Albany is a unique community, packing a breadth of economic, ethnic, and other diversity into one square mile. It is located at the northern end of Alameda County between El Cerrito, Berkeley, and Kensington. University Village provides family housing to visiting professors and students and plays a big hand in contributing to the diversity of our schools. Albany's schools are the focal point of the community. Many families choose to locate here, in spite of the high real estate prices, because of the schools, and the town is united in its commitment to supporting education.
As the only middle school serving the community, Albany Middle School guides approximately 900 students through the transformation of early adolescence from 6th grade through 8th grade. They arrive from three elementary schools as well as nearby private schools and matriculate to one high school. The total PreK-12 enrollment is approximately 3900. The community of Albany is largely college-educated, economically and ethnically diverse, and involved. No one ethnic group holds a majority in the district. AMS students are currently 41.2% Caucasian, 32.5% Asian, 16.9% Hispanic/Latino, and 5.9% African-American. We also have 3.5% Filipino/Pacific Islander. Students whose home language is not English is 35.5%, with a wide variation of home languages and cultures, providing a rich diversity in our schools.
The middle school facility is sixteen years old. There are 20 standard classrooms, three fully equipped science labs, an art room, music room, a computer lab, three special education classrooms, two of which are adjoined for more flexibility in instruction, and a full size gym. Additionally, there are five portables on our campus, one old one in poor repair, and four of which are new this year and were placed into what was our teacher parking lot, while the San Gabriel campus is being designed. The teacher parking lot is temporarily located on the San Gabriel campus.
In addition to the computer lab, there are a full set of older computers in the library, a couple of networked computers in each classroom for student use, and eleven chrome carts. The entire school is networked with both hardwired and wireless internet access in every room. Every classroom is equipped with a ceiling-mounted LCD projector. These projectors are connected to a document camera, and a laptop computer to provide a variety of visual displays and video with sound. We also added a Lightspeed amplification system with two microphones, one for the teacher and one for students, to every classroom last year.
AMS has a library on site. The library has a print collection of over 12,000 titles. The library provides a variety of services and programs under the guidance of a fully credentialed librarian, a library technician, and several highly-trained parent volunteers. The library is used throughout the day for classes to work on units such as research and poetry. Additionally, our library is consistently packed with students at lunch if it is not being used for other trainings or events.
The facilities are not designed for the large size of our student body. We estimate the facility to be adequate for approximately 650 students and we currently have approximately 900 students. We use every classroom almost every period and therefore, some teachers use rolling carts to travel from class to class. This impacts the set-up of classrooms, reduces instructional time, and limits teachers’ abilities to connect with students before and after class. Most teachers who do not move classrooms do not have access to their empty classrooms until after school hours. Some classrooms are also used after school for programming that benefits our students. Our facilities are also lacking enough science labs to easily serve all 7th and 8th graders and 6th graders never have lab access. A fourth lab would have a hugely positive impact on our ability to provide quality science instruction. Additionally, we do not have a multi-use room for students to eat indoors when it rains or for assemblies and other events. We are hopeful that when the San Gabriel campus is built, one of our current classrooms could be transformed to a science lab, and a multi-use room could be built, to meet the needs and maximize student learning at Albany Middle School.