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Rochester Area School District

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Rochester Area School District
Map of Beaver County Pennsylvania School Districts.png
Address
540 Reno Street
Rochester, Beaver County, Pennsylvania 15074
United States
Information
Type Public
Superintendent

Dr. Jane W Bovalino salary $112,000 (2013)[1] (Contract July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2017)[2]

Carolyn Wilkovich, former[3][4]
Staff 57 non teaching staff members
Faculty 69 (2013)[5]
Grades K-12
Pupils

734 pupils (2015-16)[6]
770 pupils (2013-14)
879 pupils(2011-12)[7]
823 pupils (2009-10)[8]

1,110 pupils (2004-05)[9]
 • Kindergarten 67 (2014),[10] 64 (2009)
 • Grade 1 53 (2014), 69
 • Grade 2 61 (2014), 51
 • Grade 3 81 (2014), 53
 • Grade 4 47 (2014), 52
 • Grade 5 58 (2014), 58
 • Grade 6 65 (2014), 49
 • Grade 7 60 (2014), 66
 • Grade 8 52 (2014), 69
 • Grade 9 59 (2014), 78
 • Grade 10 52 (2014), 69
 • Grade 11 38 (2014), 74
 • Grade 12 61 (2014), 71 (2009)[11]
 • Other Enrollment projected to decline to 686 by 2019[12]
Tuition for nonresident and charter school students ES - $9,563.44, HS - $10,546.22[13]
Website

The Rochester Area School District is a small, urban public school district in Beaver County, Pennsylvania. It serves the boroughs of Rochester and East Rochester, and the township of Rochester Township. Rochester Area School District encompasses approximately 5 square miles (13 km2). According to 2000 federal census data, it serves a resident population of 8,075 people. By 2010, the district's population had declined to 7,046.[14] The educational attainment levels for the School District population (25 years old and over) were 88.3% high school graduates and 14.3% college graduates.[15] The district is one of the 500 public school districts of Pennsylvania.

According to the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, 66% of the district's pupils lived at 185% or below the Federal Poverty Level [1] as shown by their eligibility for the federal free or reduced price school meal programs in 2012.[16] In 2013, the Pennsylvania Department of Education, reported that 11 students in the Rochester Area School District were homeless.[17] In 2009, Rochester Area School District residents’ per capita income was $16,567, while the median family income was $40,386.[18] In the Commonwealth, the median family income was $49,501[19] and the United States median family income was $49,445, in 2010.[20] In Beaver County, the median household income was $49,217.[21] In 2014, the median household income in the USA was $53,700.[22]

In the 2009-10 school year, the Rochester Area School District provided basic education to 859 students. The district employed: 79 teachers, 63 full- and part-time support staff, and 6 administrators. The district received $8.2 million in state funding in the 2009-10 school year. In school year 2007-08, the Rochester Area School District provided basic educational services to 973 pupils. It employed: 86 teachers, 72 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 7 administrators. Rochester Area School District received more than $8.1 million in state funding in school year 2007-08.

Rochester Area School District operates two schools: Rochester Jr-Sr High School (7th-12th) and Rochester Elementary School (K-6th). High school students may choose to attend the Beaver County Career Technology Center for training in the construction and mechanical trades and other careers. The Beaver Valley Intermediate Unit IU27 provides the district with a wide variety of services like: specialized education for disabled students; state mandated training on recognizing and reporting child abuse; speech and visual disability services; criminal background check processing for prospective employees and professional development for staff and faculty.

Governance

The Rochester Area School District is governed by 9 individually elected board members (serve without compensation for a term of four years), the Pennsylvania State Board of Education, the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the Pennsylvania General Assembly.[23] 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(renamed Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in December 2015) which mandates the district focus its resources on student success in acquiring reading and math skills.[24] The school board is required by state law to post a financial report on the district in its website by March of each school year.[25]

The superintendent and business manager are appointed by the school board. The superintendent is the chief administrative officer with overall responsibility for all aspects of operations, including education and finance. The business manager is responsible for budget and financial operations. Neither of these officials are voting members of the school board. The school board enters into individual employment contracts for these positions. These contracts must be in writing and are subject to public discloure under the state's Right to Know Act. In Pennsylvania, public school districts are required to give 150 days notice to the superintendent and business manager regarding renewal of their employment contracts.[26] Pursuant to Act 141 of 2012 which amended the Pennsylvania School Code, all school districts that have hired superintendents on/after the fall of 2012 are required to develop objective performance standards and post them on the district's website.[27]

The Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy Alternatives Sunshine Review gave the school board and district administration an "F" 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.[28]

Academic achievement

In October 2015, Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale reported that two schools in the Rochester Area School District are among the 561 academically challenged schools that have been overlooked by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.[29][30] He also reported the Pennsylvania Department of Education failed to take any action to remediate the poorly performing schools to raise student academic achievement or to provide them with targeted professional assistance.[31] The two Rochester Area schools were Rochester Area Elementary School and Rochester Area Middle School.

Opportunity Scholarship - lowest achieving schools

In May 2015, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) released a report identifying Rochester Area School District schools as among the lowest achieving schools for reading and mathematics in the state.[32] Included on the list was Rochester Area High School. One hundred four (104) public school districts had one or more schools on the list. The high school was also on the lowest achievement list 2014-15.[33] Parents and students may be eligible for scholarships to transfer to another public or nonpublic school through the state's Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit Program passed in June 2012.[34] The scholarships are limited to those students whose family's income is less than $60,000 annually, with another $12,000 allowed per dependent. Maximum scholarship award is $8,500, with special education students receiving up to $15,000 for a year's tuition. Parents pay any difference between the scholarship amount and the receiving school's tuition rate. Students may seek admission to neighboring public school districts. Each year the PDE publishes the tuition rate for each individual public school district.[35] Funding for the scholarships comes from donations by businesses which receive a state tax credit for donating.

Statewide ranking

In 2015, Rochester Area School District ranked 449th out of 493 Pennsylvania public school districts, by the Pittsburgh Business Times.[36] The ranking is based on the last 3 years of student academic achievement as demonstrated by PSSAs results in: reading, writing, math and science and the three Keystone Exams (literature, Algebra 1, Biology I) in high school.[37] Three school districts were excluded because they do not operate high schools (Saint Clair Area School District, Midland Borough School District, Duquesne City School District). The PSSAs are given to all children in grades 3rd through 8th. Adapted PSSA examinations are given to children in the special education programs. Writing exams were given to children in 5th and 8th grades.[38]

  • 2014 - 440th[39]
  • 2013 - 440th
  • 2012 - 428th
  • 2011 - 403rd[40]
  • 2010 - 422nd[41]
  • 2009 - 457th
  • 2008 - 390th
  • 2007 - 438th out of 501 school districts.[42]
Western Pennsylvania Region School ranking

The Rochester Area School District was ranked 88th out of 105 Western Pennsylvania School Districts in 2012 by the Pittsburgh Business Times. The ranking was based on the last three years of student academic performance on the PSSAs for: math, reading, writing and science.[43]

  • 2011 - 84th
  • 2010 - 88th[44]
  • 2009 - 95th[45]
  • 2008 - 80th
Overachievers ranking

In 2012, the Pittsburgh Business Times also reported an Overachievers Ranking for 498 Pennsylvania school districts. Rochester Area School District ranked 39th. 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-price lunch into the formula. A district finishing high on this rank is smashing expectations, and any district above the median point is exceeding expectations."[46]

  • 2010 - 43rd
  • 2009 - 81st[47]

In 2009, the academic achievement of the students of Rochester Area School District was in the 24th percentile among 500 Pennsylvania school districts. Scale - (0-99; 100 is state best)[48]

Graduation rate

In 2015, Rochester Area School District graduation rate was 93.10%.[49]

  • 2014 - 83.56%[50]
  • 2013 - 68.18%
  • 2012 - 68.2%[51]
  • 2011 - 73.5%.[52]
  • 2010 - 74.26%, the Pennsylvania Department of Education issued a new, 4-year cohort graduation rate.[53]
According to traditional graduation rate calculations

High school

Rochester Area High School is located at 540 Reno Street, Rochester. In 2015, enrollment was reported as 210 pupils in 9th through 12th grades, with 49.05% of pupils eligible for a free lunch due to the family meeting the federal poverty level. Additionally, 21.9% of pupils received special education services, while 9.5% of pupils were identified as gifted.[58] The school employed 26 teachers.[59] Per the PA Department of Education, 100% of the teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.[60]

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, the school reported an enrollment of 469 pupils in grades 7th through 12th, with 263 pupils eligible for a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school employed 42.5 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 11:1.[61] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 14 teachers were rated "Non‐Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[62]

2015 School Performance Profile

Rochester Area High School achieved a score of 62 out of 100. Reflects on grade level reading, mathematics and science achievement. The PDE reported that 58% of the High School's students were on grade level in reading/literature. In Algebra 1, 44% of students showed on grade level skills at the end of the course. In Biology I, 48.5% demonstrated on grade level science understanding at the end of the course.[63] Statewide, 53 percent of schools with an eleventh grade achieved an academic score of 70 or better. Five percent of the 2,033 schools with 11th grade were scored at 90 and above; 20 percent were scored between 80 and 89; 28 percent between 70 and 79; 25 percent between 60 and 69 and 22 percent below 60. The Keystone Exam results showed: 73 percent of students statewide scored at grade-level in English, 64 percent in Algebra I and 59 percent in biology.[64][65]

2014 School Performance Profile

Rochester Area High School achieved a score of 62.1 out of 100. Reflects on grade level reading, mathematics and science achievement. In reading/literature, 64% were on grade level. In Algebra 1, 46.4% showed on grade level skills. In Biology, 27% demonstrated on grade level science understanding at the end of the course.[66] Statewide, the percentage of high school students who scored proficient and advanced in Algebra I increased to 39.7% to 40.1%. The percentage of high school students who scored proficient and advanced in reading/literature declined to 52.5%. The percentage of high school students who scored proficient and advanced in biology improved from 39.7% to 41.4%.[67]

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 2,134 of 2,947 Pennsylvania public schools (72 percent of Pennsylvania public schools), achieved an academic score of 70 or higher.[68] Fifty-three percent of schools statewide received lower SPP scores compared with last year's, while 46 percent improved. A handful were unchanged.[69][70]

Compared with 2013, the percentage of schools that earned below 60 declined by nearly 1 percent per Secretary of Education Carolyn Dumaresq. She reported that this is an indication that student achievement is improving as school resources are being used better.[71]

2013 School Performance Profile

Rochester Area High School achieved 57.4 out of 100. Reflects on grade level reading, mathematics and science achievement. In reading/literature, 58.9% were on grade level. In Algebra 1, 52.7% showed on grade level skills. In Biology, 38.3% showed on grade level science understanding.[72] According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 2,181 public schools (less than 73 percent of Pennsylvania public schools), achieved an academic score of 70 or higher. Pennsylvania 11th grade students no longer take the PSSAs. Instead, beginning in 2012, they take the Keystone Exams at the end of the associated course.[73]

Local Region Academic Ranking

The Rochester Area Junior Senior High School's 11th grade ranked 108th out of 123 western Pennsylvania high schools based on three years of results in PSSAs on: reading, math writing and one year of science.[74]

AYP history

In 2012, Rochester Area High School declined further to School Improvement Level II AYP status due to chronically low student achievement in reading and especially mathematics.[75] Under the Pennsylvania Accountability System, the school district must pay for additional tutoring for struggling students.[76] The High School is eligible for special, extra funding under School Improvement Grants which the school must apply for each year.[77]

  • 2011 - declined to School Improvement AYP status due to chronically low student achievement in reading and especially mathematics.[78] Under No Child Left Behind, the school administration was required to notify parents of the schools low achievement and to offer the students an opportunity to transfer to a successful school in the district. Additionally, the Pennsylvania Department of Education required the high school administration to develop and submit for approval, a plan to raise student achievement in reading and math. Due to the low achievement the school was eligible to apply for federal School Improvement Grants.
  • 2010 - third year of Warning status due to lagging student achievement.
  • 2009 - Warning AYP status[79]
  • 2008 - Warning AYP status[80]
PSSA Results

Pennsylvania System of School Assessments, commonly called PSSAs are No Child Left Behind Act related examinations which were administered from 2003 through 2012, in all Pennsylvania public high schools. The exams were administered in the Spring of each school year. The goal was for 100% of students to be on grade level or better in reading and mathematics, by the Spring of 2014. The tests focused on the state's Academic Standards for reading, writing, mathematics and science. The Science exam included content in science, technology, ecology and the environmental studies. The mathematics exam included: algebra I, algebra II, geometry and trigonometry. The standards were first published in 1998 and are mandated by the Pennsylvania State Board of Education.[81] In 2013, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania changed its high school assessments to the Keystone Exams in Algebra 1, Reading/literature and Biology1. The exams are given at the end of the applicable course, rather than all in the spring of the student's 11th grade year.[82]

11th Grade Reading:
  • 2012 - 57% on grade level, (19% below basic). State - 67% of 11th graders are on grade level.[83]
  • 2011 - 57% (29% below basic). State - 69.1%[84]
  • 2010 - 60% (22% below basic). State - 66%[85]
  • 2009 - 62% on grade level. State - 65%
  • 2008 - 47%, State - 65%
  • 2007 - 64%, State - 65%[86]
  • 2006 - 55% (28% below basic). State - 65%
  • 2005 - 61% (29% below basic). State - 65%
11th Grade Math:
  • 2012 - 43% on grade level (30% below basic). State - 60.3%[87]
  • 2011 - 37% (33% below basic). State - 60.3%[88]
  • 2010 - 53% (35% below basic). State - 59%
  • 2009 - 50% State - 56%[89]
  • 2008 - 30%, State - 56%
  • 2007 - 45%, State - 53%
  • 2006 - 30%, (45% below basic). State - 52%[90]
  • 2005 - 24%, (44% below basic). State - 52%
11th Grade Science
  • 2012 - 27% on grade level (17% below basic). State - 42% of 11th graders were on grade level.
  • 2011 - 18% (32% below basic). State - 40%[91]
  • 2010 - 38% (20% below basic). State - 39%
  • 2009 - 34%, State - 40% [92]
  • 2008 - 11%, State - 39%[93]
  • 2007 - tested - scores not publicly released.

Science in Motion Rochester Area High School did not take advantage of a state program called Science in Motion which brought college professors and sophisticated science equipment to the school to raise science awareness and to provide inquiry-based experiences for the students. The Science in Motion program was funded by a state appropriation and cost the school nothing to participate.[94] Westminster College provided the science enrichment experiences to schools in the region.

College remediation

According to a Pennsylvania Department of Education study released in January 2009, 33% of Rochester 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.[95] 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.[96] Per the Pennsylvania Department of Education, one in three recent high school graduates who attend Pennsylvania's public universities and community colleges takes at least one remedial course in math, reading or English.

Dual enrollment

The high school offers a dual enrollment program. This state program permits high school students to take courses, at local higher education institutions, to earn college credits. Students remain enrolled at their high school. The courses count towards high school graduation requirements and towards earning a college degree. The students continue to have full access to activities at their high school. The college credits are offered at a deeply discounted rate. The state offers a small grant to assist students in costs for tuition, fees and books.[97] Under the Pennsylvania Transfer and Articulation Agreement, many Pennsylvania colleges and universities accept these credits for students who transfer to their institutions.[98] For the 2009-10 funding year, the school district received a state grant of $18,529 for the program. Courses are offered in cooperation with Pennsylvania State University Beaver Campus.

Graduation requirements

The Rochester Area School Board has determined that a pupil must earn 27.5 credits to graduate, including: a required class every year in math 4 credits, English 4 credits, social studies 3 credits, science 4 credits, Physical Education 1 credit, Health 0.5 credit, Arts and Humanities 2 credits, Computers/Business 3 credits, Senior project 1 credit and electives 5 credits.[99]

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.[100]

Beaver County Career and Technical School students take a modified graduation plan. Students enrolled in a 2-year course must pass 12th Grade – English, Mathematics and Science and in 11th Grade – English, Mathematics, Science and The Holocaust.

By Pennsylvania School Board regulations, beginning with the graduating class of 2016, students must demonstrate successful completion of secondary level course work in Algebra I, Biology, English Composition, and Literature for which the Keystone Exams serve as the final course exams. Students’ Keystone Exam scores shall count for at least one-third of the final course grade.[101][102][103] In 2011, Pennsylvania high school students field tested the Algebra 1, Biology and English Lit exams. The statewide results were: Algebra 1 38% on grade level, Biology 35% on grade level and English Lit - 49% on grade level.[104] Individual student, school or district reports were not made public, although they were reported to district officials by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

AP courses

The school offers several AP courses: AP Chemistry, AP Calculus and AP English. The courses are weighted in regards to GPA and school ranking. The fee for each AP Exam is $91 (2014).[105] The school normally retains $9 of that fee as a rebate to help with administrative costs. In 2012, the fee was $89 per test per pupil. Students have the option of taking College Board approved courses and then taking the College Board's examination in the Spring. Students, who achieve a 3 or better on the exam, may be awarded college credits at US universities and colleges. Each higher education institution sets its own standards about what level of credits are awarded to a student based on their AP exam score. Most higher education give credits for scores of 4 or 5. Some schools also give credits for scores of 3.

In 2015, the school offered one Advanced Placement (AP) course at a higher cost than regular courses. None of the pupils who took the course achieved a 3 or better on the associated AP exam.[106] In 2014, no pupils earned a 3 or better on the AP exam.

SAT scores

In 2014, 35 Rochester Area School District students took the SAT exams. The district's Verbal Average Score was 459. The Math average score was 472. The Writing average score was 448.[107][108] Statewide in Pennsylvania, Verbal Average Score was 497. The Math average score was 504. The Writing average score was 480. The College Board also reported that nationwide scores were: 497 in reading, 513 in math and 487 in writing.[109] In 2014, 1,672,395 students took the SATs in the United States.

In 2013, 39 Rochester Area School District students took the SAT exams. The district's Verbal Average Score was 432. The Math average score was 463. The Writing average score was 417. The College Board reported that statewide scores were: 494 in reading, 504 in math and 482 in writing. The nationwide SAT results were the same as in 2012.[110]

In 2012, 37 Rochester Area School District students took the SAT exams. The district's Verbal Average Score was 408. The Math average score was 448. The Writing average score was 402. The statewide Verbal SAT exams results were: Verbal 491, Math 501, Writing 480. In the USA, 1.65 million students took the exams achieving scores: Verbal 496, Math 514, Writing 488. According to the College Board the maximum score on each section was 800, and 360 students nationwide scored a perfect 2,400.

In 2011, 50 Rochester Area School District students took the SAT exams. The district's Verbal Average Score was 432. The Math average score was 465. The Writing average score was 417.[111] Pennsylvania ranked 40th among states with SAT scores: Verbal - 493, Math - 501, Writing - 479.[112] 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.[113]

The Center for Rural Pennsylvania, a research arm of the Pennsylvania General Assembly, compared the SAT data of students in rural areas of Pennsylvania to students in urban areas. From 2003 to 2005, the average total SAT score for students in rural Pennsylvania was 992, while urban students averaged 1,006. During the same period, 28 percent of 11th and 12th graders in rural school districts took the exam, compared to 32 percent of urban students in the same grades. The average math and verbal scores were 495 and 497, respectively, for rural students, while urban test-takers averaged 499 and 507, respectively. Pennsylvania's SAT composite score ranked low on the national scale in 2004. The composite SAT score of 1,003 left Pennsylvania ranking 44 out of the 50 states and Washington, DC.[114]

Middle school

Rochester Area Middle School is located at 540 Reno Street. In 2015, enrollment was 177 pupils, in grades 6th through 8th, with 64% of pupils eligible for a free lunch due to family poverty. Additionally, 15.8% of pupils received special education services, while 3.3% of pupils were identified as gifted.[115] According to a 2014 report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[116]

2015 School Performance Profile

The PDE withheld SPP scores. It was reported that 51% of 8th grade students at the Middle School students were on grade level in reading on the PSSAs given in April 2015. In math/Algebra 1, 12% of 8th grade students demonstrated on grade level math skills. In science, 46% of the school's 8th graders demonstrated on grade level science understanding. No eighth grade writing scores were reported. In 7th grade, 44% were on grade level in reading, while 16% showed on grade level math skills. Among 6th graders, 51% were on grade level in reading and 17% were on grade level in mathematics.[117]

Statewide 58% of eighth (8th) graders were on grade level in reading, while 29% demonstrated on grade level math skills. Pennsylvania 7th graders were 58% on grade level in reading and 33% demonstrated on grade level math skills. Among sixth (6th) graders, 60.7% were reading on grade level, while 39.7% demonstrated on grade level math skills. Statewide 61.9% of fifth (5th) graders were on grade level in reading, while 42.8% demonstrated on grade level math skills.[118]

2014 School Performance Profile

Rochester Middle School achieved 56.8 out of 100. Reflects on grade level reading, mathematics and science achievement. In reading/literature, 61% were on grade level. In Algebra 1/Math, 58% showed on grade level mathematics skills. In Science, 29.6% of 8th graders showed on grade level science understanding. In writing, 66.6% of the 8th grade students demonstrated on grade level writing skills.[119]

8th grade

In 2009, the 8th grade was ranked 110th out of 141 western Pennsylvania middle schools based on three years of student academic achievement in PSSAs in: reading, math writing and one year of science.[120] (Includes schools in: Allegheny County, Beaver County, Butler County, Fayette County, Westmoreland County, and Washington County

PSSA Results:

Sixth and seventh grades have been tested in reading and mathematics since 2006. Eighth graders are tested in: reading, writing, mathematics and Science. Beginning in the Spring of 2013, eighth graders, who are enrolled in Algebra I take the Keystone Exam for Algebra I at the end of the course. The testing of 8th grade in reading and mathematics began in 1999, as a state initiative.[121] Testing in science began in 2007. The goal is for 100% of students to be on grade level or better in reading and mathematics, by the Spring of 2014. The tests focus on the state's Academic Standards for reading, writing, mathematics and science.[122] The standards were published in 1998 and are mandated by the Pennsylvania State Board of Education.[123] In 2014, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania adopted the Pennsylvania Core Standards - Mathematics.[124]

8th Grade Science
  • 2012 - 42% on grade level (37% below basic). State - 59%[130]
  • 2011 - 38% (36% below basic). State – 58.3%
  • 2010 - 40% (37% below basic). State – 57%[131]
  • 2009 - 57% (25% below basic). State - 55%[132]
  • 2008 - 33% (40% below basic). State - 52%[133]
  • 2007 - tested, but results not made public.
6th grade

Sixth grade was moved to the elementary school in 2009.

Dropout Early Warning System

In 2013, Rochester Area School District did not implement a no cost dropout prevention Early Warning System and Interventions Catalog at the junior high school.[134] The process identifies students at risk for dropping out by examining the pupil’s: attendance, behavior and course grades. Interventions are implemented to assist at-risk pupils to remain in school. The program is funded by federal and private dollars.[135]

Elementary school

Rochester Area Elementary School is located at 540 Reno Street, Rochester. In 2015, the school's enrollment was 347 pupils in grades kindergarten through 5th, with 74.6% of pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price meals due to family poverty. Additionally, 19% of the pupils receive special education services, while none are identified as gifted.[136] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of the teachers were rated highly qualified under No Child Left Behind. The school provides full-day kindergarten since 2003.[137] The school is a federally designated Title I school.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, the Rochester Area Elementary School reported an enrollment of 454 pupils in grades kindergarten through 6th, with 318 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school employed 37 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 12:1.[138] According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of the teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.[139]

2015 School Performance Profile

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 39% of 5th grade students at Rochester Area Elementary School were on grade level in reading on the PSSAs given in April 2015. In mathematics, 21% of 5th grade students showed on grade level skills. No fifth grade writing scores were reported. In 4th grade, 46% were on grade level in reading, while 41% showed on grade level math skills. In science, 73% of fourth graders showed on grade level understanding. Among third (3rd) graders, 51% were on grade level in reading and 26% were on grade level in mathematics.[140] Statewide 61.9% of fifth (5th) graders were on grade level in reading, while 42.8% demonstrated on grade level math skills. Pennsylvania 4th graders were 58.6% on grade level in reading and 44.4% demonstrated on grade level math skills. In science, 77.3% of fourth graders showed on grade level understanding. Among Pennsylvania third (3rd) graders, 62% were reading on grade level, while 48.5% demonstrated on grade level math skills.[141]

2014 School Performance Profile

Rochester Area Elementary School achieved a score of 64.8 out of 100. The score reflects on grade level: reading, science, writing and mathematics achievement. In 2013-14, only 56% of the students were reading on grade level in grades 3rd through 5th. In 3rd grade, 61.9% of the pupils were reading on grade level. In math, 62% were on grade level (3rd-5th grades). In 4th grade science, just 62% of the pupils demonstrated on grade level understanding. In writing only 67% of 5th grade pupils demonstrated on grade level skills.[142]

2013 School Performance Profile

Rochester Area Elementary School achieved a score of 68.5 out of 100. The score reflects on grade level: reading, science, writing and mathematics achievement. In 2012-13, only 63% of the students were reading on grade level in grades 3rd through 5th. In 3rd grade, 64% of the pupils were reading on grade level. In math, 74% were on grade level (3rd-5th grades). In 4th grade science, just 68% of the pupils demonstrated on grade level understanding. In writing, only 69% of 5th grade pupils demonstrated on grade level skills.[143] According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 2,181 public schools (less than 73 percent of Pennsylvania public schools), achieved an academic score of 70 or higher.

Local region ranking

In 2012, Rochester Area Elementary School fifth grade ranked 172nd out of 281 5th grades in the Western Pennsylvania region. The fourth grade ranked 240th out of 308 fourth grades and the Third grade ranked 128th out of 322nd third grades located in Western Pennsylvania region.[144]

AYP history

In 2012, Rochester Area Elementary School remained in Warning AYP status due to missing all academic metrics measured in reading and mathematics.[145]

  • 2011 - declined to Warning AYP status due to chronic, lagging student achievement in reading.
  • 2010 - achieved AYP status.[146]
  • 2009 - achieved AYP status[147]
  • 2008 - declined to Warning AYP status[148]
  • 2007 - achieved AYP status[149]
PSSA History

Each year, in the Spring, in order to comply with the federal No Child Left Behind Law, the 3rd graders take the PSSAs in math and reading. The fourth grade is tested in reading, math and science. The fifth grade is evaluated in reading, mathematics and writing. Pennsylvania System of School Assessments were administered beginning 2003 to all Pennsylvania public school students in grades 3rd-8th.[150] The goal was for 100% of students to be on grade level or better in reading and mathematics, by the Spring of 2014.[151][152][153] The tests focused on the state's Academic Standards for reading, writing, mathematics and science. The Science exam is given to 4th grades and includes content in science, technology, ecology and the environmental studies.[154] The first cohort of children who attended Accountability Block Grant funded full-day kindergarten reached third grade and took the PSSAs in the spring of 2008.

4th Grade Science
  • 2012 - 82%, (2% below basic). State - 82%
  • 2011 - 85%, (3% below basic), State – 82.9%
  • 2010 - 77%, (9% below basic), State - 81%
  • 2009 - 86%, (3% below basic), State - 83%
  • 2008 - 68%, (10% below basic), State - 81%

Special education

In December 2013, Rochester Area School District administration reported that 166 pupils, or 21% of the district's pupils, received special education services, with 44% of the identified students having a specific learning disability.[162] In December 2010, the district administration reported that 190 pupils, or 21.2% of the district's pupils, received special education services. In December 2009, the district administration reported that 204 pupils, or 21.7% of the district's pupils, received special education services with 54% identified as having a specific learning disability.[163]

In 2007, Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Gerald Zahorchak testified before the Pennsylvania House Education Committee regarding full-day kindergarten. He claimed that districts which offered the program would see a significant decrease in special education students due to early identification and early intervention. He asserted the high cost of full-day kindergarten would be recouped by districts in lower special education costs.[164] Rochester Area School District has provided full-day kindergarten since 2003. The district has seen a minimal decrease in the percentage of special education students it serves, but this has yielding no savings.

In 2010, the state of Pennsylvania provided $1,026,815,000 for special education services. This funding is in addition to the state's basic education per pupil funding, as well as, all other state and federal funding.[165] The Pennsylvania Special Education funding system assumes that 16% of the district's students receive special education services. The state's funding formula also assumes that each student's needs accrue the same level of costs.[166] The state requires each district to have a three-year special education plan to meet the unique needs of its special education students.[167] Overidentification of students, in order to increase state funding, has been an issue in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Some districts like Rochester Area School District have more than 20% of its students receiving special education services. Other Pennsylvania school districts have 10% of their supported through special education.[168]

Students who have an Individual Education Plan (IEP) may take the PSSA-M an alternative math exam rather than the PSSA.[169] Some special education students may take the PASA (Pennsylvania Alternate System of Assessment), rather than the PSSA.[170] Schools are permitted to provide accommodations to some students.[171] In 2012, the Obama Administration's US Department of Education issued a directive requiring schools include students with disabilities in extracurricular activities, including sports.[172]

Rochester Area School District received a $648,534 supplement for special education services in 2010 from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.[173] For the 2011-12, 2012–13, 2013-14 school years, all Pennsylvania public school districts received the same level of funding for special education that they received in 2010-11. This level funding is provided regardless of changes in the number of pupils who need special education services and regardless of the level of services the respective students required.[174] For the 2014-2015 school year, Rochester Area School District received an increase to $666,013 from the Commonwealth for special education funding.[175]

State Monitoring

In 2009, Rochester Area School District was identified by the Pennsylvania Department of Education Bureau of Special Education for Least Restrictive Environment monitoring. One hundred ninety six schools districts were selected in 2008-09. The district received an alert letter from the PDE - Bureau of Special Education.[176] School districts were placed in one of three categories: Tier 1, Tier 2 or Tier 3. The district was placed in Tier 2 due to students placed in settings outside regular schools. The monitoring is a product of the Pennsylvania Department of Education addressing its voluntary settlement in Gaskin V. Pennsylvania. The settlement requires that special education students spend most of their school day (80%) in regular education classrooms with supplementary aids and services to assist them.[177][178][179] In 2010, the district was assigned to the Tier 1 monitoring list, due to students placed in other settings outside the school. Rochester Area School District was one of 20 school so cited in 2010. The district received a letter of "Alert" from the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Tier 1 districts received on-site monitoring by the Bureau of Special Education, in the spring of 2010.[180]

Gifted education

Rochester Area District Administration reported that 29 or 3.14% of its students were gifted in 2009. The highest percentage of gifted students reported among all 500 school districts and 100 public charter schools in Pennsylvania was North Allegheny School District with 15.5% of its students identified as gifted.[181] 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 are also considered for eligibility.[182][183]

Budget

Pennsylvania public school districts budget and expend funds according to procedures mandated by the General Assembly and the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE). An annual operating budget is prepared by school district administrative officials. A uniform form is furnished by the PDE and submitted to the board of school directors for approval prior to the beginning of each fiscal year on July 1.

Under Pennsylvania's Taxpayer Relief Act, Act 1 of the Special Session of 2006, all school districts of the first class, second class, third class and fourth class must adopt a preliminary budget proposal. The proposal must include estimated revenues and expenditures and the proposed tax rates. This proposed budget must be considered by the board no later than 90 days prior to the date of the election immediately preceding the fiscal year. The preliminary budget proposal must also be printed and made available for public inspection at least 20 days prior to its adoption. The board of school directors may hold a public hearing on the budget, but are not required to do so. The board must give at least 10 days’ public notice of its intent to adopt the final budget according to Act 1 of 2006.[184]

In 2013, the average teacher salary in Rochester Area School District was $50,445 a year.[185] The district employed 80 teachers and administrators with a top salary of $104,650.[186][187] Pennsylvania teacher salaries (2013–14) are searchable in a statewide database provided by TribLive News.[188] Rochester Area School District teacher and administrator retirement benefits are equal to at least 2.00% x Final Average Salary x Total Credited Service. (Some teachers benefits utilize a 2.50% benefit factor.)[189] After 40 years of service, Pennsylvania public school teachers and administrators can retire with 100% of the average salary of their final 3 years of employment. According to a study conducted at the American Enterprise Institute, in 2011, public school teachers’ total compensation is roughly 50 percent higher than they would likely receive in the private sector. The study found that the most generous benefits that teachers receive are not accounted for in many studies of compensation including: pension, retiree health benefits and job security.[190] In 2014-15, Pennsylvania public school district mandated teacher pension contribution rose to 21.40% of employee salaries and in 2015-16 it rose again to 25.84% of total salaries.[191] In 2014-15, the state mandated district contribution to the teacher pension fund rose to 21.40% of employee salaries and in 2015-16 it rose again to 25.84% of total district salaries.[192]

In 2010, the district reported employing 69 teachers and administrators with a median salary of $49,284 and a top salary of $95,400.[193] The teacher's work day is 7.5 hours, with 185 days in the contract year. Additionally, the teachers receive a defined benefit pension, health insurance, professional development reimbursement, 3 paid personal days, 10 paid sick days, and other benefits. Teachers may attend conventions with no loss in pay. Teachers are paid $20 per hour for work conducted outside the regular school day.[194]

In 2007, the district employed 83 teachers with the average teacher salary in the district at $43,847 for 180 days worked.[195]

Administrative costs

Rochester Area School District per pupil administrative costs were $963.62 per pupil in 2008. The district ranked 68th out of 500 school districts, for administrative spending per pupil in 2008. The lowest administrative cost per pupil in Pennsylvania was $398 per pupil.[196] In 2009, the superintendent, who had a master's degree, was paid $103,750 in salary. Administrators receive the same benefits as members of the teachers union.[197] According to PSBA, the median superintendent salary rose to over $130,000 in 2011.[198]

Per-pupil spending

In 2008, Rochester Area School District administration reported that per-pupil spending was $13,243 which ranked 158th among Pennsylvania's 501 school districts. In 2010, the per-pupil spending had increased to $15,681.02 ranking 79th among all Pennsylvania public school districts.[199] In 2013, the per-pupil spending was reported as $17,149, which ranked 89th among PA's 500 public school districts.[200] Among the states, Pennsylvania's total per pupil revenue (including all sources) ranked 11th at $15,023 per student, in 2008-09.[201] In 2007, the Pennsylvania per pupil total expenditures was $12,759.[202]

Reserves In 2008, Rochester Area School District reported a balance of $1,121,548 in an unreserved-designated fund. The unreserved-undesignated fund balance was reported as $289,000.[203] In 2010, Rochester Area Administration reported an increase to $1,082,589 in its unreserved-undesignated fund balance with $177,227 in the district's unreserved-designated fund. In 2012, Rochester Area School District Administration reported $514,137 in the unreserved-undesignated fund balance. The district also reported $696,843 in its unreserved-designated fund in 2012. 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.[204] In 2005, the total reserve funds held by Pennsylvania public school districts was $1.9 billion.[205] By 2013, reserves held by Pennsylvania public school districts, as a whole, had increased to over $3.8 billion.[206][207][208]

State audits

In 2013, the Pennsylvania Auditor General's Office conducted a performance audit of the district. It found that the board had spent $146,328 on an agreement that prematurely terminated Its former superintendent's employment. The action was provoked by multiple issues of misconduct. Additionally, violations of the school code were found as well as actions that were a conflict of interest.[209][210]

In November 2009, the Pennsylvania Auditor General's Office conducted a performance audit of the district. The findings were reported to the school board and administration.[211]

Tuition Students who live in the district's attendance area may choose to attend one of Pennsylvania's 157 public charter schools. A student living in a neighboring public school district or a foreign exchange student may seek admission to Rochester Area School District. For these cases, the Pennsylvania Department of Education sets an annual tuition rate for each school district. It is the amount the public school district pays to a charter school for each resident student that attends the charter and it is the amount a nonresident student's parents must pay to attend the district's schools. The 2014 tuition rates are Elementary School - $10,903.09, High School - $12,959.83[212]

Rochester Area School District levies the following taxes: a property tax, a local earned income tax 0.5% and a real estate transfer tax 0.5%, coupled with substantial funding from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and a small amount, generally 10% of its budget from the federal government.[213] Grants can provide an opportunity to supplement school funding without raising local taxes. Interest earnings on accounts also provide nontax income to the district. In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, pension income and Social Security income are exempted from state personal income tax and local earned income tax, regardless of the level of the individual's personal wealth.[214] The average Pennsylvania public school teacher pension in 2011 exceeded $60,000 a year, plus they receive federal Social Security benefits. Both retirement benefits are free of Pennsylvania state income tax and local income tax which funds local public schools.[215] Effective 2016, active duty military are also exempted from paying the local earned income tax in Pennsylvania.[216][217]

State education funding

According to a report from Representative Todd Stephens office, Rochester Area School District receives 63.6% of its annual revenue from the state.[218] This exceeds some education advocates goal of the state providing 50% of district funding.[219]

For the 2015-16 school year, Governor Tom Wolf released a partial Basic Education Funding of $2,934,609 to Rochester Area School District, in January 2016.[220] This was part of $10.3 billion in school funding withheld from the public schools, by the Governor since the summer of 2015.[221] The dispersement did not follow the new Basic Education Fair Funding formula which had been established by the Pennsylvania General Assembly in June 2015.[222] Ten (10) Pennsylvania school districts received no increase in Basic Education funding under Governor Wolf.[223][224] In compliance with a legislative mandate that was passed with veto proof majorities in the PA House and Senate,[225] the final BEF funding was determined for 2015-16, in April 2016. Rochester Area School District received $6,095,209 in Basic Education Funds for the 2015-16 school year. This was a 0.99% increase yielding a $59,966 increase over the previous school year funding. The district also received $183,274 in Ready to Learn funding from the state.[226]

For the 2014-15 school year, Rochester Area School District received $6,035,243 in State Basic Education funding. The district received $149,318 in new Ready To Learn Block grant. The State's enacted Education Budget included $5,526,129,000 for the 2014-2015 Basic Education Funding.[227] The Education budget also included Accountability Block Grant funding at $100 million and $241 million in new Ready to Learn funding for public schools that focus on student achievement and academic success.

In the 2013-2014 school year, Rochester Area School District received a 1.2% increase or $6,037,736 in Pennsylvania Basic Education Funding. This is $69,562 more than its 2012-13 state BEF to the district. Additionally, Rochester Area School District received $86,840 in Accountability Block Grant funding to focus on academic achievement and level funding for special education services. Among the public school districts in Beaver County, Midland Borough School District received the highest percentage increase in BEF at 10.2%. Rochester Area School District had the option of applying for several other state and federal grants to increase revenues. The Commonwealth's budget increased Basic Education Funding statewide by $123 million to over $5.5 billion. Most of Pennsylvania's 500 public school districts received an increase of Basic Education Funding in a range of 0.9% to 4%. Eight public school districts received exceptionally high funding increases of 10% to 16%. The highest increase in state funding was awarded to Austin Area School District which received a 22.5% increase in Basic Education Funding.[228] The highest percent of state spending per student is in the Chester-Upland School District, where roughly 78 percent comes from state coffers. In Philadelphia, it is nearly 49 percent.[229] As a part of the education budget, the state provided the PSERS (Pennsylvania school employee pension fund) with $1,017,000,000 and Social Security payments for school employees of $495 million.[230] State paid $500.8 million to Social Security on the school employees behalf and another $1.16 billion to the state teachers pension system (PSERS). In total, Pennsylvania's Education budget for K-12 public schools is $10 billion. This was a $305 million increase over 2013-2014 state spending and the greatest amount ever allotted by the Commonwealth for its public schools.[231]

For the 2012-13 school year, Rochester Area School District received $5,968,174.[232] The Governor's Executive Budget for 2012-2013 included $9.34 billion for kindergarten through 12th grade public education, including $5.4 billion in basic education funding, which was an increase of $49 million over the 2011-12 budget. In addition, the Commonwealth provided $100 million for the Accountability Block Grant (ABG) program. Rochester Area School District received $86,840 in ABG funds. The state also provided a $544.4 million payment for School Employees’ Social Security and $856 million for School Employees’ Retirement fund called PSERS.[233] This amount was a $21,823,000 increase (0.34%) over the 2011-2012 appropriations for Basic Education Funding, School Employees' Social Security, Pupil Transportation, Nonpublic and Charter School Pupil Transportation. Since taking office, Corbett's first two budgets have restored more than $918 million in support of public schools, compensating for the $1 billion in federal stimulus dollars lost at the end of the 2010-11 school year.

In 2011-12 school year, Rochester Area School District received a $5,968,174, allocation, of state Basic Education Funding.[234][235] Additionally, Rochester Area School District received $86,839 in Accountability Block Grant funding. The enacted Pennsylvania state Education budget included $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.[236] 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.[237] In 2010, the district reported that 593 students received free or reduced-price lunches, due to the family meeting the federal poverty level.[238]

In the 2010-2011 budget year, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a 2% increase in Basic Education Funding for a total of $6,250,399. Among the districts in Beaver County, the highest increase went to Midland Borough School District which got a 7.57% increase. One hundred fifty Pennsylvania school districts received the base 2% increase, including seven Beaver County school districts. The highest increase in 2010-11 went to Kennett Consolidated School District in Chester County which received a 23.65% increase in state funding.[239] 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. The amount of increase each school district received was set by Governor Edward Rendell and then Secretary of Education Gerald Zahorchak, as a part of the state budget proposal given each February. This was the second year of Governor Rendell's policy to fund some districts at a far greater rate than others.

In the 2009-10 budget year, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a 2.68% increase in Basic Education Funding for a total of $6,127,842 to Rochester Area School District. Among the districts in Beaver County, the highest increase went to Big Beaver Falls Area School District which got a 5.26%. Ninety school districts received a 2% increase, including six Beaver County school districts. Muhlenberg School District in Berks County received a 22.31% increase in state basic education funding in 2009.[240] 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.[241]

The state Basic Education Funding to Rochester Area School District in 2008-09 was $5,968,174.01. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 574 district students received free or reduced-price lunches due to low family income in the 2007–2008 school year.[242] According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Pennsylvania spent $7,824 Per Pupil in the year 2000. This amount increased up to $12,085 by the year 2008.[243][244]

All Pennsylvania school districts also receive additional funding from the state through several funding allocations, including: Reimbursement of Charter School Expenditures; Special Education Funding; Secondary Career & Technical Education Subsidy; PA Accountability Grants; and low achieving schools were eligible for Educational Assistance Program Funding. Plus all Pennsylvania school districts receive federal dollars for various programs including: Special Education funding and Title I funding for children from low income families. In 2010, Pennsylvania spent over $24 billion for public education - local, state and federal dollars combined.[245] By 2015, Pennsylvania was spending over $27 billion on public education (local, state and federal resources combined).[246]

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, Rochester Area School District applied for and received $235,704 in addition to all other state and federal funding. The district used the funding to provide full-day kindergarten and to fund teacher training to improve instruction.[247][248]

Ready to Learn grant

Beginning in the 2014-2015 budget, the State funded a new Ready to Learn Grant for public schools. A total of $100 million is allocated through a formula to districts based on the number of students, level of poverty of community as calculated by its market value/personal income aid ratio (MV/PI AR) and the number of English language learners. Ready to Learn Block Grant funds may be used by the districts for: school safety; Ready by 3 early childhood intervention programs; individualized learning programs; and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs.[249]

Rochester Area School District received $149,318 in Ready to Learn Grant dollars in addition to State Basic Education funding, Special Education funding, transportation reimbursement, reimbursement for Social Security payments for employees and other state grants which the district must apply to receive.

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 Rochester Area School District received $27,332.[250]

Science It's Elementary grant

Rochester Area Elementary School successfully applied to participate and received a Science It's Elementary grant in 2008-09. For the 2008-09 school year, the program was offered in 143 schools reaching 2,847 teachers and 66,973 students across Pennsylvania.[251] In 2007, the Pennsylvania Department of Education initiated an effort to improve science instruction in the Commonwealth's public elementary schools. Called Science: It's Elementary, the program is a hands on instruction approach for elementary science classes that develops problem-solving and critical thinking skills.[252] To encourage schools to adopt the program's standards aligned curriculum, the state provided a grant to cover the costs of materials and extensive mandatory teacher training.[253] The district was required to develop a three-year implementation plan for the participating school. They had to appoint a district liaison who was paid $3000 by PDE to serve as the conduit of all information between the district and the Department and its agents along with submitting orders and distributing supplies to implementing teachers. For the 2006-07 state education budget, $10 million was allocated. The 2006-07 State Education Budget provided $635 million in new spending for pre-K through 12th grades for the 2006-07 school year. This marks an 8-percent increase over 2005-06 public school funding.[254] The grant program was expanded to $14.5 million in the 2008-09 budget.

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. Rochester Area School District did not apply to participate in 2006-07 or in 2007-08. The district received $76,351 in 2008-09.[255] In Beaver County, the highest award was awarded to Freedom Area School District - $476,723. The highest funding statewide was awarded to Philadelphia City School District in Philadelphia County - $9,409,073. In 2010, Classrooms for the Future funding was curtailed statewide due to a massive state financial crisis.

Other grants

The district did not participate in: Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection's Environmental Education annual grants;[256][257] 2012 Safe Schools and Resource Officer grants; 2012 and 2013 Pennsylvania Hybrid Learning Grants;[258] Project 720 High School Reform grants[259] (discontinued effective with 2011-12 budget); nor the federal 21st Century Learning grants.

Federal funding

Rochester Area School District received $1,193,135 in Federal Stimulus ARRA funds in 2009-2011. This was in addition to all regular state and federal funding.[260] These dollars must be focused on programs to improve the academic achievement of students receiving free and reduced-price lunch or special education students. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 574 RASD students qualified for free or reduced-price lunch due to low family income in 2008.[261] The funding was limited to the 2009-10 and 2010-2011 school years.[262] Due to the temporary nature of the funding, schools were repeatedly advised to use the funds for one-time expenditures like acquiring equipment, making repairs to buildings, training teachers to provide more effective instruction or purchasing books and software.

Race to the Top grant

District officials did not apply for the federal Race to the Top grant which would have provided over one million dollars in additional federal funding to improve student academic achievement.[263] 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.[264] 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.[265][266][267]

Title II grants

The Federal government provides annual grants to schools to be used to improve the quality of teacher instructions to pupils. The goal is to provide each child in public schools with "High Quality" teachers and principals as defined by the state.[268] The funds are sent to the state Department of Education which distributes them to each school district and charter school.[269] Beginning in 2002, the federal funding committed to Title II was $3,175,000,000.

Public school district administrations must apply to the state annually for the Title II funds. In 2012-13, Rochester Area School District received $70,491 in federal Title II funding.[270] In 2014-15, Rochester Area School District applied for and received $66,006.[271]

Common Cents state initiative

Rochester School Board elected to not participate in the Pennsylvania Department of Education Common Cents program. Several Beaver County school districts did participate in the 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.[272] 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 2015-16 were set by the school board at 67.0000 mills.[273] 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.[274] 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. Unlike other states, under Pennsylvania state tax policy, natural gas and oil pipelines are exempted from property taxes.[275][276][277][278]

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.[279]

The average yearly property tax paid by Beaver County residents amounts to about 3.49% of their yearly income. Beaver County ranked 375th out of the 3143 United States counties for property taxes as a percentage of median income.[290] According to a report prepared by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, the total real estate taxes collected by all school districts in Pennsylvania rose from $6,474,133,936 in 1999-00 to $10,438,463,356 in 2008-09 and to $11,153,412,490 in 2011.[291] 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%).[292] Pennsylvania's 2011 tax burden of 10.35% ranked 10th highest out of 50 states. The tax burden was above the national average of 9.8%. Pennsylvania's taxpayers paid $4,374 per capita in state and local taxes, including school taxes.[293]

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 was 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.[294] In June 2011, the Pennsylvania General Assembly eliminated six of the ten exceptions to the Act 1 Index.[295] 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.[296][297]

The School District Adjusted Index for the Rochester Area School District 2006-2007 through 2011-2012.[298]

For the 2015-16 budget year, Rochester Area School Board did not apply for any exceptions to exceed their Act 1 Index limit: for special education cost and for its rapidly rising teacher pension costs. For the school budget 2015-16, 310 Pennsylvania public school districts adopted a resolution certifying that tax rates would not be increased above its Act 1 Index limit. Another 187 school districts adopted a preliminary budget leaving open the option of exceeding the Index limit. Regarding the pension costs exception, 172 school districts received approval to exceed the Index limit in full, while others received a partial approval of their request. For special education costs, 119 districts received approval to exceed their tax limit. No Pennsylvania public school districts received an approval for the grandfathered construction debts exception.[305]

For the 2014-15 budget year, Rochester Area School Board applied for two exceptions to exceed their Act 1 Index limit: School Construction Grandfathered Debt and escalating teacher pension costs. In 2014-15, all Pennsylvania school districts were required to make a 21.4% of payroll payment to the teacher's pension fund (PSERS).[306] For the school budget 2014-15, 316 Pennsylvania public school districts adopted a resolution certifying that tax rates would not be increased above its Act 1 Index limit. Another 181 school districts adopted a preliminary budget leaving open the option of exceeding the Index limit. Districts may apply for multiple exceptions each year. For the pension costs exception, 163 school districts received approval to exceed the Index in full, while others received a partial approval of their request. For special education costs, 104 districts received approval to exceed their tax limit. Seven Pennsylvania public school districts received an approval for the grandfathered construction debts exception.[307]

For the 2013-14 budget year, Rochester Area School Board applied for two exceptions to exceed their Act 1 Index limit: special education costs and increasing teacher pension costs. In 2013-14, all Pennsylvania school districts were required to make a 16.93% of payroll payment to the teacher's pension fund (PSERS). For the school budget year 2013-14, 311 Pennsylvania public school districts adopted a resolution certifying that tax rates would not be increased above their index. Another 171 school districts adopted a preliminary budget leaving open the option of exceeded the Index limit. For the pension costs exception, 169 school districts received approval to exceed the Index. For special education costs, 75 districts received approval to exceed their tax limit. Eleven Pennsylvania public school districts received an approval for grandfathered construction debts.[308]

For the 2012-13 budget year, Rochester Area School Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed the Act 1 Index. For 2012-2013, 274 school districts adopted a resolution certifying that tax rates would not be increased above their index; 223 school districts adopted a preliminary budget leaving open the option of exceeded the Index limit. For the exception for pension costs, 194 school districts received approval to exceed the Index. For special education costs, 129 districts received approval to exceed the tax limit. For the exception for pension costs, 194 school districts received approval to exceed the Index. For special education costs, 129 districts received approval to exceed the tax limit.[309]

For the 2011-12 school year, the Rochester Area School Board did not apply for an exception to exceed the Act 1 Index. Each year, the school board has the option of adopting either 1) a resolution in January certifying they will not increase taxes above their index or 2) a preliminary budget in February. A school district adopting the resolution may not apply for referendum exceptions or ask voters for a tax increase above the inflation index. A specific timeline for these decisions is published annually, by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.[310]

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.[311]

Rochester Area School Board did not apply for an exception to exceed the Act 1 index for the budget in 2010.[312]

For the 2009-10 school budget, Rochester Area School Board also did not apply for an exception to exceed the Index.[313] 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.[314]

Property tax relief

In 2012, Rochester Area School District approved homestead properties received $295.[315] The amount received by the district must be divided equally among all approved residences.[316]

Among school district in Beaver County, the highest tax relief was awarded to Aliquippa School District - $357. 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. The amount of property tax relief each Pennsylvania public school district receives is announced by the PDE in May of each year. The amount of tax relief is dependent on the total tax revenue collected on the casino slots in the previous year. Thirty five percent of the slots tax revenues are used for property tax relief. The highest property tax relief provided, among Pennsylvania school districts, goes to the homesteads of Chester Upland School District in Delaware County which received $632 per approved homestead in 2010. Chester-Upland School District has consistently been the top recipient since the programs inception.[317] The tax relief was started by Governor Edward G. Rendell with passage of the state gaming law in 2004. Rendell promised taxpayers substantial property tax relief from legalized gambling.[318]

Some Rochester Area School District residents, including: low income residents aged 65 and older; widows and widowers aged 50 and older; and people with disabilities age 18 and older, can qualify for the state's Property Tax/Rent Rebate program. The income limit is $35,000 for homeowners.[319] Residents must apply annually to receive up to $650. The Property tax/rent rebate program is funded by revenues from the Pennsylvania Lottery. In 2012, these property tax rebates were increased by an additional 50 percent for senior households in the state, so long as those households have incomes under $30,000 and pay more than 15% of their income in property taxes.[320]

Wellness policy

Rochester Area School Board established a district wellness policy in 2006.[321][322] 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." Most districts identified the superintendent and school foodservice director as responsible for ensuring local wellness policy implementation.[323]

The legislation placed the responsibility of developing a wellness policy at the local level so the individual needs of each district can be addressed. According to the requirements for the Local Wellness Policy, school districts must set goals for nutrition education, physical activity, 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.[324] The Pennsylvania Department of Education required the district to submit a copy of the policy for approval.

Rochester Area School District offers both a free school breakfast and a free or reduced-price lunch to children in low income families. All students attending the school can eat breakfast and lunch. Children from families with incomes at or below 130 percent of the federal poverty level are provided a breakfast and lunch at no cost to the family. Children from families with incomes between 130 and 185 percent of the federal poverty level can be charged no more than 30 cents per breakfast. A foster child whose care and placement is the responsibility of the State or who is placed by a court with a caretaker household is eligible for both a free breakfast and a free lunch. Runaway, homeless and Migrant Youth are also automatically eligible for free meals.[325] The meals are partially funded with federal dollars through the United States Department of Agriculture.[326] Additionally, the district provides the Federal summer meals program which gives free lunches M-F, throughout the summer.[327]

In 2013, the USDA issued new restrictions to foods in public schools. The rules apply to foods and beverages sold on all public school district campuses during the day. They limit vending machine snacks to a maximum of 200 calories per item. Additionally, all snack foods sold at school must meet competitive nutrient standards, meaning they must have fruits, vegetables, dairy or protein in them or contain at least 10 percent of the daily value of fiber, calcium, potassium, and Vitamin D.[328] In order to comply with the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 all US public school districts are required to raise the price of their school lunches to $2.60 regardless of the actual cost of providing the lunch.[329] The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 mandates that districts raise their full pay lunch prices every year until the price of non-subsidized lunches equals the amount the federal government reimburses schools for free meals. That subsidy in 2013-2014 was $2.93. In 2015, federal reimbursement rates were: $3.07 per meal for students who are income-eligible for free lunches and $2.67 for those who qualify for a reduced price. School lunch participation nationally dropped from 31.6 million students in 2012 to 30.4 million in 2014, according to the federal Department of Agriculture. Pennsylvania statistics show school lunch participation dropped by 86,950 students in the same two years, from 1,127,444 in 2012 to 1,040,494 in 2014.[330]

In 2014, President Barack Obama ordered a prohibition of advertisements for unhealthy foods on public school campuses during the school day.[331][332]

The US Department of Agriculture requires that students take milk as their beverage at lunch. In accordance with this law, any student requesting water in place of milk with their lunch must present a written request, signed by a doctor, documenting the need for water instead of milk.[333][334]

Rochester Area School District provides health services as mandated by the Commonwealth and the federal government. Nurses are available in each building to conduct annual health screenings (data reported to the PDE and state Department of Health) and to dispense prescribed medications to students during the school day. Students can be excluded from school unless they comply with all the State Department of Health's extensive immunization mandates. School nurses monitor each pupil for this compliance.[335][336] Nurses also monitor each child's weight.[337]

In 2016, the Pennsylvania Department of Health distributed to each Pennsylvania high school the overdose antidote drug naloxone in a nasal spray. School nurses were also provided with educational materials and training developed by the National Association of School Nurses.[338] The cost was covered by a grant from a private foundation.[339]

Health eTools program

Rochester Area School District participated in Highmark Foundation's Healthy High 5 Health eTools for Schools grant which enabled mobile data collection of pertinent health and physical fitness screening data on students K-12 in a database held by InnerLink, Inc. in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.[340] Health eTools for Schools also provided interdisciplinary research-based curriculum in nutrition, physical education and physical activity to participating districts. The program was discontinued by the company in 2013.[341]

Highmark Healthy High 5 grant

In 2014, the Rochester Area School District received funding through a Highmark Healthy High 5 grant. Rochester Area High School and Middle School received $6,500 which was used to purchase of a body composition monitor, treadmills, elliptical machine, Student Health Force program and upright bicycles for the school's Wellness program.[342] Beginning in 2006, Highmark Foundation engaged in a 5-year, $100 million program to promote lifelong healthy behaviors in children and adolescents through local nonprofits and schools. The schools also receive a Healthy High 5 grant in 2008.[343]

Extracurriculars

The Rochester Area School District offers a variety of clubs, activities and an extensive sports program. Eligibility to participate are determine in school board policy. Students who fail to complete summer school remediate classes can be denied participation in extracurriculars.

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.[344]

According to PA Child Abuse Recognition and Reporting Act 126 of 2014, all volunteer coaches and all those who assist in student activities, must have criminal background checks. Like all school district employees, they must also attend an anti child abuse training once every three years.[345][346][347]

Sports

Coaches receive compensation as outlined in the teachers' union contract. When athletic competition exceeds the regular season, additional compensation is paid.[348] According to Pennsylvania's Safety in Youth Sports Act, all sports coaches, paid and volunteer, are required to annually complete the Concussion Management Certification Training and present the certification before coaching.[349][350]

The district is noncompliant with state law, due to failing to post its Interscholastic Athletic Opportunities Disclosure Form on its website. Article XVI-C of the Public School Code requires the disclosure of interscholastic athletic opportunities for all public secondary school entities in Pennsylvania. All school entities with grades 7-12 are required to annually collect data concerning team and financial information for all male and female athletes beginning with the 2012-13 school year and submit the information to the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Beginning with the 2013-14 school year, all non-school (booster club and alumni) contributions and purchases must also be reported to PDE.[351]

The district funds:

Varsity
Middle School Sports

According to PIAA directory July 2015[352]

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