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Back to Communications Home

Board approves new middle school;

building to open September 2023

ALBANY, N.Y. (Nov. 2, 2018) – The City School District of Albany Board of Education on Thursday approved converting North Albany Academy to a middle school to open in September 2023, paving the way for a May 2019 public referendum on a plan that would not raise school property taxes.

 

The board’s action followed a three-year planning process that included input from families, community members and district staff. The resulting project will be financed entirely with savings in the district’s capital reserve fund and New York State building aid.

 

If approved by voters, the new middle school will provide space for the anticipated increase in enrollment that the three existing middle schools – Edmund J. O’Neal Middle School of Excellence, Stephen and Harriet Myers Middle School and William S. Hackett Middle School – cannot accommodate.

 

The new school also will allow the district to move all its sixth-graders to middle schools; 255 (about 38 percent) are in elementary schools now because of space constraints.

 

Albany was the fourth fastest-growing school district in upstate New York State between 2012-2017, according to the State Education Department.

 

Under the proposal that will go before voters next May, North Albany Academy would be converted to a 650-student middle school that would open for the 2023-24 school year. Elementary students at North Albany – currently about 275 – would relocate to Arbor Hill Elementary School beginning with the 2022-23 school year.

 

Albany International Center, an optional transition program serving refugee and immigrant students, would remain at North Albany until 2023-24.

 

The board plans to update the enrollment forecast in 2020. If anticipated enrollment allows, the district will operate three 650-student middle schools at Hackett, Myers and North Albany. Albany International Center would relocate to the O’Neal building, which no longer would operate as a middle school.

 

If the enrollment forecast predicts more middle school students than can be accommodated in three schools, the district will operate four middle schools: Hackett, Myers, North Albany and O’Neal. Albany International Center will move either to Abrookin Career and Technical Center or Harriet Gibbons Student Services Center. This will require a second referendum in May 2021 to renovate one of those buildings.

 

Once the board reviews the 2020 demographic study and determines the number of middle schools, it will create a committee of community members and district staff to help determine how the schools should be enrolled. The board plans to continue to use a feeder pattern, meaning students attending each elementary school will attend a specific middle school. The new feeder pattern will go into effect during the 2023-24 school year, when current first-graders will enter sixth grade.

 

If the May 2019 referendum is approved, construction would begin with renovations to expand Arbor Hill Elementary School in the spring of 2021. Arbor Hill would remain open throughout the renovation process. North Albany also would remain open for Albany International Center students during renovations through June 2024.

 

The total cost of the proposed renovation projects at North Albany and Arbor Hill is estimated at $26.5 to $28.5 million.

 

An additional $3.65 million would be needed if it becomes necessary to convert Abrookin or Harriet Gibbons for the Albany International Center. That decision will come after the 2020 enrollment forecast update. Project costs will be covered from savings held in the capital reserve and NYS building aid; no increase in property taxes is required.

 

The mission of the City School District of Albany is to educate and prepare all students for college and career, citizenship and life, in partnership with our diverse community. The district serves about 9,500 students in 18 elementary, middle and high schools. In addition to neighborhood schools, the district includes several magnet schools and programs, as well as other innovative academic opportunities for students, including four themed academies at Albany High School.

         
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