COVID-19 budget cuts trigger changes at Albany City Schools

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — At Thursday night’s board of education meeting, the superintendent of the City School District of Albany proposed reductions in the wake of cuts to budgets statewide.

The school district is eying options for both structural and instructional changes in the upcoming school year, announced Superintendent Kaweeda G. Adams.

The state Division of the Budget announced that it would withhold 20% of most local aid due to lack of a federal bailout, creating a significant shortfall for all schools in New York. “For our district, we anticipate that the total impact of these aid reductions due to COVID-19 will be between $18.8 million and $25.6 million for the 2020-21 fiscal year,” Adams said.

There would be no change to self-contained kindergarten through high school special education students, who will still attend in-person five days a week, as initially planned. 

Elementary students through fifth grade will also continue as planned, with five days in-person or virtual, according to family preference. Because so many families—53% district-wide—are choosing to go fully virtual, the district doesn’t have any alternative plans to facilitate social distancing. All students in fifth grade and under who’ve opted to physically enroll would attend their regular school as usual.

Sixth graders in the proposed model attend in-person five days a week, except when a family chooses the virtual model. To facilitate social distancing at this level, in-person sixth graders are assigned to schools like so:

  • North Albany Middle School sixth-graders stay there
  • Stephen and Harriet Myers Middle School will have sixth-graders from:
    • Stephen and Harriet Myers Middle School
    • Albany School of Humanities
    • Giffen Memorial Elementary School
  • William S. Hackett Middle School will have sixth-graders from:
    • William S. Hackett Middle School
    • Eagle Point Elementary School
    • Thomas O’Brien Academy of Science and Technology

Starting Friday, schools will call their sixth-grade families to explain the proposal and change enrollment choices where requested.

All general education students in seventh through twelfth grade will be fully virtual. No in-person or hybrid options are available to students at this level.

The district also proposed that students from the Albany International Center and Tony Clement Center for Education become part of the general student body, and enroll following the grade level system above. Based on address, staff from the three middle schools will contact families of sixth graders from the Albany International Center, who, like other sixth graders, have the choice between in-person or remote.

The board is planning to meet next, following a feedback period from employees, students, and families to finalize plans.

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