Board narrows middle-school options to two; October meetings planned
N.Y. (Sept. 26, 2018) – The City School District of Albany
Board of Education has narrowed the list of potential new middle-school
options to two and scheduled public meetings for October to allow
families and community members to learn more and offer feedback.
The district is planning
more space in its middle schools to handle increased enrollment, and to
move all sixth-graders to middle school. The two proposals the board
moved forward at its Sept. 13 meeting emerged from a
planning process that included families, community members
and district staff, as well as extensive board review.
the presentation from the Sept. 13 board meeting, as well as
project summary that also was shared at the meeting.
The district will present
the two proposals in detail at four public meetings in October to obtain
family and community input. The meetings are scheduled for the following
Wednesday, Oct. 3 – North Albany Academy, 6:30-8
Download the presentation.
Tuesday, Oct. 16 – William S. Hackett Middle
School, 6:30-8 p.m.
Monday, Oct. 22 – Arbor Hill Elementary School,
Tuesday, Oct. 23 – Pine Hills Elementary School,
The board plans to
incorporate input from these meetings into its final decision,
anticipated for the Nov. 1 board meeting to be held at North Albany
beginning at 7 p.m.
Once the board selects a
final option, voters will have the opportunity to approve or reject the
proposed facilities project through a public referendum next year. If
voters approve the plan, no changes are anticipated to middle-school
enrollment patterns before 2023-24. The board anticipates continuing to
use elementary attendance to determine middle-school feeder patterns. A
committee consisting of community members and district staff will be
developed to determine the specific feeder patterns.
However, the current
construction timeline for both proposals would relocate North Albany’s
elementary students to Arbor Hill Elementary School beginning with the
2022-23 school year to allow facilities work that would convert North
Albany to a middle school. The Albany International Center program at
North Albany would remain in place until 2023-24.
Construction work under
both proposals would begin with renovations to expand Arbor Hill
Elementary in the spring of 2021. Arbor Hill Elementary would remain
open throughout the renovation process.
The district’s enrollment
grew by nearly 1,400 students from the 2008-09 school year through the
2017-18 school year.
Most of that growth was due to the closure of five charter schools (four
of them middle schools), and a significant increase in the city’s
refugee and immigrant population.
The district’s English as a
New Language programs added nearly 1,000 students over a five-year
An enrollment study
conducted last winter and presented to the board in April projected that
the district’s enrollment in grades 6-8 would range from 2,030 in the
2023-24 school year to 2,144 in the 2027-28 school year. This was 160 to
205 fewer middle-school students (depending on the year) than had been
projected in the prior demographic report, completed in 2015.
Best solution for sixth-graders
The 2015-16 Grade
Configuration Steering Committee considered a number of possible grade
groupings for elementary and middle schools. The committee ultimately
recommended the district move to a prekindergarten-5 model for
elementary school and a 6-8 model for middle school.
The committee found that
academic performance of sixth-graders in middle school is substantially
better than sixth-graders in elementary school, and that students
entering middle school at both sixth and seventh grade created
challenges for students and for academic programming.
In addition, the committee
found that middle-school principals strongly recommended a three-year
middle school to build student and teacher relationships that put
students on the road to success in high school.
In June 2016, the board
adopted the recommendation to transition to a 6-8 middle-school model
for all students.
The second phase of the
planning process, starting in September 2016, sought to identify the
best way to increase middle-school capacity to accommodate the
approximately 225 sixth-graders still in elementary schools.
The committee considered
building a new middle school, and various possible ways to reconfigure
the district’s existing buildings. In September 2017, the committee
recommended two options focused on North Albany and Arbor Hill
Elementary as possible new middle schools.
The board requested a
feasibility study of several options based on the committee’s
recommendations. The board received information about seven potential
options for review in April, narrowed those options to four in May, and
selected the two remaining proposals in September.
In both proposals, the
district would convert North Albany from an elementary school to a
middle school. The district would reassign North Albany’s elementary
students to Arbor Hill, and remodel Arbor Hill to accommodate these
The district is continuing
to evaluate potential transportation options to assist families with
that transition if the plans move forward. North Albany is also the home
of Albany International Center, which the district would relocate in
One proposal anticipates a
500-seat middle school at North Albany and fixes the number of middle
schools district-wide at four. The other proposal anticipates a 650-seat
middle school at North Albany and allows for three middle schools, with
an option to add a fourth if needed based on another look at the
district’s enrollment in the 2020-21 school year.
Here is a glance at the two
proposals under consideration.
North Albany Option
Four Middle Schools
650-Seat North Albany Option
(Formerly Option E/Plus)
Three or Four
Myers Middle School
Tony Clement Center
(175 total enrollment 7-12)
(175 total enrollment 7-12)
(175 total enrollment 6-12)
(175 total enrollment 6-12)
location for the Albany International Center
Abrookin or Harriet
or Harriet Gibbons
Estimated construction costs at NAA and
Arbor Hill *
$26.5 million –
$27.2 million –
Estimated construction costs at Abrookin or
Harriet Gibbons for the Albany International
$0 if three middle
schools are sufficient, and AIC moves
$3.65 million if four schools are needed.
* The cost of construction to Albany
taxpayers would be offset by state building aid and covered in part by
funds the district has already set aside in the Capital Reserve Fund.
The exact amount of aid the project would receive and Capital Reserve
Funds available will be determined at a later date and in advance of a
public vote. The final cost estimate will depend on availability of
space at the North Albany YMCA.
The 500-seat North Albany
proposal would accommodate all students in grades 6-8 based on the
current enrollment estimates, with middle schools at Hackett (650
students), Myers (650), O’Neal (500 or 350, depending on enrollment
needs) and North Albany (500).
However, the district would
be locked into four middle schools even if enrollment projections
decline from the current estimates since there would not be a third
650-seat building available. This would increase annual operating costs
for the middle schools, in part because 500-seat middle schools are the
most expensive to run on a per-student basis.
The 650-seat North Albany
proposal would allow for either three middle schools (Hackett, Myers and
North Albany all at 650) or four middle schools (Hackett and Myers at
650, O’Neal at 500 or 350, and North Albany at 500 or 650) depending on
A final decision would be
made based on the new demographic study planned for 2020‑21 to provide a
more accurate picture of enrollment needs closer to the 2023-24
The 500-seat North Albany
proposal and the four-school option of the 650-seat North Albany
proposal both anticipate that the district would relocate Albany
Possible future locations
are Albany High School’s Abrookin Career and Technical Center and the
Harriet Gibbons Student Services Center, currently home to the
district’s Central Registration, Special Education and Transportation
offices at 75 Watervliet Ave.
By 2023-24, the district
will relocate the programs currently housed at Abrookin to the main
high-school campus as part of the current
Rebuilding Albany High
School project. That would free up space for the international
If the district opts for
Harriet Gibbons as the new home for the international center, the
district would move the administrative offices currently located there
The mission of
the City School District of Albany is
to work in partnership with our diverse community to engage every
learner in a robust educational program designed to provide the
knowledge and skills necessary for success. The district
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.