Bedford Area School District

Christina K Robosson, Business Manager
Dr Paul L Ruhlman, Jr Ast. Superintendent
Danny Webb salary $103,458 (2012)
Judy Eller, Dir. IT
John Diehl, Dir. ED IT
Betsy Littlefield, Food Service
Mark Pennabaker, Transportation coord.
Paul L. Ruhlman, salary $95,448 (2012)

1,903 pupils (2014)
1,872 pupils (2012)
2,292 pupils (2010)

$27,987,960 (2014-15)
$26,514,030 (2009-10)
$26,143,269 (2008-09)

The Bedford Area School District is a small, rural public school district located in southcentral Pennsylvania. It serves the Boroughs of Bedford, Hyndman, Manns Choice and Rainsburg and Bedford Township, Colerain Township, Cumberland Valley Township, Harrison Township, Londonderry Township and Snake Spring Township in Bedford County, Pennsylvania. Bedford Area School District encompasses approximately 292 square miles (760 km2). According to 2000 federal census data, it served a resident population of 16,890. By 2010, the District’s population declined to 16,819 people. The educational attainment levels for the Bedford Area School District population (25 years old and over) were 84% high school graduates and 14% college graduates. The District is one of the 500 public school districts of Pennsylvania.

According to the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, 36% of the District’s pupils lived at 185% or below the Federal Poverty Level as shown by their eligibility for the federal free or reduced price school meal programs in 2012. In 2009, Bedford Area School District residents’ per capita income was $17,309, while the median family income was $39,336. In the Commonwealth, the median family income was $49,501 and the United States median family income was $49,445, in 2010. In Bedford County, the median household income was $40,370. By 2013, the median household income in the United States rose to $52,100.

Per Bedford Area School District officials, in school year 2007–08, the Bedford Area School District provided basic educational services to 2,326 pupils through the employment of 167 teachers, 97 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 18 administrators. By 2019, the district enrollment is projected to decline below 2000. Bedford Area School District received more than $11.4 million in state funding in school year 2007-08.

The District operates three schools: Bedford Elementary School, Bedford Middle School and Bedford High School. High school students may choose to attend Bedford County Technical Center for training in the construction and mechanical trades; culinary arts, agriculture fields and Cosmetology. The Appalachia Intermediate Unit IU8 provides the District with a wide variety of services like specialized education for disabled students and hearing, background checks for employees, state mandated recognizing and reporting child abuse training, speech and visual disability services and professional development for staff and faculty.

The Bedford Area School District is governed by 9 individually elected board members (serve without compensation for a term of four years), the Pennsylvania State Board of Education, the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the Pennsylvania General Assembly. 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 Superintendent and Business Manager are appointed by the school board. The Superintendent is the chief administrative officer with overall responsibility for all aspects of operations, including education and finance. The Business Manager is responsible for budget and financial operations. Neither of these officials are voting members of the School Board. The School Board enters into individual employment contracts for these positions. In Pennsylvania, public school districts are required to give 150 days notice to the Superintendent regarding renewal of the employment contract.

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.

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

The Bedford Area School District ranked 292nd out of 493 Pennsylvania public school districts, by the Pittsburgh Business Times. The ranking is based on the last 3 years of student academic achievement as demonstrated by PSSAs results in: reading, writing, math and science and the three Keystone Exams (literature, Algebra 1, Biology I) in high school. Three school districts were excluded because they do not operate high schools (Saint Clair Area School District, Midland Borough School District, Duquesne City School District). The PSSAs are given to all children in grades 3rd through 8th. Adapted PSSA examinations are given to children in the special education programs. Writing exams were given to children in 5th and 8th grades.

In 2009, the academic achievement, of the students in the Bedford Area School District, was in the 36th percentile among all 500 Pennsylvania school districts Scale (0–99; 100 is state best).

In 2014, the District’s graduation rate was 91.5%.

According to traditional graduation rate calculations:

Bedford Senior High School is the sole high school operated by the district. In 2014, enrollment was 632 reported as pupils in 9th through 12th grades, with 36% of pupils eligible for a free lunch due to family poverty. Additionally, 13% of pupils received special education services, while 2% of pupils were identified as gifted. The school employed 36 teachers. Per the Pennsylvania Department of Education 100% of the teachers were rated „Highly Qualified“ under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2012, the Bedford Senior High School reported an enrollment of 635 pupils in grades 9th through 12th, with 200 pupils eligible for a federal free or reduced price lunch due to the family meeting the federal poverty level. In 2012, the School employed 36 teachers yielding a student-teacher ratio of 17:1. According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% teachers were rated „Highly Qualified“ under No Child Left Behind.

Bedford Senior High School achieved 83.7 out of 100. Reflects on grade level reading, mathematics and science achievement. In reading/literature – 77% were on grade level. In Algebra 1, just 69.9% showed on grade level skills at the end of the course. In Biology, just 66% demonstrated on grade level science understanding at the end of the course. Statewide, the percentage of high school students who scored proficient and advanced in Algebra I increased to 39.7% to 40.1%. The percentage of high school students who scored proficient and advanced in reading/literature declined to 52.5%. The percentage of high school students who scored proficient and advanced in biology improved from 39.7% to 41.4%.

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

Bedford Senior High School achieved 74.5 out of 100. Reflects on grade level reading, mathematics and science achievement. In reading/literature – 67.67% were on grade level. In Algebra 1, just 57% showed on grade level skills. In Biology, 49% showed on grade level science understanding. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 2,181 public schools (less than 73 percent of Pennsylvania public schools), achieved an academic score of 70 or higher. Pennsylvania 11th grade students no longer take the PSSAs. Instead, beginning in 2012, they take the Keystone Exams at the end of the associated course.

In 2012, Bedford Senior High School declined again to Warning Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) status due to low achievement in both reading and mathematics. The school missed all 6 metrics measured. In 2011, Bedford Senior High School improved to achieving AYP status. In 2010, Bedford Senior High School was in Warning status for AYP due to a 23% decline in Reading on grade level, among low family income students.

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

Bedford Senior High School offers a dual enrollment program. This state program permits high school students to take courses, at local higher education institutions, to earn college credits. Students remain enrolled at their high school. The courses count towards 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 offers a small grant to assist students in costs for tuition, fees and books. Under the Pennsylvania Transfer and Articulation Agreement, many Pennsylvania colleges and universities accept these credits for students who transfer to their institutions. For the 2009–10 funding year, the school district received a state grant of $8,786 for the program.

According to a Pennsylvania Department of Education study released in January 2009, 4% of the Bedford 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.

Among Pennsylvania’s 500 public school districts, graduation requirements widely vary. The School Board has determined that a pupil must earn 24 credits to graduate, including: a required class every year in English, math 3 or 4 credits, social studies 3 credits, science – 3 or 4 credits, Physical Education/health – 2 credits, drivers education – 0.5 credit, Senior Career Course 1 credit and electives.

For nearly two decades, all Pennsylvania secondary school students were required to complete a project as a part of their eligibility to graduate from high school. The type of project, its rigor and its expectations were set by the individual school district. At Bedford Area School District, students are required to complete a project in one of the following four areas: Career, Creative, Service, Technical. The project includes a written paper and an oral presentation. The pupil must earn an 80% or better in order to graduate. Effective with the graduating class of 2017, the Pennsylvania State Board of Education eliminated the state mandate that students complete a culminating project in order to graduate.

By Pennsylvania State School Board regulations, beginning with the class of 2017, public school students must demonstrate successful completion of secondary level course work in Algebra I, Biology, and English Literature by passing the respective Keystone Exams for each course. The exam is given at the end of the course. Keystone Exams replace the PSSAs for 11th grade.

Students have several opportunities to pass the exam. Schools are mandated to provide targeted assistance to help the student be successful. Those who do not pass after several attempts can perform a project in order to graduate. For the class of 2019, a Composition exam will be added. For the class of 2020, passing a civics and government exam will be added to the graduation requirements. In 2011, Pennsylvania high school students field tested the Algebra 1, Biology and English Lit exams. The statewide results were: Algebra 1 38% on grade level, Biology 35% on grade level and English Lit – 49% on grade level. Individual student, school or district reports were not made public, although they were reported to district officials by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Students identified as having special needs and qualifying for an Individual Educational Program (IEP) may graduate by meeting the requirements of their IEP.

In 2014, Bedford Area School District students took the SAT exams. The District’s Verbal Average Score was 492. The Math average score was 502. The Writing average score was 460. Statewide in Pennsylvania, Verbal Average Score was 497. The Math average score was 504. The Writing average score was 480. The College Board also reported that nationwide scores were: 497 in reading, 513 in math and 487 in writing. In 2014, 1,672,395 students took the SATs in the United States.

In 2013, 101 Bedford Area School District students took the SAT exams. The District’s Verbal Average Score was 484. The Math average score was 481. The Writing average score was 465. The College Board reported that statewide scores were: 494 in reading, 504 in math and 482 in writing. The nationwide SAT results were the same as in 2012.

In 2012, 78 Bedford Area School District students took the SAT exams. The District’s Verbal Average Score was 502. The Math average score was 518. The Writing average score was 476. The statewide Verbal SAT exams results were: Verbal 491, Math 501, Writing 480. In the USA, 1.65 million students took the exams achieving scores: Verbal 496, Math 514, Writing 488. According to the College Board the maximum score on each section was 800, and 360 students nationwide scored a perfect 2,400.

In 2011, 81 Bedford High School students took the SAT exams. The school’s students Verbal Average Score was 464. The Math average score was 488. The Writing average score was 465. Pennsylvania ranked 40th among states with SAT scores: Verbal – 493, Math – 501, Writing – 479. In the United States 1.65 million students took the exam in 2011. They averaged 497 (out of 800) verbal, 514 math and 489 in writing.

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

The Pennsylvania Department of Education reported that 71 percent of students in rural areas of Pennsylvania chose to continue their education after high school in 2003, whereas 79 percent of urban high school graduates opted to continue their education.

In 2014, Bedford Senior High School offered 4 Advanced Placement (AP) courses at a higher cost than regular courses. The fee for each AP Exam is $91 (2014). The school normally retains $9 of that fee as a rebate to help with administrative costs. In 2012, the fee was $89 per test per pupil. Students have the option of taking College Board approved courses and then taking the College Board’s examination in the Spring. Students, who achieve a 3 or better on the exam, may be awarded college credits at US universities and colleges. Each higher education institution sets its own standards about what level of credits are awarded to a student based on their AP exam score. Most higher education give credits for scores of 4 or 5. Some schools also give credits for scores of 3. High schools give credits towards graduation to students who take the school’s AP class. At Bedford Senior High School 6% of students who took an AP course earned a 3 or better on the exam.

Bedford Middle School is located at 440 East Watson Street, Bedford, Pennsylvania. In 2014, enrollment was 488 pupils, in grades 6th through 8th, with 45% of pupils eligible for a free lunch due to family poverty. Additionally, 15.7% of pupils received special education services, while 1.5% of pupils were identified as gifted. According to a 2014 report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 100% of its teachers were rated „Highly Qualified“ under No Child Left Behind.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, Bedford Middle School had 447 pupils enrolled in grades 6th through 8th, with 176 receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school employed 29 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 15:1.

Bedford Middle School achieved 81.3 out of 100. Reflects on grade level reading, mathematics and science achievement. In reading/literature – 70% were on grade level. In Algebra 1/Math, 70% showed on grade level mathematics skills. In Science, 67% of 8th graders showed on grade level science understanding. In writing, 81% of the 8th grade students demonstrated on grade level writing skills.

Bedford Middle School achieved 83.7 out of 100. Reflects on grade level reading, writing, mathematics and science achievement. In reading, just 68% of the students were on grade level. In Mathematics/Algebra 1, 80.8% of the students showed on grade level skills. In Science, only 63% of the 8th graders demonstrated on grade level understanding. In writing, 76.5% of the 8th grade students demonstrated on grade level writing skills.

In 2012, Bedford Middle School achieved Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) status. All of the teachers were rated Highly Qualified under No Child Left Behind.

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

Bedford Elementary School is located at 3639 Business Route 220, Bedford. The school enrolled 799 students kindergarten through 5th grades, with 342 students receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school employed 53 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 15:1. In 2011, the school achieved ‚AYP status. In 2010, the school was in Warning status due to lagging student achievement. All of the teachers were rated Highly Qualified under No Child Left Behind.

5th Grade Reading:

5th Grade Math:

In December 2009, the district administration reported that 375 pupils or 16.1% of the district’s pupils received Special Education services.

The District engages in identification procedures to ensure that eligible students receive an appropriate educational program consisting of special education and related services, individualized to meet student needs. At no cost to the parents, these services are provided in compliance with state and federal law; and are reasonably calculated to yield meaningful educational benefit and student progress. To identify students who may be eligible for special education, various screening activities are conducted on an ongoing basis. These screening activities include: review of group-based data (cumulative records, enrollment records, health records, report cards, ability and achievement test scores); hearing, vision, motor, and speech/language screening; and review by the Instructional Support Team or Student Assistance Team. 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 Supervisor of Special Education.

In 2010, the state of Pennsylvania provided $1,026,815,000 for special education services. The funds were distributed to districts based on a state policy which estimates that 16% of the district’s pupils are receiving special education services. This funding is in addition to the state’s basic education per pupil funding, as well as, all other state and federal funding.

Bedford Area School District received a $1,277,878 supplement for special education services in 2010.

The District Administration reported that 47 or 2.08% of its students were gifted in 2009. By law, the district must provide mentally gifted programs at all grade levels. Students identified as gifted attending the High School have access to a dual enrollment program with local colleges. 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.

The Bedford Area School District administration reported there were 3 incidents of bullying in the district in 2009.

The Bedford Area School Board has provided the district’s antibully policy online Bullying-Cyberbullying Policy 249. 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 2009, the district reports employing over 100 teachers with a starting salary of $37,000 for 183 days work. The average teacher salary was $52,925 while the maximum salary is $104,250. In Pennsylvania, the average teacher salary for Pennsylvania’s 124,100 public school teachers was $54,977 in 2008. 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, Bedford Area School District teachers receive a defined benefit pension, taxpayer fully funded health insurance, retirement health insurance, 3 days bereavement leave, professional development reimbursement, 2 paid personal days, 10–12 sick days, accumulated sick days death benefit, life insurance and other benefits. Head teachers receive compensation beyond their salary. The union officers are allotted 5 days with pay to perform union business each year. According to State Rep. Glen Grell, a trustee of the Pennsylvania Public School Employees’ Retirement System Board, a 40-year educator can retire with a pension equal to 100 percent of their final salary.

In 2007, the district employed 148 teachers. The average teacher salary in the district was $50,129 for 183 school days worked.

Bedford Area School District administrative costs per pupil in 2008 was $784.64 per pupil. The district is ranked 213th out of 500 in Pennsylvania for administrative spending. The lowest administrative cost per pupil in Pennsylvania was $398 per pupil.

In 2008, Bedford Area School District reported spending $10,040 per pupil. This ranked 474th in the commonwealth. In 2010, the per pupil spending had increased to $11,549.60 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 2009, the district reported a $3,625,903 in an unreserved-undesignated fund balance. The designated fund balance was reported as $4,350,782. In 2010, Bedford Area Administration reported an increase to $2,500,936 in the unreserved-undesignated fund balance. The designated fund balance was reported as $4,245,296. 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 November 2010, the Pennsylvania Auditor General conducted a performance audit of the district. The findings were reported to the school board and the administration.

In February 2011, the school board approved the application for a charter school called Hope for Hyndman Charter School. It is to serve grades K-12. Funding will come for the school district. The charter school was founded by community members, in anticipation of the district closing both the Hyndman Middle-High School and/or Hyndman-Londonderry Elementary School due to low enrollment of 425 pupils K-12 and budget challenges.

The district is funded by a combination of: a local 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. Grants can provide an opportunity to supplement school funding without raising local taxes. In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, pension and Social Security income are exempted from state personal income tax and local earned income tax regardless of the individual’s wealth.

In 2011-12, the district received a $7,023,656 allocation, of state Basic Education Funding. Additionally, the School District received $144,460 in Accountability Block Grant funding. The enacted Pennsylvania state Education budget included $5,354,629,000 for the 2011-2012 Basic Education Funding appropriation. This amount is a $233,290,000 increase (4.6%) over the enacted State appropriation for 2010-2011. 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 897 students received free or reduced-price lunches, due to the family meeting the federal poverty level.

For the 2010–11 school year, Bedford Area School District received a 6.25% increase in state Basic Education Funding resulting in a $7,757,288 payment. This was the highest increase in BEF in Bedford County. Kennett Consolidated School District in Chester County received the highest increase in the state at 23.65% increase in funding for the 2010–11 school year. One hundred fifty school districts received the base 2% increase in 2010–11. The amount of increase each school district receives is determined by then Governor Edward G. Rendell and Secretary of Education Gerald Zahorchak, through the allocation set in the state budget proposal made in February each year. This was the second year of the Governor’s policy to fund some districts at a far higher rate than others.

In the 2009–2010 budget year, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a 5.01% increase in Basic Education funding for a total of $7,300,796. The state Basic Education funding to the district in 2008–09 was $6,952,695. The district also received supplemental funding for English language learners, Title 1 federal funding for low-income students, for district size, a poverty supplement from the commonwealth and more. Everett Area School District received 6.17% which was the highest increase in Bedford County for the 2009–10 school year. Among the 500 school districts in Pennsylvania, Muhlenberg School District in Berks County received the highest with a 22.31% increase in funding. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 853 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 Bedford Area School District applied for and received $392,101 in addition to all other state and federal funding. The district used the funding to provide full-day kindergarten for the 7th year.

Bedford Elementary School successfully applied to participate and received a Science It’s Elemenetary 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 $3,000 by the 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 state’s EAP funding provides for the continuing support of tutoring services and other programs to address the academic needs of eligible students. Funds are available to eligible school districts and full-time career and technology centers (CTC) in which one or more schools have failed to meet at least one academic performance target, as provided for in Section 1512-C of the Pennsylvania Public School Code. In 2010-11, Bedford Area School District received $76,524.

Bedford Area School District was designated as a before and after school program provider for Bedford and Huntingdon Counties in 2010. They received state funding – a grant of $604,800. CCLCs provide academic, artistic and cultural enhancement activities to students and their families when school is not in session.

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. Bedford Area School District received $279,086 for funding in 2006–07. In 2007–08 the district received $300,000. For the 2008–09 school year, the district administration did not apply. Of the 501 public school districts in Pennsylvania, 447 of them received Classrooms for the Future grant awards.

The district received an extra $2,023,034 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 advised to use the funds for one-time expenditures like acquiring equipment, making repairs to buildings, training teachers to provide more effective instruction or purchasing books and software.

Bedford Area School District officials did not apply to participate in the Race to the Top federal grant which would have brought the district over one million additional federal dollars for improving student academic achievement. Participation required the administration, the school board and the local teachers‘ union to sign an agreement to prioritize improving student academic success. In Pennsylvania, 120 public school districts and 56 charter schools agreed to participate. Pennsylvania was not approved for the grant. The failure of districts to agree to participate was cited as one reason that Pennsylvania was not approved.

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

The school board set property tax rates in 2011–2012 at 10.2692 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 (Local Tax Enabling Act), which are around 15% of revenues for school districts.

The Act 1 of 2006 Index regulates the rates at which each school district can raise property taxes in Pennsylvania. Districts are not authorized 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 Bedford Area School District 2006–2007 through 2010–2011.

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

The Bedford Area School Board did not apply for exceptions to exceed the Act 1 index for the budgets in 2010–11. In the Spring of 2010, 135 Pennsylvania school boards asked to exceed their adjusted index. Approval was granted to 133 of them and 128 sought an exception for pension costs increases.

In 2010, the Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief from gambling for the Bedford Area School District was $150 per approved permanent primary residence. In the district, 4,346 property owners applied for the tax relief. The tax relief was subtracted from the total annual school property on the individual’s 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. 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 2010. This was the second year they were the top recipient.

Additionally, the Pennsylvania Property Tax/Rent Rebate program is provided for low income Pennsylvanians aged 65 and older; widows and widowers aged 50 and older; and people with disabilities age 18 and older. The income limit is $35,000 for homeowners. The maximum rebate for both homeowners and renters is $650. Applicants can exclude one-half (1/2) of their Social Security income, consequently individuals who have income substantially more than $35,000, may still qualify for a rebate. Individuals must apply annually for the rebate. This can be taken in addition to Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief.

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%).

Hyndman Middle Senior High School is located at 130 School Drive, Hyndman. In 2010, the school enrolled 226 students grades 6th through 12th, with 99 students receiving a free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school employed 17 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 13:1. In 2010 and 2011, Hyndman Middle Senior High School achieved AYP status. Four of the teachers were rated Non Highly Qualified under No Child Left Behind. Seven teachers have emergency certifications.

In 2011, the graduation rate was 92%.

From January to June 2011, 3 Hyndman Middle Senior High School students took the SAT exams. Since fewer than 10 students took the exams, the state withheld the results to protect individual privacy.

Hyndman Londonderry Elementary School is located in 233 School Drive, Hyndman. In 2010, the school enrolled 170 students grades kindergarten through 5th, with 100 students receiving a free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school employed 14 teachers, yielding a student–teacher ratio of 12:1. In 2010 and 2011, Hyndman Londonderry Elementary School achieved AYP status. All of the teachers were rated Highly Qualified under No Child Left Behind.

5th Grade Reading:

5th Grade Math:

The district offers a variety of clubs, activities and sports. Eligibility to participate is determined by the Bedford Area School Board.

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.

References: