Voters overwhelmingly approved the City School District of Albany’s 2019-20 budget May 21 as well as Proposition #2, a facilities package that includes the renovation and expansion of North Albany Academy to create a new permanent middle school.
Board of Education President Anne Savage and board member Damarise Alexander-Mann, both running unopposed, also received new four year terms that will begin July 1.
A 72% majority of voters (2,019-792) said “yes” to the district’s $260.4 million budget proposal.
The budget includes a 1.99% tax-levy increase, the sixth year in a row the increase has been less than 2%. It is the third year in a row and the fourth time in five years that more than 70% of voters approved the district’s budget proposal.
For Proposition #2, 70% (1,929-820) voted to approve the $45.6 million facilities package, which will be completed with no impact on taxes. That surpassed the 60% approval required because of state regulations regarding debt calculations for small-city school districts, which are stricter than debt calculations for non-city school districts.
Proposition #2 will support the district’s plan to establish a 650-student middle school at North Albany, which will open for the 2023-24 school year. That project includes the district’s $2.5 million purchase of the North Albany YMCA to incorporate into the new middle school.
Other projects in Proposition #2 include a $3.4 million expansion of Arbor Hill Elementary School and a five-year facilities plan that includes 87 projects in 18 buildings.
The additional state aid also helped the board settle on a final proposed tax levy that is nearly a full percent below the district’s tax cap of 2.87%. It is the sixth consecutive year that the district’s proposed tax-levy increase has been between zero and 2%.
If voters approve the current budget proposal May 21, the district’s average tax-levy increase over the last six years will be 0.86%. Over that time, the district has reduced reliance on local property taxes from 53% to 45%.
The district benefitted in the last stages of the budget-development process from approximately $3 million in additional state aid that was included in the state budget completed March 31. Those funds helped the district close a budget gap that was as high as $6.7 million in mid-March.
To help close that budget gap, and to reduce enrollment at Edmund J. O'Neal Middle School of Excellence, the district is moving up its planned re-enrollment of North Albany Academy’s elementary students to other schools throughout the district. That process will take effect next school year.
Beginning in September, North Albany will serve as a small, temporary middle school with about 80 sixth-grade students. The school will grow to serve up to 160 students in grades 6-8 in the next several years in this temporary configuration.
If Proposition #2 is successful May 21, the district will create a new permanent 650-seat middle school at North Albany beginning in 2023-24 (see below for more information about Proposition #2).
The district will reassign staff currently at the North Albany elementary school to vacant positions throughout the district in 2019-20. The district also is developing a plan to re-enroll current North Albany students in prekindergarten through fourth grade for 2019-20. The district will have that information for all North Albany families before spring break. I f you have questions about that planning before then, please contact Director of Communications and Operations Ron Lesko at (518) 475-6065 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
North Albany’s current fifth-grade students will stay at the school for sixth grade in 2019-20 and throughout middle school, along with students currently in fifth grade at Philip J. Schuyler Achievement Academy.
In addition to the budget vote May 21, voters will have the opportunity to vote on Proposition #2, a $45.6 million facilities package that would have no additional impact on taxes. Two-thirds of the work ($30.6 million) would be paid for through state building aid. The remaining $15 million would come from the district's Capital Reserve Fund.
Here is a look at what Proposition #2 includes:
- A new, permanent middle school at North Albany Academy.
- Following a three-year planning process that included extensive community input and feedback, the district is asking voters to support the expansion and renovation of North Albany to create a new 650-student middle school. If approved, the new middle school would open for the 2023-24 school year. It would provide the district with three substantially similar middle schools (along with Hackett and Myers) to serve all students in grades 6-8. The district currently does not have enough middle school space and educates about 250 sixth-graders in elementary schools.
- This summer, the district will partner with families and community members to begin to develop a permanent feeder pattern for all middle schools. This new feeder pattern would take effect in 2023-24 if Proposition #2 is approved.
- The expansion and renovations to convert North Albany to a permanent middle school would cost $28.5 million, with no impact on taxes.That includes a proposal to purchase the North Albany YMCA facility, which is attached to the school, for $2.5 million. The Albany Public Library North Albany branch would remain in operation in its current location.
- Arbor Hill Elementary School expansion.
- With the repurposing of the elementary school at North Albany, the district is proposing renovations to expand Arbor Hill Elementary. This work would include adding three classrooms to expand the school’s total capacity to about 610.
- The Arbor Hill renovations would cost $3.4 million, with no additional tax impact.
- Five-year facilities plan.
- Proposition #2 also includes a five-year facilities plan with 87 projects at 18 buildings.
- The overall cost of this proposal is about $13.7 million, also with no tax impact.
Proposition #2 will require 60 percent voter approval, per State Education Department regulation, because the proposal would put the district beyond its debt limit three times over the next 30 years.
New York allows a smaller debt-limit threshold for the state’s 57 small-city school districts such as Albany (5% of total taxable property value). The state allows the 612 non-city school districts (suburban and rural districts, in most cases) a debt limit equal to 10% of total taxable property value. If the 10% threshold applied in Albany as it does in the significant majority of school districts statewide, Proposition #2 would not put the district beyond the limit.
The City School District of Albany's annual budget-development process begins in the fall and includes dozens of public meetings throughout the winter and spring, and the opportunity for all community groups to have a district representative provide a presentation about the proposed budget in April and May.
In addition to budget discussions at board meetings from January through early May, the annual budget-development process includes two January budget workshops and school-based community budget updates in early March.
The Board of Education approved the 2019-20 budget-development process and calendar at its Nov. 29 meeting. Here are key dates and milestones:
- Tuesday, Jan. 8 -- Public budget workshop I, 5:30-7 p.m., Albany High School media center.
- Tuesday, Jan. 15 -- Public budget workshop II, 5:30-7 p.m., Albany High School media center.
- Thursday, Jan. 17 -- Board of Education meeting, Albany School of Humanities, 7 p.m. Review of Gov. Cuomo's 2019-20 state budget proposal.
- Thursday, Jan. 31 -- Board of Education meeting, William S. Hackett Middle School, 7 p.m. First-draft budget proposal.
- Thursday, Feb. 14 -- Board of Education meeting, Albany High School, 7 p.m. Further discussion and revisions on first-draft budget proposal. Download the presentation.
- March 7 -- Board of Education meeting, Eagle Point Elementary School, 7 p.m. Second-draft budget proposal.
- March 4-5 -- Community budget presentations. Please visit our District News section for specific dates and locations. Watch a video from the presentations.
- Thursday, March 21 -- Board of Education meeting, North Albany Academy, 7 p.m. Download the presentation.
- Thursday, April 4:
- Tuesday, April 16 -- Board of Education meeting, Albany High School, 7 p.m.
- Thursday, April 18 -- Pine Hills Neighborhood Association, LaSalle School, main building, north cafeteria, 391 Western Ave., 7 p.m. Download the presentation.
- Tuesday, April 23 -- South End Neighborhood Association, Albany Public Library Howe branch, 103 Schuyler St., 6 p.m. Download the presentation.
- Monday, April 29 -- New Albany Neighborhood Association, Albany Public Library Pine Hills branch, 517 Western Ave., 6:30 p.m. Download the presentation.
- Wednesday, May 1 -- Council of Albany Neighborhood Associations, Albany Public Library Washington Avenue Branch, 161 Washington Ave., 6:30 p.m. Download the presentation.
- Monday, May 6
- Wednesday, May 8 -- Melrose Neighborhood Association, Pine Hills Elementary School, 41 N. Allen St., 6:30 p.m. Download the presentation.
- Tuesday, May 9
- Budget hearing, Albany High School, library, 6 p.m. Download the presentation.
- Monday, May 13 -- Sheridan Hollow Neighborhood Association, 255 Orange St., 7 p.m. Download the presentation.
- Tuesday, May 14:
- Wednesday, May 15 -- Albany Common Council caucus meeting, City Hall, 5:30 p.m.Download the presentation.
- Tuesday, May 21 -- School budget vote and Board of Education elections
We also make frequent use of this website and social media tools such as School News Notifier,Facebook and Twitter to provide information and updates. We encourage you to sign up today. Use the respective links to sign up if you're not already registered.
Please call Director of Communications and Operations Ron Lesko at 475-6065 or send an e-mail if you have any questions or would like additional information.
Education Law §3614 passed in 2018 requires school districts to annually submit to the Commissioner of Education and Director of the Budget a detailed statement of the total funding allocation for each school in the district for the upcoming school budget year.