Board cuts more than $16 million from Albany High plan
N.Y. (Dec. 4, 2015) -- The City School District of Albany Board of
Education moved closer to approving a new Albany High School facilities
proposal Thursday night, cutting more than $16 million from the plan
that voters narrowly defeated last month.
The most significant reduction
would be the elimination of a new 1,500-seat auditorium that had been
part of the Nov. 3 proposal. The reduced plan would keep the school’s
current 650-seat auditorium, with a complete renovation and expansion to
a capacity of 800-850.
Changing the plan for the
auditorium and eliminating proposed renovations to the gym cut about $11 million from the previous $196 million total
proposed cost. Additional study is needed on the new auditorium plan
before a final cost estimate can be provided to the board. That is
expected by the board’s Dec. 17 meeting.
The board approved a resolution
Thursday night that fixed the cost of a new proposal at no more than
“The board is committed to balancing the needs of our students and
Albany residents,” said President Ginnie Farrell. “By building on the
three years of work we have done in partnership with our community
and further analyzing the plan, we have been able to target cost
reductions while keeping the majority of student programming intact.”
The board considered two revised draft proposals for the
high school project at the meeting -- Option D and Option E. Both were
preliminary design concepts to provide the board with a general idea of
the proposed scope of each project.
The board members agreed unanimously to move forward
with Option E, which would be developed in much greater detail if the
board votes to move forward with a second referendum and if voters
ultimately approve the proposal. You can review the
preliminary drawings that the board considered at the following links:
In addition to the changes for
the auditorium and gym in Option E, the reduced plan also would
shift construction of a new academic wing into the first phase to make
new classroom space available by September 2019, two years earlier than
the previous plan. If the new plan is approved, the second three-story
classroom building would be added at the rear of the school in what is
now the athletics parking lot.
A key driver of the need for a
new high school is the projected growth in student enrollment from about
2,500 currently to 3,000 or more in the years to come. Albany High has
about 200 more students this school year than in 2014-15 and already has
run out of space to open new classrooms in the current school.
Updating and repairing more
than $55 million in outdated or broken equipment and systems in the
42-year-old school also is a critical need. On Thursday, the board
emphasized the immediate need for roof repairs.
If voters approve a new
referendum this winter, the board vowed to push hard to have the State
Education Department approve that work so the roof can be repaired in
time for the start of next school year.
The board also backed
additional cost-cutting measures totaling about $7.6 million:
Using $2 million from the district’s Smart
Schools Bond Act allocation to offset the cost of new technology
equipment. Those funds had been targeted for use elsewhere in the
district but would be redirected toward the high school if the new
plan is approved.
Saving about $2 million by using
less-expensive flooring materials in many sections, including
hallways. The previous proposal included durable, low-maintenance
porcelain tile throughout the school. The reduced plan would use an
alternative low-maintenance material such as rubber flooring in
hallways and other areas, limiting the porcelain material for main
Saving about $1.5 million by eliminating three
of the five distance-learning classrooms that had been part of the
Nov. 3 proposal.
Saving about $1.5 million by reusing existing
furniture and equipment wherever possible.
Saving about $600,000 by not converting a
grass athletic practice field to artificial turf.
Voters defeated the $196
million proposal by 92 votes out of more than 11,000 cast Nov. 3.
That proposal would have been
supplemented by $123.5 million in state aid, leaving city taxpayers to
pay $72.5 million. Taxes for homeowners would have increased from
$30-$77 under that plan.
The new plan would cut the
local tax impact further.
The proposed reduction in the total dollar amount is 8.2 percent.
State aid on the reduced project is likely to remain about the same,
meaning the local share of the cost will decrease by more than 8.2
At the Dec. 17 meeting, the board is expected to
finalize the cost of the new proposal, approve a referendum to send to
the community and set a date for the vote. Early February would be the
soonest that the board could send a proposal back to voters for
The mission of the City School District of
Albany is to educate and prepare all students for
college and career, citizenship and life, in partnership with our
diverse community. The district serves
more than 9,500
students in 17
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