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Council of Albany Neighborhood Associations

September 7, 2005

   Albany Public Library


  1. Introductions


bulletThe Albany Public Library now has a Director of Development and Finance Projects.  The telephone number in that office is 427-4344.  The director and other library staff are available to attend neighborhood association meetings.        


bulletThe open competitive examination for Albany police officer will be held on Saturday, December 3, 2005 .  Applications must be received no later than Thursday, October 27, 2005 .  Interested candidates may contact the Albany Municipal Civil Service Commission at 434-5049.


  1. Guest  Speaker:   Thomas Carroll, Brighter Choice Charter School


Brighter Choice is located at the former Public School 10 building where two schools operate under common management.  They are the Brighter Choice School for Boys and the Brighter Choice School for girls. 99 percent of the students at Brighter Choice are black   It serves only low income families.  Its school year is 205 days (175 is the normal length) and presently serves 250 students in kindergarten through 4th grade.  The school day begins at 7:30 AM and ends at 4:00 PM .  It offers a liberal arts education, hires expert teachers, and the students wear uniforms.  Students are instructed by separate teachers for each subject, rather than the same teacher for all subjects.


The school offers a new model for urban education.   American history is taught without books, but rather with original source materials and live performances.  There is strong focus on educational trips and performing arts. 


Since originally opened, there have been large percentage point gains in reading and math. And academic gains from students’ entry to testing.  There is high attendance and low student turnover as well as a low turnover of faculty.  Parental satisfaction is reported to be high. The New York State Education Department gave it a positive report after a recent site visit.


The school attributes its gains to better and innovative design, very positive school culture, and the data to drive instruction.


Mr. Carroll stated that the Albany School District could learn from Brighter Choice that the following are educationally beneficial.

·        Small schools

·        More instruction time

·        School culture matters

·        Flexibility

·        Consistency of vision

·        Single gender instruction

·        School uniforms


He also stated that the standard educational model is teacher-driven.  Brighter Choice and other charter schools are student driven.  Decisions are made within the guidelines imposed by New York State , and may be changed within those guidelines as student needs warrant. 


Charter schools are an alternative for parents who feel their child’s needs are not being met in the public school setting. 


The arguments about whether there should be charter schools and how they should be funded are two separate issues.


Mr. Carroll offered the following in response to attendees’ questions


·        Brighter Choice  has experienced an 8 percent student turnover rate  since it opened

·        This school year, the school had openings for 50 students.  1,100  students applied for those openings

·        The site of the former Bishop Maginn School is being considered for a charter school. 

·        Charter schools are located in Albany because of parental demand

·        Increases in scores for reading and math are determined by standardized tests offered by McGraw Hill because the state doesn’t offer such testing in lower grades.  Students’ progress is tracked and scores are published.

·        Factors considered in selecting the students who apply for admission are whether they are academically at risk, whether they have siblings in the school, if the family is considered low income.  Brighter Choice has more disadvantaged students than other charter schools in Albany .

·        Brighter Choice is non-profit.

·        The rules for suspending and dismissing students are the same as the Albany public schools

·        There are no income restrictions for students in the other charter schools, but on the whole it is low income families who apply for admission

·        Taxpayers and voters have expressed grave concern about the number of charter schools in Albany , as well as how they are funded and the cumulative impact on the district’s long term plans.   Mr. Carroll stated that objections to this issue, as well as the rapid rate of approval of new charters, should be directed to legislators.

·        Qualifying students are admitted to Brighter Choice by the lottery system.  The Albany League of Women Voters monitors the lottery.

·        Brighter Choice has received a grant to be used for collaboration and joint initiative with the city.  However, Mr. Carroll reported that the superintendents have declined to meet with administrators of Brighter Choice.

·        Brighter Choice serves low income families.  At the present time 50 percent of the students attending School 19 are from low income households.



  1. Announcements and New Business


bulletThe City and the Midtown Colleges and University Steering Committee will co-sponsor the Midtown Community Barbeque on Thursday, September 8 at the College of St Rose to kick off a mid-town home ownership program.
bulletThe Mansion Neighborhood Association has organized a fund drive to assist those who lost their homes in a recent fire.  Some residents had inadequate or no insurance to cover their losses.  A motion was made and approved for CANA to contribute $100 to the fund.  Those interested in contributing to the families are encouraged to do so either with cash or gift cards to stores such as Walmart and Target.
bulletThe tentative date for the 2005 Neighborhood Works is November 19.


  1. Committee Reports


bulletZoning Committee – The Committee did not meet over the summer.
bulletCodes Committee – The committee met during the summer.  They have a meeting scheduled with Nick DILello for September 12.   There are discrepancies in the City’s database of properties with residence permits; that will be discussed with Mr. DiLello
bulletCable Committee – The Committee did not meet during the summer.
bullet Budget Committee – The Committee will meet next on September 14
bulletUniversity and Community Relations – The next meeting will be held on September 14.  Nick DiLello, Director of Buildings and Codes will be the guest speaker.  The “Fall, 2005 Fifteen Point Plan” will also be discussed.


  1. Adjournment


The meeting adjourned at 8:45 .




Meeting Attendees

September 7, 2005








Colin McKnight


l. Jackson-Chalmers


471 Woodlawn Avenue

Daniel W. VanRiper

Lincoln Park NA

John Cirrin

Albany Public Library

John Green

696 Hudson Avenue


Betsy Shearer


58B Morris St

Judy Levin

Hudson Park NA

Bill Ritchie


196 Mt. Hope Drive

Kathleen Neuffer


21 Cleveland St

Bob Sheehan


71 Marsdale Street

Dominick Calsolaro

Common Council

35 Clare Ave

Howard Stoller


Tom Gebhardt

University at Albany

1400 Washington Ave

PO K Rissberger

Albany Police Department

536 Western Ave

Steven Baum


31 Crescent Drive

Onnolee Smith


7 Meadow Lane

Larry Smith


7 Meadow Lane

Joyce Rambo

Center Square

Harold Rubin

Center Square

156 Chestnut St

Georgette Steffens

City of Albany

200 Henry Johnson Blvd

Maureen Blum


286 State Street

Donald Wardle

United Tenants

125 Dove Street

Dennis Mosley


550 Myrtle Ave

Gene Solan


126 S Allen

Annette Delavallade


59 Dartmouth St

Georgette Steffens


287 Mountain

Jack Consiglio


71 North Allen

John W. O’Grady

West End

Harold Rubin

Center Square