Following a Board of Trustees vote on November 30, 2022, The Albany Academies will begin a new multi-year plan to reorganize the schools that will allow the institution to continue to focus on academic excellence and better position itself for the future.
The Organizing by Divisions model allows us to first focus on our students’ development stages, then on their gender, while maintaining our emphasis on academic excellence. We will continue to adhere to a single set of high standards for learning and desired student outcomes. Under the new model, the current Albany Academy for Girls building will house our Early Childhood Center, Lower School, and Middle School and the current Albany Academy building will house the Upper School.
This is a natural extension of the schools’ evolution over the last several decades and, most importantly, positions our students and school for long-term success.
This new model optimizes campus spaces but also maintains single-sex traditions and will honor our rich history. It also provides us with an exciting framework to meet significant institutional needs in the coming decade. The architecture and scale of the current Albany Academy building are well suited to the programmatic needs of older students. The single-story Albany Academy for Girls building offers an accessible, homelike feel that provides an excellent architectural environment for a premier Early Childhood Center, Lower School, and Middle School. We have already begun discussing needed renovations in our facilities both to modernize our classrooms and to accommodate the coming changes. In all divisions, we will continue to provide our students with a premiere academic experience, individualized attention, a focus on character development, and a strong foundation for a life of purpose.
Organizing in this manner provides an exciting framework for our next evolution, which involves transforming the school over the next decade while meeting some significant institutional needs. The Albany Academy and Albany Academy for Girls were founded more than 200 years ago. Throughout our rich history, we have adapted and evolved numerous times to remain viable and relevant to the students and families we serve.
This decision didn’t happen quickly or in a vacuum. For the last several years, we have been studying our market; meeting with students, parents, alumni, and alumnae, and our professional community; and conducting research with these stakeholder groups. We’ve held dozens of meetings with each constituency to get their reactions and suggestions. We also hired a research firm to gather unbiased thoughts and have polled our peers across the country to understand best practices. After all of that data was collected, the Board of Trustees met on November 30, 2022 and decided to launch this new model in two implementation phases.
There are many advantages of the new model, including:
The consolidation of resources in one developmentally appropriate space with access for all students.
Better faculty collaboration because of regular, daily access to colleagues teaching the same grade level of the same subject.
More efficient use of instructional time due to eliminating the need to pass between the two schools several times a day.
Increased safety by keeping students in their respective buildings, allowing for faster reactions and accountability in emergencies. It also eliminates the needs for our students and professional community to cross the street on a daily, frequent basis.
More effective leadership from administrators who can be fully present for students and faculty in a single site.
Increased focus by our professional community on both shared developmental milestones and sex-based learning differences.
Several capital projects are planned over the multi-year implementation of this new model. During phase 1 we intend to update the science wing on the current Albany Academy campus, make improvements to and add security enhancements in the lobby at the current Albany Academy for Girls campus, and update instructional technology on both campuses.
Phase 2 projects will include the addition of a new Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) Innovation Center in a reconfigured space at the new Upper School campus and enhancements to athletic spaces and at the Standish Pool, Robison Ice Rink, and locker rooms in particular.
This perception was an unintended result of the 2007 merger of two schools with vastly different architectures. The coordinated divisions model addresses this by creating a united, divisional culture that appropriately retains elements of single-sex education within the buildings. We are already working to develop a master facilities plan that will modernize our facilities and better facilitate our new school model.
This new model allows us to be more flexible with changes in enrollment and to implement improved efficiencies across divisions, which will have a positive impact on our finances and directly affect our ability to improve our educational programming. It is fiscally responsible to think ahead to our future and the school’s financial viability and to be sure we continue to be a relevant institution in our third century. Additionally, this new model may help drive enrollment growth as we clarify our identity as a divisional school featuring single-sex education.
In partnership with faculty and administrators, trustees will now develop and finalize a detailed facilities master plan and educational program that will be implemented over several years. It is expected that the Lower School will move to the current Albany Academy for Girls building at the start of the 2023-24 academic year and the entire transition will be complete by the start of the 2024-25 academic year.