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Grade Configuration-Middle School Enrollment

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 three-year planning process that included families, community members and district staff, as well as extensive board review.


You can download the presentation from the Sept. 13 board meeting, as well as a 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 dates: 

  • Wednesday, Oct. 3 – North Albany Academy, 6:30-8 p.m.

  • Tuesday, Oct. 16 – William S. Hackett Middle School, 6:30-8 p.m.

  • Monday, Oct. 22 – Arbor Hill Elementary School, 6:30-8 p.m.

  • Tuesday, Oct. 23 – Pine Hills Elementary School, 6:30-8 p.m.

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.


Please visit our District News section to read more.


Board narrows seven options to four

The Board of Education narrowed the list of possible middle-school options from seven to four at its May 17 meeting as it plans for the most effective way to provide equitable access to programs and opportunities for all students in grades 6-8. The board eliminated three options that involved converting Arbor Hill Elementary School to a middle school. All four remaining options would keep Arbor Hill as an elementary school.


The four options the board still is considering are options A, D, E and G from the original list of seven options presented at the April 12 board meeting.


Three of the options the board still is considering would use Edmund J. O’Neal Middle School of Excellence and North Albany Academy as middle schools.


The fourth option would use North Albany as a middle school and convert O’Neal to the new location of the Albany International Center, which serves refugee and immigrant students. That program, new in 2017-18, currently is at North Albany.


North Albany’s elementary students would move to Arbor Hill in all scenarios that the board still is considering; the board also is evaluating transportation options as part of these scenarios.


Stephen and Harriet Myers Middle School and William S. Hackett Middle School would remain middle schools in all scenarios.


The board plans to complete the evaluation and selection process in the late summer and early fall. That will include public meetings in October at potentially affected schools and other opportunities to allow families and community members to provide input and feedback.


Any building project the board approves then would require voter approval. The district is planning for a public vote in May 2019. With a positive outcome, the new facilities would be ready for the 2023-24 school year (when students who were in kindergarten in 2017-18 are heading to sixth grade).


Feasibility study and updated demographic study

Following the September 2017 Grade Configuration Steering Committee report to the Board of Education, the board began a thorough evaluation of all middle-school options. As part of its ongoing discussions and planning through the winter, the board ordered an updated enrollment study as well as a feasibility study of all seven options.


Updated enrollment figures were presented to the board at its April 12 meeting. The study projected increased enrollment, but at a lower level than the district's last enrollment study, which was completed in 2015.

Using the updated enrollment numbers, district architectural partner CSArch conducted a feasibility study of seven middle-school enrollment plans. CSArch discussed the feasibility study findings at the April 12 meeting.

  • Click here to see a copy of the feasibility study, which contains a synopsis of each plan.

About grade configuration and middle-school enrollment

The City School District of Albany provides middle-school programs for students in grades 6-8 in three schools: Edmund J. O'Neal Middle School of Excellence, Stephen and Harriet Myers Middle School and William S. Hackett Middle School. Click here to learn more about how these schools are currently enrolled.


Since May 2015, the City School District of Albany has had two separate groups of parents, staff and community members -- the Grade Configuration Steering Committees -- studying a range of issues relating to the district's future elementary- and middle-school enrollment and facilities needs.


That work, done in two separate phases, culminated in the committee's Sept. 14, 2017 presentation to the Board of Education. Through this fall and winter, the board is reviewing those recommendations as it studies long-term options to serve the district's expanding student population.


Scroll down to learn more about the committee's work and to find agendas and documents from previous meetings. You also can learn more about grade configuration process from 2015-17 in a Frequently Asked Questions document. Members of the Phase 1 and Phase 2 committees are listed here.


Grade Configuration Steering Committee recommendations

The Grade Configuration Steering Committees provided recommendations to the Board of Education in two phases:


Phase 2 committee recommendations -- June 2017 (Click here for the committee's Sept. 14, 2017, presentation to the board. No action has been taken on these recommendations and the board continues to study all options.)

  • The district should operate four middle schools to accommodate its increasing student population.

  • Arbor Hill Elementary School should be converted into a 500-student middle school and the new middle school opening at 50 North Lark in September should continue to operate as a 500-student middle school. Arbor Hill Elementary would need to be renovated to accommodate middle-school students and North Albany Academy would need to expand to accommodate the Arbor Hill Elementary students. Stephen and Harriet Myers Middle School and William S. Hackett Middle School would continue to operate as 650-student middle schools.

  • All four middle schools should be enrolled using a formula that evenly spreads higher-, medium- and lower-performing elementary schools across the four middle schools.

Phase 1 committee recommendations -- June 2016 (all adopted by Board of Education)

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

What has the Board of Education acted on to date? 

In March 2016, the Board of Education agreed with and approved the committee's recommendations for the 2016-17 school year. In September 2016, the board approved 50 North Lark St. as the location to serve students in grades 6-8 starting in September 2017. This location is now Edmund J. O'Neal Middle School.


In addition, in October 2016 the board approved a $6.5 million facilities referendum to convert 50 North Lark St. into a middle school. Voters approved the project, which would not affect Albany taxes, on January 10, 2017. Click here to learn more.


Some issues the committee 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 September 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 accommodate the number of students. (June 2017 update: In September, the district will open a new middle school, Edmund J. O'Neal Middle School, at 50 North Lark St. The former West Hill Middle School building will house the Tony Clement Center for Education, formerly the Alternative Learning Center.)

  • 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. (June 2017 update: Starting in September 2017, North Albany Academy will serve students in prekindergarten-grade 5. West Hill Middle School will no longer operate as a 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. (June 2017 update: As of September 2017, North Albany Academy will serve students from prekindergarten-grade 5).

    • District staff has identified an interim 6-8 enrollment pattern for the 50 North Lark building (now Edmund J. O'Neal Middle School) for September 2017:

      • Arbor Hill Elementary (students in fifth- and sixth-grade during 2016-17)

      • North Albany Academy (students in fifth-, sixth- and seventh-grade during 2016-17)

      • Philip Schuyler Achievement Academy (students in fifth-grade during 2016-17)

      • Sheridan Preparatory Academy (students in fifth-grade in 2016-17)

      • West Hill Middle School (students in seventh-grade in 2016-17)

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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