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School board approves $1.5 million in cuts

Last week’s meeting of the Hastings school board figured to be another hotly contested one. Instead, it was absolutely quiet.

The meeting, moved to the school auditorium in preparation for an overflow crowd, was over in less than an hour and concluded in front of just a handful of people. At the meeting, board members voted unanimously to accept the $1.5 million in cuts that had been proposed and detailed at a meeting three weeks ago.

The meeting began with about 25 people in attendance, but after the district’s employees of the semester were recognized, all but about five people were left in the crowd.

Dan Cater was one of the board members who served on the finance committee and said the board studied the matter closely.

“I want to let the community know all the details were gone through,” he said. “Details not everyone saw.”

Board member Kyle Latch expressed concern about how the affected employees would be told they’d be losing their jobs. He acknowledged they all knew already, but he wanted to be sure they’d all be met with face-to-face to get the final word.

“You’re right,” Collins said.

Cater said those losing their jobs aren’t losing them because of their performance.

“This list — It’s certainly not a reflection of anything other than the math,” he said.

The probationary teachers whose contracts are terminated or reduced are MaryJo Dougherty, Chris Fahey, Tim Haneberg, Colleen Hinz, Jennifer Johansson, Carl Marich, Jen McCann, Sarah Osberg, Michelle Schauer, Stephanie Schiebe, Kendra Stettler, Julie Swanson, Todd Levos and Kari Yarnall.

Two tenured teachers, Karl Jacobsen and Amanda Millhollin, were placed on unrequested leaves of absence because their positions are being eliminated.

Jacobsen is a Spanish teacher at the middle school and the high school. Millhollin teaches family and consumer science at the middle school.

Levy cap

Collins said he researched additional information regarding how much money the district could ask taxpayers for through a levy.

The cap for each student is at $1,825.

Hastings already gets about $1,600 per student in funds from taxpayers living in the district. The legislators, though, have assumed about $400 of that $1,600.

That means that the district could come back to taxpayers and ask for up to $600 in additional funds per student. With about 5,000 students in the district, seeking the maximum amount from taxpayers would generate an additional $3 million in revenue.

There was no indication at the meeting on whether or not the district would ask voters to approve a new levy.

Hastings 2020

Board members referenced that a new committee is planned. It will be called either Hastings 2020 or Hastings 2025 and will focus on the future of education in Hastings.

The committee will be formed and begin working in the coming weeks and months. Public input is sought. Contact information for each board member can be found on Page 4A of the Star Gazette every week.

Retirements and resignations

The district approved the resignations of five employees at the meeting.

Resigning are Matthew Bruns, Denise McNamara, Kate Ries, Bill Postiglione and Dan Willaert.

Three employees are retiring. They are Sharon Brown, Allen Saunders and Kathleen Sellner.