Clarion-Limestone Area School District

Clarion-Limestone Area School District
Clarion-Limestone Area School District
Address
4091 C-L School Road
Strattanville, Pennsylvania, Clarion, Jefferson, 16258
United States
Information
Superintendent J. J. Johnson
Grades K-12
Kindergarten 64
Grade 1 61
Grade 2 53
Grade 3 65
Grade 4 61
Grade 5 86
Grade 6 64
Grade 7 78
Grade 8 106
Grade 9 85
Grade 10 97
Grade 11 80
Grade 12 83
Other Enrollment projected at 647 in 2019
Mascot Lions
Website

The Clarion-Limestone Area School District is a small, rural, public school district which spans portions of two counties in Clarion County. it covers the Borough of Strattanville and Clarion Township, Limestone Township and Millcreek Township. In Jefferson County it covers the Borough of Corsica and Union Township. The CLASD encompasses approximately 117 square miles. According to 2000 federal census data, it serves a resident population of 7,173. In 2009, the district residents' per capita income was $17,013, while median family income was $38,633 per year. Per school district officials, in school year 2007-08 the Clarion-Limestone Area School District provided basic educational services to 1,045 pupils through the employment of 86 teachers, 33 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 5 administrators. The Clarion-Limestone Area School District received the honorable mention for 2011 Building Community through Rural Education Award from the Penn State University Center on Rural Education and Communities (CREC) and the Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools. [1]

The district operates two schools; Clarion-Limestone Jr/Sr High School (7th-12th) and Clarion-Limestone Elementary School (K-6th).

Contents

Governance

The school district is governed by 9 individually elected board members (serve four year terms), the Pennsylvania State Board of Education, the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the Pennsylvania General Assembly.[2] The district is divided into three regions. Three board members are elected from each region. Region 1 is Clarion Township. Region 2 is Limestone Township. Region 3 is Millcreek Township and Union Township. 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.[3]

Clarion-Limestone Area School District is part of the Riverview Intermediate Unit 6 region. The intermediate unit provides services to special education students. Occupational training is provided by the district and through the Clarion County Career Center.

Academic achievement

Clarion-Limestone Area School District was ranked 186th out of the 498 Pennsylvania school districts in 2011, by the Pittsburgh Business Times. The ranking was based on five years of student academic performance on the reading, writing, mathematics and three years of science PSSAs.[4]

  • 2010 - 213th [5]
  • 2009 - 183rd
  • 2008 - 168th
  • 2007 - 191st out of 501 school districts.[6]

Graduation Rate

In 2010, the Pennsylvania Department of Education issued a new, 4 year cohort graduation rate. Clarion-Limestone High School's rate was 84% for 2010.[7]

Former AYP graduation rate:

  • 2010 - 90% [8]
  • 2009 - 91% [9]
  • 2008 - 89%
  • 2007 - 89%[10]

High school

PSSA Results
11th Grade Reading

  • 2010 - 72% on grade level. In Pennsylvania, 65% of 11th graders on grade level.[11]
  • 2009 - 76%, State - 65% [12]
  • 2008 - 71%, State - 65% [13]
  • 2007 - 71%, State - 65% [14]

11th Grade Math:

  • 2010 - 58% on grade level. In Pennsylvania, 59% of 11th graders are on grade level.
  • 2009 - 50%, State - 56%
  • 2008 - 55%, State - 55%
  • 2007 - 61%, State - 53%

11th Grade Science:

  • 2010 - 46% on grade level. State - 39% of 11th graders were on grade level.[15]
  • 2009 - 49%, State - 40%
  • 2008 - 41%, State - 39% [16]

College remediation

According to a Pennsylvania Department of Education study released in January 2009, 23% of Clarion-Limestone Area 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.[17] 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.[18] 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.

Graduation requirements

The school board has determined that in order to graduate form Clarion-Limestone School District a student must earn 24 credits including: English 4 Credits, Mathematics 3 Credits, Science 3 Credits, Social Studies 3 Credits, Arts and/or Humanities 2 Credits, Health and Physical Education 1 Credit and Special Interest Elective 8 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.[19]

Beginning with the class of 2016, students must take the Keystone Exams in literature, Algebra 1 and Geometry.[20]

Dual enrollment

Clarion-Limestone High School offers a Dual Enrollment program to seniors. They can participate in a Dual Enrollment program with Clarion University. High school students earn college credits at a deeply discounted rate for tuition, while remaining in high school. A grant from the state assists students with associated costs like textbooks and college fees. The students continue to have full access to activities and programs at their high school.[21] Under the Pennsylvania Transfer and Articulation Agreement, many Pennsylvania colleges and universities accept these credits for students who transfer to their institutions.[22] 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.[23]

For the 2009-10 funding year, the school district received a state grant of $10,090 for the program.[24]

Students, that reside in the district, who attend a private nonpublic school, charter school or are homeschooled are eligible to participate in this program.

Eight Grade

8th Grade Reading:
2010 - 91% on grade level. State - 81% of 8th graders were on grade level. (103 pupils enrolled)
2009 - 76%, State - 80% (82 pupils enrolled)

8th Grade Math:
2010 - 82% on grade level. State - 75% of 8th graders were on grade level.
2009 - 68%, State - 71%

8th Grade Science:
2010 - 57% on grade level. State - 57% of 8th graders were on grade level.

Seventh Grade

7th Grade Reading:
2010 - 78% on grade level. State - 73% of 7th graders were on grade level. (75 pupils enrolled)
2009 - 62%, State - 71%

7th Grade Math:
2010 - 84% on grade level. State - 77% of 7th graders were on grade level.
2009 - 73%, State - 75%

Enrollment

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, there are less than 1000 students enrolled in K-12. There were 80 students in the Class of 2009. The class of 2010 has 83 students. Enrollment in Clarion-Limestone School District is projected to continue to decline by another 150 students by 2015.[25] The district employs 8 administrators, 89 teachers and 40 full and part time staff members. Clarion-Limestone School District administrative costs per pupil was $744 per pupil in 2008. The lowest administrative cost per pupil in Pennsylvania was $398 per pupil.[26] With limited resources, opportunities for students at the high school are limited.

A study of small Pennsylvania school districts, by Standard and Poors, proposed that a consolidation of the administration with adjacent school districts would achieve substantial administrative cost savings. The study examined Clarion-Limestone consolidating with Brookville Area School District and found over $800,000 in savings would be achieved.[27] In 2009, Governor Rendell proposed that the excessive administrative overhead dollars saved through consolidation, be redirected to improve lagging academic achievement, to enrich the academic programs or to substantially reduce property taxes.[28] Consolidation of central administrations into one would not require the closing of any schools.[29] In September 2009, the Clarion-Limestone Area School Board rejected a proposal to consolidate with Clarion Area School District.[30] Local residents are urging the school board to consider consolidation with the Clarion School District. Clarion School District's enrollment was less than 800 pupils in 2010.[31]

Over the next 10 years, rural Pennsylvania school enrollment is projected to decrease 8 percent. The most significant enrollment decline is projected to be in western Pennsylvania, where rural school districts are expected to have a 16 percent decline. More than 40 percent of elementary schools and more than 60 percent of secondary schools in western Pennsylvania are projected to experience significant enrollment decreases (15 percent or greater).[32] As the enrollment declines, per pupil administrative costs of the schools will continue to rise. 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 dollars without forcing the consolidation of any schools.[33] The study noted that while the best school districts spent 4% of the annual budget on administration, others spend over 15% on administration.[34]

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.[35] 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.[36]

Budget

In 2007 the district employed 83 teachers, the average teacher salary in the district was $47,514 for 180 days worked.[37] In 2009 the district employed over 80 teachers with a salary range of $38,871 to $92,000.[38]

In 2008, the district reported the per pupil spending at $10,722.[39]

The board reported that in 2008 the district had $908,838 in reserves.[40]

In February 2009, the Pennsylvania Auditor General conducted a performance audit of the Clarion-Limestone Area School District. The findings were reported to the school board and the administration.[41]

In the 2010-11 budget the board reported funding as follows: Local sources - $4,291,231, State sources - $7,899,050, Federal sources - $953,251.[42]

The district is funded by a combination of: a 1% local earned income tax, a property tax, a real estate transfer tax - 0.5%, coupled with substantial funding from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the federal government. In Pennsylvania, pension income and social security income is exempt from state income tax and local earned income tax regardless of the individual's wealth.[43]

State basic education funding

For the 2010-11 school year the state provided the district with a 3.92% increase in basic education funding for a total of $5,275,285.[44] Among Clarion County districts, this was the highest increase in state funding for 2010-11. One hundred fifty school districts received the base 2% increase in state funding. Fifteen school districts received an increase above 10% with Kennett Consolidated School District of Chester County receiving the highest - a 23.65% increase in state basic education funding. The amount each school district receives is determined by the Secretary of Education and the Governor in the annual general fund budget.[45]

In the 2009-2010 budget year the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a 4.83% increase in Basic Education Funding for $5,076,457. This was a 2 percentage points higher increase, in Basic Education Funding, than most other school districts in Clarion County received. The state Basic Education Funding to the district in 2008-09 was $4,841,293.59. Muhlenberg School District in Berks County received a 22.31% increase in state basic education funding in 2009.[46] The amount of increase each school district receives is set by the Governor and the Secretary of Education as a part of the state budget proposal given each February.[47]

The high school employs three administrators and 43 teachers to instruct 530 students in 7th through 12th grades.

Federal Stimulus Funding

The district received $878.499 in ARRA - Federal Stimulus money to be used in specific programs like special education and meeting the academic needs of low income students.[48] According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, Clarion-Limestone Area School District had 327 students receiving free or reduced lunches due to low family income in the 2007-2008 school year. This funding was for the 2009-2011 school years.

Race to the Top grant

School district officials failed to apply for the Race to the Top federal grant which would have brought the district millions in additional federal dollars for improving student academic achievement.[49] 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.[50] 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.[51]

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), along with other specialized equipment and provided funding for teacher training to optimize the use of the computers. The program was funded from 2006-2009. Clarion-Limestone Area School District did not apply to participate and consequently, did not receive any funding over the three year period of the program.[52]

Common Cents state initiative

The 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.[53] After the review of the information, the district was not required to implement the recommended cost savings changes.

Real estate taxes

Property tax rates for 2010-11 were set at 53.8600 mills for residents of Clarion County and 26.5300 mills for Jefferson County residents.[54] School districts located in more than one county are required to apportion the tax levy based on the market value in each county as determined by the State Tax Equalization Board pursuant to section 672.1 of the School Code. As a result, the tax rate increases are not the same for each county in a multi-county school district.[55] 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.

  • 2009-10 - Clarion County 53.8900 mills and 26.42 mills for Jefferson County.[56]
  • 2008-09 - Clarion County 67.5500 mills and 25.5100 mills for Jefferson County.[57]

Act 1 Adjusted index

The Act 1 of 2006 Index regulates the rates at which each school district can raise property taxes in Pennsylvania. Districts are not allowed to raise taxes above that index unless they allow voters to vote by referendum, or they seek an exception from the state Department of Education. The base index for the 2010-2011 school year is 1.4 percent, but it 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.[58]

The School District Adjusted Index for the Clarion-Limestone Area School District 2006-2007 through 2011-2012.[59]
2006-07 - 5.5%, Base 3.9%
2007-08 - 4.8%, Base 3.4%
2008-09 - 6.2%, Base 4.4%
2009-10 - 5.8%, Base 4.1%
2010-11 - 4.1%, Base 2.9%
2010-12 - 1.9%, Base 1.4%

For the 2010-11 budget year the school board did not seek any exceptions to exceed the Act 1 Index.[60] 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.[61]

Property tax relief

In 2009, the Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief from gambling for the Clarion-Limestone Area School District was $183 per approved permanent primary residence. In the district, 1805 property owners applied for the tax relief. This was the highest property tax relief allotted in Clarion County in 2009.[62] 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 Clarion County, 47.86% of eligible property owners applied for property tax relief in 2009. In Jefferson County, 42% have sought the property tax relief exemption.[63] Pennsylvania awarded the highest property tax relief to residents of the Chester-Upland School District in Delaware County at $632 per homestead and farmstead in 2009 and $641 in 2010.[64] This was the second year they were the top recipient. The Pennsylvania Auditor General's office reported that 47% of eligible property owners, in Clarion County, applied for the property tax relief.[65]

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, so people who make substantially more than $35,000 may still qualify for a rebate. Individuals must apply annually for the rebate.

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%).[66]

Bullying Policy

The Clarion-Limestone Area School administration reported 8 incidents of bullying occurring in the schools in 2009.[67][68]

The Clarion-Limestone Area School Board prohibits bullying by district students and faculty. A 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.[69] 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.[70] 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.[71]

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.[72]

Wellness policy

Clarion-Limestone School Board established a district wellness policy in 2006 - Policy 246.[73] 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."

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 hat are aligned with the Pennsylvania State Academic Standards for Health, Safety and Physical Education, 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.[74]

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

Extracurriculars

By Pennsylvania law, all K-12 students in the district, including those who attend a private nonpublic school, cyber charter school, charter school and those homeschooled, are eligible to participate in the extracurricular programs including all athletics. They must meet the same eligibility rules as the students enrolled in the district's schools.[75]

The district offers a wide variety of clubs, activities and sports. Eligibility for participation is determined by school board policy.[76][77]

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  46. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education - Funding Allocations by district, October 2009
  47. ^ The Pennsylvania Department of Education Budget Proposal 2009
  48. ^ PA ARRA FUNDING by district
  49. ^ Pennsylvania's 'Race to the Top' Fueled by Effective Reforms, Strong Local Support, Governor's Office press release January 20, 2010.
  50. ^ Pennsylvania's 'Race to the Top' Fueled by Effective Reforms, Strong Local Support, Governor's Press Office release, January 20, 2010.
  51. ^ Race to the Top Fund, U.S. Department of Education, March 29, 2010.
  52. ^ Pennsylvania Auditor General CFF grants audit 12/22/08
  53. ^ Common Cents program - Making Every Dollar Count
  54. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education Finances_Real Estate Tax Rates 2010-11
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  57. ^ Pennsylvania School District Real Estate Tax Rates 2008-09
  58. ^ Pennsylvania Department of Education 2010-11 Act 1 of 2006 Referendum Exception Guidelines.
  59. ^ Special Session Act 1 of 2006 School District Adjusted Index for 2006-2007 through 2011-2012, Report prepared by Pennsylvania Department of Education, May 2010.
  60. ^ SSAct1_Act1 Referendum Exceptions Report 2010-2011 April 2010
  61. ^ Scarcella, Frank and Pursell, Tricia, Local school tax assessments exceed state averages. The Daily Item, May 25, 2010
  62. ^ Tax Relief per Homestead May 1, 2009, Pennsylvania Department of Education report
  63. ^ Special Report Pennsylvania Property Tax Relief, Auditor General Office, February 23, 2010.
  64. ^ Tax Relief per Homestead 5-1-10. Report Pennsylvania Department of Education, May 2010
  65. ^ A Special Report Property Tax Relief In Pennsylvania: Property Tax Relief in Pennsylvania: Homeowners Need More Help, Less Hype
  66. ^ New Census Data on Property Taxes on Homeowners, Tax Foundation, September 22, 2009.
  67. ^ Clarion-Limestone Area School District Safety Reports 2009
  68. ^ Pennsylvania Safe Schools Online Reports
  69. ^ High School Student Handbook Bullying Policy
  70. ^ Regular Session 2007-2008 House Bill 1067, Act 61 Section 6 page 8
  71. ^ Center for Safe Schools of Pennsylvania, Bullying Prevention advisory
  72. ^ Pennsylvania Academic Standards
  73. ^ Clarion-Limestone School Board Policy Manual
  74. ^ Nutrition Standards for Competitive Foods in Pennsylvania Schools for the School Nutrition Incentive, Pennsylvania Department of Education — Division of Food and Nutrition. July 2008
  75. ^ Home-Schooled, Charter School Children Can Participate in School District Extracurricular Activities, Pennsylvania Office of the Governor Press Release, November 10, 2005
  76. ^ Clarion-Limestone School Board Policy Manual Extracurriculars Policy and Interscholastic Athletics Policy
  77. ^ Clarion-Limestone School District Student handbook 2010

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