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Grade configuration-middle school enrollment

Click here for a list of meetings
for the 2016-17 school year.
The City School District of Albany provides middle-school programs for students in grades 6-8 in four schools: North Albany Academy, Stephen and Harriet Myers Middle School, West Hill Middle School and William S. Hackett Middle School. Click here to learn more about how these schools are currently enrolled.

 

Because of growing enrollment, the school district plans to convert an existing district building into a middle school to open in September 2017. Their decision stems from recommendations from the Grade Configuration Steering Committee that subsequently were approved by the Board of Education. Scroll down to learn more about the committee's previous recommendations and their ongoing work to recommend a long-term enrollment plan for all our middle schools.

    

What is the Grade Configuration Steering Committee?

The Grade Configuration Steering Committee is a group of parents, staff people and community members studying future elementary- and middle-school enrollment in the City School District of Albany.

 

The committee first met in May 2015 and its work is divided into two phases. The first phase committee finished in June 2016 and the second phase committee began in September. Scroll down to learn more about the committee's work and to find agendas and documents from previous meetings.

 

The next Grade Configuration Steering Committee meeting is scheduled from 6-8 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 27. Members of the public are welcome to attend and observe.

 

Learn more about grade configuration and the committee's work in a Frequently Asked Questions document. Members of the Phase 1 and Phase 2 committees are listed here.

 

2016-17 work and what lies ahead

The Phase 2 Grade Configuration Steering Committee received background about a variety of issues between September 2016 and January 2017. This information-gathering portion of the committee's work finished with the Jan. 23 meeting. Between February and May, the committee will enter into extensive discussions about where a permanent third middle school will be located and how it and the other two middle schools will be enrolled on a long-term basis.

 

What has the Grade Configuration Steering Committee recommended to date?

  • For the 2016-17 school year:

    • Maintain West Hill Middle School in its current location at 395 Elk St. for at least the 2016-2017 school year

    • Cap Stephen and Harriet Myers Middle School enrollment for 2016-17 at 725 students

    • Cap William S. Hackett Middle School enrollment for 2016-17 at 650 students

    • Create a process to enroll middle-school students in other schools in 2016-17 should Myers and/or Hackett reach their caps

    • Maintain North Albany Academy as a prekindergarten-grade 8 school for 2016-17 with a plan to phase out grades 6-8 starting in September 2017 (if space permits)

  • For the 2017-18 school year:

    • The district needs a third middle school to accommodate students in grades 6-8. In the short term, West Hill Middle School is not large enough to accommodate all those students and the district doesn’t own the building. Therefore, the committee recommended that a short-term middle school should be located at 50 North Lark St., current home of the Alternative Learning Center. Pending approval by the Board of Education, the interim school would open in September 2017.

  • Long term:

    • All sixth-graders belong in middle school, and the middle school experience should be three years at minimum. Eventually all sixth grades should move to middle school and elementary school will end at the conclusion of fifth grade.

    • Equity is a priority. The committee determined at the outset of its work in June 2015 that equity would be a priority in all its discussions and decisions. It came up with the following definition of equity: The district must provide all students with what they need to succeed in a competitive educational experience and beyond, and their achievement must not be predictable by race, gender, socioeconomics or any other life circumstances.

What has the Board of Education acted on to date? 

On March 3, the Board of Education agreed with and approved the committee's recommendatons for the 2016-17 school year. On Sept. 1, the Board of Education approved 50 North Lark St. as the location to serve students in grades 6-8 starting in September 2017.

 

In addition, on Oct. 6 the board approved a $6.5 million facilities referendum to convert 50 North Lark St. into a middle school. The vote will be Tuesday, Jan. 10. If approved by voters, the work would not affect Albany taxes. Click here to learn more.

 

Some issues the committee has studied

  • How do we best use space to serve our growing population?

    • The district has nearly outgrown its current middle-school capacity and needs to plan to serve its growing student population from prekindergarten through eighth grade. The district’s elementary-age population has increased 25 percent in the past eight years. The district’s two middle schools – Stephen and Harriet Myers and William S. Hackett – are at capacity. In addition to the district’s own growing enrollment at the elementary level, the district also absorbed about 275 new students in grades 6-8 for the 2015-16 school year following the closure of the two Brighter Choice charter middle schools at the end of June. In Septembe 2015, the district opened West Hill Middle School in the former Brighter Choice Middle School building. However, the district does not own that building, it does not meet New York State classroom size requirements and cannot accomodate the number of students.

  • What middle-school enrollment plan will assure equity throughout the district?

    • Currently, about half of Albany’s sixth-graders attend elementary school and half attend middle school, meaning programs, opportunities and experiences vary significantly depending on the school.

    • Middle-school students at Stephen and Harriet Myers Middle School and William S. Hackett Middle have access to more programs and opportunities than middle-school age students at North Albany Academy and West Hill Middle School.

  • Which elementary schools would attend a third middle school (or other configuration if that is what the committee and board prefer in the end)?

    • Currently, students who attend half the district’s elementary schools attend Hackett and the students in the other half attend Myers. North Albany Academy serves students from prekindergarten-grade 8.

    • District staff has identified an interim 6-8 enrollment pattern for the 50 North Lark building for September 2017:

      • Arbor Hill Elementary (current fifth- and sixth-graders)

      • North Albany Academy (current fifth-, sixth- and seventh-graders)

      • Philip Schuyler Achievement Academy (current fifth-graders)

      • Sheridan Preparatory Academy (current fifth-graders)

      • West Hill Middle School (current seventh-graders)

Committee meetings

Unless indicated otherwise, all of the committee’s meetings will be held at Harriet Gibbons Student Services Center, 75 Watervliet Ave.  Members of the public are welcome to attend and observe.

 

2016-17 school year -- Click here for a meeting schedule

2015-16 school year

Click the highlighted text to view an informational video about grade configuration in the City School District of Albany.

 

You also can click on the following links to videos on Phase 1 committee deliberations from May-December 2015. Topics include:

Scroll down for agendas and other information from Phase 1.

  • June 21 -- Steering Committee meeting, Harriet Gibbons Student Services Center, 6-8 p.m.

  • June 7 -- Steering Committee meeting, Harriet Gibbons Student Services Center, 6-8 p.m.

  • Dec. 15 -- Steering Committee meeting, Harriet Gibbons Student Services Center, 6-8 p.m.

  • Nov. 24 -- Transition Subcommittee meeting, Academy Park, 4:30 p.m.

  • Nov. 19 -- Update to the Board of Education, Philip Schuyler Achievement Academy, 676 Clinton Ave., 7 p.m.

  • Nov. 17 -- Steering Committee meeting, Harriet Gibbons Student Services Center, 6-8 p.m.

  • Nov. 4 -- Steering Committee meeting, Harriet Gibbons Student Services Center, 6-8 p.m.

  • Oct. 13 -- Steering Committee meeting, Harriet Gibbons Student Services Center, 6-8 p.m.

  • Sept. 29 -- Steering Committee meeting, Harriet Gibbons Student Services Center, 6-8 p.m.

  • Sept. 15 -- Steering Committee meeting, Harriet Gibbons Student Services Center, 6-8 p.m.

  • Sept. 1 -- Steering Committee meeting, Harriet Gibbons Student Services Center, 6-8:30 p.m.

  • Wednesday, July 22 -- Meeting of the Grade Configuration Subcommittee, Harriet Gibbons Student Services Center, 6-8 p.m.

  • Tuesday, June 30 -- Steering Committee meeting, Harriet Gibbons Student Services Center, 6-8 p.m.

    • Worksheets for the steering committee subcommittees

  • Tuesday, June 23 -- Community summit that brought together a representative group more than 100 people from the community to provide input on the committee's charge.

  • Wednesday, May 27 -- Click here to see the presentation the committee saw.

  •  


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