Mrs. Cheryl Steckly
Superintendent of Schools
7668 State Street
Lowville, NY  13367
(315)-376-9000
 
Letter from the Superintendent
 
 
 
Dear Parents and Members of the Lowville Academy School Community,

As we enter the middle of March, we begin to anticipate warmer temperatures and the many outdoor activities to be enjoyed with the
onset of spring weather.  April is a busy month that includes spring vacation, NYS testing and a new athletic season.  The English
Language Arts assessments will be administered April 2-3 to our grades 3-8 students, and the Math tests will follow on May 1-2. 
Teachers, students and administrators have been working hard and are prepared for the tests and ready to meet the standards and
expectations.

April also brings to an end the school budget development process for the Board of Education.  The school community is invited to
attend the budget hearing on Monday, May 13th with the district vote on the budget and school board election to follow on Tuesday, May
21st.  Look for next month’s newsletter for a detailed analysis of the proposed 2019-20 school budget.

BOE Budget Adoption Scheduled for April

As a district we have been very fortunate to benefit from the revenue generated by the Maple Ridge PILOT agreement.  Throughout the
term of the PILOT, the Board of Education carefully planned for the use of these dollars.   The strategic plan was focused on four major
concepts: tax stability, instructional improvements, debt reduction, and upgrades and maintenance of the facilities.  We were able to
accomplish all of these goals with only two small tax increases in the past 13 years.  However, there has always been an
understanding that this large payment would not last forever, and the Board of Education carefully prepared for the time when this
revenue would decrease. 

While the original PILOT agreement was set to expire in 2021-22, the taxing jurisdictions were approached by the project owners
requesting a renegotiation of the final four years of the agreement due to financial downturns and assessment challenges.  Through
several months of negotiations, a new PILOT agreement was established through the IDA.  This new agreement extends through 2031.
As shared in the previous newsletter, the new PILOT agreement will result in a significant loss of revenue.  The reductions will begin in
this current school year with a payment that is $472,000 less than budgeted.  The district is able to adjust to this shortfall through
careful monitoring of expenditures and offsetting with the use of fund balance and other revenue surplus.  The challenge becomes
more difficult as the payment will reduce another $441,000 in 2019-20, which has a budget to budget impact of approximately
$913,000.  In 2020-21, the PILOT revenues will reduce again $328,000, followed by another $487,000 in 2021-22 before leveling off for
a few years. In the final years of the agreement, the district will receive a total payment of $760,000 annually.  Even with this reduction,
we are pleased to have reached a new agreement and have more clarity on our future revenue stream for long term financial planning
purposes.

The Board of Education is on track to adopt the 2019-20 budget at the April 8th meeting.  While Governor Cuomo has proposed a
modest increase in school aid for the upcoming year, this increase is contingent upon legislative approval and will not be sufficient to fill
the gap created by the loss of PILOT revenues.  In addition to minimizing district expenditures, the Board is projecting an increase in
the tax warrant as well as the use of district reserve funds in the coming year.  Any increase in the tax warrant will stay below the
allowable tax levy limit per the state’s calculation. 

BOCES Capital Project

In March of 2018, the Jefferson-Lewis BOCES held a public vote on their first capital project since 1969 when the campuses in
Watertown and Glenfield were built. The project that will cost up to $20 million and make much needed improvements to the electrical
systems, heating and ventilation systems, and doors and windows of the BOCES facilities was overwhelmingly approved.  The project
will allow the BOCES to modernize its existing infrastructure, upgrade safety and security for students and faculty, bring its facilities
into Americans with Disabilities Act compliance and improve existing utility and energy costs.

The funding for the BOCES project comes via all of the component school districts.  The LACS share of the cost is $1,174,079 and will
be included in the proposed 2019-20 budget.  However, this will be offset by projected BOCES aid of $819,859 on the revenue side,
which leaves a local share of $354,220.  On top of any increase necessary for district purposes, voters will see an additional 4.25%
budget increase in 2019-20 as a result of the inclusion of the BOCES capital project.  Instead of borrowing for this capital project and
incurring interest expenses, the Board is proposing to pay for our local share through the use of existing fund balance and/or reserves
as opposed to raising taxes for this purpose.

During the days leading to the budget adoption meeting, the Board will make important decisions in providing the school district with the
necessary financial means to continue its long record of academic success and fiscal responsibility.  Please know that we will work
hard to make certain that the final school tax bill in September will be first and foremost an investment in a high quality education for our
children.

Superintendent Search

The search process for the next Superintendent of Schools at LACS continues to progress. The Board of Education has been working
with Mr. Stephen Todd, District Superintendent of Jefferson-Lewis BOCES, who has been conducting the search.  The deadline for
application has passed and we are pleased to report there was a strong pool of candidates.  The Board has reviewed the applications
with Mr. Todd and selected a number of candidates for an initial round of interviews.  Following these interviews, the Board will
recommend candidates to be included in the community interview day that is set for Tuesday, April 9.  Information regarding how to
participate in this process will be available within the next few weeks.  Please look for notices on the district website and Facebook
page.

The success LACS has achieved begins with strong community support.  Your commitment to the young people of our school is
greatly appreciated and makes an important difference in the opportunities students will have in the years ahead.  Please do not
hesitate to contact me should you have a question or need information. Thank you for your support and consideration in this important
matter.

Sincerely,

Cheryl R. Steckly
Superintendent of Schools

School Board Election News

The LACS Board of Education includes nine individuals serving three-year terms.  The current Board of Education consists of: Thomas
Schneeberger President, Rebecca Kelly Vice President, James Farquhar, Jeffery Hellinger, Stephanie Houser Fouse, Michael Judd,
Paul Kelly, Dr. Steven Lyndaker, and Michael Young.

Any resident of the Lowville Academy school district who meets state qualifications is eligible to run for the Board of Education. The
Board member seats of Mr. James Farquhar, Mrs. Stephanie Houser Fouse, and Mr. Paul F. Kelly will be up for election in the May 21
budget vote. Individuals interested in becoming a candidate for election to the Board of Education may obtain a nominating petition in
the district’s central administrative office during normal business hours.  Completed petitions must be returned to the district office by
4:30 p.m., April 22, 2019.  Petitions must be signed by a minimum of 25 qualified voters of the district with the specific seat identified
upon submittal. 

Absentee Ballots Available
Absentee ballots for the annual budget vote and school board election will be available for any qualified voter who otherwise is unable to
vote in person on May 21, 2019. 
A qualified voter is eligible for an absentee ballot when he or she is:
Absent from district when polls are open due to business, occupation or studies;
Confined in hospital or jail;
Chronically ill or has a physical disability;
Absent due to vacation - whether actively working or retired
Qualified voters desiring an absentee ballot will need to complete an application.  Applications will be available beginning on April
23, and may be obtained by contacting the school district clerk at 315-376-9100.
Applications must be returned to the district clerk as follows: 
By 5:00 p.m., Tuesday, May 14 if absentee ballot is to be mailed to applicant
By 5:00 p.m. Monday, May 20 if absentee ballot is to be picked up at school by the applicant.
All absentee ballots must be returned to the district clerk by 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, May 21 for the ballot to be counted.
Qualified voters with disabilities who are named on the county list will automatically be sent an absentee ballot.  Please contact the
School District Clerk, Sandra M. Rivers, if you have questions or would like additional information regarding the absentee ballot
procedure. She can be reached at 315-376-9100.

District Wellness Policy

Every school district is required to have a wellness policy.  The Lowville Health & Wellness Committee recently completed a review of
district policy to ensure we are in compliance with all state and federal regulations, as well as a triennial assessment of our progress
toward the goals of the policy.  The Wellness policy and the results of the triennial assessment can be accessed from the district website
by clicking on the District tab > Forms and Publications > District Documents > Wellness Policy.  Community members interested in serving
on the district’s Health & Wellness Committee may contact the District Wellness Coordinator, Marie Western, at 315-376-9000.
Enter to Learn... Go Forth To Serve
Lowville Academy
and Central School