The City School District of Albany Board of Education unanimously adopted a $270.3 million budget proposal Thursday night. The proposal continues to minimize the impact on taxpayers while also investing one-time federal COVID-19 relief funds to accelerate the process of strategically rebuilding from the pandemic.
2021-22 budget proposal
The budget proposal would support all current staff and programs for 2021-22, including the 180 positions the district has reinstated throughout the organization this spring. The proposal is supported by a $9.5 million increase in state foundation aid, the district's first increase in that funding in two years.
In addition to maintaining all current staff and programs for next year, the 2021-22 budget proposal also includes:
- Additional instructional intervention positions to support and accelerate learning (Math, Reading, ELA)
- Additional social-emotional supports for students (behavioral specialists, social workers)
- Restoration of the building-based Albany International Center program at 50 North Lark St. (current Edmund J. O’Neal Middle School of Excellence)
- Restoration of Tony Clement Center for Education (grades 9-12) at 395 Elk St.
- Moving elementary sixth grade to middle school (permanent feeder pattern for 2022-23 and beyond to be developed)
- Moving O’Neal eighth grade to North Albany Middle School
- Restoring ninth-grade boys’ and girls’ basketball, ninth-grade baseball and modified-9 boys’ soccer
The proposal includes a 0.95% tax-levy increase, marking the eighth consecutive year that the proposed increase has been less than 2%. The annual average proposed increase over that period has been 1.01%.
The budget vote is scheduled for Tuesday, May 18. Polls will be open for in-person voting at 15 locations city-wide from 7 a.m.-9 p.m. The state also is allowing an additional absentee voting option this year due to COVID-19. You can visit the Our Budget section for more information.
You can also download a copy of the 2021-22 proposed budget.
Federal COVID-19 relief funds
Separate from the budget proposal, the district also will invest federal COVID-19 relief funds for the 2021-22 school year to support additional staffing and program additions. These items will have no impact on taxes and include:
- Expansion of Albany International Center to serve students K-12
- Relocation and expansion of the Dual Language Program at 50 North Lark St., co-locating with Albany International Center
- Enhancing summer school and after-school programming
- Restoring music staffing to 2019-20 levels and adding two additional music teachers
- Restoring instrumental music opportunities for third-graders
- Supporting additional instrumental music lessons in grades 4-6
- Digital tools to support and accelerate student learning
- One-time investment in HVAC/ventilation system enhancements
- One-time investment in technology hardware in support of the district’s long-term Technology Plan
- Establishing a virtual academy, if necessary due to COVID-19 health and safety guidelines and if the State Education Department continues to allow distance learning
These additional investments are supported by two separate federal grants:
- Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA) – The district’s allocation is about $13.5 million, which it can use through September 2023
- American Recovery Plan (ARP) – The district’s allocation is about $33 million, which it can use through September 2024
- All district investments of ARP funds will require a community engagement process. The district is committed to working with our community to seek input on the best use of these funds
Sustaining COVID-19 relief investments in future years
The district’s plan is to use these federal funds over the next three school years to strategically invest in staffing, programs and operational supports to rebuild from the fiscal, academic and social-emotional challenges that COVID-19 has presented.
Once these one-time federal funds expire, the district would plan to sustain these investments through anticipated new state aid revenue and staff attrition over the next three years.
The state indicated through this year’s budget process that it plans to fully fund foundation aid for all schools in New York by the 2023-24 school year. That commitment is included in the 2021-22 state budget approved earlier this month; however, the state must appropriate funds in each year’s adopted state budget moving forward.
Fully funding foundation aid would mean an additional $26 million for the district by the 2023-24 school year.