District hopeful state funds can be restored
at Albany High, Hackett Middle School
ALBANY, N.Y. (January 11, 2012) – The City
School District of Albany is working diligently in partnership with the
State Education Department to answer questions about a key element in
the district’s plan to improve achievement for all students at Albany
High School and William S. Hackett Middle School.
The part of the district’s work at Albany High and
Hackett that is in question relates to the $3.3 million School
Improvement Grant (SIG) that the state awarded to the district for the
2011-12 school year. The district was eligible for the grant because
Albany High and Hackett are among the state’s persistently
SED accepted the district’s application for the
funding last summer; Albany was one of 10 districts in the state that
received SIG awards at that time. Funding was conditional, however,
pending each district’s submission by Jan. 1 of an SED-approved Annual
Professional Performance Review (APPR) plan for teacher and principal
None of the 10 districts met that goal, although
Albany was one of six that filed a proposal in advance of SED’s Jan. 1
SED ruled that the district’s proposal, like all of
those that met the deadline, was insufficient in several areas relating
to the requirements for new standards to evaluate teachers and
principals. However, the district is among the statewide leaders in this
area thanks to the work of its APPR Committee over the past two years, a
key reason the district remains hopeful that the SIG funding can be
Superintendent Raymond Colucciello, Ed.D., also
credited Cathy Corbo and Kim Wilkins, presidents of the district’s
unions for teachers and administrators, respectively, for the leadership
they have provided to the APPR team throughout the SIG process.
Although Education Commissioner John B. King Jr.
suspended SIG funding for all 10 districts Jan. 3, he acknowledged that
Albany’s plan was thorough in many areas and showed good promise.
Click here to read
SED’s Jan. 3 news release.
The district has continued to work with SED officials
since then to address the areas of the plan that have not yet met
approval. This includes a conference call and webinar last week and a
planned meeting at SED for technical assistance Jan. 20.
The district expects to submit an updated plan in the
coming weeks. If additional follow-up is required, the district will ask
for a hearing in February to answer additional questions. The district
expects to know by mid or late February whether its SIG funding will be
“The good news is that our team submitted a very
solid plan to SED in advance of its deadline, and all of the feedback we
have received regarding SED’s questions since that time has been
encouraging,” Dr. Colucciello said. “We are hopeful that we will be able
to provide satisfactory answers to SED’s remaining questions about our
APPR plan and have our funding restored as soon as possible.
“However, we also understand that it is our
responsibility to prepare for the possibility that some or all of our
SIG funding may not be restored.”
The district’s SIG grant covers about 14 positions at
Albany High and Hackett. It also allowed the district to put in place
new academic programs and sustain others that provide extra support for
students and offer more professional development for teachers, and to
buy additional computers to enhance teaching and learning.
All positions covered by the SIG grant will remain in
place while the funding issue is being resolved. While the district
works to answer SED’s questions, most academic programs already underway
as part of the SIG plans at Albany High and Hackett are being continued.
Parts of the plan that have yet to be put in place,
such as an extended-day program at Hackett that had been scheduled to
start Feb. 1, are on hold until the matter is resolved. Technology
purchases related to SIG programs also have been put on hold.
The mission of the City School District of
Albany is to educate and nurture all students to be
responsible citizens, critical thinkers and lifelong learners to
successfully compete in the global community by providing an
academically rigorous and safe environment in partnership with parents,
students and the community. The district serves nearly 8,700
students in 15
elementary, middle and high schools. In addition to neighborhood
schools, the district includes several magnet schools and programs, as
well as other innovative academic opportunities for students, including
four themed academies at Albany High School.