Puneet Varma

Grove City Area School District

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Type  Public
School number  724-458-6733
Kindergartens  150
School board  9 elected members
Faculty  184
Grove City Area School District wwwgrovecityk12pauscmslib011PA02000125Cent
Closed  Washington Kindergarten Center
Superintendent  Mr. Jeffrey A. Finch,salary $150,000 (2015-2016)
Administrator  Mrs. Kim Buchanan, Business Manager Mrs. Judy Dennis - Director of Technology Linda Hunter, Food Service Director Ms. Deb Royle, Transportation Coordinator Mr.Casey Young, Athletic Director

The Grove City Area School District is a small, rural, public school district serving south eastern region of Mercer County, Pennsylvania. It encompasses the communities of Grove City, Pine Township, Wolf Creek Township, Springfield Township, and Liberty Township. Grove City Area School District encompasses approximately 92 square miles (240 km2). According to 2000 federal census data, it served a resident population of 16,494. By 2010, the district's population was 17,687 people. In 2009, the District residents' per capita income was $17,309, while median family income was $45,646 a year.

Contents

Map of Grove City Area School District, PA, USA

According to District officials, in school year 2007-08, the Grove City Area School District' provided basic educational services to 2,232 pupils through the employment of 197 teachers, 104 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 11 administrators. Grove City Area School District received more than $12.2 million in state funding in school year 2007-08. In school year 2009-10, the Grove City Area School District provided basic educational services to 2,433 pupils. The District employed: 192 teachers, 98 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 11 administrators. Grove City Area School District received more than $12.5 million in state funding in school year 2009-10. The District is one of 16 full and partial public school districts operating in Mercer County and one of 500 public school districts in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

Grove City Area School District operates: Highland Primary Center (Kindergarten and first grade), Hillview Intermediate Center (2nd - 5th grade), a middle school for grades 6th-8th, and a 9th - 12th high school.

Grove City Area School District employs the Response to Instruction and Intervention model to provide special education services and for behavioral issues in the elementary schools.

Governance

Grove City Area 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. 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 "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.

Academic achievement

In 2013, the Grove City Area School District ranked 116th out of 498 Pennsylvania districts by the Pittsburgh Business Times. The ranking is based on the last three years of student academic achievement as demonstrated by PSSAs results in reading, writing, mathematics and science. The PSSAs are given to all children in grades 3rd through 8th and the 11th grade in high school. Adapted examinations are given to children in the special education programs.

  • 2012 - 88th
  • 2011 - 80th
  • 2010 - 73rd
  • 2009 - 66th
  • 2008 - 67th
  • 2007 - 57th out of 501 districts
  • Overachiever statewide ranking

    In 2013, the Pittsburgh Business Times also reported an Overachievers Ranking for 498 Pennsylvania school districts. Grove City Area School District ranked 27th. In 2011, the district was ranked 26th. 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."

    In 2009, the academic achievement of the students of the Grove City Area School District was in the 77th percentile of Pennsylvania's 500 school districts. Scale (0-99; 100 is state best)

    District AYP status history

    In 2012, Grove City Area School District achieved AYP status. In 2011, Grove City Area School District achieved Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). In 2011, 94 percent of the 500 Pennsylvania public school districts achieved the No Child Left Behind Act progress level of 72% of students reading on grade level and 67% of students demonstrating on grade level math. In 2011, 46.9 percent of Pennsylvania school districts achieved Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) based on student performance. An additional 37.8 percent of Pennsylvania public school districts made AYP based on a calculated method called safe harbor, 8.2 percent on the growth model and 0.8 percent on a two-year average performance. Grove City Area School District achieved AYP status each year from 2004 to 2010, while in 2003 the District was in Warning status due to lagging student achievement.

    Graduation rate

    In 2012, Grove City Area School District's graduation rate was 88%. In 2011, the District's graduation rate was 89%. In 2010, the Pennsylvania Department of Education issued a new, 4-year cohort graduation rate. Grove City Area School District's graduation rate was 89% for 2010.

    According to traditional graduation rate calculations:

  • 2010 - 98%
  • 2009 - 98%
  • 2008 - 98%
  • 2007 - 98%
  • High school

    Grove City Area High School is located at 511 Highland Avenue, Grove City. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, the school reported an enrollment of 758 pupils in grades 9th through 12th, with 191 pupils eligible for a federal free or reduced price lunch due to the family meeting the federal poverty level. The school employed 40 teachers yielding a student-teacher ratio of 19:1. According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.

    In 2012, Grove City Area High School achieved AYP status through Safe Harbor.The School missed target achievement goals in reading and mathematics for most subgroups. In 2011, the School declined to Warning AYP status due to lagging student achievement. In 2010, Grove City Area Senior High School achieved AYP status. In 2009, the School was in Warning status due to low student achievement.

    11th Grade Reading
  • 2012 - 74% on grade level, (12% below basic). State - 67% of 11th graders are on grade level.
  • 2011 - 76% (9% below basic). State - 69.1%
  • 2010 - 75% (11% below basic). State - 66%
  • 2009 - 71% (14% below basic), State - 65%
  • 2008 - 80% (10% below basic), State - 65%
  • 2007 - 73% (15% below basic), State - 65%
  • 11th Grade Math
  • 2012 - 72% on grade level (14% below basic). State - 59%
  • 2011 - 71% (14% below basic). State - 60.3%
  • 2010 - 70%, (18% below basic). State - 59%
  • 2009 - 71% (16% below basic). State - 56%.
  • 2008 - 77% (9% below basic), State - 56%
  • 2007 - 68% (16% below basic), State - 53%
  • 11th Grade Science
  • 2012 - 61% on grade level (7% below basic). State - 42% of 11th graders were on grade level.
  • 2011 - 61% (9% below basic). State - 40%
  • 2010 - 60% (7% below basic). State - 39%
  • 2009 - 70% (7% below basic). State - 40%
  • 2008 - 58%, State - 39%
  • Science in Motion Grove City Area High School took 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. The High School and Hillview Intermediate School worked with Westminster College to provide the enrichment experiences.

    College Remediation

    According to a Pennsylvania Department of Education study released in January 2009, 23% of Grove City Area Senior High School graduates required remediation in mathematics and or reading before they were prepared to take college level courses in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education or community colleges. 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. 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

    Grove City Senior High School offers a dual enrollment program. This state program permits high school students to take courses, at local higher education institutions, to earn college credits. Students remain enrolled at their high school. The courses count towards both high school graduation requirements and towards earning a college degree. 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. Under the Pennsylvania Transfer and Articulation Agreement, many Pennsylvania colleges and universities accept these credits for students who transfer to their institutions. 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.

    For the 2009-10 funding year, the school district received a state grant of $2,878 for the program.

    Graduation requirements

    The Grove City Area School Board has determined that a high school student must earn 24.2 credits in order to graduate, including: English 4 credits, Social Studies 3 credits, Mathematics 3 credits, Science 3 credits, Physical Education 1.6 credits, Health 1 credit, Freshman Studies 1 credit, Humanities Arts 2.6 credits and 5 elective credits.

    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. Effective with the graduating class of 2017, the Pennsylvania State Board of Education eliminated the state mandate that students complete a culminating project in order to graduate.

    By Pennsylvania School Board regulations, beginning with the class of 2017, public school students must demonstrate successful completion of secondary level course work in Algebra I, Biology, and English Literature by passing the Keystone Exams. The exam is given at the end of the course. Keystone Exams replace the PSSAs for 11th grade. Students have several opportunities to pass the exam, with those who do not able to perform a project in order to graduate. For the class of 2019, a Composition exam will be added. For the class of 2020, passing a civics and government exam will be added to the graduation requirements. 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. Individual student, school or district reports were not made public, although they were reported to district officials by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Students identified as having special needs and qualifying for an Individual Educational Program (IEP) may graduate by meeting the requirements of their IEP.

    By state orders you must have a drivers license in order to graduate starting with the class of 2018 and this order depends on your 16th birthday. If you are born after the 4th week of your sophomore 10th grade you will be exempted.

    SAT scores

    In 2012, 108 Grove City Area School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 513. The Math average score was 541. The Writing average score was 487. 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, 114 Grove City Area School District students took the SAT exams. The District's Verbal Average Score was 522. The Math average score was 536. The Writing average score was 486. Pennsylvania ranked 40th among states with SAT scores: Verbal - 493, Math - 501, Writing - 479. 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.

    Middle school

    Grove City Area Middle school is located at 100 Middle School Drive, Grove City. The school is newly built, opening for the 2011-12 school year. The school provides grades 6th through 8th. Enrollment was 540 students in 2011. According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Non‐Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind. The building grades were realigned to add 6th grade in the new building.

    Grove City Area School District received a $282,000 loan to install a new geothermal well system at the new middle school. The geothermal heating and cooling system is to yield long-term cost savings to the District. The geothermal project cost was $3.1 million. Grove City Area School District contributed $2.1 million in matching funds. The total project cost was $24.3 million. Additionally the project incorporated natural daylighting. The 93,580 square foot project cost $20,652,304.

    In 2012, Grove City Area Middle School declined to Warning AYP status due to lagging student achievement in both reading and mathematics. In 2009 through 2011, the Middle School achieved AYP status. Pre-algebra is required for all students and research skills are developed through a major research project. A tutorial program is offered to all students to support the required programs.

    PSSA results:

    8th Grade Science
  • 2012 - 78% on grade level (10% below basic). State - 59%
  • 2011 - 73% (14% below basic). State – 58%
  • 2010 - 71% (14% below basic). State - 57%
  • 2009 - 67% (15% below basic), State - 55%
  • 2008 - 67%, State - 52%
  • Hillview Intermediate Center

    Hillview Intermediate Center is located at 482 East Main Street, Grove City. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2011, the school reported an enrollment of 677 pupils in grades 3rd through 5th, with 190 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced price lunch due to family poverty. The school is a federally designated Title I school. The school employed 40 teachers yielding a student-teacher ratio of 17:1. According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under the federal No Child Left Behind Act. The school was formerly Hillview Elementary School providing 3rd to 6th grades. The school offers several after school activities: Book Club, Science Club and Technology Club.

    PSSA results:

    4th Grade Science
  • 2012 - 96%, 53% advanced. State - 82%
  • 2011 - 97%, 53% advanced. State - 82.9%
  • 2010 - 98%, 66% advanced. State - 81%
  • 2009 - 93%, 44% advanced. State - 83%
  • 2008 - 91%, 56% advanced. State - 81%
  • Highland Primary Center

    Highland Primary Center is located at 611 Highland Avenue, Grove City. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2011, the school reported an enrollment of 297 pupils in grades kindergarten and first, with 85 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced price lunch due to family poverty. The school is a federally designated Title I school. The school employed 18 teachers yielding a student-teacher ratio of 16:1. According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated "Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.

    Special Education

    In December 2012, Grove City Area School District administration reported that 276 pupils or 10.6% of the district's pupils received Special Education services, while 43% of identified students had specific learning disability. In December 2009, the District administration reported that 283 pupils or 8.8% of the district's pupils received special education services.

    In order to comply with state and federal laws, the school district engages in identification procedures to ensure that eligible students receive an appropriate educational program consisting of special education and related services, individualized to meet student needs. At no cost to the parents, these services are provided in compliance with state and federal law; and are reasonably calculated to yield meaningful educational benefit and student progress. To identify students who may be eligible for special education, various screening activities are conducted on an ongoing basis. These screening activities include: review of group-based data (cumulative records, enrollment records, health records, report cards, ability and achievement test scores); hearing, vision, motor, and speech/language screening; and review by the Special Education administration. When screening results suggest that the student may be eligible, the District seeks parental consent to conduct a multidisciplinary evaluation. Parents who suspect their child is eligible may verbally request a multidisciplinary evaluation from a professional employee of the District or contact the head of Special Education.

    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. Total funds that are received by school districts are calculated through a formula. The Pennsylvania Department of Education oversees four appropriations used to fund students with special needs: Special Education; Approved Private Schools; Pennsylvania Chartered Schools for the Deaf and Blind; and Early Intervention. 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. Over identification 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. The state requires each public school district and charter school to have a three-year special education plan to meet the unique needs of its special education students. In 2012, the Obama Administration's US Department of Education issued a directive that schools include students with disabilities in extracurricular activities, including sports.

    Grove City Area School District received a $1,273,732 supplement for special education services in 2010. For the 2011-12, 2012–13 and 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. Additionally, the state provides supplemental funding for extraordinarily impacted students. The District must apply for this added funding.

    Federal DOJ complaint

    In August 2013, the Pennsylvania Education Law Center filed a complaint with the Federal Department of Justice against the Pennsylvania Department of Education Bureau because 80% of the students in alternative education in Grove City Area District are special needs students. The complaint claims some districts are warehousing special education students. In Mercer County the next highest alternative placement rate for special needs students was Sharon City School District at 48%.

    Gifted education- A.C.E.- advanced cultural education

    Grove City Area School District Administration reported that 107 or 3.78% of its students were gifted in 2009. By law, the district must provide mentally gifted programs at all grade levels. The referral process for a gifted evaluation can be initiated by teachers or parents by contacting the student’s building principal and requesting an evaluation. All requests must be made in writing. To be eligible for mentally gifted programs in Pennsylvania, a student must have a cognitive ability of at least 130 as measured on a standardized ability test by a certified school psychologist. Other factors that indicate giftedness will also be considered for eligibility.

    Bullying policy school safety

    In 2010, Grove City Area School District Administration reported there were no reported episodes of bullying in the district. There were 20 incidents of fighting and one student was placed in Alternative Education. In 2013, physical bullying remained low, but there was a spike in cyber-bullying, specifically on the social network Twitter. 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. The Grove City School Board has failed to do this. 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. 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.

    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.

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

    In 2011, the average teacher salary in Grove City Area School District was $57,668 a year, while the cost of the benefits teachers received was $22,155 per employee (among the highest in PA), for a total annual average teacher compensation of $79,823.60. The District employed 200 teachers with an average salary of $59,911 and a top salary of $127,000. 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.

    In 2009, Grove City Area School District employed 207 teachers. The average teacher salary in the district was $56,314 for 180 school days worked. The beginning salary was $38,540, while the highest salary was $123,086. Teachers work a 7-hour 30 minute day with one planning period and a paid 30 minute lunch included. In June 2007, the board agreed to a contract extension for the teachers. Under the 2009-2012 contract extension, teachers receive an average of 3.59 percent a year increase in salary. Additionally, the teachers received a defined benefit pension, health insurance, professional development reimbursement, several paid personal days, 10 paid sick days which accumulate, paid bereavement leave days and many other benefits. According to Rep. Glen Grell, a trustee of the Public School Employees’ Retirement System Board of Trustees, a 40-year educator can retire with a pension equal to 100 percent of their final salary.

    In 2007, the Grove City Area School District employed 177 teachers working 180 days pupil instruction. The average teacher salary in the district was $51,793. The average teacher salary in Pennsylvania was $49,596. 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.

    Per pupil spending In 2008, per pupil spending at Grove City Area School District was ranked 237th in the state at $12,367 for each child. In 2010, Grove City Area School District’s per pupil spending had increased to $14,782.96. In 2011, Pennsylvania’s per pupil spending was $13,467, ranking 6th in the United States. In 2007, the Pennsylvania per pupil total expenditures was reported as $12,759. The U.S. Census Bureau reported that Pennsylvania spent $8,191 per pupil in school year 2000-01.

    Administration In 2008, Grove City Area School District administrative costs was $680.57 per pupil. The lowest administrative cost per pupil in Pennsylvania was $398 per pupil. The Pennsylvania School Boards Association collects and maintains 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. According to PSBA, the median Superintendent salary rose to over $130,000 in 2011.

    In 2011, the Grove City Area School Board hired Richard J. Mextorf, as superintendent of schools. The Board was aware that he had left the State College Area School District after being arrest for Driving Under the Influence. In May 2011, Dr Mextorf was sentenced to house arrest for 15 days having plead guilty. He also had his driving license suspended for one year. A District resident sued the Board for hiring an impaired individual arguing he will be unable to fulfill his contracted obligations.

    Reserves In 2008, the Grove City Area School District reported an unreserved designated fund balance of $1.1 million and an unreserved-undesignated fund balance of $2,024,830. In 2010, Grove City Area School District Administration reported an increase to $8,510,764 its reserve fund balances. Of that $2,216,602 was in its unreserved fund. Pennsylvania public school district reserve funds are divided into two categories – designated and undesignated. The undesignated funds are not committed to any planned project. Designated funds and any other funds, such as capital reserves, are allocated to specific projects. School districts are required by state law to keep 5 percent of their annual spending in the undesignated reserve funds to preserve bond ratings. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, from 2003 to 2010, as a whole, Pennsylvania school districts amassed nearly $3 billion in reserved funds. By 2013, reserves held by Pennsylvania public school districts, as a whole, had increased to over $3.8 billion.

    Audit In October 2010, the Pennsylvania Auditor General conducted a performance audit on the Grove Area School District. Several findings were reported to the school board and administration. The auditors noted that the District does not require all employees to sign the information technology (IT) Security Policy. In January 2012, Pennsylvania Auditor General conducted a performance audit on the District. Findings were reported to the school board, the administration and the Governor.

    Tuition Students who live in the Grove City Area School 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 Grove City 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 Grove City Area School District's schools. The 2012 tuition rates are Elementary School - $8,071, High School - $9,962.

    Grove City Area School District is funded by a combination of: a local tax on income 0.5%, a property tax, Occupational Privilege Tax $5, a real estate transfer tax 0.5%, per capita tax $5 per year, coupled with substantial funding from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the federal government. Grants have provided 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. The average Pennsylvania public school teacher pension in 2011 exceeds $60,000 a year plus they receive federal Social Security benefits both are free of Pennsylvania state income tax and local income tax which funds local public schools.

    State basic education funding

    For the 2013-14 school year, the Grove City Area School District will receive a 1.7% increase or $7,996,440 in Pennsylvania Basic Education Funding. This is $137,113 more than its 2012-13 state BEF to the District. Additionally, Grove City Area School District will receive $123,602 in Accountability Block Grant funding to focus on academic achievement and level funding for special education services. Among the public school districts in Mercer County, Hermitage School District received the highest percentage increase at 2.2%. The District has the option of applying for several other state and federal grants to increase revenues. The Commonwealth’s budget increased Basic Education Funding statewide by $123 million to over $5.5 billion. Most of Pennsylvania’s 500 public school districts received an increase of Basic Education Funding in a range of 0.9% to 4%. Eight public school districts received exceptionally high funding increases of 10% to 16%. The highest increase in state funding was awarded to Austin Area School District which received a 22.5% increase in Basic Education Funding. The state funded the PSERS (Pennsylvania school employee pension fund) with $1,017,000,000 and Social Security payments for school employees of $495 million.

    For the 2012-13 school year, the District received $7,859,312. 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. Grove City Area School District received $123,602 in Accountability Block Grant funding. The state also provided a $544.4 million payment for School Employees’ Social Security and $856 million for School Employees’ Retirement fund called PSERS. 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, Grove City Area School District received $7,858,449 in state Basic Education Funding. Additionally, the district will receive $123,602 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.

    For the 2010-11 budget year the Grove City Area School District received a 6.01% increase in state basic education funding for a total of $8,692,930. In Mercer County, the highest increase went to Greenville Area School District which received a 7.54% increase in state funding. One hundred fifty school districts in Pennsylvania received a 2% base increase for budget year 2010-11. The highest increase in the state was awarded to Kennett Consolidated School District of Chester County which was given a 23.65% increase in state basic education funding. Fifteen (15) Pennsylvania public school districts received a BEF increase of greater than 10%. The state's hold harmless policy regarding state basic education funding continued where each district received at least the same amount as it received the prior school year, even when enrollment had significantly declined. The amount of increase each school district received was set by Governor Edward Rendell and then Secretary of Education Gerald Zahorchak, as a part of the state budget proposal given each February. This was the second year of Governor Rendell’s policy to fund some public school districts at a far greater rate than others. The District reported that 571 pupils received a free or reduced-price lunch due to their family meeting the federal poverty level in 2010-11.

    In the 2009-10 budget year, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a 6.46% increase in Basic Education funding for a total of $8,199,863. Three county school districts received increases of over 6% in Basic Education Funding. Sharon City School District received a 7.59% increase. In Pennsylvania, 15 school districts received Basic Education Funding increases in excess of 10% in 2009. Muhlenberg School District in Berks County received the highest with a 22.31% increase in funding. The amount of increase each school district received was determined by then Governor Edward Rendell and the Secretary of Education, Gerald Zahorchak through the allocation set in the state budget proposal made in February each year.

    The state's Basic Education Funding to the Grove City Area School District in 2008-09 was $7,702,629.30. In 2008, the district reported that 549 pupils received a free or reduced-price lunch due to their family meeting the federal poverty level. 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.

    Accountability Block Grant

    The state provides additional education funding to schools in the form of Accountability Block Grants. The use of these funds is strictly focused on specific state approved uses designed to improve student academic achievement. Grove City Area School District uses its $335,486 to fund extensive teacher training through using teacher coaches, to provide all-day kindergarten, to extend the instruction time and to provide teacher training. These annual funds are in addition to the state's basic education funding. Schools Districts apply each year for Accountability Block Grants. In 2009-10, the state provided $271.4 million in Accountability Block grants $199.5 million went to providing all-day kindergartens.

    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. Grove City Area School District did not apply for funding in 2006-07 nor in 2007-08. For the 2008-09, school year the District received $138,210. Of the 501 public school districts in Pennsylvania, 447 of them received Classrooms for the Future grant awards. Among the public school districts in Mercer County the highest award was given to Greenville Area School District which received $344,743. The highest funding statewide was awarded to Philadelphia City School District in Philadelphia County - $9,409,073. The grant program was discontinued by Governor Edward Rendell as part of the 2009-10 state budget.

    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 Grove City Area School District received $59,464.

    Other grants

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

    Federal stimulus grant

    The Grove City Area School District received $1,429,800 in ARRA - Federal stimulus money to be used in specific programs like special education and meeting the academic needs of low-income students. This funding includes $917,000 for Title 1-A programs, $1,088,200 for construction and $337,800 for IDEA programs. The funding was limited to the 2009-10 and 2010-2011 school years. 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

    Grove City Area School District officials did not apply for the Race to the Top federal grant which would have brought the district up to million additional federal dollars for improving student academic achievement. Participation required the administration, the school board and the local teachers' union to sign an agreement to prioritize improving student academic success. The district administration and teachers union rejected applying for the grant. In Pennsylvania, 120 public school districts and 56 charter schools agreed to participate. 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.

    Common Cents state initiative

    The Grove City Area School District School Board did not participate in the Pennsylvania Department of Education Common Cents program. The program called for the state to audit the district, at no cost to local taxpayers, to identify ways the district could save tax dollars. After the review of the information, the district was not required to implement the recommended cost savings changes.

    Real estate taxes

    Grove City Area School Board set the property taxes rate at 58.5000 mills for the 2013-14 school year. A mill is $1 of tax for every $1,000 of a property's assessed value. Property taxes, in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, apply only to real estate - land and buildings. The property tax is not levied on cars, business inventory, or other personal property. Certain types of property are exempt from property taxes, including: places of worship, places of burial, private social clubs, charitable and educational institutions and government property. Irregular property reassessments have become a serious issue in the commonwealth as it creates a significant disparity in taxation within a community and across a region. Additionally, service related, disabled US military veterans may seek an exemption from paying property taxes. Pennsylvania school district revenues are dominated by two main sources: 1) Property tax collections, which account for the vast majority (between 75-85%) of local revenues; and 2) Act 511 tax collections, which are around 15% of revenues for school districts.

  • 2012-13 - 57.5000 mills
  • 2011-12 - 56.5000 mills.
  • 2010-11 - 55.5000 mills
  • 2009-10 - 53.4900 mills
  • 2008-09 - 53.4900 mills
  • 2007-08 - 51.5012 mills
  • 2006-07 - 49.5000 mills.
  • 2005-06 - 47.5000 mills.
  • The average yearly property tax paid by Mercer County residents amounts to about 2.88% of their yearly income. Mercer County ranked 672nd out of the 3143 United States counties for property taxes as a percentage of median income. 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. 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%).

    Act 1 Adjusted index

    The Act 1 of 2006 Index regulates the rates at which each school district can raise property taxes in Pennsylvania. Districts are not permitted to raise taxes above that index, unless they allow voters to vote by referendum, or they seek an exception from the Pennsylvania Department of Education. The base index for the 2011-2012 school year is 1.4 percent, but the Act 1 Index can be adjusted higher, depending on a number of factors, such as property values and the personal income of district residents. Act 1 included 10 exceptions, including: increasing pension costs, increases in special education costs, a catastrophe like a fire or flood, increase in health insurance costs for contracts in effect in 2006 or dwindling tax bases. The base index is the average of the percentage increase in the statewide average weekly wage, as determined by the PA Department of Labor and Industry, for the preceding calendar year and the percentage increase in the Employment Cost Index for Elementary and Secondary Schools, as determined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the U.S. Department of Labor, for the previous 12-month period ending June 30. For a school district with a market value/personal income aid ratio (MV/PI AR) greater than 0.4000, its index equals the base index multiplied by the sum of .75 and its MV/PI AR for the current year.

    In June 2011, the Pennsylvania General Assembly passed legislation eliminating six of the exceptions to the Act 1 Index. Several exceptions were maintained: 1) costs to pay interest and principal on indebtedness incurred prior to September 4, 2004 for Act 72 schools and prior to June 27, 2006 for non-Act 72 schools; 2) costs to pay interest and principal on electoral debt; 3) costs incurred in providing special education programs and services (beyond what is already paid by the State); and 4) costs due to increases of more than the Index in the school’s share of payments to PSERS (PA school employees pension fund) taking into account the state mandated PSERS contribution rate. The legislature also froze the payroll amount public school districts use to calculate the pension-plan exception at the 2012 payroll levels. Further increases in payroll cannot be used to raise the district’s exception for pension payments.

    A specific timeline for Act I Index decisions is published annually, by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

    The School District Adjusted Index for the Grove City Area School District 2006-2007 through 2011-2012.

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

    For the 2012-13 budget year, Grove City 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 2011-12 school year, the Grove City Area School Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed the Act 1 Index. Each year, the Grove City Area School Board has the option of adopting either 1) a resolution in January certifying they will not increase taxes above their index or 2) a preliminary budget in February. A school district adopting the resolution may not apply for referendum exceptions or ask voters for a tax increase above the inflation index. A specific timeline for these decisions is publisher each year by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

    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.

    Grove City Area School Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed the Act 1 index for the budgets in 2009-10 or in 2010-11. 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.

    Property tax relief

    In 2011, property tax relief for 4,004 approved residents of Grove City Area School District was set at $125. In 2009, the Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief from gambling for the Grove City Area School District was $133 per approved permanent primary residence. In the district, 3,779 property owners applied for the tax relief. The relief was subtracted from the total annual school property tax bill. Property owners apply for the relief through the county Treasurer's office. Farmers can qualify for a farmstead exemption on building used for agricultural purposes. The farm must be at least 10 contiguous acres (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 Pennsylvania, the homestead exclusion reduces the assessed values of homestead properties, reducing the property tax on these homes. The homestead exclusion allows homeowners real property tax relief of up to one half of the median assessed value of homesteads in the taxing jurisdiction (county, school district, city, borough, or township).

    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 individuals who have income substantially more than $35,000, may still qualify for a rebate. Individuals must apply annually for the rebate. This can be taken in addition to Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief.

    Wellness policy

    Grove City Area School Board established a district wellness policy in 2006. 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.

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

    Grove City 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. The meals are partially funded with federal dollars through the United States Department of Agriculture.

    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. 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 the lunch.

    Grove City 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 PA. 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. Nurses also monitor each child's weight.

    Extracurriculars

    Grove City Area School District offers a wide variety of clubs, activities and extensive, costly sports program to middle school and high school students. Eligibility to participate is determined by school board policies. Students are required to be passing at least four full credit subjects or the equivalent and maintaining the lowest possible passing grade point average, to be eligible to participate in athletic activities. In addition to the interscholastic programs a conditioning program is offered throughout the year. Free physicals are provided at the High School and Middle School at taxpayer expense.

    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 programs. They must meet the same eligibility rules as the students enrolled in the district's schools.

    Sports

    The District funds:

    Middle School Sports

    According to PIAA directory July 2013

    References

    Grove City Area School District Wikipedia


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