According to a 2019 study released by U.S. News & World Report, Southmoreland High School has been ranked the fourth highest achieving district in Westmoreland County out of 17 school districts.
The rankings are based on several aspects of student achievement, as well as other factors such as college readiness, math and reading proficiency and performance, college curriculum and graduation rate.
“It reflects how far students, teachers and staff are willing to go despite the limits they face” with recent budget cuts, said senior Dylan Opalinski.
According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, it becomes “problematic” when districts head into a sharp decline in budget.
“It typically leads to less teachers;” according to the center. “That leads to bigger class sizes and less extracurricular activities. This can be detrimental to smaller school districts.”
Southmoreland seems to be heading into this direction with the school board’s proposals to cut funding entirely for the spring musical, cross country and tennis teams, as well as not replacing teachers as they retire and limiting several building substitute teacher assignments.
Even presented with these challenges, the students continue to pursue their achievements in academics.
“It’s impressive how well we’re doing with such a poor district,” said senior Chris Pritts. “I see so many students committing to colleges in their junior year. It’s crazy we have such hard working students given the hand we’ve been dealt.”
Greater Latrobe High School placed fifth while the overall budget proposed for the 2018-2019 school year was nearly $55.9 million, according to page 17 of their budget booklet for that fiscal year. This totally counters Southmoreland’s budget, which is $XX million. The student population is considered low-income category with 44 percent of students falling into the low income level based on the number of students receiving free and reduced lunch.
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