ALBANY -- Residents can get an inside look at the workings of city government at the second Civics Academy, which will be held Thursdays starting April 4.

"There are a few theories behind it," City Clerk Nicole Almaguer said. One of the primary ones is to really get people engaged, to understand local government and how it differs from larger agencies. To try to let people know we are the neighborhood government. Also to try to empower the community so they understand the functions of government and the limitations."

Classes will be held 6:45 to 9 p.m. Thursdays at the Albany Civic Center. A "graduation ceremony" will be held at the City Council meeting on May 20.

Registrations are due by March 25 and any Albany resident may apply, but priority is given to those 17 and older. Business owners may also apply but will be accepted on a space available basis. The fee for the class is $10 and applications are available at City Hall, 1000 San Pablo Ave., or online at http://www.albanyca.org/index.aspx?recordid=43&;page=20.

Almaguer said the classes are geared toward those who are not currently participating in city government, although last year's classes had a mix of people who attend meetings and those who don't.

"The goal is to get those who are newer to this concept of local government and really expand the bandwidth of the community," she said. "But it also helps to have a local expert in there because they can chime in with their experience with the city."

Students will get a presentation each week from a different city department, including administration, the fire department, and parks and recreation. During the administration class last year, according to Almaguer, students did a mock City Council meeting to learn how those meetings really work.

Students will also learn how the city allocates funds for various needs, how departments operate and how decisions are made by both elected officials and city staff. Another goal of the program is to improve communication between the city and residents.