December 17, 2018
Our 2019-20 legislative priorities
we look ahead to the new year, the City School District of Albany is
well underway with our budget-development process for the 2019-20 school
year. Under the leadership of our Board of Education's Government
Relations Committee, we have met with our state leaders this fall to
talk with them about our top legislative priorities for next school
On Nov. 13, our team met with Gov. Andrew Cuomo's deputy secretary for
education, Daniel Fuller. On Dec. 3, we sat down with our local
legislative leaders -- State Sen. Neil Breslin, and Assembly members Pat
Fahy and John McDonald.
Here is the information we shared with them. You can
click here to download a copy of my letter to Gov. Cuomo
with an overview of our top priorities, and follow the links below for
more detail about each topic. We shared the same materials with our
local state representatives.
We will continue to advocate for these priorities, and for all of the
support our students need and deserve, throughout the budget-development
process this winter and spring.
Dear Gov. Cuomo:
As you and your staff plan
for the 2019-20 budget-development process, we are grateful for this
opportunity to share with you and your staff the top fiscal priorities
for the City School District of Albany.
As we all work through our budget-development processes in the
months ahead, our Board of Education and I hope that we may be able to
partner with the state to provide much-needed financial assistance and
relief that would benefit all of our 9,500 students and their families –
and all students and families across our state – for the 2019-20 school
We have identified the following areas as our top
priorities at this time:
Support for reduced elementary bus-eligibility zones.
Research has identified chronic absenteeism as one of
the leading indicators of low student performance in school districts
across New York and nationwide. While this indicator holds true across all school districts
irrespective of socio-economic factors, research also has demonstrated
that rates of chronic absenteeism are significantly higher in poorer
communities. There are a
variety of factors that can lead to chronic absenteeism. However, access to safe and appropriate transportation is among
the leading factors. We
strongly urge the state to consider transportation solutions to help
high-needs urban districts like Albany address chronic absenteeism at
the elementary level.
Click here for data on the decline in attendance during the
winter months at the district's elementary schools.
Support for our rapidly growing refugee and ENL student population.
Driven almost exclusively by the influx of refugees to
Albany, our school district’s enrollment in English as a New Language
programs has tripled in the past five years to nearly 1,300 students –
approximately 14 percent of our total student population.
That figure is expected to
continue to grow; we added more than 160 new ENL students during from
Additionally, the state also is recognizing the important needs of this
fragile student population and is mandating increased staffing levels –
unfortunately, without the additional funding that high-needs districts
like ours require to serve ENL students.
Financial support specifically targeted to districts like Albany
with large and growing ENL student populations is a critical need.
We also urge the state to consider dedicated funding for ENL
programs, similar to Special Education.
The City School District of Albany offers about 1,000
prekindergarten seats city-wide for 3-year-old and 4-year-old learners.
However, the current funding formula for pre-K is more than a
decade old and hampers districts like Albany that were early
implementers of full-day pre-K programming.
We strongly support the NYS Board of Regents’ plan to consolidate
pre-K programs. We also
strongly advocate raising the Universal Pre-K base allocation ($4,105)
to be equitable with more recent pre-K funding streams such as Expanded
Pre-K ($7,882). These
important changes would allow districts like ours to attract and retain
high-quality, certified pre-K teachers, allowing students to receive an
even stronger foundation as they begin their academic journey.
College and Career Readiness: STEM/STEAM K-12.
When compared to other nations, the math and science
achievement of U.S. pupils and the rate of STEM degree attainment appear
inconsistent. In an effort
to enhance STEM/STEAM instruction, the City School District of Albany
looks to provide an integrated, relevant and academically aligned
STEM-focused curriculum. As
aligned with student achievement and closing the achievement gap,
coupled with college- and career-readiness goals, the district will
engage students in STEM and STEAM through a real-world, relevant and
rigorous experience aligned with math and science standards.
We urge the state to look at STEM/STEAM support to align with
college- and career-readiness skills students need to be successful
beyond graduation from high school.
Continued investments in Community Schools.
Our district is a strong advocate for the critical
importance of sustained Community Schools funding in 2019-20 and beyond.
The $3.9 million in state Community Schools funding we are
receiving for the current fiscal year has helped us continue to develop
this model at our five Priority elementary schools and our
We are more able to engage parents and guardians, as well as
community partners, in meaningful ways.
Together with our community partners we are exploring expanded
afterschool academic and enrichment programs, as well as medical,
dental, mental health and social services.
We urge you to maintain your commitment to Community Schools.
You also can read more about our Community Schools investments to date
fall edition of "Capital Education," our district newlsetter.
Full Foundation Aid funding.
Our school district receives only about 75 percent of
our Foundation Aid funding.
From 2007-08 through the current school year, that has meant a total of
more than $356 million less in state funding, including more than $26.5
million in the current school year.
This significant annual shortfall in state aid is especially
damaging in a city like Albany, where more than 60 percent of the
property is tax-exempt and annual charter-school payments top $36
million. At the same time, only 45 percent of our annual funding comes
via state aid (compared to funding levels in the 70 percent and 80
percent range in “Big 5” districts like Buffalo, Rochester and
Thank you for the opportunity to present these
priorities to you and your staff at this time.
We appreciate all that you do to support our schools, our
students and their families, and our communities.
We look forward to an opportunity to talk about these priorities
in greater detail throughout the budget-development process, and to
answer any questions you and your staff might have.
Yours in education,
Kaweeda G. Adams
Superintendent of Schools