10 face layoffs at Hillman schools

HILLMAN — About 10 employees could face layoffs as Hillman Community Schools prepares to approve about $276,533 in cuts to balance its budget for the 2020 school year.

Most of the employees facing layoff are paraprofessionals and support staff. One industrial arts teacher is on the possible pink slip list.

Superintendent Carl Seiter presented a list of possible cuts to the Board of Education on Monday.

The board approved a 2019-20 budget at its June 25 meeting with cash on-hand that is projected to decrease from $514,634 on July 1 to $50,106 on June 30, 2020. The district expects to need to pull from its cash reserves to cover a steep shortfall next school year.

Some reasons for the budget shortfall are enrollment projected to decrease from 411 students to 401, the purchase of two used buses, and losing payments to Hillman by Atlanta Community Schools and the Alpena-Montmorency-Alcona Educational Service District for literacy coaches.

Seiter said the list was compiled after talking to district administrators, staff, and the board for input. He said 80% of the district’s budget is personnel, so one of the only ways to trim the budget is by cutting people.

“The board is going to have to act on whatever I present to them,” Seiter said. “If they say we’re not going to do it, then we’re not going to do it (and) we’ll have to come up with some other alternative. Whenever you make cuts, you’re going to see changes.”

Throughout the past few years, the district’s revenue has been decreasing. Seiter said that, in the next couple of years, the district could be broke if decisions aren’t made now. He said that happens when districts put themselves in an annual deficit situation.

“This trend can’t continue,” Seiter said. “We have to adjust and we have to adjust now.”

Seiter proposed eliminating an academic support position at the junior/senior high school. He also suggested eliminating an industrial arts teacher, a two-hour paraprofessional position, and a virtual enrollment paraprofessional position at the school. That would save approximately $147,438 for the district.

For Hillman Elementary School, Seiter proposed eliminating a playground paraprofessional, a paraprofessional, an at-risk paraprofessional, and a classroom paraprofessional positions. That would save around $56,146.

The transportation department would see a secretary position eliminated. The bus supervisor would assume paperwork duties and building secretaries would take phone calls from parents. Seiter said that had been done in the past. That would save $21.132.

Officials also discussed only bussing one way to sporting events. Only traveling teams one way would save $10,000.

For food service, Seiter proposed reducing a position in the junior/senior high school from eight hours to six and eliminating a three-and-a-half-hour position in elementary school. That would save approximately $30,407.

The maintenance department would see a hit by eliminating substitutes for when someone calls in sick and limited cleaning of buildings. That would save approximately $11,408.

Enrollment has been on a steady decline for the district, going from 497 the 2014-15 school year to the projected 401 students the upcoming school year.

The district Board of Education will hold a special meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday to make decisions about support staff positions. The district has to provide 45 days’ notice to support staff on any layoffs to align with a union contract.

In other business

The Hillman Community Schools Board of Education on Monday also:

∫ extended contracts for business manager Jill Olsen, maintenance supervisor Randy Herbert, food service director Jeff Powers, and technology director Michael Probert through the 2020-21 school year. None of those contracts include raises for the 2020 school year.