“Myth-Buster” Fact Sheet : East Penn Schools

Myth: Performance on SAT tests have been declining for the last decade.

Fact: Performance on SAT tests by East Penn students has been improving since 2003.  The College Board changed the SAT test for 2006, which prevents a direct comparison of scores after 2006 with those prior.  Throughout the past decade, East Penn student have scored significantly above the Pennsylvania state average on all SAT tests.

Sources: www.education.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/data_and_statistics/7202/sat_and_act_scores/674663, www.collegeboard.com/newsat/index.html

Myth: Alburtis Elementary and Lower Macungie Middle School are under-performing schools.

Fact: Alburtis Elementary School and Lower Macungie Middle School made Adequate Yearly Progress, AYP, under No Child Left Behind in all areas but the Special Education-IEP sub-category.  Under No Child Left Behind, all students- including special needs students- are required to meet the same proficiency standards.  A detailed look at all 39 schools in Lehigh County that have AYP assessed on the performance of IEP students reveals that only two schools, Eyer Middle School in East Penn and Springhouse Middle School in Parkland, met this requirement outright (e.g. without resorting to “loopholes”).

Source: paayp.emetric.net/

Myth: The East Penn school district and its board of directors lack transparency.

Fact: The district’s website contains a wealth of information about the district, its financial and academic performance, and its school board meetings and policies:

  1. Finances, Academic Performance and Personnel: www.eastpennsd.org/progfiles/FC_Dashboard/

  2. Current year’s budget: www.eastpennsd.org/Administration/Business Office/

  3. Next year’s proposed budget and related info: www.eastpennsd.org/Budget/

  4. Archive of school board meeting minutes: www.eastpennsd.org/School Board/

  5. Searchable archive of school board policies: www.psba.org/districts_policies/e/185/index.asp

Myth: East Penn School District’s debt has “exploded” from under $1 million to $166.6 million over the last decade.

Fact: The current school district debt as of Jan 2011 is $138 million, up from $100 million in the 1996-97 school year, but down from its peak of $157 million in 2008-09.  Over the last 14 years, these funds have been used to complete 5 renovations/expansions and build 4 new schools to address rising enrollment in the district-- no debt has been used for operating expenses.  Without incurring this debt, the district would not have the classrooms to teach all the children who are enrolled.

Sources: www.eastpennsd.org/progfiles/FC_Dashboard/ -> Student Achievement/Student Enrollment & Budget and Finance, www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/gateway/PTARGS_0_123706_879545_0_0_18/Finances_AFR_SOIN_9697-0809.xls, www.eastpenn.k12.pa.us/Administration/_bdocs/final general fund budget 2010-2011.pdf, www.eastpennsd.org/_pdfs/0910annual.pdf

Myth: East Penn property taxes have increased much faster than inflation in the last decade.

Fact: East Penn property tax rates have increased at a compound annual rate of 3.4% from 2001 to 2011 while inflation has increased at a compound annual rate of 2.4% over the same period, a difference of 1% per year.  The Act 1 Index, which measures the year-to-year increase in employment costs in Pennsylvania and is often used as a benchmark for evaluating property tax increases, has averaged 3.5% per year over this time period, slightly higher than the 3.4% rate of East Penn tax increases.

Sources: pelcentral.org/publications/research-reports/, www.lehighcounty.org/Departments/Assessment/MillageSheet/tabid/343/Default.aspx, www.bls.gov/data/inflation_calculator.htm, www.eastpennsd.org/progfiles/FC_Dashboard/ -> Budget and Finance -> Act 1 Historical Data

Myth: East Penn’s spending per student has increased excessively from 2001-02 to 2008-09.

Fact: East Penn’s 31% increase in total expenditure per student from 2001-02 to 2008-09 is the lowest of any school district in Lehigh County.  Increases in the other districts ranged from 35% for Salisbury and Parkland to 72% for Catasauqua.  East Penn also had a lower percentage increase in spending per student than 434 of the 500 other school districts in the state.

Source: www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/summaries_of_annual_financial_report_data/7673/afr_excel_data_files/509047

Myth: The East Penn School Board does not provide good value to taxpayers.

Fact: Spending per pupil is in the lowest third of all school districts in the state and academic performance is in the highest third of all districts.

Source: www.americanprogress.org/issues/2011/01/educational_productivity/

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