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Back to Communications Home

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 lowest-achieving schools.

 

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 evaluations.

 

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 deadline.

 

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 restored.

 

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 restored.

 

“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.

 

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