|Bethel Park School District|
Map of Allegheny County Pennsylvania School Districts
|301 Church Road|
Bethel Park, Allegheny, Pennsylvania, 15102
|Superintendent||Dr.Joseph C. Dimperio (Interim)|
|School board||9 locally elected members|
|Director of education||Ms. Janet O'Rourke, Secondary Education (5th-12th) |
Dr. Dorothy Stark, LES and Elementary Education (K-4)
|Budget||$73,257,025 for 2012-13 |
|Students and staff|
|Enrollment||4696 in 2011-12; 4798 (2009-10) |
(Enrollment declining to 3814 by 2020)
|Faculty||367 teachers in 2010|
|District mascot||Black Hawks|
|Colors||Black and Orange|
The Bethel Park School District is a midsized, suburban school district in Allegheny County. The district covers the Municipality of Bethel Park which is a suburb of Pittsburgh. Bethel Park School District encompasses approximately 12 square miles (31 km2). According to 2000 federal census data, it serves a resident population of 33,556. In 2009 the residents' per capita income was $25,768, while the median family income was $64,140. Per School District officials, in school year 2007-08 the Bethel Park School District provided basic educational services to 4,879 pupils through the employment of 396 teachers, 310 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 25 administrators. Bethel Park School District received more than $15.7 million in state funding in school year 2007-08.
Bethel Park School District operates a total of eight schools. Five elementary schools host grades K-4, and children are assigned to a specific school based on proximity of their home to that school. After 4th grade, all children in Bethel Park go to the same school, as the other children in their grade, since the two middle schools and high school are community-wide.
Additionally there are two Roman Catholic elementary schools for which the school district provides transportation: St. Katharine Drexel and St. Thomas More.
In 2012, Bethel Park School District ranked 41st out of 498 Pennsylvania districts. The ranking is based on the last 3 years of student academic achievement as demonstrated by PSSAs results in reading, writing, math and science.
Bethel Park School District was ranked 12th out of 105 western 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 PSSAs on: math, reading, writing and science.
In 2009, the academic achievement, of the students in the Bethel Park School District, was in the 93rd percentile among all 500 Pennsylvania school districts Scale (0-99; 100 is state best) 
In 2010 Bethel Park School District's graduation rate was 98%. In 2010, the Pennsylvania Department of Education issued a new, 4-year cohort graduation rate. Bethel Park School District's rate was 97% for 2010.
According to traditional graduation rate calculations:
The Bethel Park School Board requires that a student earn 27 credits to graduate, including: English 4 credits, Mathematics 4 credits, Science 4 credits, Social Studies 4 credits, Technology 1 credit, Health/Phys. Ed. 1.50 credits, Fine Arts 2 credits and Electives 7.5 credits. All students (special education students with I.E.P.'s excluded) who fall below grade level on a standardized test or state assessment in reading will be required to take reading courses until they read at grade level.
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. At Bethel Park Senior High School the graduation project includes: a paper, a presentation, and a product. The project must be related to a course the student is taking in the junior or senior year.
By Pennsylvania School Board regulations, for the graduating classes 2016, 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. Students' Keystone Exam scores shall count for at least one-third of the final course grade.
Bethel Park High School is located at 309 Church Road, Bethel Park. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, the school reported an enrollment of 1,744 pupils in grades 9th through 12th, with 114 pupils eligible for a federal free or reduced-price lunch. The school employed 126 teachers, yielding a student-teacher ratio of 13.81:1. According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 4 teachers were rated "Non-Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind.
In 2011, the High School achieved AYP status. In 2010, the high school declined to Warning - AYP status due to chronic, low achievement for special education students and low-income students. In 2009, the school achieved AYP status.
The high school's 11th grade ranked 22nd out of 123 western Pennsylvania high schools based on three years of results in PSSAs on: reading, math writing and one year of science. In 2008, the high school ranked 45th for student academic achievement.
According to a Pennsylvania Department of Education study released in January 2009, 29% of Bethel Park School District 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 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 $3162 for the program.
From January to June 2011, 347 Bethel Park School District students took the SAT exams. The district's Verbal Average Score was 510. The Math average score was 522. The Writing average score was 501. 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 high school offers four years of study in: Spanish, German, French and Latin.
Bethel Park High School was one of few high schools in Pennsylvania that comprised more than 3 buildings. In fact, the high school was originally intended to be the campus for the community college of Allegheny County (CCAC) but it became the campus for Bethel Park's high school instead. The high school was made up of 8 buildings, with each building being specifically for a set of subjects.
The district announced plans for a new high school in 2008, and construction of the new school was completed in 2012, with students moving in for the second semester of the 2011-2012 school year. The 8-building campus was demolished soon after, with parking lots and practice fields taking the place of the old high school.
Independence Middle School is located at 2807 Bethel Church Road, Bethel Park. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2010, the school reported an enrollment of 760 pupils in grades 7th and 8th, with 71 pupils receiving a federal free or reduced-price lunch due to family poverty. The school employed 64.50 teachers, yielding a student-teacher ratio of 12:1. According to a report by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 2 teachers were rated "Non-Highly Qualified" under No Child Left Behind and 5 teachers had emergency certifications.
In 2012, the 8th grade ranked 20th out of 147 middle schools in the western Pennsylvania region. In 2009, the 8th grade was ranked 16th out of 141 western Pennsylvania middle schools based on the last three years of results in PSSAs in: reading, math writing and science. (Includes schools in: Allegheny County, Beaver County, Butler County, Fayette County, Westmoreland County, and Washington County
6th Grade Reading:
6th Grade Math:
5th Grade Reading:
5th Grade Math:
In December 2010, the district administration reported that 672 pupils or 14% of the district's pupils received Special Education services. In December 2009, the district administration reported that 737 pupils or 15% of the district's pupils received Special Education services.
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.
Bethel Park School District received a $2,418,139 supplemental funding to pay for special education services for its students, in 2010.
For the 2011-12 school year, all Pennsylvania public school districts received the same level of funding for special education that they received in 2010. 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 District Administration reported that 330 or 6.58% of its students were gifted in 2009. By law, the district must provide mentally gifted programs at all grade levels. Services designed to meet the needs of gifted students include the annual development of a Gifted Individual Education Plan, support services and specially-designed instruction designed to challenge the student. The referral process for a gifted evaluation can be initiated by teachers or parents by contacting the student's building principal, requesting an evaluation. All requests should be made in writing which commences a 60-day evaluation deadline. 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 Bethel Park School Board established a district student wellness policy in 2006 - Policy 246. 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 Superintendent annually reports to the Board on the district's compliance with law and policies related to student wellness.
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 and physical education that 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.
The Pennsylvania Department of Education required the district to submit a copy of the policy for approval.
In 2007, the district employed 357 teachers and the average teacher salary in the district was $55,108. The average salary for public school teachers in Pennsylvania was $54,977. In 2009, the district employed over 400 teachers whose salaries range between $45,000 to $141,278 with over 70 teachers earning over $90,000 per year.
The district administrative costs per pupil in 2008 were $641.67 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, 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.
The district reported that its per pupil spending was $13,855. This ranked 114th among 501 Pennsylvania public school districts.
In 2008, the district reported an unreserved designated fund balance of zero and an unreserved-undesignated fund balance of $5,420,222.00.
In November 2010, the Pennsylvania Auditor General conducted a performance audit of the school district. The findings were reported to the school board and administration.
The district is funded by a combination of: a local earned income tax 0.5%, a property tax, a real estate transfer tax 0.5%, a Mechanical Amusement Tax of $50 per jukebox and $100 for other mechanical amusement devices, 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 income and Social Security income are exempted from state personal income tax and local earned income tax, regardless of the individual's wealth.
For the 2012-13 school year, Bethel Park School District will receive $8,488,522. The Governor's Executive Budget for 2012-2013 includes $6,516,087,000 for the Student Achievement Education Block Grant appropriation (SAEBG). 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, which are rolled into SAEBG.
In 2011-12, the district received $8,324,104 in state Basic Education Funding. Additionally, the Bethel Park School District received $164,418 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 received an over 49% increase. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 404 students in the Bethel Park School District received free or reduced-price lunches due to low family income in the 2009-2010 school year.
For the 2010-11 school year the state provided a 2% increase in basic education funding to the Bethel Park School District for a total of $8,669,653. Among Allegheny County public school districts the highest increase was allotted to South Fayette Township School District which received an 11.32% increase in 2010. In Pennsylvania, 150 school districts received a 2% base increase. The highest increase in Pennsylvania was given to Kennett Consolidated School District in Chester County which was given a 23.65% increase. The state's hold harmless policy regarding state basic education funding continued where a district received at least the same amount as the year before, even where enrollment had significantly declined. The amount of increase each school district received was set by Governor Edward Rendell and then Secretary of Education Gerald Zahorchak, as a part of the state budget proposal given each February. This was the second year of Governor Rendell's policy to fund some districts at a far greater rate than others.
In the 2009-2010 budget year the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provided a 2.11% increase in Basic Education funding for a total of $8,499,660. Four county school districts received increases of over 6% in Basic Education Funding in 2009-10. Chartiers Valley School District received an 8.17% increase. The majority of Allegheny County districts received a 2% increase. In Pennsylvania, over 15 school districts received Basic Education Funding increases in excess of 10% in 2009. Muhlenberg School District in Berks County received the highest with a 22.31% increase in funding. The state's Basic Education Funding to the Bethel Park School District in 2008-09 was $8,324,103.75 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.
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 1,132 students received free or reduced-price lunches due to low family income in the 2007-2008 school year.
Bethel Park School Board received a grant from the PA Department of Education to purchase equipment to help reform the high school's core subjects instruction and to prepare students for future employment by using cutting-edge equipment and software. The district used the funds to purchase laptops for students, laptops for teachers, laptop carts and other digital equipment. The grant provided additional funding for a technology coach to instruct teachers in using the equipment to improve instruction. In 2006-07 and 2007-08 the district applied for, but was denied Classroom For the Future funding by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. In 2008-09, the district received $188,223. Beginning in 2006, Pennsylvania's Classrooms for the Future program distributed more than $150 million for laptops, interactive boards and other high-tech tools to 543 Pennsylvania high schools. In 2009, the Classrooms For the Future funding program was terminated due to a deep state revenue shortfall.
The school board chose 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.
The district received an extra $1,988,779 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 is for 2009-10 and 2010-2011.
Bethel Park School District officials did not apply for the Race to the Top federal grant which would have brought the district hundreds of thousands of 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 Bethel Park School Board set the property tax rates in 2012-13 at 25.4900 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. The most recent assessed values for all properties in Allegheny County are available at the Allegheny County Office of Property Assessments.
In 2010, the property tax relief amount, for 10,364 qualifying residents, was set at $164. In 2009, the Homestead/Farmstead Property Tax Relief from gambling for the Bethel Park School District was $167 per approved permanent primary residence. In the district, 10,207 property owners applied for the tax relief. The relief was subtracted from the total annual school property tax bill. Property owners apply for the relief through the county Treasurer's office. Farmers can qualify for a farmstead exemption on building used for agricultural purposes. The farm must be at least 10 contiguous acres (40,000 m2) and must be the primary residence of the owner. Farmers can qualify for both the homestead exemption and the farmstead exemption. In Allegheny County, 60% of eligible property owners applied for property tax relief in 2009.
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 people who make 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%).
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 0.75 and its MV/PI AR for the current year.
The School District Adjusted Index for the Bethel Park School District 2006-2007 through 2010-2011.
For the 2011-12 school year the Bethel Park School Board applied for exceptions (pension costs/special ed costs) to exceed the Act 1 Index. Each year, the Bethel Park School Board has the option of adopting either 1) a resolution in January certifying they will not increase taxes above their index or 2) a preliminary budget in February. A school district adopting the resolution may not apply for referendum exceptions or ask voters for a tax increase above the inflation index. A specific timeline for these decisions is publisher each year by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.
According to a state report, for the 2011-2012 school year budgets, 247 school districts adopted a resolution certifying that tax rates would not be increased above their index; 250 school districts adopted a preliminary budget. Of the 250 school districts that adopted a preliminary budget, 231 adopted real estate tax rates that exceeded their index. Tax rate increases in the other 19 school districts that adopted a preliminary budget did not exceed the school district's index. Of the districts who sought exceptions 221 used the pension costs exemption and 171 sought a Special Education costs exemption. Only 1 school district sought an exemption for Nonacademic School Construction Project, while 1 sought an exception for Electoral debt for school construction.
For 2009 and 2010, the School Board did not apply for any exceptions to exceed the 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.
The district offers a variety of clubs, activities and sports. There are a large number of sports programs: 27 varsity, 17 junior varsity, 9 freshman and 14 middle school teams, as well as six club sports. Bethel Park School district funds 12 clubs and activities available to students at the middle schools and over 20 at the high school. The high school produces a fall play and spring musical, in which more than 150 students regularly participate.
Eligibility to participate is determined by school board policies. It is the policy of the board that no student can be compelled to participate in a public performance or be penalized in any way for failure to do so.
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.