The Curwensville Area School District is a small, rural, public school district. It serves the residents of the Boroughs of Curwensville, Grampian and Lumber City and Ferguson Township, Greenwood Township, Penn Township and Pike Township in Clearfield County, Pennsylvania. Curwensville Area School District encompasses approximately 115 square miles (300 km2). According to 2000 federal census data, Curwensville Area School District serves a resident population of 7,646. In 2009, Curwensville Area School District residents’ per capita income was $14,830, while the median family income in the District was just $38,107. In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the median family income was $49,501 and the United States median family income was $49,445, in 2010.
The district operates one Jr./Sr. High School, and two Elementary Schools.
According to Curwensville Area School District officials, in school year 2007-08, Curwensville Area School District provided basic educational services to 1,153 pupils through the employment of 96 teachers, 75 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 8 administrators. Curwensville Area School District received more than $9.8 million in state funding in school year 2007-08. For the school year 2009-10, Curwensville Area School District provided basic educational services to 1,160 pupils through the employment of 92 teachers, 73 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 8 administrators. Curwensville Area School District received more than $9.4 million in state funding in school year 2009-10.
Curwensville 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.
Curwensville Area School District was ranked 258th out of 498 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 reading, writing, math and science PSSAs. 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.
In 2011, the Pittsburgh Business Times reported an Overachievers Ranking for 498 Pennsylvania school districts. Curwensville Area School District ranked 83rd. In 2010, the district was 85th. 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 Curwensville Area School District was in the 60th percentile among 500 Pennsylvania school districts. Scale – (0-99; 100 is state best)
In 2011 and 2012, Curwensville 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 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. Curwensville Area School District achieved AYP status each year from 2004 to 2010, while in 2003 the Curwensville Area School District was in Warning status due to lagging student achievement.
In 2012, Curwensville Area School District’s graduation rate declined to 87%. In 2011, the graduation rate was 89%. In 2010, the Pennsylvania Department of Education issued a new, 4-year cohort graduation rate. Curwensville Area Junior Senior High School’s rate was 89% for 2010.
Curwensville Area Junior Senior High School is located at 650 Beech Street, Curwensville, Pennsylvania. In 2010, there were 569 pupils grades 7th through 12th with 64 teachers. Two Hundred twelve students qualified for the federal free lunch program. According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 1 teacher was rated „Non‐Highly Qualified“ under No Child Left Behind.
In 2012, Curwensville Area Junior Senior High School declined to Warning AYP status due to ongoing low achievement in math and low graduation rate. Curwensville Area Junior Senior High School achieved AYP in 2010 and 2011 even though there was a sharp decline in math achievement in the high school in 2011.
11th Grade Reading:
11th Grade Math:
11th Grade Science:
According to a Pennsylvania Department of Education study released in January 2009, 20% of the Curwensville Area Junior 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.
The high school offers a dual enrollment program. This state program permits high school students to take courses, at local higher education institutions, to earn college credits. Students remain enrolled at their high school. The courses count towards high school graduation requirements and towards earning a college degree. The students continue to have full access to activities and programs at their high school. The college credits are offered at a deeply discounted rate. The state offered 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. For the 2009-10 funding year, the school district received a state grant of $1,929 for the program.
In 2012, 44 Curwensville Area School District students took the SAT exams. The District’s Verbal Average Score was 437. The Math average score was 429. The Writing average score was 419. 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.
From January to June 2011, 70 Curwensville Area School District students took the SAT exams. The district’s Verbal Average Score was 446. The Math average score was 459. The Writing average score was 442. Pennsylvania ranked 40th among state 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.
The School Board has determined that a pupil must earn 23.5 credits to graduate, including: math 3 units (Algebra & Geometry), English 4 units, Social Studies 4 units, including Problems of Democracy, science 3 units (Biology & Science 9), Physical Education 1.6 units Required Courses 1.8 credits (Computer Applications, Guidance 9, Research 9, Driver Education, Health 10) and electives 6.1 units. Students with disabilities who satisfactorily complete a special education program identified in an Individualized Education Plan under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act are issued a regular high school diploma by the school district.
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 Board of Education has eliminated the requirement for students to complete a culminating project in order to graduate.
By Pennsylvania School Board regulations, for the graduating class of 2017, 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. 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.
All students in the Curwensville Area School District are required to complete Algebra I and Geometry in order to graduate. All students moving from 8th to 9th grade, who have not completed an Algebra I course, are scheduled for Algebra I, during their freshman year. Students are scheduled for Geometry after completing Algebra I.
8th Grade Reading:
8th Grade Math:
8th Grade Science:
7th Grade Reading:
7th Grade Math:
Curwensville Area Elementary School is located at 650 Beech Street, Curwensville, Pennsylvania. In 2010, there were 400 pupils grades Kindergarten through 6th grade with 40 teachers. Two hundred eighteen students received a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to poverty. In 2010 through 2012, the school achieved AYP status. In 2012, 88% of students in grades 3rd through 6th were on grade level in mathematics, with 58% advanced. For reading, 78% of pupils in grades 3rd through 6th were on grade level. In 4th grade, 91% of pupils were on grade level in science, with 59% advanced. In 2011, 88% of students in grades 3rd through 6th were on grade level in math. For reading, 76% of pupils in grades 3rd through 6th were on grade level. In 4th grade, 91% of pupils were on grade level in science.
Penn-Grampian Elementary School is located at 178 Walltown Road, Grampian, Pennsylvania. In 2010, there were 94 pupils grades Kindergarten through 4th grade with 5 teachers. Sixty eight students received a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to poverty. In 2010 through 2012, Penn-Grampian Elementary School achieved AYP status. In 2012, 100% of students in 4th grade were on grade level in math, with 69% advanced. In reading, 94% of pupils in 4th grades were on grade level. In 4th grade, 100% of pupils were on grade level in science, with 69% advanced. In 2011, 94% of students in grades 3rd and 4th were on grade level in math. For reading, 76.9% of pupils in grades 3rd and 4th were on grade level. In 4th grade, 95% of pupils were on grade level in science.
In December 2010, Curwensville Area School District administration reported that 191 pupils or 16.5% of the district’s pupils received Special Education services, with 38% of identified students having a specific learning disability. In December 2009, Curwensville Area School District administration reported that 180 pupils or 15.6% of the district’s pupils received Special Education services.
In order to comply with state and federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act rules and regulations, 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 services, 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 district’s Special Education Department.
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. 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. The state requires each district to have a three-year special education plan to meet the unique needs of its special education students. Overidentification of students, in order to increase state funding, has been an issue in the Commonwealth. Some districts have more than 20% of its students receiving special education services while others have 10% supported through special education.
The Curwensville Area School District received a $695,280 supplement for special education services in 2010. For the 2011-12 and 2013-13 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.
The Curwensville Area School District Administration reported that 21 or 1.82% of its students were gifted in 2010. The Curwensville Area School District Administration reported that 17 or 1.3% 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.
In 2011, the average teacher salary in Curwensville Area School District was $47,176 a year, while the cost of the benefits teachers receive was $17,495 per employee, for a total annual average teacher compensation of $64,671. The top salary had risen to $124,800.
In 2009, Curwensville Area School District reported employing 122 people with over 70 teachers and 8 administrators with a salary range of $33,000 to $107,314. The average teacher salary was $45,580 a year. The teacher’s work day is 7 hours 30 minutes with a 30-minute duty-free lunch and daily preparation period. Teachers work 185 days in the contract year. Additionally, the teachers receive a defined benefit pension, health insurance, professional development reimbursement, paid personal days, 10 paid sick days, and other benefits. The District provides 6 paid days for attending to union business.
In 2007, Curwensville Area School District employed 87 teachers. The average teacher salary in the Curwensville Area School District was $45,750 for 180 days worked. 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. Additionally, the teachers receive a defined benefit pension, health insurance, professional development reimbursement, paid personal days, 10 paid sick days, and other benefits.
Curwensville Area School District administrative costs per pupil in 2008 was $869.20 per pupil. The lowest administrative cost per pupil in Pennsylvania was $398 per pupil. The Pennsylvania School Boards Association keeps statistics on salaries of public school district employees in Pennsylvania. According to the association’s report, the average salary for a superintendent, for the 2007-08 school year, was $122,165. Superintendents and administrators receive a benefit package commensurate with that offered to the district’s teachers‘ union.
Reserves In 2008, Curwensville Area School District reported $3,397,993 in an unreserved-undesignated fund balance. The unreserved-designated fund balance was reported as zero. In 2010, Curwensville Area Administration reported an increase to $4,584,748 in the unreserved-undesignated fund balance. The unreserved-designated fund balance was reported as zero. 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.
In 2008, Curwensville Area School District administration reported that per pupil spending was $11,697 which ranked 313th among Pennsylvania’s 501 school districts. In 2010, the per pupil spending was $11,459.97 Among the states, Pennsylvania’s total per pupil revenue (including all sources) ranked 11th at $15,023 per student, in 2008-09. In 2007, the Pennsylvania per pupil total expenditures was $12,759.
In December 2010, the Pennsylvania Auditor General conducted a performance audit of the Curwensville Area School District. The findings were reported to the school board and administration. The district was cited for over reporting student enrollment to the state.
Students who live in the Curwensville 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 Curwensville 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 Curwensville Area School District’s schools. The 2012 tuition rates for CASD are Elementary Schools – $7,761, High School – $8,755.
Curwensville Area School District is funded by a combination of: a local earned income tax 1%, a property tax, a real estate transfer tax 0.5%, coupled with substantial funding from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the federal government. 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 individual’s personal wealth.
For the 2012-13 school year, Curwensville Area School District received $7,176,107. 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 program. 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 is 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, Curwensville Area School District received a $7,088,370 allocation, of state Basic Education Funding. Additionally, Curwensville Area School District received $86,179 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. 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. In 2010, the district reported that 495 students received free or reduced-price lunches, due to the family meeting the federal poverty level.
In the 2010-2011 budget year, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a 4.23% increase in Basic Education Funding for a total of $7,283,112.02 to the Curwensville Area School District. Among the districts in Clearfield County, the highest increase went to Dubois Area School District which got a 7.76% increase. One hundred fifty Pennsylvania school districts received the base 2% increase. The highest increase in 2010-11 went to Kennett Consolidated School District in Chester County which received a 23.65% increase in state funding. 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 then Governor Edward G. Rendell and the Secretary of Education Gerald Zahorchak, as a part of the state budget proposal. This was the second year of Governor Rendell’s policy to fund some districts at a far greater rate than others.
In the 2009-2010 budget year, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a 2.75% increase in Basic Education Funding for a total of $7,283,112. Among the districts in Clearfield County, the highest increase went to Philipsburg-Osceola Area School District which got a 5.57%. Ninety school districts received a 2% increase. Muhlenberg School District in Berks County received a 22.31% increase in state basic education funding in 2009. The amount of increase each school district received was set by Governor Edward G. Rendell and the Secretary of Education Gerald Zahorchak, as a part of the state budget proposal given each February. 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.
In 2008-09, The state’s Basic Education Funding to the District was $7,088,370.32. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 457 district students received free or reduced-price lunches due to low family income in the 2007–2008 school year.
Beginning in 2004-2005, the state launched the Accountability Block Grant school funding. This program has provided $1.5 billion to Pennsylvania’s school districts. The Accountability Block Grant program requires that its taxpayer dollars are focused on specific interventions that are most likely to increase student academic achievement. These interventions include: teacher training, all-day kindergarten, lower class size K-3rd grade, literacy and math coaching programs that provide teachers with individualized job-embedded professional development to improve their instruction, before or after school tutoring assistance to struggling students, For 2010-11, the district applied for and received $233,911 in addition to all other state and federal funding. The district uses the funding to provide full-day kindergarten and to pay teachers to provide tutoring before and after school.
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. The School District did not apply to participate in 2006-07. In 2007-08, Curwensville received $152,874. The district received $45,413 in 2008-09 for a total funding of $198,287.
The Environmental Education Grant Program was established by the Environmental Education Act of 1993, which mandates that 5 percent of all pollution fines and penalties collected annually by the Department of Environmental Protection be set aside for environmental education. In 2010, Curwensville Area School District was awarded $2,513.
Curwensville 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. 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. 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. 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 marked an 8-percent increase over 2005-06 public school funding. The grant program was expanded to $14.5 million in the 2008-09 budget. The grant was discontinued in 2010 by Governor Rendell due to a massive state budget.
Curwensville Area School District was awarded a $365,004 competitive literacy grant. It is to be used to improve reading skills birth through 12th grade. The District was required to develop a lengthy literacy plan, which included outreach into the community. The funds come from a Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy grant, also referred to as the Keystones to Opportunity grant It is a five-year, competitive federal grant program designed to assist local education agencies in developing and implementing local comprehensive literacy plans. Of the 329 pre-applications by school districts reviewed by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, School District was one of only 148 entities that were invited to submit a full application. In Clearfield County 5 school districts were awarded funding for one year. The funds must be used for teacher training, student screening and assessment, targeted interventions for students reading below grade level and research-based methods of improving classroom instruction and practice. Districts must hire literacy coaches. The coaches work with classroom teachers to enhance their literacy teaching skills. Pennsylvania was among six other states, out of the 35 that applied, to be awarded funding. Pennsylvania received $38 million through the federal program. The Department of Education reserved 5% of the grant for administration costs at the state level.
The District did not participate in: Education Assistance tutoring grants, 21st Century Learning grants and 2012 Safe Schools Targeted Grants.
The district received an extra $2,379,029 in ARRA – Federal Stimulus money to be used in specific programs like special education and meeting the academic needs of low-income students. The funding was limited to the 2009-10 and 2010-2011 school years. Due to the temporary nature of the funding, schools were repeatedly warned 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.
Curwensville Area School District officials applied 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. 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. Pennsylvania was not approved for the grant. The failure of most Pennsylvania school districts to agree to participate was cited as one reason that Pennsylvania was not approved for the funding.
In 2010, the district was eligible for a federal Enhancing Education through Technology grant. The district received $50,000.
The Curwensville Area School Board elected to not participate in the Pennsylvania Department of Education – Common Cents Program. The program called for the state to audit the district, at no cost to local taxpayers, to identify ways the district could save tax dollars. After the review of the information, the district was not required to implement the recommended cost savings changes.
Property tax rates in 2012-13 were set by the school board at 76.9387 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. Property taxes, in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, apply only to real estate – land and buildings. The property tax is not levied on cars, business inventory, or other personal property. Certain types of property are exempt from property taxes, including: places of worship, places of burial, private social clubs, charitable and educational institutions and government property. Additionally, service related, disabled US military veterans may seek an exemption from paying property taxes. Pennsylvania school district revenues are dominated by two main sources: 1) Property tax collections, which account for the vast majority (between 75-85%) of local revenues; and 2) Act 511 tax collections, which are around 15% of revenues for school districts. The school district includes municipalities in two counties, each of which has different rates of property tax assessment, necessitating a state board equalization of the tax rates between the counties. In 2010, miscalculations by the board were widespread in the Commonwealth and adversely impacted funding for many school districts.
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. The average yearly property tax paid by Clearfield County residents amounts to about 2.83% of their yearly income. Clearfield County is ranked 707th of the 3143 United States counties for property taxes as a percentage of median income.
The Act 1 of 2006 Index regulates the rates at which each school district can raise property taxes in Pennsylvania. Districts are not allowed to raise taxes above that index unless they allow voters to vote by referendum, or they seek an exception from the state Department of Education. The base index for the 2011-2012 school year is 1.4 percent, but the Act 1 Index can be adjusted higher, depending on a number of factors, such as property values and the personal income of district residents. Act 1 included 10 exceptions, including: increasing pension costs, increases in special education costs, a catastrophe like a fire or flood, increase in health insurance costs for contracts in effect in 2006 or dwindling tax bases. The base index is the average of the percentage increase in the statewide average weekly wage, as determined by the PA Department of Labor and Industry, for the preceding calendar year and the percentage increase in the Employment Cost Index for Elementary and Secondary Schools, as determined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the U.S. Department of Labor, for the previous 12-month period ending June 30. For a school district with a market value/personal income aid ratio (MV/PI AR) greater than 0.4000, its index equals the base index multiplied by the sum of .75 and its MV/PI AR for the current year. In June 2011, the Pennsylvania General Assembly eliminated six of the ten the exceptions to the Act 1 Index. 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.
The School District Adjusted Index for the Curwensville Area School District 2006-2007 through 2011-2012.
For the 2012-13 budget year, Curwensville 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 Curwensville 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.
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.
Curwensville Area School Board did not apply for any exceptions to exceed the Act 1 index for the budget in 2010-11. For the 2009-10 school budget, the Curwensville Area School Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed its Act 1 Index limit. 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.
In 2010, the Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief from gambling for the Curwensville Area School District was not repoeted to state government. In the district, $352,343.57 was received 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. The highest property tax relief in Pennsylvania went to the residents of Chester Upland School District of Delaware County who received $632 per approved homestead. Chest-Upland School District has been the top recipient since the program began.
Additionally, the Pennsylvania Property Tax/Rent Rebate program is provided for low income Pennsylvanians aged 65 and older; widows and widowers aged 50 and older; and people with disabilities age 18 and older. The income limit is $35,000 for homeowners. The maximum rebate for both homeowners and renters is $650. Applicants can exclude one-half (1/2) of their Social Security income, consequently, individual with income much more than $35,000 may still qualify for a rebate. Individuals must apply annually for the rebate. This can be taken in addition to Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief.
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%).
According to Pennsylvania Department of Education enrollment reports, there are 1153 students enrolled in K-12 in 2009–10 school year at Curwensville Area School District. There were 114 students in the Class of 2009 (total enrollment 1186). The District’s class of 2010 had 79 students. In 2011 the graduating class had 106 students, with a total enrollment of 1154. District enrollment is projected to decline by 23% to 838 students by 2020. In 2008, the District administrative costs were in the top 20% in the Commonwealth. The lowest administrative cost per pupil in Pennsylvania was $398 per pupil. A study of Pennsylvania public school spending, conducted by Standard and Poor’s, examined the consolidation of neighboring school district with low student numbers. The study found that consolidation of the administration with an adjacent school district would achieve substantial administrative cost savings which varied by district. A Pennsylvania Department of Education enrollment study, found that neighboring Purchase Line School District (740 students in 2020) and Harmony Area School District (364 students in 2020) are also experiencing significant declines in enrollment.
According to a 2009 school district administration consolidation proposal by then Governor Edward G. Rendell, the excessive administrative overhead dollars could be redirected to improve lagging academic achievement, to enrich the academic programs or to reduce property taxes. Consolidation of two central administrations into one would not require the closing of any schools. The Governor’s proposal called for the savings to be redirected to improving lagging reading and science achievement, to enriching the academic programs or to reducing residents‘ property taxes.
Since 2000 rural Pennsylvania school enrollment has decreased by 8 percent. In Pennsylvania, public school enrollment has declined 10% since 1999. As the enrollment declines, per pupil administrative costs of the schools continue to rise. In March 2011, the Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants released a report finding that the state would save hundreds of millions of tax doallars, by cutting the number of school administrations in half through consolidation, with no impact on programs offered to students.
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has one of the highest numbers of school districts in the nation. In Pennsylvania, 80% of the school districts serve student populations under 5,000, and 40% serve less than 2,000. This results in excessive school administration bureaucracy and not enough course diversity. In a survey of 88 superintendents of small districts, 42% of the 49 respondents stated that they thought consolidation would save money without closing any schools.
Curwensville Area School Board was mandated to develop a district wellness policy in 2006. The policy was to deal 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 was 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.“ Curwensville Area School District has not published their policy online nor is it in the district’s student handbooks.
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.
Curwensville Area School District provides a free or reduced price breakfast and lunch program in compliance with the federal School Nutrition program operated by the USDA.
In 2011, schools Curwensville Area School District received funding through a Highmark Healthy High 5 grant. Curwensville Area Junior Senior High School received $10,000 which was used to support Curwensville Jr. Sr. High School Lifetime Fitness. This program entails the purchase of fitness equipment for Physical Education to be used by 7-12 grade level students. 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.
Curwensville Area School District offers a wide variety of clubs, activities and an extensive, costly sports program. Eligibility for participation is determined by school board policy and rules promulgated by the PIAA.
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.
The District maintains an indoor pool which is open to the public some evenings for a small fee. The Alan Fairman Community Recreation Center is also open to the public for a fee.