More program, staff reductions possible due to funding losses

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The City School District of Albany Board of Education will meet Tuesday night to continue finalizing plans for the 2020-21 school year under pressure from massive state budget reductions that are the result of the economic fallout of COVID-19.

Facing the devastating loss of as much as $23.2 million in state aid, the board reviewed plans at its meeting Thursday night that included the proposed elimination of 222 positions district-wide. These proposed reductions would be a result of moving to a fully virtual instructional model for all general education students in grades 7-12, and restructuring or suspending the Albany International Center and Tony Clement Center for Education programs.

Superintendent Kaweeda G. Adams presented additional considerations Thursday that may require more staffing reductions and a fully virtual instructional model for all grades. 

Tuesday’s board meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. You can attend in-person at Albany School of Humanities (ASH), 108 Whitehall Road; please note that social distancing and masks are required. The meeting also will be live-streamed via Microsoft Teams. 

All district students will begin the school year with virtual orientation sessions and virtual instruction from Sept. 9-11 and Sept. 14-17. Friday, Sept. 18 is a professional development day for employees and there is no school for students that day. 

Beginning Sept. 21, the district’s current plans call for all general education students in grades 7-12 to attend school in a fully virtual model via Google Classroom. General education students pre-K through grade 6 would attend in-person, unless their families already have selected the fully virtual model. 

All special education students in self-contained classrooms K-12 also would attend in-person under the district’s current plans – unless their families have selected the fully virtual model. All in-person and virtual attendance during the week of Sept. 21-25 would be half-days. The first full-day of instruction – for in-person and virtual students alike – is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 29. 

However, the board discussed possible reductions to the pre-K-6 in-person model Thursday night and will continue that planning Tuesday.

New York school districts learned in late August that the state plans to withhold at least 20% of its funding from all districts for the 2020-21 school year. 

For Albany – a high-needs district that relies more heavily on state aid than wealthier school districts – that means a loss of $16.5 million-$23.2 million in state revenue. School districts statewide are waiting for more guidance from the state about how wide-ranging the aid rollbacks will be. 

That has forced the district to evaluate programs and staffing across the district. First discussed at the board’s Aug. 27 meeting, the current plans also call for restructuring or suspension of the Albany International Center and the Tony Clement Center for Education.