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Capital Education -- Special Budget Edition

Budget vote Tuesday, May 15

 

Continuing to preserve academic, extracurricular and social-emotional programs for all of the City School District of Albany’s 8,700 students is a key part of the proposed $207.7 million budget that voters will consider Tuesday, May 15.

 

So is keeping spending in line.


The 2012-13 budget proposal includes a 1.5 percent increase in the tax levy, following a year with zero tax-levy increase and, ultimately, a reduction in
school taxes for Albany homeowners.

 

“This year, like in the past several years, we have tried to strike that balance between maintaining programs that help all of our students succeed and remaining mindful of what our community can afford,” said Superintendent Raymond Colucciello, Ed.D. “With dwindling state support and an urgent mission to raise achievement for all students, this has been a challenge.”

 

The basics and beyond

The 2012-13 budget plan would continue supporting core academic programs in math, English, science, social studies and physical education.

 

It also would continue support for academic-intervention services, special education services and alternative-education programs at all levels, as well as breakfast and lunch programs in every school.


If voters approve the budget, the district also will continue to provide additional programming at every level, including:

 

Elementary school

  • Full-day prekindergarten and kindergarten at all 12 schools

  • Three themed magnet schools

  • The bilingual Dual-Language Program at Delaware Community School

  • Health education

  • Art, music and library

  • Band, chorus and orchestra

  • Health-screening services

  • Literacy coaches

  • Before- and after-school programs

Middle school

  • Technology

  • Family and consumer sciences

  • Foreign language (Spanish and French)

  • Health education

  • Modified sports for seventh- and eighth-graders

  • English language arts and math coaches

  • Art, music and library

  • Band, chorus and orchestra

  • Before- and after-school programs

  • Summer transition program to prepare eighth-graders for high school

  • Summer technology camp for sixth- and seventh-graders

High school

  • Four themed academies: Citizenship, Discovery, Leadership and Innovation

  • 18 Advanced Placement courses

  • International Baccalaureate program

  • Career and technical education through Abrookin Career and Technical Center

  •  NanoHigh, a one-of-a-kind collaboration with the University at Albany that provides nanotechnology courses in the classroom and at UAlbany’s College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering

  • A variety of summer programs to benefit students at all levels

  • Forty clubs

  • Freshman, JV and varsity sports

  • Art, music and library

  • Band, chorus and orchestra

  • Health education

  • Tutoring and mentoring programs

  • College prep options at Saturday academies 

A range of choices for families

From prekindergarten through high school, Albany’s public schools provide families with options.

 

For the early years, the district gives families the option of sending their children to one of nine neighborhood elementary schools or three themed magnet schools.

 

In middle school, the district provides three state-of-the-art facilities: Stephen and Harriet Myers Middle School and William S. Hackett Middle School (both serving grades 6-8), and North Albany Academy (serving prekindergarten-grade 8 and featuring a unique partnership with the North Albany YMCA).

 

Each middle school offers a range of resources and services, from fully equipped science and technology labs to specially equipped resource rooms and
social-worker offices to help students that struggle academically or emotionally.

 

Four new academies.

One great education.

The 2012-13 budget would build upon the $7.5 million federal grant the district was awarded in September 2010 to restructure Albany High School into four smaller academies.

 

Each academy – Citizenship, Discovery, Innovation and Leadership – has a unique theme that is shaped by the elective courses it offers and instruction built around each theme.

 

The proposed budget also would continue to support Saturday academies, which are supported by teachers and feature APEX Learning, a web-based program that helps students catch up and get ahead on their school work.

 

In addition, the budget would continue to support AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination), a college-readiness program designed to increase the number of Albany High graduates who enroll in four-year colleges.

 

Staff and program cutbacks

Rising costs in health care, retirement benefits, salaries and charter-school payments coupled with the loss of state funding for a fourth consecutive year
meant that the district once again had to find ways to save.

 

The 2012-13 budget proposal calls for $3.8 million in staff and program cuts.

 

This includes eliminating 38.4 regular or contractual positions and 35 daily substitute positions (15 teachers and 20 hall monitors). The district cut 250
positions over the last three years.

 

The proposed job cuts this year include more than 20 teachers, 12 support staff in special education, five maintenance workers, an elementary assistant principal and an after-school coordinator. The budget also would downsize two assistant superintendent positions to the director level.

 

Two prekindergarten classes offered in district schools would be converted to community agencies in 2012-13. This would bring to 23 of 31 pre-K classrooms in district schools that would be operated by community agencies; all pre-K classrooms will continue to provide the same programs and services for all students.

 

Electives with low enrollment at Albany High also will be discontinued based on students’ requests for courses.

 

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