Dear Editor,

Why are Almont Community School staff leaving the district?

Several comments have been made that administration and teachers are leaving the district for more pay and the poor decision making of the previous Almont School Board and superintendent.

These comments, however, do not fly. ACS staff began leaving in 2023 after the new board began their ‘reign’ and the reassignment of the previous superintendent that subsequently led to his resignation.

Almont Community Schools has always been like family to the staff members that work there. For many, the bonding that takes place when working in a small district and community outweighs the higher salaries other districts may offer.

This has always been the case in Almont, until recently. ACS staff did not all of a sudden leave because they wanted more pay. I can attest to that since I am one of at least FOURTEEN staff members that have left the district since the spring of 2023.

What is just as unsettling as the abrupt departure of staff is the limited experience of the administration that is left. This administration lacks the knowledge necessary to address the financial needs of ACS.

Of the current administrative staff only three of 10 have been with the district longer than the current school year. Please consider that the Interim Superintendent (former principal), Athletic Director, and Dean of Students at the middle school are the only ACS administrative staff that have not been replaced since June of 2023.

The District lost their Financial Manager (who was with the district approximately one year) this past month in the midst of this contentious bond. The district also has three new Principals, a new High School Counselor (second one this year), new Assistant to the Superintendent and a new Technology Director.

All this in addition to many new teachers who have replaced experienced staff that have left the district as well, some mid-year.

ACS has a MUCH bigger problem on their hands than trying to pass a bond that some people feel is dividing the community and set to put the district and community in financial ruin.

Here are the real reasons ACS employees are leaving the district. Below are direct quotes from employee resignation letters: “My decision is primarily influenced by a lack of support from some members of the School Board and a perceived lack of trust in my abilities to lead and contribute effectively. Not only have I sensed a lack of support, at times I have felt as though I was under attack. All of this comes in spite of my demonstrated abilities to complete all responsibilities in a timely manner, evaluation data that reflects my effective performance… Despite my attempts at communication and transparency, as well as earnest endeavors to foster progress in the best interest of the staff and students, I have encountered challenges that have undermined my efforts and left me feeling as though I was not respected or valued by some members of the board. Unfortunately, the current dynamics have made it increasingly challenging for me to perform my duties in a confident and efficient manner.”

“With the current shift in direction of the Board of Education, the future of Almont Community Schools (ACS) is unstable. In the past few months I have witnessed an immense lack of integrity in the leadership of the board. I’m very concerned with the unprofessionalism, coercement, persuasion, and hypocrisy. The uncertainty of the future has led me to retire at this time instead of staying a couple more years.”

“What I am seeing here is a purposeful set up to fail. The BOE stated that they were not planning on renewing contracts until they expire. My Interim Superintendent told me that I will not have additional support and will need to fail in order to get support (albeit she did offer to pitch in now and then when needed and volunteered the AMS Dean for similar). When you add the two together, it suggests a reason, in June of 2024 when my current contract expires, to not extend an offer of employment. Ultimately, the words of the BOE and the words of Mrs. VonHiltmayer do not match the actions they have taken. Therefore, I am submitting this letter of resignation to you.”

Not only are staff leaving, but employed staff are unhappy with decisions made by the Board of Education.

Here are a few comments from the Tri-City Times, August 17, 2023 paper regarding the resignation of the high school principal:

“This completely avoidable loss was botched at every step by the Almont School Board. In doing so, intended or not, you have sent a loud and clear message to staff at all levels that myopic personal vendettas and agendas outweigh long term vision and thorough understanding, and what’s best for kids.”

“You must put an end to blindsiding superintendents and other board members. You need to be a functional team, one that doesn’t push away their best players.”

Almont Community Schools staff has always been the cream of the crop. Teaching is their profession, however they do so much more. They truly care for your children.

When reflecting on my time at ACS I feel honored to have had the opportunity to serve in such a blessed community. Today I am deeply saddened by the rapid deterioration of the school district administration and a board that is rampantly running out of control and dividing a community and district.

The community of Almont deserves more. Why are staff really leaving? Now you know.

As a community, let’s begin to put our school district back together. Remember, the Board of Education works for the community.

WE ARE THAT COMMUNITY.

When they are not doing what is best for our district, changes need to be made.

— Carol Purvis
ACS2023 Retiree
Almont Twp. Taxpayer