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Old 08-18-2012, 07:51 PM
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I am a single mother w/a child going into first grade. I accepted a job in the Albany area. The job is pretty much my dream job, but I am really nervous about moving my child to a new city.
We are staying with family temporarily so that I can save and find a place of our own. They have extra rooms, a big house.
They live in a beautiful neighborhood but the school I am not too sure of. It's called Pine Hills Elementary. From what I've read online their test scores are extremely low. I am REALLY nervous about sending my child there. I sent my child to catholic school for the past two years, so I am definitely nervous about the transition from catholic to public and I don't even know what kind of school it is.

I also don't know how the community is. My child was very active in sports and made a lot of friends through sports but now we are entering a completely new community which I am completely clueless about.

If anyone can give me any information regarding the City of Albany School District, the area, the schools, the parents, the community as a whole, etc., I would really appreciate it. Like I said, I am 100 percent clueless, so any piece of information would be helpful.

Thank you.
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Old 08-18-2012, 10:10 PM
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Perhaps a charter school may work: Albany Community Charter School - Albany, New York - NY - School overview

There are some charter and public elementary schools within the city of Albany on this list too: Albany Schools - Albany, NY | GreatSchools
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Old 08-19-2012, 07:28 AM
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How about another Catholic School in Albany. I found a link below from the Diocese of Albany. One of my friends has her daughter in elementary school at All Saints and they are very satisfied. Good luck!

Albany Schools | Diocese of Albany Catholic Schools
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Old 08-22-2012, 05:11 PM
Location: Albany, NY
334 posts, read 811,288 times
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Pine Hills Elementary has a soft spot in my heart because they invite the community to use their playground and yard, unlike my home elementary school a mile a way. It is a great place for people to play and meet each other. The school has a good relationship with the Pine Hills Neighborhood Association, and the association does a lot to help the school. The school also has a strong environmental component, even though their school yard is very small. They are an Audubon Society Cooperative Sanctuary site, collect rainwater in barrels, have the students plant trees and make bird houses, etc.

In the past, Pine Hills has had a very strong PTA that sponsors lots of family events. I'm not so familiar with what they have done in the past year or two, but I encourage you to get in touch with the PTA. Contact info for the various PTAs can be found at Albany City Schools, A to Z, PTA Information & Directory I recognize one of the names on the Pine Hills PTA list, Michelle Washington, as being an active parent throughout the District. The parents can give you more of the "inside scoop," since scores are not necessarily indicative of what your child's experience would be like. This week and next it might be hard to get ahold of parents because school hasn't started yet but most camps have closed down, so a lot of families take vacation.

I also encourage you to contact the principal and ask for a visit and a tour. I can't say for sure about Pine Hills, but all the principals I've been involved with in the Albany City School District have been happy to spend some time with prospective parents and give tours. Contact info for the principal can be found at: Albany City Schools, Pine Hills Elementary School If you don't have luck reaching the principal through the secretary before school starts, try emailing. One warning - the District has a spam filter, and the first time you email anyone in the District, you will get a message that you have to reply to (all you have to do is hit reply) for your message to go through.

An earlier poster mentioned charter schools, which are another option. There are lotteries for the charter schools, but at this point most of them have open seats, so your daughter could likely get into one. Brighter Choice Charter School for Girls has the best reputation of the charter schools. Some of the charters have already started for the school year. Some also have policies against admitting new students that are older than the youngest grade that they serve, so if you are interested in a charter, I recommend you contact the school(s) you are interested in directly ASAP.

Blessed Sacrament is a Catholic school near the Pine Hills neighborhood that has a good reputation. All Saints Academy and Mater Christi are two other Catholic schools nearby that I don't know as much about. I think Mater Christi serves a slightly wealthier clientele than the other two.

If your child goes to charter, Catholic or private school within the City of Albany and you live more than 1.5 miles away from the school, she may be eligible for a city-funded school bus. However, the District's Transportation Office is one of the more difficult offices to deal with, so it may take you a while to work it out.

You mentioned sports. Albany Youth Soccer is one of the most laid-back and cheapest ($10 a season!) sport organizations out there, and it is right in the middle of the Pine Hills neighborhood - behind Albany High School. Lots of young kids participate, and it can be a good way to meet other families. There is also the usual Little League, dance classes, martial arts, etc. Albany Police Athletic League offers a lot of sports and other afterschool programs, many of them right in the schools. They are semi-disorganized in their publicity efforts. You might want to contact them directly, let them know you are new to the area, and ask what they offer at Pine Hills or elsewhere.
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Old 08-23-2012, 07:02 PM
Location: Albany, NY
334 posts, read 811,288 times
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Another thing I just remembered is Open Enrollment if you are not happy with Pine Hills Elementary. The school district allows students to enroll in elementary schools outside their zone (but not magnet schools, which require a lottery) if there are still spaces after all the students in the zone are accommodated. Given the description you provided of your friend's neighborhood, you may not be all that far from Eagle Point Elementary School. I don't know how Eagle Point's scores compare to Pine Hills, but Eagle Point is a small, friendly school, which might also be a good fit for someone new to town. (It looks big on the outside, but that's because of a large central staircase.)
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