Washington Township Education Coalition 

    
NEXT STEP:   STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION, PUBLIC MEETING - To Be Scheduled in 2015.  The people of Washington Township Anxiously Await the Opportunity to Testify Before the Board of Education.  WTEC requests that the Board please schedule the hearing as soon as possible, without delay.

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11/26/14            

    WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP RESPONSE TO SETH GROVE, K.I.D.S.  
                       - PLEASE DO NOT SPEAK FOR US


Seth Grove has made himself the enemy of the vast majority of Washington Township. 
This includes 1,400 people and at least 170 parents of school-
aged children who want to join the Northern York County School District.

In his press release, (BELOW) Representative Seth Grove tells 1,406 people of Washington Township that we are wrong, and he knows best.  From a distance, he tells us what is right, what we should do. According to Seth, our legal decision, made by the vast majority of Washington Township residents to join Northern is wrong.
  This outsider claims to know that the real reason behind our family values, which (in his view, and of K.I.D.S.) is solely about the taxes.  Grove and K.I.D.S. again insult the people of Washington Township, and do so without any supporting facts.  The assumption concludes there is only one sinister reason that we want to transfer to Northern - taxes.  That is an insult to the parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles and our disaffected Dover alumni.
    

ALLEGATION:  Mr. Grove and K.I.D.S. claim that  the Northern York County School District must raise taxes.

FACT:  This assumption is based on the notion that an addition of our 294 new students to Northern comes with costs, and yes, of course it does.  BUT, what is often misunderstood is that unlike Dover, we will pay our own way.  As part of Northern, we will no longer give our tax dollars to Dover -- NORTHERN will receive it.  So not only will Washington Township more than pay our way, there is no need to for Northern to raise taxes.  Joining the Northern York County School District, we give them $2.5 million dollars of our tax payments every year, at current millage rates, as well as the additional state (per pupil) and federal funding.  Washington Township’s per capita fees, real estate transfer taxes, etc. - also GO TO NORTHERN.   Northern will manage it better too, with a trustworthy Board and administration that we want for our children. 

FACT:  As Northern submitted to the DOE Secretary in 2012, approximately 8-10 new teachers would likely be needed, but in no way did they cite any significant costs nor financial problems created by Washington Township's transfer, unlike "the sky is falling" scenario as you and K.I.D.S perpetuate.  It simply is not the case.  Again, our $2.5 MILLION will more than cover the costs for ALL educational services at Northern.  

Grove and K.I.D.S. strong statements regarding the assumptions of taxation and school funding have served to expose and discredit themselves.  With its complexity, the basic facts of public school funding, local government tax code and the broad state and federal tax allocations are hard to follow.  Mr. Grove, by your work in the House that poorer districts (such as York City, Harrisburg) receive much higher state per pupil funding than the average district.  Of course you are aware that districts such as York city receive $12,500+ per student right now, whereas districts like Dover and Northern receive $4,000-$5,000 less.  You may also be aware that Dover may receive a lot more state funding if Washington Township were to leave.  Whether you (or K.I.D.S.) are aware of this, both districts and their lawyers are keenly aware of this fact.  Another factor is the current high-profile state legislative work at this moment to create landmark revisions in the basic state funding formula for all 500 public districts in the state, a total game changer for all districts.  Moreover, the legislature alters the total annual allocations to the DOE, and in turn to each district, every single year.  Therefore, nobody can determine with any certainty the losses or budget allocation for the next fiscal year in any school district.  As determined by WTEC, with assistance from one of the top school tax funding experts in Harrisburg, (to be discussed at our hearing with the state Board of Education) - it may be the case that Dover actually receives an INCREASE in state funding if Washington Township joins Northern.  It stands to reason, depending on the action of the legislature that you are part of.  Regardless, any claim that “the sky is falling” simply is not true.          

ALLEGATION:  Northern will be forced to build new school buildings, and our children will be taught in trailers
.

FACT:   Again, this is not the case, this claim is patently false, desperate, fear-driven nonsense.  The Northern York County School District will NOT need to construct new buildings due to the transfer of Washington Township students.   

The receiving district (Northern) does not question this fact.  The facts of Northern’s position are clearly documented by statements in Northern’s public board meetings as well as in Northern’s response document to the Department of Education in June, 2012.  In Northern’s own words, the transfer of Washington Township does not create insurmountable costs nor adverse affects that Grove and K.I.D.S. believe will happen.  Northern’s current and previous statements in 2012 refuted the unsubstantiated claims by Dover’s Dr. Krantz then, as it does now.  (See “Northern’s Response to Secretary, DOE Investigation of Educational Merit” response document), which is a public document.  Most recently, Northern’s long range facilities plan openly describes the intent of maintaining a 65% capacity rate of its four elementary schools – a figure that INCLUDES Washington Township’s students.  65% capacity, with Washington Township.  This well-documented data disproves any claim that our children will be taught in “trailers” and supports that Northern has adequate capacity.  At no time has Northern ever stated the need to place Washington Township students in trailers.  The people making up WTEC do not doubt the K.I.D.S. genuine concern for our children.  WTEC in fact shares the deep concern of moving children as well as other painful realities that we have considered carefully.  We differ in our long-term view of what is best for the children now and in the future for Washington Township as whole.        

FACT:  Northern has committed to at least a $10 Million revitalization of Wellsville Elementary school, whether Washington Township joins or not.  Also, as per Dr. Eshbach, the Northern high school has witnessed a recent decrease in student population.  There is existing capacity that does not require new building/s.  Our total student population of 294 averages out to about 22 students per grade level, which in no way presents a need for "new buildings" as claimed.  

FACT:  Since 2011-12, Northern has remained officially “neutral” yet supportive to the transfer of Washington Township, planning for facilities and long-term accommodation of our students.  Northern recognizes that Washington Township's high property values; our land and solid student population are desirable, and our population growth has remained steady at only 1-2% for the past 35 years!  Unlike the mindless urban sprawl of Dover which results in unsustainable costs, we work for hard-earned stability, and give Northern the predictability that supports long-term school planning.  Our $2.5 Million more than covers all costs, busing, supplies, heating, cutting the grass, sports, teachers - everything.  Yet unlike Dover, no subsidies are needed to bail us out.  In support of these facts, know that Washington Township's high property values are the fuel that drive the engine of local school taxation/funding and absolutely will more than pay for our 294 students.    

ALLEGATION:  "It is wrong that the people of Washington Township chose to send its taxes to Northern, which is 21% of Dover’s local education budget and $4.1 Million lost."

FACT:  Currently, Washington Township pays nearly $3.6 Million (not $4.1) every year to Dover Area School District.  While Grove cites that DASD will lose 21% of its local education budget, Washington Township’s does not make up 21% of the Dover student population, it is less that 10%.  In effect, Grove states that Washington Township should continue to make up this large difference for Dover's children and services.  In addition, the $3.5 Million that we reluctantly pay to Dover is a much smaller part of DASD’s $54 MILLION BUDGET.  WTEC respectfully argues that it is not fair to pressure Washington Township to stay, and pay for something that has been and remains out of our control.  All parties need to accept the fact that the people of Washington Township will no longer pay to subsidize Dover.  

MISSING:  Grove and K.I.D.S. deny and remain silent to the obvious educational data and performance outcomes of Northern, which WTEC believes is the main issue - educational quality and performance.    

OBSERVATION:  It is interesting that Grove and K.I.D.S. present no facts on educational merit; they fail to discuss or challenge the educational performance data and advantages that Northern offers to our kids.  It is difficult to refute the educational merit of Dover over Northern.  Thus, there are claims that are emotional, fear-based and devoid of fact.  Grove and K.I.D.S. have attempted to speak for Northern, but Northern has nothing to fear, since we pay our own way, bring good kids, and no costs of sprawl.  These claims are made by people who have never spent countless hours listening to our neighbors, as WTEC has, understanding the wide variety of positions that made up the individual decisions of 1,406 people, most who are Dover alumni who want to move out of the Dover Area School District.  It is hoped that the state Board of Education takes all of these discussions into account when making the final decision in our case.  

Grove and K.I.D.S. are 100% certain that our "taxes-first" decision could NEVER have anything to do with the real heart and soul of this case, which are the educational issues at stake such as these 18 facts:  

  • Much further travel to Dover schools
  • As part of Northern, we would have closer elementary schools for ALL elementary students
  • The higher crime rate of the greater-Dover community
  • The documented SEVEN times more in-school arrests in the past ten years (of Dover, see PaSafeschools.com)
  • The much higher truancy rate in Dover
  • The extremely high costs of baseless funding decisions, including the fact that all DASD have been made with an Dover 1st mentality, school building and new track, stadium and cushy administrative offices projects coupled with the stealthy closure of our only school (while we pay for it)
  • The stronger community identification with Dillsburg/Northern than Dover
  • The better geographic and cultural fit of Northern and Washington Township
  • The sweeping, higher standardized test scores of Northern every year
  • Northern’s SAT scores – higher every category, every year for the past 14 years in a row
  • The unquestioned domination of Northern’s PSSA results of DASD each year
  • Northern’s higher total aggregate district-wide SPP scores for the past two years
  • Northern’s higher graduation rates for the past decade
  • Northern's consistently higher college placement and post-secondary performance for the ten years
  • The fact that Northern is highly respected in the region while Dover is not
  • Northern’s curriculum, which offers ten more honors classes than Dover, more extracurricular activities, clubs
  • The miles of endless sprawl in Dover which result in slow travel, excessive housing and insane costs for everyone, or
  • Enduring decades of Dover's constant crisis and administrative mismanagement.  

Nah, it can’t be these pesky factual and documented things … because “it’s all about taxes” and nothing else.  Seth and K.I.D.S. imply an insider knowledge to our values and repeated claim it’s really only about the taxes.  Oddly, Seth, and DASD were completely silent on this matter since 2011.  Can somebody explain this sudden interest in our best interests?       

Washington Township is represented by Mike Regan who has supported our cause for years, as did Scott Perry before him.  We share the support of Senator Vance.  


The people of Washington Township have been consistent:  
THE PURPOSE OF OUR EXISTENCE IS NOT TO FOREVER SUBSIDIZE THE DOVER AREA SCHOOL DISTRICT - PERIOD.  To expect or demand otherwise is unethical, against the values and platform of your party, and just flat out wrong.  The decision for OUR children to receive an education in the Northern York County School District is unquestionably in OUR best interests, and any attempt to deny this basic fundamental right is disingenuous at best.  

As former DASD board member Mr. Jeffery Brown stated in his fine letter to the YDR, (worthy of reprint) "everyone but the people of Washington Township want to tell them what to do."  Accordingly, this choice is OUR choice.  Northern is the right choice for our children.  If you were sincere regarding your statement that the education of Washington Township's children was your priority, you would do the right thing, accept the educational merit verified by the Department of Education, the legal process and the Court Order by Judge Linebaugh, and correct your statement.     

In closing, Mr. Grove, should you feel the urge to further tell us how to live, what's best for our kids, or to tell the 1,406 supporters of the Washington Township Education Coalition how our decisions must be reversed in order to bail-out YOUR community with our subsidies, then we invite you to schedule a well-advertised, open, public forum at the largest facility in Washington Township.  We look forward to this discussion and to the one to be scheduled by the state Board of Education.

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SETH GROVE PRESS RELEASE:

Washington Township Move Could Cause Property Tax Increase, Grove Says

11/24/14

DOVER - Rep. Seth Grove (R-Dover) today issued a statement following an informational meeting Monday, regarding the possible transfer of Washington Township to the Northern York County School District. In his statement, Grove said:
“As an advocate of property tax reform since my election in 2008, I understand the desire for lower property taxes. However, the decision of Washington Township to leave the Dover School District is wrong not only for taxpayers, but also for our community. The financial impact on taxpayers in the Dover area from this decision would be significant. The district would lose roughly $4.1 million which is approximately 21 percent of our local education funding. The loss of this funding would force the school district to cut back on teachers and raise property taxes on the remaining residents. 
“Not only is this bad for taxpayers in the Dover Area School District, but it also hurts taxpayers in the Northern York School District. The impact on Northern York School District is simple; the district will increase taxes. This tax increase is inevitable because the school district will be forced to hire more teachers, expand services and enlarge buildings to educate the additional students.
“In addition to being the wrong choice financially for our community, this move is wrong for our children whose education is our highest priority. 
“This decision is an effort by members of our community to see their property tax bill shrink…etc….



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Background:

     The vast majority of Washington Township residents, including at least 170 parents with children have signed a legal petition, entered into the legal process to become part of the Northern York County School District.  Northern offers an outstanding education, with long-term proven performance and educational outcomes, with better managed community schools and a 30% lower tax rate.  Northern has demonstrated long-term, higher standardized test scores (ex. SAT, AYP/NCLB, PSSA) as well as a higher districtwide score on the new school performance profile, as well as a wider curriculum, extra-curricular activities, higher graduation and college placement rates, a better community and geographic fit, much lower in-school crime, school arrests and truancy rates (than Dover) while offering Washington Township much closer schools on safer roads for travel.  As part of Northern's responses to the Secretary's official questionnaire, all Washington Township elementary students would most likely attend Northern and Wellsville elementary schools, offering closer elementary schools (than any Dover school) for all Washington Township students.  Independent, empirical, factual evidence concludes the obvious educational merit of this change.  

NORTHERN:  Closer Schools, Safer Schools, Less Crime, Truancy; A Stable, Better Managed District;  Lower Taxes, Consistently Better Performance, and the Legal Choice as Determined by Vast Majority of Washington Township.  


Better Education, Outcomes, Performance:  Snapshot of SPP, SAT comparison

In 2013 and again in November, 2014 --  The new PA Department of Education's School Performance Profile (SPP) ratings and comparison shine more favorably on Northern's schools.  Notably, Northern's district aggregate score is higher than Dover's, even with the advantages of the SPP criteria that favors DASD.  

Northern has an elementary school that received a rating in the top ten of all schools in the nine county region of the midstate, juxtaposed with Dover intermediate school's score of 71 (2013), which is two points away from a failing score.  As expected, in 2013 and now again in 2014, a comparative analysis and scores, similar to what has previously been documented for most important standardized tests/performance, displays Northern's higher overall #'s and %'s than Dover.       



2014 --  Northern has again outscored Dover in every category of the SAT:  every category, every year for at least the 14th year in a row.        

2013 --   Confirmed SAT scores once again Northern students have achieved much higher SAT test scores than Dover
 

NORTHERN  --  Scored average of 520 (Verbal), 531 (Math) and 598 (Writing).  Northern scores are also higher than state and   national averages.
DOVER
          -- Scored average of 492 (Verbal), 490 (Math) and 466 (Writing). 

2012
NORTHERN  --  Scored average of 516 (Verbal), 531 (Math) and 500 (Writing)!   Northern scores are also higher than state and national averages.  
DOVER          --  Scored average of 472 (Verbal), 479 (Math) and 444 (Writing).   Dover scores average 50 points less per category.  <150 points overall. 
   
Northern's SAT performance is outstanding; top of York County, consistently higher than state and national averages.  Northern has outscored Dover in the SAT test in every category, every year, fourteen years in a row (since 2000).    

    A picture (or map) says a thousand words.  This map illustrates the even distribution of people who signed the legal petition and want to become part of the Northern district.  The map shows no lopsided favoring of any particular section of Washington Township.  To the outsider, this map may appear to be somewhat underwhelming.  Yet, considering that Washington Township has the second highest number of large, open space parcels of all townships in York County, the reality of this map begins to set in.  Due to decades of wise land use practices, Washington township has a large number of huge open spaces, big farms and many wide open properties.  Thus, looking at this map illustrates the support of vast majority of our people, where their residences are located (indicated by red dots) representing residents who signed the petition.   
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