Tax-free renovation project set for Jan. 10 vote
N.Y. (Oct. 21, 2016) -- Faced with growing
enrollment and urgent space needs for the 2017-18 school year, the City
School District of Albany Board of Education has approved a $6.5 million
facilities referendum that would convert an existing district building
to a middle school. If approved by voters, the work would have
no impact on taxes.
|How do I
get more information?
Take a tour of 50 North Lark Street
Dec. 10, 10-11:30 a.m.
Attend a community forum
• Wednesday, Dec. 7,
6-7:30 p.m., Albany Public Library, 161 Washington Ave.
Wednesday, Dec. 14, 5-6 p.m., Schuyler
Achievement Academy, 676 Clinton Ave.
Dec. 19, 7-8 p.m., Stephen and Harriet Myers Middle
School, 100 Elbel Court
The vote on renovations to the
building at 50 North Lark St., will be held Tuesday, Jan. 10.
Also on Jan. 10, voters will decide on the district's
proposal to buy the school at 395 Elk
St., currently home to West Hill Middle School and the proposed
future home of the district's Alternative Learning Center. That proposed
$4.1 million purchase of 395 Elk also would have no impact on
taxes. The district would be getting an almost-new school built
for more than $15 million six years ago, and also would be saving about
$169,000 in lease payments to reduce the proposed overall tax-free
investment in 395 Elk.
The middle school at 50 North
Lark would be enrolled on an interim basis for 3-5 years while the
district plans for its long-term, permanent middle-school facilities
needs and enrollment patterns. The district’s
Configuration Steering Committee is expected to make recommendations
to the board for those plans in the spring of next year.
The 50 North Lark renovations
would be paid for with about $1.3 million from the district’s Capital
Reserve Fund and about $5.2 million in state aid. The building currently
is home to the district’s Alternative Learning Center. The four ALC
programs would be relocated for 2017-18 to make way for the middle
Interim enrollment plan
The board has approved the
following interim enrollment plan for 50 North Lark. This enrollment
pattern would begin in
2017-18 and be in place 3-5 years:
Arbor Hill Elementary
School – current grades 5-6
North Albany Academy –
current grades 5-7
Academy – current grade 5
Academy – current grade 5
West Hill Middle School –
current grade 7
The board reviewed
that plan at its Oct. 6 meeting before approving it at the Oct. 20
meeting. You also can download a list of
Asked Questions (updated Dec. 2) with more information about the 50 North Lark and
395 Elk proposals.
Also at the Oct. 20 meeting, the board voted to change the grade
configuration of Pine Hills Elementary School to serve
students only through fifth grade beginning in 2017-18. Students from
Pine Hills Elementary now will attend Stephen and Harriet Myers Middle
School for grades 6-8. Pine Hills Elementary currently serves students
from prekindergarten through grade 6, but the school is over capacity
due to significant enrollment growth in recent years.
During the Oct. 6 meeting,
Interim Superintendent Kimberly Young Wilkins, Ed.D., noted several
advantages to the 50 North Lark interim enrollment pattern for students and
The Grade Configuration
Steering Committee recommended earlier this year and the board
agreed that the north side of the city will be the location of a
permanent new middle school in the future.
A middle school at 50 North
Lark will allow families from the north side of the city to have
accessibility to an equitable middle school in their community, with
a reduction of busing.
The north side has been
without a full district middle school since the former Philip
Livingston Magnet Academy closed in 2009.
Students and families
attending the district’s two existing permanent middle schools
for grades 6-8 have to travel to William S. Hackett Middle
School on Delaware Avenue or Stephen and Harriet Myers Middle
School on Whitehall Road.
enrollment plan would have the least disruption on middle-level
enrollment while the Grade Configuration Steering Committee and,
ultimately, the board plan for the district’s long-term enrollment
The middle school at 50 North
Lark would open with about 340 students for 2017-18 and would grow to
near 600 students for the 2019-20 school year.
Benefits for students and families
Dr. Wilkins stressed that
district is prepared to invest in programs and supports for all students
at 50 North Lark that are equitable to those provided at Hackett and
Myers. That planning would include:
Structure of the building
and accessibility to middle-level programming
The school day for
sixth-graders at Arbor Hill Elementary School and for students
in grades 6-8 at North Albany Academy is currently 30 minutes
shorter than it is for students at Hackett, Myers and West Hill.
That equates to more than two weeks less of school every year.
West Hill Middle School
– the former Brighter Choice charter middle schools, which
closed in 2015 – does not meet state facilities requirements for
public schools. The district has leased the building the last
two school years to accommodate the enrollment increase that has
been caused in part by the failure of five of the city’s seven
charter middle schools. The district’s lease at West Hill
expires at the end of June 2017.
Appropriate staffing –
Principal, two assistant principals, home school coordinator,
guidance counselors, social workers, psychologist, clerical staff,
monitors, head of security, school resource officer, full-service
equipment and library materials
programming and extended day
Accessibility to all
modified sports (grades 7-8)
Computer accessibility for
students and Smart Boards in all classrooms
Planning to meet future needs
The district has been planning
for 18 months to meet its middle-school enrollment needs on a temporary
basis beginning in 2017-18, and on a permanent basis in the next 3-5
years. Click here
to read more about the Grade Configuration Steering Committee’s
ongoing planning and its schedule for the coming months.
The district’s overall
enrollment has grown by nearly 1,500 students over the last eight
years, with the largest growth at the elementary level. That already is
causing enrollment pressure at the elementary and middle schools. The need for additional middle-school space will become urgent beginning
Enrollment in the district’s
existing middle schools is up by more than 26 percent since 2008-09, and the
district anticipates as many as 425 more students in grades 6-8 by the
start of the 2025-26 school year.
And while the proposed
renovations for 50 North Lark are for a middle school that will be
enrolled on an interim basis for the next 3-5 years, the renovated
building is central to the district’s long-term facilities planning.
As examples, 50 North Lark
could continue as a permanent middle school with a revised feeder
pattern, as the permanent home for alternative education or as the home
for a newcomer program that would serve the city’s rapidly growing
refugee and English as a New Language (ENL) population.
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 9,600
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