Mrs. Rebecca Dunckel-King
Superintendent of Schools7668 State Street
Lowville, NY 13367
Letter from the Superintendent
Dear Parents and Members of the Lowville Academy School Community,
April is the beginning of a very busy time of year for Lowville Academy. As the temperatures slowly begin to climb, we begin to focus our attention on the end of the academic school year. This is a time when our students in grades 3-8 sit for the NYS exams in ELA and math, we begin new athletic seasons, and we begin planning for our end-of-the-year ceremonies and festivities.
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 11th with the district vote on the budget and school board election to follow on Tuesday, May 19th. Look for next month’s newsletter for a detailed analysis of the proposed 2020-21 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. As shared in the previous newsletters, the renegotiated Maple Ridge PILOT agreement has resulted in a significant loss of revenue. The loss of revenue in this current school year was shouldered by carefully monitoring our expenditures and offsetting the loss with the use of fund balance and other revenue surplus. The challenge has become slightly more difficult as the payment has reduced another $441,000 this school year (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 reduction of $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.
As is the practice at Lowville, the district uses its PILOT revenues to offset the tax levy and to fill gaps created from the annual loss of funding New York State schools experience through the reduction in Foundation Aid. Our district has been fortunate in the past to be able to use PILOT revenues to invest in the long range financial and educational health of the district.
Lowville Academy Central School strives to maintain its reputation of excellent academic performance, individual attention to the needs of our students, and a realization of college, career and citizen readiness for all of our students. With the support and help of our community, we look forward to great success and continued improvement as we operate within our commitment to a strong educational mission and enduring goals.
The Board of Education is on track to adopt the 2020-21 budget at the April 6th 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.
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, Dr. Steven Lyndaker, Amy Marti, 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 Mrs. Rebecca Kelly, Mr. Thomas Schneeberger and Mr. Michael Young will be up for election in the May 19 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 20, 2020. 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 19, 2020.
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 21, 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 12 if absentee ballot is to be mailed to applicant
§ By 5:00 p.m. Monday, May 18 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 19 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 315-376-9100How has the District’s revenue from PILOT programs changed this year compared to years’ past and how will it change in the future?The District continues to be challenged by declining PILOT revenues from the Maple Ridge Wind Farm with another decrease of approximately $880,000 in 2020-21 followed by an additional decrease of $435,000 in 2021-22 and $380,000 in 2022-21 before leveling off for a few years. The final reduction of about $190,000 will occur in the 2025-26 school year when the total annual payment to LACS will be $760,000 per year. The District will continue to monitor spending and carefully plan for the use of reserves and the tax levy to account for this shortfall in revenues.
Will the District have to raise taxes?
The taxpayers of this district have been very fortunate over the past 14 years to have had little to no increases in taxes. The district warrant today of $4,205,428 is just slightly more than it was in 2005-06, while the tax rate per thousand is now $7.30 as compared to $14.98, respectively. At this point in time it is clear that a tax increase will be necessary; however, the Board is still developing the budget for 2020-21 and is awaiting a clearer picture of what the state aid revenues will be before determining the projected increase.
How will the District residents be kept updated?
Please look for more information to come in future newsletters and at the Budget Hearing.
What is the LACS Timeline for Budget Adoption?
Looking ahead, the following dates are important milestones as the budget comes together: Board of Education Meetings - Upcoming 2020-21 Budget Development Workshops - February 10, March 2 and March 16, 2020Adoption of 2020-21 Budget by LACS Board of Education - Tentatively Scheduled for April 6, 2020Public Filing of the LACS Budget with NYS Education Department - By April 25, 2020Official Public Hearing and Presentation - May 11, 2020 - LACS Elementary Cafeteria 6:30 p.m.Annual Meeting including Trustee Election and Budget Vote - Tuesday, May 19, 2020 - 12:00 Noon-8:00 p.m. in the high school auditorium