-12, the district received a $19,282,222 allocation of state Basic Education Funding. [107][108] Additionally, the Pocono Mountain School District received $627,698 in Accountability Block Grant funding. The enacted Pennsylvania state Education budget includes $5,354,629,000 for the 2011-2012 Basic Education Funding appropriation. This amount is a $233,290,000 increase (4.6%) over the enacted State appropriation for 2010-2011. [109] The highest increase in state basic education funding was awarded to [[Duquesne City School District which got a 49% increase in state funding for 2011-12.[110] In 2010, the district reported that 5,121 students received free or reduced price lunches, due to the family meeting the federal poverty level.[111]

In the 2010-2011 budget year, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a 3.30% increase in Basic Education Funding for a total of $19,303,962.29. Among the districts in Monroe County, the highest increase went to East Stroudsburg Area School District which got a 7.5% increase. Stroudsburg Area School District and Pleasant Valley School District both received a base 2% 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.[112] The state's hold harmless policy regarding state basic education funding continued where a district received at least the same amount as the year before, even where enrollment had significantly declined.

In the 2009-2010 budget year, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a base 2% increase in Basic Education Funding for a total of $19,307,162. Among the districts in Monroe County, the highest basic education funding increase 6.34% went to Stroudsburg Area School District. The state Basic Education Funding to the Pocono Mountain School District in 2008-09 was $18,928,590.72. Ninety Pennsylvania public school districts received a 2% increase. Muhlenberg School District in Berks County received a 22.31% increase in state basic education funding in 2009.[113] The amount of increase each school district receives was set by Governor Edward G. Rendell and the Secretary of Education Gerald Zahorchak, as a part of the state budget proposal given each February.[114] According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 4,428 district students received free or reduced lunches due to low family income in the 2007–2008 school year.[115]

Accountability Block Grants

Beginning in 2004-2005, the state launched the Accountability Block Grant school funding. This program has provided $1.5 billion to Pennsylvania’s school districts. The Accountability Block Grant program requires that its taxpayer dollars are focused on specific interventions that are most likely to increase student academic achievement. These interventions include: teacher training, All Day Kindergarten, lower class size K-3rd grade, literacy and math Coaching programs that provide teachers with individualized job-embedded professional development to improve their instruction, before or after school tutoring assistance to struggling students. For 2010-11, the district applied for and received $1,703,729 in addition to all other state and federal funding. The district used the funding to provide Full Day kindergarten, to pay for teacher training and teachers to develop new courses.[116][117]

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 to 2009. The School District did not apply to participate in 2006-07. In 2007-08 PMSD received $1,206,310. The district received $213,492 in 2008-09.[118] Pocono Mountain School District received the highest CFF funding among districts In Monroe County. The highest funding state wide was awarded to Philadelphia City School District in Philadelphia County - $9,409,073.

Education Assistance Grant

The state's EAP funding provides for the continuing support of tutoring services and other programs to address the academic needs of eligible students. Funds are available to eligible school districts and full-time career and technology centers (CTC) in which one or more schools have failed to meet at least one academic performance target, as provided for in Section 1512-C of the Pennsylvania Public School Code. In 2010-11 the Pocono Mountain School District received $707,403.[119] A total of 685 students attended the district's Education Assistance Program After School Tutoring during the 2010‐2011 school year. Additionally, the district ran a summer program during the summer of 2010 with 547 students attending from the 6 elementary centers.

Federal Stimulus Grant

The district received an extra $6 million in ARRA - Federal Stimulus money to be used in specific programs like special education and meeting the academic needs of low-income students.[120] The funding was limited to the 2009-10 and 2010-2011 school years.[121] Due to the temporary nature of the funding, schools were repeatedly 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. Pocono Mountain reported using two-thirds of the funds to purchase instructional supplies, equipment, consulting and staff development. One-third was used for the staff's medical insurance and health claims. [122]

Race to the Top grant

Pocono Mountain School District officials did not apply for the federal Race to the Top grant which would have provided over $1.5 million dollars in additional federal funding to improve student academic achievement. [123] 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. [124] 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.[125] [126] [127]

School Improvement Grant

In the summer of 2011, the district administration did not apply for School Improvement Grant funding, from the federal government (over $9.9 million available). Pocono Mountain West High School was eligible for funding due to chronic low achievement in reading and math. The grant stipulates the funds be used for improving student achievement using one of four federally dictated strategies. The strategies are: transformation, turnaround, restart with new faculty and administration or closure of failing schools. [128] The Pennsylvania Education Secretary awarded $66 million to reform Pennsylvania's lowest achieving schools in August 2011. The funding is for three years. [129]

For the 2010-11 school year, School District administration did not apply for the School Improvement Grant. The district was eligible for funding due to the chronic, low achievement at the Pocono Mountain West High School and Coolbaugh Elementary Centre. [130]

In 2010, Pennsylvania received $141 million from the federal –US Department of Education, to turn around its worst-performing schools. The funds were disbursed via a competitive grant program. [131] The Pennsylvania Department of Education has identified 200 Pennsylvania schools as "persistently lowest achieving," making them eligible for this special funding. [132] Pennsylvania required low performing schools to apply or provide documentation about why they had not applied. The funds must be used, by the district, to turn around schools in one of four ways: school closure, restart - close the school and reopen it as a charter school. The other two options involve firing the principal. One would require at least half the faculty in a chronically poor performing school be dismissed. The second involves intensive teacher training coupled with strong curriculum revision or a longer school day. [133]

Common Cents state initiative

The Pocono Mountain School Board elected 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.[134] 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 2011-12 were set by the Pocono Mountain School Board at 147.2900 mills. A mill is $1 of tax for every $1,000 of a property's assessed value. Irregular property reassessments have become a serious issue in the commonwealth as it creates a significant disparity in taxation within a community and across a region. [135] Property taxes, in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, apply only to real estate - land and buildings. The property tax is not levied on cars, business inventory, or other personal property. Certain types of property are exempt from property taxes including: places of worship, places of burial, private social clubs, charitable and educational institutions and government property. Additionally, service related, disabled US military veterans may seek an exemption from paying property taxes. Pennsylvania school district revenues are dominated by two main sources: 1) Property tax collections, which account for the vast majority (between 75-85%) of local revenues; and 2) Act 511 tax collections, which are around 15% of revenues for school districts. [136]

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. [142] In June 2011, the Pennsylvania General Assembly eliminated six of the ten the exceptions to the Act 1 Index. [143] 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. [144] [145]

The School District Adjusted Index for the Pocono Mountain School District 2006-2007 through 2011-2012. [146]

For the 2011-12 school year, the Pocono Mountain School Board applied for two exceptions to exceed the Act 1 Index: special education and teacher pension costs. Each year, the Pocono Mountain 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.[148]

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.[149]

The Pocono Mountain School Board applied for two exceptions to exceed the Act 1 index for the budget in 2011: special education costs and teacher pension costs. [150] For the 2009-10 school budget, the board did not apply for exceptions to exceed the Index. [151] 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.[152]

Property tax relief

In 2010, the Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief from gambling for the Pocono Mountain School District was $399 per approved permanent primary residence. In the district, 15,550 property owners applied for the tax relief.[153] 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 Monroe County, 57.91% of eligible property owners applied for property tax relief in 2009.[154] In Monroe County, the highest amount of tax relief $458, went to property owners in Pleasant Valley School District. The highest property tax relief in Pennsylvania went to the residents of Chester Upland School District of Delaware County who received $632 per approved homestead.[155] This was the third year they were the top recipient.

Additionally, the Pennsylvania Property Tax/Rent Rebate program is provided for low income Pennsylvanians aged 65 and older; widows and widowers aged 50 and older; and people with disabilities age 18 and older. The income limit is $35,000 for homeowners. The maximum rebate for both homeowners and renters is $650. Applicants can exclude one-half (1/2) of their Social Security income, consequently, individual with income much 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.[156]

Property taxes in Pennsylvania are relatively high on a national scale. According to the Tax Foundation, Pennsylvania ranked 11th in the U.S. in 2008 in terms of property taxes paid as a percentage of home value (1.34%) and 12th in the country in terms of property taxes as a percentage of income (3.55%).[157]

Alma Mater

To Pocono Mountain praise we sing
That thy hallowed halls might ring
For the knowledge that will guide our lives
We look to thee.
On mountaintop poised in majesty
Nature enfolds
The school that in our hearts will always be
PO-CO-NO.
[158]

Extracurriculars

The Pocono Mountain School District offers a variety of clubs, activities and sports. Eligibility to participate is set by school board policies.[159][160][161]

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 home schooled, 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.[162]

Mascots

The entire district was originally home of the Cardinals. However, when it was determined that a new school would have to be built, another squad was then needed. The Cardinals still remain at the original high school, the East high school. Barrett Elementary Center, Pocono Elementary Center, and Swiftwater Elementary Center are also cardinals. PM West is home to the Panthers. The Cardinals are red and white, and the Panthers are blue and silver.

Athletics

The Pocono Mountain School District belongs to District 11 of the PIAA. Their local conference is the Mountain Valley Conference. Both high schools are AAAA.

Newspaper Club

The Pocono Mountain School District has a new newspaper club website http://wjhsnewpaperclub.webs.com/.

References

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