The West Jefferson School Board is constituted of volunteer members who serve four-year terms after being elected to office. The school board works to set policy and long range plans for the district. The current members of the board are Brian Fernandes, Board President; Suzanne Downer, Board Vice President; John Hosmer, Board Vice President; Jill Bertini; Carolyn Bourgeois; David Dominick; Kerri Gonot; and Anna Louise Lilley.
The school district solicitor is Robert McTiernan of Tucker Arensberg.
West Jefferson Hills School District was ranked 68th out of 500 Pennsylvania school districts for student academic achievement, by the Pittsburgh Business Times in 2016. The ranking was based on the last three years of student academic performance on the PSSAs for: math, reading, writing 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.
2015 – 63rd
2014 - 50th.Overachiever statewide ranking
In 2016, the Pittsburgh Business Times also reported an Overachievers Ranking for 500 Pennsylvania school districts. West Jefferson Hills School District ranked 269th. In 2014, the District ranked 309. In 2012, the District was ranked 299th.  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."Regional ranking
The West Jefferson Hills School District was ranked 20th out of 105 Western Pennsylvania School Districts in 2016, by the Pittsburgh Business Times. The ranking was based on the last three years of student academic performance on the PSSAsfor: math, reading, writing and science. (includes 105 districts in: Allegheny County, Armstrong County, Beaver County,Butler County, Fayette County, Washington County and Westmoreland County excludes Duquesne City School District & Midland Borough School District due to no high schools)
2013 - 15th
In 2012, West Jefferson Hills School District's graduation rate was 96%. In 2011, the District's graduation rate was 93.6%.
In 2010, the Pennsylvania Department of Education issued a new, 4-year cohort graduation rate. West Jefferson Hills School District's rate was 93% for 2010.
According to traditional graduation rate calculations:2010 – 98%
2009 – 98%
2008 – 97%
2007 – 97%
Thomas Jefferson High School serves grades nine through twelve with a current enrollment of approximately 908 students in a community of approximately 20,150 residents comprising West Elizabeth, Jefferson Hills and Pleasant Hills Borough. Thomas Jefferson High School provides a comprehensive academic program and competitive athletics. Approximately seventy percent of graduating seniors go on to four-year college programs. Construction of a new high school building is currently underway with an anticipated opening for the 2018-19 school year.
Pennsylvania Department of Education, Membership on College Entrance Examination Board, Member of the Association of College Admissions Counselors and Pennsylvania Association of College Admissions Counselors
Thomas Jefferson High School offers a comprehensive college preparation program of studies. Business and Technical courses are provided at the Steel Center Vocational/Technical School.
Advanced Placement courses of the College Board are offered in Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, English Language, English Literature, European History, Calculus, Physics, Studio Art and US History.
Four years of study are offered in each of two languages: French and Spanish. A well-rounded program of electives is available for students in all curricular areas. Students are encouraged to carefully review course offerings available and make selections based on their post-secondary goals.
Final marks in all regularly prepared courses which meet five times per week or more, and which are assigned a full credit, are used in determining rank. All members of the class are included in the rank list. Quality point values are A=4, B=3, C=2, D=1, F=0 in Regular courses; Q.P. values are A=4.5, B=3.5, C=2.5, D=1, F=0 in Honors courses; Q.P. values are A=5, B=4, C=3, D=1, F=0 in Advanced Placement courses.
Based on participation of the Senior Survey, 57% of the seniors reported they plan to attend a four year college or university, 24% plan to attend a two year college and 7% plan to attend a Vocational/Art/Technical School. The remaining respondents plan to join military (4%), start a career (.01%), volunteer for mission trip (.002%), or were undecided (7.988%).
The Class of 2016 will attend the following 4-Year Colleges/Universities:
American University, Belmont University, California University of Pennsylvania, Carlow University, Clarion University, Columbia College Chicago, Community College of Beaver County, Community College of Allegheny County South Campus, Duquesne University, Ferrum College, Florida Institute of Technology, Fordham University – Rosehill Campus, Gannon University, Geneva University, Grove City College, Indiana University of Pennsylvania James Madison University, John Carroll University, Kent State University, Kingsborough Community Colleg,e Kutztown University, LaSalle University, Moore College of Art and Design, Palm Beach Atlantic University, Penn State University, Penn State University - Altoona, Penn State University - Behrend, Penn State University- Greater Allegheny, Pennsylvania College of Technology, Point Park University, Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, Robert Morris University, Saint Vincent College, Seton Hill University, Slippery Rock University, The Catholic University of America, The Ohio State University, UPMC Shadyside School of Nursing, University of Kentucky, University of Mount Union, University of New Mexico, University of Northwestern Ohio, University of Pittsburgh, University of Pittsburgh – Greensburg, University of Pittsburgh – Johnstown, Virginia Tech University, Washington and Jefferson College, Waynesburg University, West Liberty University, West Virginia University, West Virginia Wesleyan College, Westminster College, Wheeling Jesuit College, Youngstown State University
The Class of 2016 will attend the following 2-Year College, Trade/Business School and Military:
Bradford School, Automotive Technician, Community Colleges of Allegheny County, Carpenter Union, Full Sail University, Electrician, Pittsburgh Technical Institute, HVAC Steel Center for Career & Technical Education, Ironworkers, Union Triangle Technical School, Vet Tech Institute, U.S. Air Force, U. S. Army, U. S. Army National Guard, U. S. Navy, U.S. Navy Reserves, U. S. Marines
Pleasant Hills Middle School is located in the Pleasant Hills Borough at 404 Old Clairton Road. The school serves students in sixth, seventh, and eighth grades. The school was constructed in 1965 and recently celebrated its 50th Anniversary. A major renovation was completed in 2004 providing an upgrade to classrooms, facilities and additional learning spaces. According to the PA Department of Education's School Performance Profile, the school's enrollment in 2014 was 684 students. Twenty three percent of those students receive a federal free or reduced price lunch due to family poverty. The school employs fifty teachers. One hundred percent are "Highly Qualified". Pleasant Hills Middle School's School Performance Profile score in 2013-14 was 90.2 earning recognition from the PA Department of Education for exceptional performance as a Title I school. In 2015, the school was recognized as a "School to Watch" by the PA Association of Middle Level Education (PAMLE) and the National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform. Pleasant Hills Middle School is one of only thirty three schools in the state and 370 nationally to earn this recognition.
Jefferson Elementary School currently has an enrollment of approximately 574 students in grades K-5 and implements a half day Kindergarten program. Each of the grade levels has between four and five sections. In addition to the core academic areas, students attend art, music, physical education, and library on a weekly rotation. Additionally, students also will have the opportunity to participate in an instrumental band and choral program beginning in fourth grade.
Jefferson Elementary's educational team remains committed to ensuring that students are equipped with the necessary 21st century learning skills that will allow them to function in today's global society. The school offers our educators and their students multiple classroom computers, multiple mobile laptop and iPad carts, an interactive Kindle cart, multiple document cameras, and interactive white boards throughout all classrooms. Additionally, the students, staff, and faculty have access to a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) lab, Google Chrome Lounge, Outdoor Classroom, and multi-media production studio (Spot Ed Media Studio). These dedicated spaces offer students and teachers state of the art, innovative, and technologically rich learning environments that provide meaningful and applicable technological resources for our students and teachers. Our focused vision of developing and sustaining 21st century learning skills and numerous technological resources allow our educators to supplement and enrich the curriculum in a meaningful and engaging manner, consistent with student interest and familiarity.
Gifted Support, Learning Support, Speech and Language, Title I Reading, Social Development, and access to multiple paraprofessionals are also offered for students who may be in need of additional supports. The West Jefferson Hills School District also contracts with the Allegheny Intermediate Unit (AIU) to provide additional services (Occupational Therapy (OT), Physical Therapy (PT), English as a Second Language (ESL), Vision Therapy, and Deaf and Hard of Hearing Support) in order to meet the needs of each and every student that we are fortunate to have in our district. Mr. Very is the principal of Jefferson elementary.
Gill Hall Elementary is one of three K-5 elementary schools in the West Jefferson Hills School District. Gill Hall was originally built in 1955 with only 8 classrooms, and was renovated in 1962, 1992, and 2002.
Mrs. Mayer has been the principal of Gill Hall since 2007. Staffing consists of 12 regular education teachers, 2 Special Education teachers, 1 Reading Specialist, 1 itinerant gifted support teacher, and 1 itinerant speech teacher. Itinerant music, art, physical education, and library teachers are also staffed. There are two-three classrooms at each grade level, with class size ranging from 20-26.
In 2015, Gill Hall was ranked as the 4th leading elementary school in Allegheny County.
The doors to McClellan Elementary opened on January 3, 1956, when there were only 165 students in grades 1-6. As the population continued to increase, McClellan has undergone three renovations (in 1958, 1981 and 2002). McClellan Elementary currently has a population of approximately 433 students in grades Kindergarten through fifth, with a staff of 38 educators. This includes 18 classroom teachers, 2 tutorial reading teachers, 2 special education teachers, 4 para-professionals, 2 PCAs, and 1 physical education teacher. We also share the following staff with other schools in the district: our librarian, art teacher, music teacher, an additional PE teacher, 2 instrumental lessons teachers, gifted teacher, speech therapist and social work. Mr. Justin Liberatore has been the principal since August 2011. He has worked closely with the parents and teachers to make McClellan feel like a family, and a place where everyone feels that they belong. The school uses the OLWEUS Anti-Bullying program to help the students understand the different forms of bullying, and that they can "be a hero" and take a stand against bullying. Mr. Liberatore and his staff also use a variety of positive behavior incentives, and regularly recognize students for their achievements.
The West Jefferson Hills School District provides quality education to students of all abilities and needs working and learning together within the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE.) The methods for the delivery of the curriculum from the least restrictive to the most restrictive are listed below:
- General education without the use of supplementary aids and services within the regular education classroom.
- General education with the use of supplementary aids and services within the regular education classroom.
- General education with the use of supplementary aids and services within a special education classroom.
- Center-based, private or approved private schools with supplementary aides and services.
A student with a disability is always considered for placement within the regular education classroom, and when needed supplementary aides and services to meet their needs are identified and provided. The members of the IEP team understand the importance of considering regular education as the first educational placement for all students. A student in need of specially designed instruction is supported by the multidisciplinary team and an Individualized Education Plan is developed at least one time annually, or more often as the team determines is needed. All eligible students are reevaluated every two or three years or more often if needed. A student's needs determine the type of service, level of intervention and the percentage of time spent outside of the regular education classroom. Supplementary aids and services and related services may include: psychological services, occupational therapy, physical therapy services, special transportation, speech and language services, school health services, mental health services, assistive technology and devices, adaptive physical education, personal care assistants, and audiological services. Placement decisions are not based solely on the category or severity of a student's disability, the availability of space or the availability of special education or related services. Students in the west Jefferson Hills School District benefit from special education services being provided within the regular education classroom through a co-teaching or inclusion model. In addition, students are provided small group instruction as determined by their IEP. All eligible students are assigned a case manager who is responsible for communicating with parents, monitoring progress and ensuring support is provided in all settings. The majority of the time, students are instructed within a program that is based in the general education curriculum and provided within the regular education setting, with modifications and adaptations to meet the unique needs of each student. Approximately 76% of the students receiving special education services spend at least 80% or more of the school day within the regular education classroom.
The Special Education Data Report, on State Performance Plan (SPP) Targets for the School Year 2013-2014 reported that 245 students or 8.6% of the district's total students were receiving special education services. The state average during the same time period was 15.4%. The percent of special education enrollment by disability includes:Autism 14.7%
Emotional Disturbance 7.8%
Other Health Impairment 15.1%
Specific Learning Disability 33.9%
Speech or Language Impairment 21.6%
In order to comply with state and federal regulations, the West Jefferson Hills School District engages in Child Find activities to ensure that eligible students are located, identified and provided with a free, appropriate, public education and related services to meet their needs.
West Jefferson Hills School District provides identified gifted students with Gifted Individualized Education Plans (GIEP) a range of acceleration and enrichment options appropriate to meet his or her needs. The regular education curricula and instruction is adapted, modified or replaced to meet the individual needs of the gifted learner. The students with GIEPs receive a range of acceleration and enrichment with an emphasis on creativity, problem solving, collaboration, critical thinking, communication and transition.
The West Jefferson Hills School District provides a Student Assistance Program (SAP) for students who may have a barrier to learning because of mental health or drug and/or alcohol problems. A collaborative team of administrators, teachers, nurse, mental health professionals, social workers and school counselor address concerns of individual students and provide resources and information to parents and students. Students are referred to the SAP teams by parents, teachers or themselves and may, with parent permission, be screened by a mental health or drug and alcohol specialist and recommendations are provided to the parents. School staff receives professional development from certified trainers on crisis prevention and intervention, signs of child abuse and mandated reporting, confidentiality, cyber security and at-risk student behaviors. The West Jefferson Hills School Board prohibits bullying by district students and faculty. The District utilizes the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program and any complaint of bullying is investigated promptly, and, if verified a corrective action is taken.
Each school has a full-time certified school nurse on staff.
Each of the five schools in the District have been approved as locations for School Based Mental Health (SBMH) provided by Mon Yough Community Services, Inc.
The West Jefferson Hills School District is competitive in terms of technology equipment, resources, and applications when compared with local districts of equal caliber and social economic status. The district supports all major educational computing technologies including Microsoft Windows, Apple iOS, and Chromebooks. The district also provides cloud based access, storage, and applications to both staff and students including Office 365 and Google Cloud and app for education via a centralized wired and wireless network. District initiatives include Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) programs and support for online instruction and learning,
In 2009, the administrative reported there was one incident of bullying in the district. The district reported 37 safety related incidents to the state.
The West Jefferson Hills School Board prohibits bullying by district students and faculty. The policy defines bullying and cyberbullying. The Board directs that complaints of bullying shall be investigated promptly, and corrective action shall be taken when allegations are verified. No reprisals or retaliation shall occur as a result of good faith reports of bullying. The board expects staff members to be responsible to maintain an educational environment free from all forms of bullying. All Pennsylvania schools are required to have an anti-bullying policy incorporated into their Code of Student Conduct. The policy must identify disciplinary actions for bullying and designate a school staff person to receive complaints of bullying. The policy must be available on the school's website and posted in every classroom. All Pennsylvania public schools must provide a copy of its anti-bullying policy to the Office for Safe Schools every year, and shall review their policy every three years. Additionally, the district must conduct an annual review of that policy with students. 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.
In 2011, the school district officials received a letter from Clairton City School District asking to discuss a merger. The letter was also sent to three other districts: Elizabeth Forward School District, South Allegheny School District and West Mifflin Area School District. The proposal was rebuffed by all four school districts.
In 2009, a proposal was made by a local advocate, David Wassel, to consolidate Allegheny County school districts to save tax dollars and improve student services. The proposal was that Clairton City School District and South Park School District join with West Jefferson Hills School District. The merger would eliminate redundant administration positions. A report issued by the Pennsylvania Budget and Finance Committee on the cost-effectiveness of consolidating Pennsylvania school districts found districts with 2,500 to 3,000 students to be the most cost-effective, spending an average of $8,057 per student annually. According to a proposal made in 2009 by Governor Edward G Rendell, the excessive administrative overhead dollars could be redirected to improve lagging academic achievement, to enrich the academic programs or to substantially reduce property taxes. Consolidation of two central administrations into one would not require the closing of any schools.
In March 2011, the Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants Fiscal Responsibility Task Force released a report which found that consolidating school district administrations with one neighboring district would save the Commonwealth $1.2 billion without forcing the consolidation of any school buildings. The study noted that while the best school districts spent 4% of the annual budget on administration, others spend over 15% on administration.
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 2015, the West Jefferson Hills School District reported an unassigned fund balance of $3,394.87. In 2015, West Jefferson Hills School District Administration reported an increase to $40,656,835 in its committed fund balance. Pennsylvania public school district reserve funds are divided into two categories – committed and unassigned. The unassigned funds are not committed to any planned project. Committed funds such as capital projects are allocated to specific projects. School districts are required by state law to keep 5 percent of their annual spending in the unassigned funds to preserve bond ratings. By law the state limits the total unassigned fund balance at 8% of the annual budget for school districts that have budgets over $19 million a year.
In October 2010, the Pennsylvania Auditor General conducted a performance audit on the district. Several findings were reported to the school board and administration.
West Jefferson Hills School District is funded by a combination of: a local earned income tax 1%, a property tax, a real estate transfer tax, coupled with substantial funding from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the federal government. Grants can provide an opportunity to supplement school funding without raising local taxes. Interest earnings on accounts also provide nontax income to the District.
For the 2015-16 school year, West Jefferson Hills School District received $5,435,229. West Jefferson Hills School District received $337,320 in Ready to Learn funds.
In 2015, West Jefferson Hills School District received a $20,000 grant from the Claude Worthington Benedum and Grable foundations. The STEAM funds are to be used to support science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics programs. The curriculum is to involve students in kindergarten through fifth grade. West Jefferson Hills will use the funds to establish a Digital Communication Station. School administrations were required to apply for the grants. Recipients include 24 schools located in: Allegheny County, Beaver County, Butler County, Fayette County, Greene County, Lawrence County, Mercer County, Washington County and Westmoreland County.
The West Jefferson Hills School Board set property tax rates in 2016–17 at 19.628 mills. A mill is $1 of tax for every $1,000 of a property's assessed value. Irregular property reassessments have become a serious issue in the commonwealth as it creates a significant disparity in taxation within a community and across a region. On the local level, Pennsylvania 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. A 2012 property reassessment in Allegheny County reduced the 2013-14 millage to 18.104 mills.2105-16 - 19.038 mills
2014-15 - 18.592 mills
2013-14 - 18.104 mills
2012-13 - 21.0800 mills
2011-12 - 21.0800 mills
2010–11 – 21.0800 mills
2009–10 – 21.0800 mills
2008–09 – 21.0800 mills.
2007–08 – 19.9900 mills.
2006-07 - 19.9900 mills.
2005-06 - 19.9900 mills.
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 2016–2017 school year is 3.1 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 eliminated six 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 School District Adjusted Index for the West Jefferson Hills School District 2006–2007 through 2016–2017.2006-07 - 4.8%, Base 3.9%
2007-08 - 4.2%, Base 3.4%
2008-09 - 5.5%, Base 4.4%
2009-10 - 5.2%, Base 4.1%
2010-11 - 3.7%, Base 2.9%
2011-12 - 1.8%, Base 1.4%
2012-13 - 2.2%, Base 1.7%
2013-14 - 2.2%, Base 1.7%
2014-15 - 2.7%. Base 2.1%
2015-16 - 2.4%, Base 1.9%
2016-17 - 3.1%, Base 2.4%
For the 2015-16 budget year, West Jefferson Hills School Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed the Act 1 Index.
In 2015, West Jefferson Hills School District property tax relief was set at $189 for 5,881 approved properties. In 2014, the Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief from gambling for the West Jefferson Hills School District was $190 per approved permanent primary residence. The relief was subtracted from the total annual school property tax bill. Property owners apply for the relief through the county Treasurer's office. Farmers can qualify for a farmstead exemption on building used for agricultural purposes. The farm must be at least 10 contiguous acres and must be the primary residence of the owner. Farmers can qualify for both the homestead exemption and the farmstead exemption.
West Jefferson Hills School District offers a variety of clubs, activities and an extensive, costly sports program. Eligibility to participate is determined through school board policies.
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.
West Jefferson Hills School District spent $721, 587 for replacement of the stadium's turf and track.
The District funds:Middle School Sports
According to PIAA directory July 2012
Thomas Jefferson has a long history of sports excellence. Most recently the Thomas Jefferson Football team has won the state title in 2004, 2007, and 2008. Additionally, the Jaguars won the PIAA boys soccer championship in 2002.
On the WPIAL level Thomas Jefferson has also achieved significant success. These WPIAL team championships include: