April 23, 2021
Dear AUSD Community,
Students returned to school energized on Monday after a much-needed Spring Break. They might be learning in a fully remote mode (at any grade), a modified in-person mode (in grades TK-5th), or in a hybrid mode (grades 6th –12th). Some students are also participating in special learning groups to supplement their regular schedule. School staff continue to deserve our gratitude for working out how to serve all our students well in new and diverse modes during the continuing pandemic. To get a close up view of how safe in-person instruction is, please take a moment to view this video of hybrid instruction at Albany Middle School, which was created by the Alameda County Office of Education.
Albany High Opens Hybrid Academy Classes
Albany and MacGregor High Schools opened their doors to students on Monday. Students are attending Academy classes in the afternoon two days a week, after their regular classes. These new Academy classes focus on social-emotional learning and academic support and intervention, and are designed to address the areas of highest need for students due to the pandemic. The rest of this year is also an opportunity to ease back into an in-person learning environment before the beginning of the 2021-22 school year. Chris Knight, ATA Co-President, stated at Tuesday night’s Board of Education meeting, “It's been a joy for the high school teachers to see some of our students in person again. Through the dedicated work of our teachers and district staff, Albany has all schools open for in-person learning.”
AHS Addition Receives CHPS Verification
The Albany High School Addition received what is called “Collaborative for High-Performing Schools” (CHPS) verification. That's a mouthful, but it means that the new addition has qualified as a certified green building according to an official organization with very high standards. All of the school buildings in the Measures B & E building program are designed to meet CHPS standards, and to be Net-Zero Energy Ready. It is an honor and an accomplishment when the CHPS organization acknowledges that their high standards have been achieved.
Albany Unified School District Receives Upgrade from Moody’s and Successfully Prices Remaining Measure B and Measure E Bonds
Two good things happened regarding last week’s sale of the final set of bonds from the voter-approved 2016 Measures B & E School Bond ballot measures. In those measures, the estimated tax per parcel was stated as $180 per $100,000 of property value ($120 for Measure B and $60 for Measure E). Before this sale, I requested, argued for, and ultimately received an upgrade for the District’s bond status rating, which, along with a favorable market environment, contributed to a notably better sale than expected.
When the bonds passed, the District had voter approval to levy $324 per $100,000 of property value, (including previously approved bonds) but that has never occurred. Soon after the measures were approved, the Board voluntarily capped the annual levy to no more than $250 per $100,000. In 2020, the District was able to drop this to $225 per $100,000, and now, with the excellent results of the final sale, the 2021 tax rate will drop to $200 per $100,000. The overall savings to the community has been achieved through a combination of the District’s responsible handling of its finances, (including holding the line on costs in the capital building program), and the favorable financial climate. This has saved Albany taxpayers an estimated $31.9 million from what was projected in the 2016 ballot measures.
The AUSD Measures B & E bond program has delivered what it promised on less than what was estimated, a notable and unusual accomplishment. The Measure B and Measure E bond proceeds have allowed the District to build the Albany Middle School Annex and the Albany High School Addition. The bond proceeds will also fund the rebuild of Marin Elementary School and Ocean View Elementary School. See the press release linked here for more information.
Stay hopeful and encouraged,
Dr. Frank Wells
Superintendent of Schools
Albany Unified School District