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Re-Imagining the future of Albany High School
School's 40th anniversary marked by planning for the future of high school education

Albany High School turns 40 this school year.


Back in 1973-74, the school at 700 Washington Ave., represented a state-of-the-art approach to high school education in our city. That version of Albany High, just the third since the city’s system of public education began in the 19th century, reflected the community’s shared vision for a new way to educate all students.


Now, as the school marks its ruby anniversary in 2013-14, the City School District of Albany is continuing its work with the community to plan for a 21st century vision of public high school education.


“I am energized by the opportunity we have as a community to re-imagine high school education for our future generations,” said Superintendent Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard, Ph.D. “This is a rare opportunity and we are fortunate to be able to work together as a community in that process.”


You can download a list of Frequently Asked Questions about the vision for a new or renovated Albany High.


We also invite all community members to give us your thoughts about our planning for the future of Albany High School through an online survey. The survey asks you to respond to a series of questions, including your concerns for Albany High, your thoughts on the school's new academy structure, your vision for the skills graduates of the future will need and the top reason you have hope for the future of Albany High.


The survey will take about 10-15 minutes to complete and your responses will remain anonymous. Your input is important to us and we hope you will take the time to complete the survey.


Driving the process is a shared understanding throughout the community of the critical need to raise achievement for all students and significantly increase Albany High’s graduation rate.


Under Dr. V’s leadership, the district is undergoing a major academic reorganization, focused on aligning resources and staff to support teachers and principals in their mission to help all students reach their highest potential. A new or fully renovated high school at the current location is another important element in the district’s future plans. It would match the modern elementary and middle schools serving all district students since the successful completion of the facilities project at the start of this century,


“We know that new facilities alone are not the answer, and we fully recognize that we must remain mindful of what our community can afford,” said Board of Education President Alexandra Streznewski. “But we cannot ignore the powerful message that the learning environment communicates to students, and the strong impact it can have on their educational outcomes in tandem with highly trained and highly motivated staff.” Click here to read more.


Process beings with opportunities for public input

Beginning in the winter of 2012-13, tThe City School District of Albany, in its partnership with the community to develop a vision for the future of high school education in our city, held numerous focus groups, workshops and community forums to gather public input on what residents envision for the next generation of Albany High School.


That included the “Re-Imagining Albany High School Summit” attended by nearly 100 community members June 25 (pictured above). The summit continued the district's efforts to consider options for renewing rebuilding Albany High. Participants, including students, parents and community members, took part in interactive discussions about a variety of questions. Click here to check out photos from the summit.


The summit followed an open town hall meeting June 10 at William S. Hackett Middle School that provided about 70 participants an opportunity to ask a wide range of questions and provide feedback. The process continued with educational specification meetings Aug. 1 and Oct. 1. Thank you to all of those who have participated, and stay tuned for more opportunities to be involved in the process of re-imagining Albany High.


Planning seeks a community vision

Moving forward after the May 2012 report of the ad hoc High School Facilities Advisory Committee that studied future options for Albany High School, the City School District of Albany Board of Education approved CS Arch and Turner Construction to provide leadership, educational planning, suppport and technical assistance to continue the process forward.

The next steps will be to engage the community in a broad conversation over the next 12-18 months about how the next generation of Albany High School can best serve all of the city's students and advance the district's goal of eliminating the achievement gap and raising achievement for all students.

The June 10 community forum and online survey continue planning work that has been ongoing through winter and spring.


The district has engaged more than 250 parents, community members, students, staff and community leaders in small-group focus sessions in recent months. These opportunities are designed to gather input on the academic, social-emotional and extracurricular needs that will be important for the district to consider as it plans for facilities that will serve the city's high school students for decades to come.


Click here to read more from Superintendent Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard, Ph.D., regarding the process for engaging the community throughout the process of planning for a new or renovated high school.


Board approves architectural, construction management partners

The City School District of Albany Board of Education has hired CS Arch and Turner Construction as its architectural, engineering and construction management partners in the process to re-imagine the future of Albany High School.


"I heard from community members throughout my interview process, and have continued to hear in my first month on the job, that our city is ready for a 'new' Albany High School," Superintendent Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard, Ph.D., said following the board's approval of CS Arch and Turner on Oct. 18, 2012. "Exactly what that new school will look like or how it could be designed are critical questions that only can be answered after continuing our conversations with the community.


"The board's approval of CS Arch and Turner Construction, two firms each with a wealth of experience in helping communities build school facilities that meet the needs of their students, is simply the next step in that process. We look forward to hearing from our community about how the next generation of Albany High School can best serve the needs of all of our students well into the 21st century."


The district's High School Facilities Advisory Committee studied options for a completely new or renovated Albany High during the winter and spring of 2012. The committee, made up of 38 representatives from the community, focused on the options of renovating the current high school and building a completely new high school campus. You can download that report in .pdf format.

To advance the process following the committee's May 17, 2012, report to the board, the district sent out a Request for Proposals for the architectural, engineering and construction management services during the summer and received six proposals by the Aug. 31 deadline.
You can download the full RFP in .pdf format.


Transforming Albany High to provide smaller learning communities

Albany High School has been transformed into four academies -- physically smaller learning environments designed to help students feel connected, involved and engaged.


Each offers electives tied to its own theme; all will offer the same core classes in English, math, science and social studies. Students will take their core courses within their own academy, but can take advanced elective classes in other academies. For example, a student in Innovation Academy -- which offers advanced electives in science and technology -- will be able to take a playwriting class in the Discovery Academy, which offers advanced English electives.


What's different: themes

Each of the four academies has a theme:

Each academy has up to 600 students, its own principal, four teams of teachers and a "theme" coordinator. These smaller academies will offer more demanding coursework and extra support for all students.


History behind the changes

Four decades ago, a comprehensive high school serving all students in the City School District of Albany was the right plan at the right time. Now, times have changed.


Reorganizing Albany High was a top priority in the district’s 2008 strategic plan, “A Vision for Tomorrow. The process gained increased urgency in January 2010 when the State Education Department identified Albany High as a "persistently lowest-achieving" school because of the school’s lagging performance in math and English language arts (ELA).


A $7.5 million federal grant is bolstering the transformation of Albany High. The district continues to work with state education officials to gain financial support from the state for these efforts.


Smaller learning communities like Albany High's new academies were at the center of the research and planning that the High School Restructuring Committee did between fall 2009 and summer 2011 (read below for more information about this committee of district and community representatives).


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