Mrs. Cheryl Steckly
Superintendent of Schools
7668 State Street
Lowville, NY  13367
Letter from the Superintendent
Dear Parents and Community Members,
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to each of you.   This is a busy month in school with many exciting events and activities.  Our music department plans special concerts, students enthusiastically participate in holiday activities and the winter athletic calendar is full with games, meets and tournaments.  We invite you to celebrate the season and get in the holiday spirit by attending one of the many events that are taking place throughout the month of December.  Our students, faculty and staff truly appreciate your presence and support. 
The holiday season has always been one of my favorite times of the year and is a special time of caring and sharing.  It is also give us an opportunity to look back on the past year and reflect on all that has been accomplished.  As you know, a significant amount of curriculum work has been done district-wide to meet the demands of the Common Core Standards.  Children have become stronger readers, writers and math students through the use of new instructional methods and the opportunity to think and process information differently.  Over $100,000 was awarded to our seniors at graduation as a result of the generosity of alumni and members of this community.  Students had an opportunity to participate in one of the 17 varsity sports or several music programs that are offered.  The district remains committed to providing instructional supports to students who may need academic intervention or special education services, in addition we continue to provide many opportunities for instructional enrichment. 
This time of year I also find myself thinking about the things I value most - quality time with family and friends, education, and the caring people of this school district. I am reminded once again of how much we at Lowville Academy have to be thankful for; dedicated and inspiring administrators, instructors and support staff, motivated and hard-working students, and involved and dedicated families to name a few. We all desire the same thing for our students:  to be successful in the 21st century, to be good citizens and make positive contributions to their community. 
As we move into 2017, I want to thank each of your for supporting your child and working in partnership with us as we remain focused on our goal of providing the best educational opportunities for each of our students.  

Tax Stabilization Fund
We were very pleased to learn that the tax stabilization legislation proposed by our district was passed by the legislature last spring and signed into law by Governor Cuomo on September 30.  The new law will allow the district to reallocate funds into a legal reserve from those that have been purposely set aside over the last several years to offset future tax increases resulting from the end of the Maple Ridge PILOT. Reallocation of existing funds to this new reserve will require voter approval which is projected to be on the ballot at the annual meeting in May 2017.  It’s been a long process that began in 2008, but thanks to the vision of former Superintendent Mr. Kenneth McAuliffe, the persistence of the Board of Education, the assistance of Senator Griffo and Assemblyman Blankenbush and the conscientious efforts of former Senator Ray Meier acting as a lobbyist in Albany on the district’s behalf, we have finally accomplished this goal. 

Capital Project Update
As 2016 draws to a close, the capital project also nears completion.  Roofs have been replaced on the school building, bus garage and district office.  Several HVAC units have been replaced and are operating efficiently, LED lighting has been installed, along with a new generator and outdoor freezer. Resurfacing of the tennis courts has been completed and a new concession stand was constructed to meet Department of Health standards. Work in the auditorium that includes asbestos abatement and installation of air conditioning and lighting is nearing completion with the auditorium scheduled to be reopened by the end of December. There are a few areas of work that remain including the replacement of tile in the pool tunnels and installation of an upgraded security camera system. We look forward to the completion of this project which affords our students, staff and community a more comfortable, secure and efficient environment in which to learn and play.

Christmas Concerts
The district Christmas concerts will take place in a different venue this year with a unique format as a result of the ongoing construction in the auditorium.  All performances will be held in the main gymnasium on Wednesday, December 7 beginning with the traditional Elementary program at 6:00 p.m. This concert includes the 3rd/4th grade Chorus, Beginner Band, 5th/6th grade Band and the 5th/6th grade Chorus.  Following the Elementary concert will be the Middle School and High School performances at 7:30 p.m.  This program includes the Middle School and High School Bands and Choruses. We recognize that this is a full evening for many families, however, in this construction period, flexibility and creativity is necessary to accommodate the needs of a very busy facility.  We hope that you will join us for an extraordinary and entertaining evening.
From all of us here at Lowville Academy, we want to wish you a very happy holiday season and the very best in the new year.  Please know how much we value the children of this community and we look forward to working with all of our students and families in 2017.  In the midst of the busyness of this holiday season, we hope that you have the opportunity to slow down and enjoy time with your family and friends, creating memories that will last a lifetime.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Cheryl R. Steckly
Superintendent of Schools

LACS School Board To Be Recognized
For Outstanding Service

The LACS Board of Education will be recognized at the upcoming October 17 meeting for their exceptional efforts, dedication and devotion to the almost 1500 students and 230 staff members of LACS.  The Board is comprised of nine citizens elected by their peers who willingly give considerable time and effort to provide the best educational program possible.  Their outstanding efforts on behalf of the children of this community are to be commended.  
Over the school’s 209-year history, Board members have typically served several terms with many reaching double digits.  This longevity and experience pays dividends in all matters that come before the Board of Education. Congratulations and special thanks to each and every one of them for their dedication to the success of Lowville students. 

President Thomas Schneeberger - 12 years

LACS Board of Education
83 Years of Cumulative Experience
Michael Young - 30 years
Paul Kelly - 16 years
Steven Lyndaker - 8 years
Rebecca Kelly - 6 years
Jeffery Hellinger - 5 years
Michael Judd - 3 years
James Farquhar
- 2 years
Stephanie Houser Fouse
- 1 year

Property Tax Relief Programs

STAR Credit
The enacted 2016-17 State budget included a provision to gradually transition the STAR property tax exemption into a STAR credit program.
The eligibility requirements for the STAR credit will remain the same as the STAR exemption.
The new law is effective for the 2016-17 school levy.
Homeowners who received the STAR exemption for the 2015-16 school levy based on their application will continue to receive the exemption as long as they own their current home.
Once a home is transferred, the new owners will not be eligible for the exemption. Instead they will register with New York State and receive a STAR credit in the form of a check each year.
The amount of the STAR credit for a property owner will equal the STAR savings they would have received if they had the property tax exemption.
The Tax Department developed a STAR registration Web app that allows new homeowners to easily register for STAR at  Homeowners also have the option to register over the phone at 518-457-2036.
Eligible homeowners who registered by July 1 and live in school districts that levy on or before September 1 (Lowville CSD does) will receive their checks in September.

Property Tax Relief Credit
Beginning this year a new property tax relief credit in the form of a check will provide additional tax relief to homeowners.
Homeowners who receive a STAR exemption or STAR credit are eligible for a property tax relief credit check this year if they meet the following requirements:
•Live in a school district that complied with the property tax cap (Lowville CSD did comply), and
•Have a 2014 tax year income of $275,000 or less
This year the credit amount is $185 for upstate homeowners.
The credit amount cannot exceed the school tax due amount for the property.
Beginning in 2017 the property tax relief credit will be a percentage of a homeowner’s STAR benefit, with lower incomes receiving a higher percentage benefit.

School District Tax Warrant

The Board of Education unanimously approved the district tax warrant of $3,940,071 which remains the same as 2015-16.  In addition, $80,000 will be raised for the public libraries as in past years for a total warrant of $4,020,071. 

Superintendent of Schools, Cheryl R. Steckly, indicated that even with the warrant remaining level, most of the eleven towns will see a decrease in the tax rate per thousand due to the overall increase of taxable assessed value in the district. 

In the Town of Lowville, the tax percentage of the entire warrant remained at approximately 50% of the $4.020 million.  This means the Town of Lowville will raise $2,017,291 of the total levy.  The next largest amount by town was Watson at $571,148, followed by Martinsburg at $444,443.  The smallest dollar amount paid by any town was West Turin at $2,701.

The figures are projected averages, indicated Mrs. Steckly, and individual assessment changes will actually alter the final tax bill.  Please see the next article for detailed information on the 2016-17 tax warrant.  

2016-17 School Tax Levy Fact Sheet

What is the Tax Warrant?  The tax warrant is simply the local share of the school budget.  Each year, the Board of Education sets the tax warrant, which is then converted to a specific tax rate for each town.  School tax bills are then equalized by town to ensure a fair distribution of the tax levy.  Within a town, the dollar amount is apportioned according to each property’s assessed value. 

How Much is the 2016-17 Warrant?  The Board of Education will levy $4,020,071 in taxes across the eleven towns of the district.  This figure represents just 15.38% of the total budget of $26.1 million.  The district tax warrant has only increased two times since the 2005-06 school year.  The tax warrant also covers the library levy of $60,000 to the Lowville Free Library and $20,000 to the Martinsburg Library.

What is the True Tax Key?  The True Tax Key is the total tax warrant divided by the full value of the entire district.  The True Tax Key does not reflect changes within a given town, but is a precise overall financial measure from year to year.  This figure is a very low $7.29 per $1,000 of full property value.  The “true tax” key has dropped from a high of $14.82 in 2005-06.  This is a drop of 50% that is directly linked to the Wind Turbine Pilot.

What are the tax rates for 2016-17 for each of the 11 towns in LACS?  The tax rates per $1,000 of assessed property value for 2016-17 follows below.  The tax rates for the 11 towns are related to each town’s equalization rate and overall property wealth.  The property wealth of each town is linked to the full value of all taxable property that falls within the school district borders.  Equalization rates determine the ratio of each specific town’s value to the other for tax distribution purposes.  Even though rates per $1,000 may vary widely by town, in essence they are “equal” for school tax purposes.

Did the STAR value change? Though the Basic and Enhanced STAR programs are still in place, their value changes each year based on a state formula. The school district has no control of this formula which fluctuates up and down each year. 

School Tax Payment Information
School tax bills will be mailed during the last week of August. The general tax collection period will be from September 1 through September 30, 2016.  Bills paid on and after October 1 will have a two percent penalty added through October 31, 2016.
Paying in Person . . . Taxes will be collected by Mrs. Gayla Roggie, School Tax Collector, at Community Bank, NA, on State Street at the Four Corners in Lowville NY.  Collection hours will be 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. (except Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays).  Taxes can be paid in person at the bank through October 31, 2016.  
Paying by Mail . . . Taxes may be paid by mail by following the directions printed on the tax bill.  The tax collector can be reached at 376-3148 during the collection times and dates listed above.
Enter to Learn... Go Forth To Serve
Lowville Academy
and Central School