School taxes lowered for Albany
taxes were lowered for Albany homeowners following efforts from the
city and school district to ease the tax burden on residents in these
difficult economic times.
The City School District of Albany Board of Education
voted Aug. 18 to approve a 2011 tax rate that is 0.65 percent lower than
last year for homeowners. For homeowners with the Basic STAR exemption,
the rate will decrease 1.32 percent and with Enhanced STAR for seniors
the rate will go down 2.45 percent.
link to look up your 2011 school taxes.
Board President Daniel Egan praised the teamwork that contributed to the
reduced school tax rate on the part of the board, the city and Mayor
Gerald D. Jennings, and the district’s teachers. The Albany Public
School Teachers’ Association voted in May to approve a new five-year
contract that includes a pay freeze for the 2011-12 school year.
The district's administrators worked under a pay freeze during the
2010-11 school year, and Superintendent Raymond Colucciello, Ed.D., has
agreed to a 2011-12 contract that freezes his salary for the third
consecutive year with no benefits from the district.
"This was a team effort on our community's
behalf,” Egan said.
Visit the District News section for more information about the 2011
school tax rate.
In May, voters
approved the City School District of Albany's 2011-12 budget in spite of a relentless
attack on the district that
the Times Union reports was led by a charter-school group.
Voters approved the $206.5 million budget, which
included a zero tax-levy increase, by a 173-vote margin (3,555 to 3,382)
following a weeks-long disinformation campaign using postcards and
"phone surveys" that failed to identify the organization funding them.
The Times Union reported that the
charter-school group School Performance Inc. was responsible for the
Follow this link
to download the 2011-12 budget in .pdf format.
Voters also provided
overwhelming approval for all three of the district's other budget
voters to authorize the district to sell the building at
270-272 Central Ave., home to the district's Buildings and Grounds
staff, for at least $100,000.
The staff and all equipment are relocating to the former Harriet
Gibbons High School (now Central Registration) at 75 Watervliet Ave.
Proposition #3 -- Asks voters
to authorize the district to sell the former Philip Livingston
Magnet Academy for at least $3.25 million.
last year overwhelmingly approved a proposition authorizing
the district to sell the property for at least $4.5 million. However,
due to market conditions it is necessary to lower the minimum selling
-- Asks voters
to approve an $11.4 million facilities project
for three schools. The entire project will be done
at no cost to
would expand the
cafeteria at Giffen Memorial Elementary
School, fix the roof, windows, and
heating, ventilation, air-conditioning and
electrical systems at AbrookinVocational-Technical Center, and add a
nine-classroom addition and other
improvements at Albany High School.
The entire project would be paid for by
regular and EXCEL
building aid from the
district was able to send a zero tax-levy increase to voters after
the teachers' union agreed May 2 on a
landmark five-year contract that also will avoid teacher layoffs and provide more time for students.
Albany Public School Teachers' Association leaders hailed the
agreement as a major collaborative effort that puts students first
and recognizes the financial pressures facing the school district
and the city.
The contract includes a pay freeze and
no teacher layoffs for 2011-12. It also includese two more days of
instruction for students, and three more work days for teachers to
pursue a variety of professional development activitie.
proposal originally included a 1.7 percent tax-levy increase when
the board approved it unanimously April 12. However, the contract
agreeement with the teachers saved about $2 million for 2011-12,
allowing the district to completely erase the proposed tax-levy
Negotiations continue with the district's
two additional unions, representing administrators and non-instructional
staff, for additional savings in 2011-12. All of the district's
administrators accepted a voluntary pay freeze for the current school
eliminates 37.5 positions -- four administrators and 33.5
non-instructional staff. The original proposal included the elimination
of 52.5 teaching positions, all of which will be retained following the
In developing the budget proposal for 2011-12, the district
also used $9.3 million from its fund balance -- 60 percent of the
available funds -- to help offset a deficit of more than $10 million.
The $6.1 million remaining in the fund balance represents about three
weeks of the district's payroll and is below the 4 percent threshold
allowed by the state.
"Many of the decisions we had to make throughout this process were
extremely hard, but we recognize the critical need to develop a budget
proposal that supports our students and recognizes our financial
reality," Egan said.
The 2011-12 budget will support the vast majority of
high-quality programs and services the district currently provides, such
as full-day prekindergarten, Academic Intervention Services, the
International Baccalaureate program and a menu of Advanced Placement
courses that is unsurpassed among Capital Region high schools.
Programmatic reductions include starting foreign language in seventh
grade instead of sixth and the elimination of electives at Albany High
School that have low enrollment.
"This is a budget proposal that our students need
and deserve, and that also takes into account our
entire community in these difficult economic times,"
Dr. Colucciello said.
The district's 2010-11
budget of $202.8 million represented reductions of nearly $4
million -- and 213 jobs -- over the past two
years in the face of the state and nation’s economic
crisis, and increasing financial pressure from the
city's taxpayer-supported charter schools.
This year, in addition to continued cuts in state aid, state
lawmakers also have allowed the
city's 11 charter
schools to receive a 20 percent increase in per-pupil funding.
Gov. Cuomo has proposed keeping that $5 million increase in place for
charters in 2011-12, accounting for
about half of
the deficit the district faced before arriving at
the final budget proposal for city residents to consider.
follow the development of the 2011-12 budget through board presentations
at the Feb. 3,
March 3 and
March 17 meetings. The
final presentation at the
April 12 meeting was revised slightly before the board voted 7-0 to
approve it. The board reinstated one elementary home-school coordinator
position that had been proposed for elimination at Pine Hills Elementary
School, and added a half-time attendance verification position. The
person in that position would review and verify the addresses of
students in charter schools to be sure that the district is reimbursing
each of the 11 taxpayer-supported charter schools properly.
Charter schools continue to absorb one of the largest segments of
the district's annual expenses.
In 1999, city taxpayers supported 17 district schools for about
10,500 students. Today, with 11 charter schools operating in the city
alongside 15 district schools, taxpayers support 26 schools for the same
The 2011-12 budget proposal anticipates sending about $34 million
to charter schools. That represents 16.4 percent of the total budget
proposal and 31 percent of the proposed $108.9 million tax levy.
During the current year, the district will pay about $31 million to charter schools, or about 15.3 percent of the total budget. That
includes the $5 million mid-year windfall the charters received when the
state unintentionally repealed a freeze on charter-school tuition for
the current school year. Payments to charters this
year will add up to 29 percent of the district's
$107 million tax levy for 2010-11.
The district continues to work with state lawmakers to reinstate
the charter tuition freeze.
Sen. Neil Breslin and Assemblyman Jack McEneny
propsed legislation in February that would restore the freeze in
Also new in the budget-development process
this year, the district formed
a new Community-based Budget Committee this year and held two
meetings in January to provide information about the district's budget