Voters approve two tax-free facilities proposals Jan. 10
Plans for 50 North Lark middle
school, purchase of 395 Elk address equity, enrollment growth
N.Y. (Jan. 11, 2017) -- Albany voters showed overwhelming support Jan.
10 for two tax-free facilities proposals that will allow the
City School District of Albany to provide equity for students who will
attend a new middle school beginning next school year and address the
district's rapidly growing enrollment needs.
Proposition #1 on Jan. 10 will allow the district to perform $6.5
million in renovations and updates to the district's building at
50 North Lark St., which will
become a new middle school beginning in 2017-18. Voters approved that
proposal 2,005-678 (75 percent approval).
Proposition #2 will
allow the district to spend $4.1 million to buy the building it
currently rents at 395 Elk St. Voters approved that proposal 2,061-615
(77 percent approval).
Neither proposal will have any impact on taxes for homeowners
For more information about both proposals, please read our
Frequently Asked Questions. You also can
download a PowerPoint presentation on the two proposals.
The renovations at 50 North Lark will be paid for
through a combination of state aid (80 percent, or $5.2 million) and the
district's Capital Reserve Fund ($1.3 million). Albany voters
established the fund in 2014 to allow the district to save for long-term
The question for voters on the 50 North Lark proposal was not about
whether to open a new middle school at that location. The Grade
Configuration Steering Committee made that recommendation to the Board
of Education during the 2015-16 school year and the board approved
the opening of the new middle school to meet the district's urgent
enrollment needs. District enrollment from prekindergarten through grade
8 has grown by more than 26 percent (more than 1,400 students) over the past eight
years and will continue to grow well into the next decade.
The Jan. 10 decision about the renovations at 50 North Lark was
about the type of school the students will attend, and the programs and
services the district will be able to provide there when the new middle
school opens in September.
The district currently uses 50 North Lark (originally
New Covenant Charter School before that school failed in 2010) for its
alternative-education programs. The district is proposing to move the
Alternative Learning Center to 395 Elk in 2017-18. Brighter Choice charter schools
built 395 Elk six years ago for more than $15 million;
purchase of 395 Elk equates to 27 cents on the dollar.
The Brighter Choice charter middle schools failed in
2015 and the district has rented the building for West Hill Middle
School the last two school years.
The purchase of 395 Elk will be paid for
entirely from the district’s Capital Reserve Fund. An additional benefit to
taxpayers of buying 395 Elk this winter will be that the district also
will save about $169,000 in lease payments for the remainder of the
school year. That cuts the district’s proposed overall investment
in buying 395 Elk to about $3.93 million.
West Hill Middle School currently
serves students in grades 7-8. It will close as a middle school at the end
of the current school year. The students currently in seventh grade
there will relocate to 50 North Lark for eighth grade in 2017-18 as part
of the district’s temporary (3-5 years) enrollment plan for the new
Configuration Steering Committee is working this year on proposals
for the board to consider on long-term facilities and enrollment needs.
In addition to the current West Hill seventh-graders,
students from the following schools will attend the new middle school at
50 North Lark through the temporary enrollment pattern:
Arbor Hill Elementary School -- current grades
5-6 (Arbor Hill Elementary becomes a prekindergarten-grade 5 school
beginning in 2017-18)
North Albany Academy -- current grades 5-7 (North
Albany becomes a prekindergarten-grade 5 school beginning in
Schuyler Achievement Academy -- current grade 5
(Schuyler remains a prekindergarten-grade 5 school)
Sheridan Preparatory Academy -- current grade 5
(Sheridan Prep remains a prekindergarten-grade 5 school
The new middle school at 50 North Lark will open with
about 400 total students in September. The district expects enrollment
to grow to about 575 students by 2019-20.
The district cannot continue to
use 395 Elk as a middle school because most
of the classrooms do not meet State Education Department specifications
for regular education.
State Ed gave the district clearance to operate 395 Elk as a middle
school on a temporary basis due to the sudden closure of the charter
schools, but 395 Elk cannot be used for regular education on a
permanent, long-term basis.
However, 395 Elk is an ideal building for the district’s Alternative
Learning Center, which is built around smaller class sizes and fewer
total students (about 140 students currently).
The almost-new three-story, 54,000-square-foot building at 395 Elk has a
total capacity of 350-400 students and is divided into two equal schools
connected by common areas such as the cafeteria, gym, music rooms and
The district’s plan for its alternative programs there beginning
in September is to serve
students in grades 7-8 on one side and students in 9-12 on the other.
The mission of the City School District of
Albany is to educate and prepare all students for
college and career, citizenship and life, in partnership with our
diverse community. The district serves
more than 9,600
students in 17
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