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1 Academy Park  Albany, New York 12207

(518) 475-6010  Fax: (518) 475-6014

Anne Savage, President • Vickie Smith, Vice President • Tabetha Wilson, Secretary
Sridar Chittur, Ph.D. • Hassan Elminyawi • Ellen Krejci • Damarise Mann

Kaweeda G. Adams, Superintendent of Schools

September 18, 2020

Mr. Robert Mujica

New York State Division of the Budget
New York State Capitol, Room 113
Albany, NY 12224

Dear Mr. Mujica:

We are writing on a subject that we know is critically important to Governor Cuomo, you and the entire
administration – equity. We know that you are hearing many voices on this topic in these difficult
times, and we have always appreciated the state’s partnership and sensitivity to these concerns. We
would be remiss if we did not add our voice in support of the more than 10,000 students we serve in the
City School District of Albany.

The governor has been a champion in this area, advocating for real change that would address the
inequities that exist for communities of color throughout New York. As the state weighs the severe
economic realities that COVID-19 has wrought upon us, we are heartened by the reports this week
regarding the state’s intent to ensure that any school aid reductions that are necessary due to the
crippling fiscal impact of the pandemic are administered, to the greatest extent possible, in a way that
will minimize the impact on communities of color and the school districts that serve them.

We also firmly agree with and appreciate the state’s consistent and vocal position that the federal
government has, to date, failed in its responsibility to provide adequate support for our students in New
York and nationwide during this crisis. We will continue to add our voice to this message at the federal
level, and encourage all in our school community to do the same.

Equity in school aid reductions

In Albany’s public school district, we receive approximately 45% of our total revenue through state aid.
A reduction of 20% across all of our aid categories would equal $23.2 million, or more than $2,100 per
student. For a school district in which 80% of our students are students of color and 60% of our students
are economically disadvantaged, this reduction would be devastating. Taking a proportionate approach
to cost reductions would provide high-needs school districts like ours a measure of relief, and we are
grateful for this week’s public statements from your office to that affect.

Equity in public vs. charter aid reductions

We also are asking for your support in distributing any necessary school aid reductions equitably for
both charter schools and public schools. As you know, our school district has made extremely difficult

The City School District of Albany will be a district of excellence with caring
relationships and engaging learning experiences that provide equitable opportunities for all students to reach their potential.

We will work in partnership with our diverse community to engage every
learner in a robust educational program designed to provide the knowledge and skills necessary for success.
staffing decisions this month. We believe we have acted responsibly, with the information available to
us, in the best interest of our students, families and staff. Those decisions included the reduction of
more than 200 positions, and moving all of our general education students in grades 7-12 from hybrid
instructional models to fully virtual. Our programmatic decisions also included dramatically
restructuring stand-alone programs that serve our most at-risk students – students in grades 7-12 who
benefit from additional social-emotional supports in the smaller alternative setting of our Tony Clement
Center for Education, and refugee and immigrant students who benefit from the additional language
support and wraparound services at our Albany International Center.

We made these reductions at this time to avoid the possibility of having to cut significantly deeper still
in December or later if the financial prognosis remains as dire as it seems currently, with the state
projecting a $62 billion revenue shortfall over four years and the federal government failing to act.
However, the total reduction of our staffing and program decisions to date equals approximately $16
million, significantly short of the reductions that will be necessary if the state ultimately is forced to
reduce 20% of our aid in all categories.

Our annual expenditures include payments to charter schools of approximately $35 million. If the state
does apply aid reductions equitably to charter schools and public schools alike, that would allow our
school district to avoid significantly deeper cuts if the worst-case scenario comes to pass later in our
current fiscal year. The impact of a decision to hold the charter schools harmless would be
disproportionate and hugely inequitable for the students and families we serve – who comprise nearly
85% of the students attending publicly funded schools in Albany.

Sadly, we recognize that the impact of the impending state budget rollback due to COVID-19 will be
deep and lasting for students and their families across New York. The impact will be deeper still for
students and families in communities of color, already bearing the brunt of the health and economic
impacts of COVID-19.

We appreciate your recent reaffirmation that the choices the state makes in the weeks and months ahead
will be prioritized to minimize the impact on New York’s most at-risk students and families. In order to
continue to responsibly plan for our district, we would appreciate some clarification about how that
commitment to equity will translate to dollars. In particular, the charter school reduction would have no
additional cost for the state but would make a meaningful difference in districts like ours. The sooner
that such clarification and commitment comes, the earlier we can plan and the less impact any reduction
will have on our students and families.

We know there are no easy decisions in the current environment, and we appreciate all that Governor
Cuomo and you have done and continue to do to lead our state through this crisis. We appreciate your
consideration and your continued partnership in our work to serve our entire community. Please let us
know if we can answer any additional questions or provide additional information.

Yours in education,

Kaweeda G. Adams Anne Savage

Superintendent President, Board of Education

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