May 12 update

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Budget proposal would reduce staff to minimize tax impact

The City School District of Albany has proposed the elimination of 168.5 positions for the 2020-21 school year to address a $15 million budget deficit and minimize the local tax impact of the economic crisis caused by COVID-19.

The $261.6 million budget proposal that Superintendent Kaweeda G. Adams presented to the Board of Education on May 12 represents an increase of less than half a percent – 0.47% – over the current year’s budget. The proposal includes a 1.96% tax-levy increase, which is equal to the district’s tax cap.

Positions proposed for elimination include administrative, teaching and support staff personnel throughout the organization. Attrition through retirements, resignations and unfilled vacancies would account for 67 of the positions proposed for elimination. 

“Our school district is focused every year on the balance between what our students need and deserve, and what our community can afford,” said Board of Education President Anne Savage. “That’s especially true in hard economic times like those we are facing now. 

“While we know the superintendent and her staff are being forced to make many incredibly difficult decisions that will impact the programs and services the district will be able to offer our students, the board is committed to putting forward a budget proposal that represents the highest level of service we can provide for our students while maintaining the fiscal responsibility that we know our community needs in these difficult times.”

The board has a budget meeting scheduled for May 14 to continue working on the proposal while also awaiting the possibility of additional cuts in state aid due to COVID-19; Governor Cuomo has said he will provide an update on school aid by the end of the week. The board may adopt a final budget proposal at the May 14 meeting. If not, the board would plan to meet May 19 to consider adoption.

The board’s meetings have moved online since the COVID-19 crisis began. Follow this link to learn how to access the meetings and how to provide public comment to the board.

As with all school districts in New York, the budget vote and board election will be conducted entirely by mail this year due to COVID-19. The district will mail absentee ballots to all qualified voters May 26. Completed ballots will be due June 9 by 5 p.m. Qualified voters include all voters registered with the Albany County Board of Elections and those who have registered directly with the school district.

The ballot also will include Proposition #2, a proposal to purchase a piece of property adjacent to Delaware Community School for $13,300 using funds from the capital reserve; there would be no additional impact on taxes from this purchase. The property would be used for additional recreational space for students. 

In addition to the budget vote, three candidates are running for one open board seat: Victor Cain, Hassan Elminyawi and Edith Leet. The board appointed Elminyawi last summer to serve the remainder of a vacant position; that term expires June 30.

The 168.5 positions proposed for reduction represent about 9% of the district’s current total workforce of 1,800. 

The proposal reduces the number of administrative positions by 7.2% of the current workforce in that employee group (five positions out 69), the number of teaching staff and related positions by 7.3% of the current workforce in that employee group (72 positions out of 982), and the number of support staff positions by 13.1% of the current workforce in that employee group (87 positions of 665).

The proposal also reduces the number of management confidential and other staff by 4.4% (4.5 positions out of 102).

Programmatic implications of the proposed reductions would include:

  • Increased class sizes at all grade levels
  • Reductions in supports to general education classrooms, including teaching assistants, behavior specialists, reading teachers, speech teachers and other staff who support classroom teachers.   
  • Reduction in instructional coaches
  • Instrumental music lessons beginning at fifth grade rather than third grade 
  • Elimination of freshman athletic teams at Albany High School – freshman would still have the opportunity to play on JV teams
  • Elimination of the district-wide second-grade swimming program
  • Reduction in off-site field trips and other enrichment programming supported by discretionary funds at each school.

The proposal also includes non-programmatic cuts, including reductions to service contracts, purchases of equipment, conferences and professional development, staffing in maintenance and operations, and staffing in security.