From the superintendent
Welcome to the 2022-23 school year!
Hello! I am so excited to welcome everyone to the start of another new school year. Our full contingent of approximately 1,800 faculty and staff members returns Tuesday to prepare to greet our nearly 9,000 students, who will begin with our staggered start by grade level this Thursday and Friday.
September always is a time of great anticipation and excitement in education, and that seems especially true as we look ahead to the 2022-23 school year.
While COVID-19 remains a presence in all of our lives, we will return this school year with fewer mandatory health and safety guidelines than we have had over the past 2½ years.
Masks are optional in all of our buildings, and we are strongly urging everyone who is able to get vaccinated. Please know that we will respect your personal choices on these matters, and we ask that you all do the same.
Families can pick up COVID-19 test kits at Harriet Gibbons Student Services Center this Tuesday (Aug. 30) and Wednesday (Aug. 31), from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. both days. Testing is not required before students return to school. However, the district is encouraging families to test prior to the start of school, and to keep students home if they test positive or exhibit any COVID-19 symptoms.
Our COVID-19 protocols as we begin the school year will align with recent guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has been reaffirmed by the New York State departments of Health and Education. You can find more information on our COVID-19 Information page.
We will continue to monitor COVID-19 guidance and developments, and will provide updates as needed.
Supporting social-emotional health
The pandemic also has starkly highlighted the importance of meeting students’ social and emotional needs in tandem with their academic needs. The last 2½ years have been a challenge for all of us, and most especially for our young people.
We continue to invest in staffing and resources to assure that every student has the appropriate support to meet their needs. We are excited to engage in the implementation of the Yale University emotional intelligence program, RULER, in every grade this school year.
RULER is an acronym for the five skills of emotional intelligence – recognizing, understanding, labeling, expressing and regulating. It is a systemic approach to social-emotional learning, designed to infuse the principles of emotional intelligence for students at all grade levels.
A reminder for families to make sure your students have all the required immunizations needed to start the new school year. Students who do not have all immunizations that the state requires will not be able to attend school after the first two weeks.
For more information about which immunizations students need at each grade level, please visit our Immunizations page and talk with your healthcare professional.
Free breakfast and lunch at school
We will continue to provide free meals for all students this school year through the Community Eligibility Provision of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs.
All district students can receive a free healthy breakfast and lunch throughout the school year. Extra items such as an additional entrée or milk will continue to be an additional cost.
Guiding principles and district priorities
Our vision, mission and goals as a district – our guiding principles – have not changed during the pandemic. We will continue to work in partnership with our diverse community to engage every learner in a robust educational program designed to provide the knowledge and skills necessary for success.
As a district, we know that consistency is important, especially when we see the positive results. We have seen enhanced outcomes in recent years as we have remained focused on the same guiding principles. We have seen growth in our scholars, even through this pandemic, as we have held true to our established district priorities as well.
The interconnectedness of the guiding principles and our district priorities shape our work and provide the pathway for us to openly address the tenants of our equity stance. In order to provide continuity and consistency across the organization and within the instructional program, our district will stay the course regarding our district priorities for 2022-23.
In addition, we are working in a steadfast manner to enhance our equity stance by developing an equity report card that illustrates the categories and indicators captured in our equity metrics. This will assist us in defining our successes and areas for improvement.
Our 2022-23 district priorities:
- Social-emotional and mental health supports
- Educational technology
- Safety and security
- HVAC (ventilation/air filtration)
- Accelerated learning and academic support
Category 1: Equitable Student Academic Success
- Indicator: Evidence that racial disparities in student success are narrowing
Category 2: Equitable Student Success Beyond Academics
- Indicator: Evidence that racial disparities in non-academic measures of student success are narrowing
Category 3: Equitable Improvements to Curriculum, Instruction and Professional Development
- Indicator: Evidence that research-based strategies to reduce racial disparities are incorporated in curriculum and instruction
Category 4: Equitable Resource Distribution
- Indicator: Evidence that human and fiscal resources are being distributed equitably
Category 5: Success in Equitable Hiring and Retention
- Indicator: Evidence that hiring and retention practices and efforts are in place to facilitate the workforce demographics becoming more reflective of the student body
Category 6: Success in Equitable Student and Family Engagement
- Indicator: Evidence that racial barriers to effective family engagement are falling
Category 7: Success in Equitable Community Engagement
- Indicator: Evidence that partnerships with Albany’s diverse community are being implemented equitably
Let’s celebrate the start of the new school year together!
And, as the year unfolds, let’s continue to work together – students, faculty and staff, families and community members – to keep that back-to-school enthusiasm shining throughout the year.
Yours in education,
Kaweeda G. Adams