TIME FOR THE ALBANY CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT TO MAKE THE BRIGHTER CHOICES: RETURN TO K-8 NEIGHBORHOOD SCHOOL SYSTEM AND LIMIT THE SCHOOL BUDGET INCREASE TO NO MORE THAN 3 PERCENT.
April 10 the Albany City School District/Board may vote to close the Livingston Middle School (300 students) on the premise that this move would save one million dollars.
Is it reasonable to conclude that closing all three middle schools would save three million dollars?
Time has come for the Albany City School District/Board to make the brighter choice - follow the lead of progressive cities like Boston, and return to a K-8 neighborhood school system.
Neighborhood schools are best for kids, parents and neighborhoods. Kids can walk to school, and their academic progress (and problems) tracked and dealt with from grades K-8 in the same setting. Walking to school will help combat the growing obesity problem among school age children. Parents can more readily participate in the education of their children, when all their children attend a neighborhood school, Neighborhood schools serve as neighborhood learning and social centers which contribute to strong neighborhood identities. In times of disasters and emergencies, neighborhood schools can be places of refuge. Neighborhood schools provide settings that allow for better discipline and avoidance of the disorder and violence plaguing the three city middle schools.
Another million, or more, dollars can be saved by returning to a K-8 neighborhood school system by eliminating all those yellow buses that clog city streets, twice daily, creating traffic congestion, inconvenience, noise and air pollution.
Millions more can be saved by eliminating most of the six figure administrative positions in the city school system. According to an Albany Times Union story, there are at least 34 such positions in the city school district. (Not to mention many more in the 75-100 thousand dollar pay range).
As things stand now, children, parents and property tax payers in the City of Albany are being shortchanged by a City School Administration that runs a disorderly, unsafe school system, which is not conducive to learning. With a more than 50 percent drop out rate, the Albany City School Admionistration is failing to produce graduates who have learned the knowledge, skills and behaviors necessary to become productive members of society and responsible citizens.
Another double digit Albany city School Budget increase, this year, is unacceptable, in light of the chaotic, disorganized condition of the city schools, and in light of the sigificant increases of state aid in the state budget this year and in recent years.
Recall that the recent, and coming, property revaluations amount to a substantial property tax windfall for both the city government and the city school district.
Add to this, the fact that the successive, annual property tax increases produces an ever increasing tax base, where even a 3 percent annual increase in school taxes is a significant increase.
Time for the Albany City School District/Board to make the brighter choices: (1) return to a K-8 neighborhood city school system and (2) establish safe, orderly school environments conducive to learning and (3) learn to live within a tight budget like the property tax payers who support the city schools must do.
If the school district presents a budget with a property tax increase greater than 3 percent, on May 16, Albany City voters should vote "NO".
Unwilling or unable to make a decision on returning to a K-8 neighborhood city school system? Put the question on the May 16 School Budget Vote Ballot and let the voters decide.
Also, open all the regular polling places, as in a primary of general election ,so as to allow for and encourage a maximun turnout of city voters
J P Sullivan
CONGRATULATIONS ALBANY VOTERS ON DEFEAT OF THE MAY 16 SCHOOL BUDGET PROPOSITION. DO IT AGAIN, IN JUNE!