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    Board votes to increase school time and improve after-school program

    February 6th, 2009

    The controversy around Albany’s staggered reading program was partly settled after a majority of members of the Board of Education voted for changing school schedule and providing better after-school services Tuesday.

    The board voted 3 to 2 to continue the staggered reading program, to further increase school time, and to promise families affordable after-school programs. Read the rest of this entry »

    Schools Superintendent describes budget choices

    February 5th, 2009

    Finding $2.2 million to cut from Albany Unified School District’s budget, which is almost all spent on personnel, might mean laying off 36 teachers, Superintendent Marla Stephenson said Monday.

    It might mean the end of small classes in first, second, third and ninth grades. It could mean the eliminating electives at the high school and middle school and shortening their school days to only six periods a day. It might mean laying off counselors, librarians, clerical staff, janitors and vice principals. It might mean music is sharply curtailed and performing arts eliminated. Or it could mean all of the above.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Sen. Hancock defines $ problem, offers solution

    January 25th, 2009

    A open letter from State Senator Loni Hancock to her 9th district constituents defines the problem plaguing California’s budget-making system, which in turn, is about to devastate our schools and cities. As she points out, it doesn’t have to be this way.

    Dear Constituent:

    We begin the New Year with the real possibility of the financial collapse of our State government in February. As your State Senator, I want to share with you how I see our precarious situation, and what I believe must happen if we are to salvage the promise of California. Read the rest of this entry »

    Albany schools will look for ways to cut $2.2 million

    January 21st, 2009


    By Barbara Grady-Ayer

    California’s huge budget deficit, the dithering of state legislators whose inaction allowed the deficit to climb, the Governor’s disrespect for laws about funding education, and the deep national recession have come to roost in Albany.

    These big problems created by adults will soon be placed at the feet of school children trying to learn to read and do algebra.

    The Albany Unified School District needs to cut its budget by 15 percent or about $2.2 million dollars this school year, Albany Superintendent of Schools Marla Stephenson told the board of education Tuesday night. Read the rest of this entry »

    Albany schools may face cuts this school year

    January 18th, 2009

    The Albany board of education plans to discuss how it might cut school spending in the current academic year when it meets Tuesday night.

    Among agenda items listed for the Board of Education’s January 20th meeting is “approve 2008-09 mid-year cuts.” This agenda item is listed for “review and discussion,” signaling that no votes or final decisions will be made. Read the rest of this entry »

    Albany school district in the course of changing a “core bargain”

    December 13th, 2008

    Two dozen parents and teachers rallied at Albany Community Center ahead of a school board meeting last Tuesday, chanting slogans to urge the board not to change the current staggered reading schedule . Photo by Linda (Linjun) Fan.

    Few issues have roused more controversy in the Albany Unified School District than the staggered reading schedule, which is supported by many teachers and parents as a unique blessing to Albany schools, but challenged by a considerable number of others as an arbitrary burden.

    As the majority of the school board members are likely to vote for a change on the schedule next month, teachers and parents become increasingly passionate and divided in their opinions on the issue. Read the rest of this entry »

    Low and Rosenbaum win Albany school board election

    November 5th, 2008

    Voters waited in line at a polling station at University Village, Albany in the early morning of Tuesday. Photo by Linda (Linjun) Fan

    Patricia Low and Ron Ronsenbaum were elected to the school board of Albany Unified School District Tuesday. Low led the race with 3,919 votes, and Rosenbaum received 3,424. The other candidate, John Kindle, got 1,082 votes, according to the Registrar of Voters of Alameda County.

    Tension with students mitigated, police officer returns to Albany High School

    November 4th, 2008

    School Resource Officer David Belman returns to Albany High School Tuesday, after being  absent from the school for the past month, during which a whirlwind of student protest surged on the campus calling for his resignation.

    The complaint was sparked by the arrest of a senior at the school, Omari Parker, on a street near the campus during lunchtime at the beginning of October. Read the rest of this entry »

    Albany High School students vote overwhelmingly for Obama in mock election

    October 27th, 2008

    Students of Albany High School filled out their ballots at a mock presidential election Wednesday. Photo by Micah Yee. Article by Linda (Linjun) Fan.

    If students of Albany High School had the say in the upcoming presidential election, Barack Obama would win by a 80 per cent margin over John McCain.

    572 students at the high school participated in a mock election organized by the school and the League of Women Voters Wednesday. 86 per cent of them voted for Obama and less than 5 per cent voted for McCain. Read the rest of this entry »

    Albany Superintendent hosts community forum

    October 13th, 2008

    Superintendent Marla Stephenson of Albany Unified School District will host a community forum Friday, Oct. 17, 11:00A.M. – Noon, at Solano Grill, 1133 Solano Avenue. All parents and members of the community are welcome to attend the event.

    Albany school board meetings will be broadcast live

    June 30th, 2008

    According to the Superintendent’s Office of Albany Unified School District, meetings of the Board of Education of  the school district will be broadcast live on Cable Channel 33, and webcasted on the new Web site of the City of Albany from July 15. The meetings will be held at the Albany Community Center, 1249 Marin Avenue, from then on. 

    Albany parents split over staggered reading program

    June 3rd, 2008


    Parents and teachers lined up to speak on the staggered reading program of Albany Unified School District at a meeting last Tuesday. Photo by Linda (Linjun) Fan.

    Dozens of parents and teachers spoken passionately on the staggered reading program of Albany Unified School District at a recent board meeting. About half of them sharply challenged the program while the other half stoutly supported it. Read the rest of this entry »

    Lawsuit over Cougar Field settled between Albany school district and City of El Cerrito

    April 17th, 2008

    By Linda (Linjun) Fan

    The Albany Unified School District settled a lawsuit with the City of El Cerrito last week, after it agreed to take a series of measures to reduce environmental impacts of the Cougar Field renovation project over El Cerrito residents.

    The 7.6-acre Cougar Field, the major sports field for various Albany teams, belongs to the Albany school district but is located within the boundary of the City of El Cerrito. Read the rest of this entry »

    Special education teacher secures job with parents’ support

    March 13th, 2008

    By Linda (Linjun) Fan

    A special education teacher of Albany High School will be given a permanent job instead of a layoff letter, after a number of parents and members of community stood out to support her.

    The Board of Education of Albany decided to keep hiring Elizabeth Enchelmayer, a probationary teacher of the Special Education Department of the high school, at a meeting Tuesday. Read the rest of this entry »

    Albany school board tables layoff of high school teachers

    February 28th, 2008

    By Linda (Linjun) Fan

    The Board of Education of Albany Unified School District decided to table the layoff of six teachers of Albany High School, after hearing an outpouring of protest from parents and other members of the community Tuesday.

    “In my opinion, there are folks on this list who are excellent teachers, ” said Board Member Ronald Rosenbaum. “And I also have problems with the way the decision was made. ” Read the rest of this entry »

    At least four teachers of Albany High School receive layoff notices

    February 21st, 2008

    Albany High School

    A woman walked past the main building of Albany High School. Photo by Linda (Linjun) Fan.  

    At least four teachers of Albany High School were notified last week that they would be laid off soon. The layoff came as a shock to many parents and teachers involved with special education in the community.

    Three of the four full-time teachers of the Special Education Department of the school received the layoff notices last Friday.

    “I am profoundly shocked and deeply sorry to hear that these three dedicated and much-loved teachers are being let go, ” said Anne Bosch, a retired teacher of the department, in a letter to school administrators and board members. Read the rest of this entry »

    Albany school administrators torn between two quarreling sports teams

    January 19th, 2008

    Construction at the Cougar Jan.19 

    Albany school district spent an extra of $78,000 recently to speed up construction of the Cougar Field in an effort to resolve a dispute between two sports teams of Albany High School, but the dispute remains. Photo by Linjun Fan.

    Two sports teams in Albany High School are quarreling with each other over a playing field, both accusing school administrators of favoring the other side. They appealed one decision after another until the dispute was heard by the Albany School Board last week. Read the rest of this entry »

    Albany school district strengthens screening of “illegal students”

    January 10th, 2008

    By Linjun Fan  

    Arslan Mesihovic, father of a six-grader in Albany Middle School, spent the holidays anxiously looking for a place to live in Albany. He was given an ultimatum by the Albany Unified School District in mid December: he needs to restore his Albany residence by Jan.25, otherwise his son would be dismissed from school in the new semester.

    Mesihovic is among the 15 parents who were recently found out by the school district to be sending their kids to Albany schools without living in the city or having a permit for transfer.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    14 Albany community members will help to select school district chief

    December 12th, 2007

    Rudy GattiRudy Gatti, a senior advisor hired by Albany school district for superintendent selection, gave a presentation with his associate Janet Gatti at a school board meeting in Albany Tuesday. Photo by Linjun Fan.

    Fourteen community members will help to select candidates for the superintendent position of Albany Unified School District in late February, according to a decision made by the district board Tuesday.

    Seven members of the Superintendent Selection Advisory Committee will be representatives of district employees, and the other half will represent parents and other community members. Read the rest of this entry »

    Albany school board considers fingerprinting volunteers

    October 11th, 2007

    Albany school board is considering fingerprinting school volunteers in the wake of two incidents in which long-time volunteers were dismissed for inappropriate and even criminal behavior.

    “I know that even one brief encounter with an ‘inappropriate’ adult can change the course of a child’s life forever,” said Board Member Jamie Calloway. “We can pay lip service to protecting our students, or we can put ourselves on the line and really do it. “

    Calloway believes that the district should fingerprint volunteers to make sure they have no history of doing harm to kids.

    Currently school volunteers in Albany are neither asked to be registered, nor to go through a criminal background check. Only paid employees are required to be fingerprinted for such a check.

    Read the rest of this entry »