Mt. Lebanon schools lauded

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Accolades continued Monday for Mt. Lebanon School District’s academic achievement.

State Sen. Matt Smith and Rep. Dan Miller, both Democrats from Mt. Lebanon, attended the school board meeting to present proclamations recognizing nine of the district's 10 schools for receiving the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Academics.

“I particularly find the high school to be amazing, considering everything that’s going on, to reach such heights,” Mr. Miller said.

Mt. Lebanon High School, which is undergoing a 3 ½-year renovation, scored 99.5 percent on the state’s 2012-13 School Performance Profile, ranking among the top schools in the state and posting the highest percentage among public schools in Allegheny County.

The Governor’s Award was presented to schools that scored 90 percent or greater on the performance profile. Other Mt. Lebanon buildings to be honored were Jefferson Middle School and Foster, Hoover, Howe, Jefferson, Lincoln, Markham and Washington elementary schools.

The district’s achievement “gave me a great deal of bragging rights over my 49 colleagues in the state Senate,” Mr. Smith said. He and Mr. Miller both have children enrolled in the district.

Superintendent Timothy Steinhauer acknowledged the roles of educators and the community at large in contributing to the students’ successes.

“We are part of a community that has continued to support quality education for over 100 years,” he said.

Gov. Tom Corbett and acting state Secretary of Education Carolyn Dumaresq visited last week for an assembly at the high school to honor the district.

School Performance Profile scores are based on factors such as standardized test results, SAT/ACT scores, graduation rates and academic proficiency.

In other business Monday:

■ The school board approved a 2014-15 preliminary budget, as is required for the district to apply for exceptions to the Act 1 index capping the amount by which the property tax rate can be increased.

The preliminary budget calls for a rate increase of 0.99 mills, but that figure is expected to change by the time a final budget is adopted in May.

“There’s so much information that is not yet available to use that will affect our final budget,” said Elaine Cappucci, school board president. “Until that time, we will not know whether we need to raise taxes beyond the index.”

The 2013-14 property tax rate is 22.61 mills. The Act 1 2014-15 adjusted index for Mt. Lebanon is 2.1 percent, meaning the rate could increase by 0.47 mills without requiring an exception.

■ The board approved the hiring of two administrators: Sarah J. Shaw, Jefferson Elementary School principal, at a salary of $89,000, and Melissa M. Nelson, Mellon Middle School assistant principal, at $75,000. Their starting dates have not been set.

Ms. Shaw is principal of Cornell School District’s elementary school. She previously was reading department chairwoman and a reading specialist in Hempfield Area School District.

Ms. Nelson teaches fourth grade in Canon-McMillan School District. Prior to that, she worked in Pittsburgh Public Schools as an American Sign Language coordinator and instructor at Pressley Ridge School for the Deaf and Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic. 

Harry Funk, freelance writer:

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