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Council of Albany Neighborhood Associations

Meeting Minutes May 5, 2004

Albany Public Library


  1. Introductions


  1. Minutes


            Minutes of the April 7, 2004 , meeting were approved.


  1. Guest Speaker


Eva Joseph, Deputy Superintendent Albany Public Schools

Roger George, Director of Business Affairs, Albany Public Schools


The proposed 2004-2005 school budget spending plan is $147,918,715.  It represents a budget-to-budget increase of 7.7% or $10.6 million.  If adopted, the estimated tax rate would increase 10% or an additional $2.07 per $1,000 of assessed property value.  If proposition #3 (to sell property for $500,000 on Colvin Avenue that was purchased in anticipation of constructing a middle school) passes, the tax rate increase would change to 9.4%. 


The budget increase is a result of no increase in state aid except for the facilities project; the fact that the district will make its first full debt service payment of $4.6 million (almost half of the estimated tax rate increase); mandated increase for expenses such as health insurance, pension fund, special education cost; a $250,000 increase in funding for charter schools.  (Aid to charter schools is based on enrollment--not attendance.)  The district is arguing against any more charter schools in Albany . 


Savings will be experienced by reducing expenditures in several budgets.  Materials & supplies budget will be reduced by 10%; equipment will be reduced by 50%, and travel and conferences by 50%.  Professional development expenses will not be affected.  The district will contract instead of hire individuals to perform specialized services such as mechanics.   Retiring staff will be replaced by new employees with lower salary levels.  Classes are getting smaller and the teacher student ratio will be changed from 1 per 19.3. to 1 to 18.2.


Additions to the budget include kindergarten testing tool, expansion of college center hours, athletic coaches & uniforms and e-rate technology purchases.  However, the e-rate purchases actually bring revenue to the district.  For every $10 spent on technology equipment, telecommunication companies reimburse districts $90. 


Debt reduction for previous years will retire next year and will offset this year's.  The State has had a change in procedures and has slowed down aid the payment schedule.


Not included in the budget are additions through federal grants rather than the general budget.  Included are items such as elementary-level tutoring, additional after-school AIS programs, classroom libraries, science labs, Saturday & summer science programs, professional development, social studies instructional materials. 


The tax impact for the average homeowner will be an increase of $207 without STAR.  With basic STAR it will be about $145, and with enhanced STAR it will be $104. 


Estimated revenue sources are:  Fund balance 2.4%; Federal aid 0.8%; local revenue (interest income, charges to other schools, consumer utility bills, payments in lieu of taxes) 6.8%; state aid (formula driven) 28.4%; and property tax 61.6%.


Estimated expenditures include program 75.9%; administrative 9.2%, and capital 14.9%.


If the school budget is not approved by voters on May 18, it can be offered for approval again twice before a contingency is put into place.  To reach a contingency level while maintaining mandated increases, all programs would be under consideration for reduction or elimination.  Charter schools are held harmless. 


Vote propositions offered for voting will include

        Proposition 1 - School budget

        Proposition 2 - Albany Public Library budget and candidates for Library Board of Trustees

        Proposition 3 - Sale of unused property at 60 Colvin Avenue

        Proposition 4 - Modifications to transportation policies to bus students who reside 1.5 miles from the school they attend


The facilities improvement projects are on schedule.  The two new Schuyler schools will open in September of this year.  School 26 will be demolished.  In September 2005 Schools 20 and 27 will reopen and Montessori and Kelton Court will open.


The district has partnered with the Albany County Health Department and insurers to help enroll families for free insurance.  The Miles of Smiles dental van will visit schools.


Cathy Fahey requested that CANA join the "Vote Yes Coalition" as an endorser of the proposed budget.  The following information was presented prior to the vote.


        Residents dislike the tax increase that is partly due to the charter schools

        School buildings are being constructed and/or renovated on schedule

        Voters would be more comfortable about passing this budget if the situation with the third middle school  were resolved

        Taxpayers are only now hearing about the change in the State Aid payment schedule

        It will cost $50,000 to study the athletic facility plan.  The Kelton Court middle school will be the foundation of that plan.  Philip Livingston School is also part of the plan.

        If the budget is voted down, it will mean a big hit on programs.

        The budget is rather tight and members were surprised by the debt service component

        The alternatives to passing this budget are dismal and severe cuts would devastate the struggling school system 

        The school board strongly opposes charger schools; 5% of the proposed budget would go to Albany 's charter schools


11 CANA members present voted yes to join the Vote Yes Coalition

  2 CANA members present voted no to join the Vote Yes Coalition


Therefore, the resolution to join the Vote Yes (for the School Budget) Coalition was adopted.


  1. Announcements and New Business


bulletA letter and petition are being sent to District Attorney Paul Cline requesting that defendants in cases that involve gun violence not be offered plea bargains.  It does not require legislation for his office to adopt such a policy.  All CANA neighborhood associations are being asked to support this request.  Bill Petit will prepare language for a resolution and CANA will send out a petition for members to sign.


bulletThere will be an additional CANA meeting in May.  Professor Ernest Sternberg will be in Albany to make a presentation about heritage-based tourism on May 20 at 7:00 PM at the Albany Public Library Main Branch in the second floor conference room.


bulletThe Neighborhood Resource Center annual members meeting will be held on Tuesday, May 11 at Sage College on Academy Road .  Officers for NRC will be elected, awards and certificates of recognition will be presented, and there will be a guest speaker. 


bulletOn Wednesday, May 12, 2004, at 7:15 PM a public forum will be held entitled "A Community Dialogue About the Controversy Surrounding the Albany Police Department" at Sweet Pilgrim Baptist Church at the corners of Clinton Avenue and Ten Broeck Place.


bulletOn May 10, 2004 , at 7 PM a meeting will be held in the Albany Public Library Main Branch about the proposed library budget.  There is a summary of this budget in the Library newsletter.



  1. Committee Memberships and Reports


bullet CANA and its committees were formed to deal with city-wide issues.  However, presently several committees are not meeting regularly and membership is dwindling.  A list of the present CANA committees and membership roster will be presented by the chairman.


bulletCommittee on University and Community Relations

The next meeting will be Wednesday, May 12 at the Albany Police Department at 526 Central Avenue .  Topics of discussion will be the Trash to Treasure Program, Project Spring Clean 2004, and the University Neighborhood Day.  Additionally there will be a report about the city's " Mid-Town College and University Study" and the Committee's participation/role.


bulletZoning and Budget Committees


      Both committees need new leaders and members who will identify the relevant issues, get involved, and follow through.  Members are urged to volunteer for these committees.



  1. Adjournment


            The meeting adjourned at 8:55 PM



                                                                                                Submitted by

                                                                                                Deanna Colfels



Meeting Attendees

May 5, 2004





Craig Waltz


979 New Scotland Ave

Bill Pettit


369 1/2 State St

Daniel W. VanRiper

Lincoln Park NA


Helen Black

Ten Broeck Triangle

39 Ten Boreck Place

Leo S. Levy


29 Lawnridge Ave

John Cirrin

Albany Public Library

PO Kathi Rissberger

APD, Center Station

536 Western Ave

Bill Cleveland

West End NA

9 Essex Street

Karen Cunniff


Gene Solan

Pine Hills

126 So. Allen St

Harold Rubin

Center Square

156 Chestnut St

Tom Carr


388 Broadway

Richard Conti

Common Council Ward 6

151 Chestnut Street

Lorenz Warden


127 So Pine Ave

Jack Consiglio


73 No. Allen St

Aaron Flanger


165 Henry Johnson Boulevard

Mary Connair


68 Summit Ave

Howard Stoller


Tom Gebhardt

University at Albany

Seth Powell


126 So Allen St

Elfrieda Textores

South End

70 Third Ave

Stephen Winters

Second Ave

Holly Katz


Colin McNight


45 Elm Street


Center Square

189 Lancaster St

Anne Brewster



Marty Gawoski

West Hill

33 Elm St