Our Public School Systems in the 107th District

In 2016 The Pittsburgh Business Times ranked the 496 public school districts in Pennsylvania.  We have 6 school districts in the 107th:

  • Danville was ranked 67th
  • Warrior Run, 166th
  • Southern Columbia, 187th
  • Line Mountain, 297th
  • Mt. Carmel, 416th
  • Shamokin, 445th

Let’s have a look at some of the performance and funding metrics of these schools. The sources for the information in the following table are the PA. Dept. of Education School Performance Profile and the PA. Dept. of Education Teacher’s Salary Database. An explanation of what some of these statistics represent appears after the table.

DanvilleLine MountainMount CarmelShamokinSouthern ColumbiaWarrior Run
District Enrollment
(all grades)
2,2921,1641,5152,2401,3751,492
High School Building
Academic Score
87.974.262.365.777.580.9
High School Cohort Graduation Rate94%95%84%77%97%97%
SAT/ACT College &
Career Readiness Benchmark
100%56%55%37%84%83%
% of Students who are economically disadvantaged32%42%64%73%29%35%
Instructional Cost
Per Student
$9,903$7,605$8,028$7,810$7,822$7,996
Teacher's Average
Salary
$60,715$52,374$46,858$47,443$60,050$53,147
Teacher's Starting
Salaries
$45,630$33,338$32,064$35,500$44,930$42,260
Average Years of Teaching Experience14.312.811.411.416.813.9

 
The High School Building Academic Score: The score for a school is based upon indicators that define a high performing school. Many data elements come together to create the academic score including: PSSA/Keystone performance, industry standards-based competency assessments, grade three reading proficiency, and SAT/ACT college ready benchmarks. The score also assesses factors that contribute to student achievement (e.g., graduation rate, promotion rate, attendance rate).
 
The High School Cohort Graduation Rate: This performance measure represents the percent of students in the school who graduate in four years with a regular high school diploma.
 
SAT/ACT College & Career Readiness Benchmark: This performance measure represents the percent of 12th grade students meeting both SAT College and Career Readiness benchmarks and/or scoring 22 or higher on the ACT taken at any time over the course of their educational experience.

Just as a comparison, Danville has a graduation rate of 94%, Shamokin’s graduation rate is 77%.
 
The SAT/ACT College ready benchmark – a score of how many of the graduates will perform average or better on the “College entrance exams”, for Danville is 100%, the score for Shamokin is 37%. This means that Danville’s graduates are ready for college… Shamokin’s, not so much.
 
The instructional cost per pupil at Danville is $9,903, in Shamokin it is $7,810. So does spending an extra $2,093/student make that much of a difference in how well a school performs, with how many students graduate, with how well the students perform on tests?
 
Does a $2,093  difference sound like a lot of money to you? Consider that both schools have roughly 2,300 students though all grade levels. So 2,300 students times $2,093 each means a total difference of $4.8 million. That is a lot of money.
 
So I think we have to look very hard at our school districts. We have to understand what makes them succeed and we have to understand what makes them fail.
 
As the State Representative for the 107th district I will propose legislation which will identify school districts that are not achieving acceptable educational results and find ways to help them bring their educational performance to acceptable standards. Additional funding for economically disadvantaged areas is a first step. Of course if you propose to spend more money you should be able to identify where the funding will come from. I propose the following:
 
1. Severance tax on fracking: $300 million. Every other state that has gas wells imposes a “severance tax”. Oklahoma, Texas, Wyoming, Louisiana, Colorado… they all have a tax. Of the top 15 gas producing states, Pennsylvania is the only one that does not have a severance tax. It is estimated that Pennsylvania is losing $300 million annually by not imposing a tax that the gas extraction industry sees as a “cost of doing business” in every other state. That $300 million could go a long way to closing the state budget gap, to fund our school systems and to support our community revitalization goals.
 
2. Tax on legalizing recreational marijuana: $200 million. There is a huge potential for tax revenue, probably on the order of $200 million per year. That money could go a long way to fund assistance to struggling school districts and to fund blighted property acquisition and clean up. Recent polls suggest that 59% of Pennsylvanians support legalizing marijuana. Decriminalization of marijuana would leave our law enforcement, courts and prisons more resources to contend with the serious drug issue of the opioid epidemic. In Colorado, it is estimated that 18,000 jobs were created by the legalization of recreational marijuana. Increased tax revenue, decreased law enforcement costs, jobs created … that sounds like win, win, win to me.
 
3.  A “Fair Share Wealth Tax,”: $2 Billion.  A tax on non-wage income such as dividend income and capital gains could generate as much as $2 BILLION annually.
 
I believe we can increase funding to our public schools without increasing our property taxes. As your State Representative I will make funding for our public schools, higher education and trade schools my top priority.
 
Our children deserve the best future we can give them and giving them a good basic education is the first step to helping them move towards a future of economic security and prosperity. The “American Dream” should not be a dream, it should be reality.


Send check payable to:
Friends of Sarah Donnelly
4939 State Route 54
Elysburg, PA 17824

 


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