Search This Blog

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Albany City Schools
The Decisive Issue
in the 2009 City Elections

Today's Times Union informs us that the
proposed city school district budget for
2009-2010 is $214 million as compared
with the current budget of $207 million.
(see pA8 Albany school budget cuts staff)

The story headline ought to read:
School property taxes to increase 15
percent in City of Albany.

That headline would capture the
attention of city property taxpayers.

The Philip Livingston middle school will
close at the end of the current school
year, shifting students to the two
remaining middle schools: Hackett and

This accounts for the staff cuts alluded
to in the the story headline.

We learn that city charter schools will
account for $27.6 million (13 percent)
of the proposed $214 budget.

Charter schools and charter school
populations continue to grow in Albany
and are educating more children at
lower per capita costs than the city
district schools.

Albany City schools are among the
highest cost per student in New York
State. The high school graduation
rate is about 50 percent.

Not a good return for property tax-

And now: The Albany City School
District proposes an increased
budget that would raise property
taxes 15 percent ?

The Audacity of those who view
themselves as political, social
and economic progressives!

Only about one-third of city
homes are owner occupied. Those
homes are owned by an aging
population living on fixed incomes,
plus some families with young
children and a number of single

These homeowners pay the lion's
share of the property taxes which
support the city public schools.

Many familes with children bear
a double financial burden, because
they send their children to private

All have endured annual school
property tax increases, and they
have watched their retirement savings
evaporate in the past 6 months.

Keep in mind that about 7o percent
of the city school population comes
from households that pay little or no
property taxes to support the city

Economic hard times are here. And
they will get worse!

The candidates for Mayor, Common
Council and City Treasurer have to
take a stand on the issue of city schools.

Albany can no longer tolerate two
property tax rolls: one to support city
services and the other to support city

City schools must be merged with
city government. The Mayor and Common
Council Members must assume responsibility
and accountability for the functioning and
financing of city schools.

Return to a K-8 neighborhood school
system which is best for kids, parents and

Trim the fat from school administrations.
Disband the school board. Create one
property tax base to support city govern-
ment and city schools.

The unpropertied households that
account for the majority of the city
school populations must pay their fair
share of the costs of educating their

Nothing less than drastic reform of
the operation and financing of city
schools is required this year.

The Common Council must step up
and present a Home Rule Message to
the NYS Legislature calling for action
this session,
to amend the State Education Law to
allow the Mayor and Common Council
to assume responsibility and account-
ability for the city schools.

Who among the Common Council
Members, seeking to be nominated
for re-election, or seeking nomination
for Mayor and Common Council
President, in the September 2009
Democratic Primary, will sponsor
and vote for this Home Rule Message?

Those who aspire to occupy positions
of leadership must demonstrate that
they are able to lead.

Members of the Albany Common Council
the ball is in your court!

Get the necessary Home Rule Message
to the NYS Legislature drafted , and
put to a vote during the month of March.

Also, place the following questions on
the May school budget vote ballot.

Q1. Shall the Albany city schools be
merged with the city government
creating one property tax base
with responsibilty and accountability
for the city schools vested in the
offices of the mayor and common council?

Q2. Shall Albany return to a K-8 neighborhood
school system?

Joe Sullivan

No comments: