Supporters Of Theater Manager Help Halt Proposed Layoff

Officials with the Fowlerville Community School district have proposed to layoff the director for the Alverson Center of Performing Arts (ACPA), prompting vocal opposition from the director’s supporters.

Kim Sergent, who has worked for the ACPA for the last five years and is a Tech Club mentor, says she first received a voicemail from Superintendent Wayne Roedel that said they needed to have a “not good conversation”. She was “blindsided” when Roedel informed her that her duties were being absorbed and that she is presently laid off. Sergent felt the phone conversation that lasted less than three minutes was “impersonal”. Sergent tells WHMI she was told it’d be difficult to find someone qualified to do what she was already doing and that she hasn’t done anything wrong, but that it’s “all money”.

The district’s Board of Education met Tuesday night to consider a resolution that would combine the duties of the theater manager and the district’s Technology Director. Former Technology Director Grace Damerow has resigned, though it is currently unclear why. The proposal for reorganization of job duties is said to be an effort to “create a more efficient system for the district and to create a high school program that includes the Fowlerville Online Learning Academy as a school within a school”. A notice regarding the available combination position was allegedly posted before Sergent was informed she was being laid off.

Combining the positions would result in Sergent’s layoff, which also came before the board Tuesday in the form of a resolution. Community members, including students, parents and teachers, attended the board’s meeting to voice their support for Sergent and ask that the board reconsider the layoff. Many of those that spoke in Sergent’s favor affectionately referred to her as “Sarge” and shared her impact on them which they say was not only educational, but personal as well.

Incoming junior, Andie Kozakiewicz, is the Student Manager and Sound Director for the ACPA. She told the board that removing Sergent would have a significant effect on the theater’s operations and would be a “momentous undertaking” for the person that would have to then oversee the IT Department and the ACPA. Nicolas Foley, who graduated in 2016 and was involved with high school and community theater plays that Sergent led, says the theater is like a home to him. He feels it provided him with leadership, guidance, teamwork and camaraderie adding, “none of this would’ve been possible without Kim”. Diana Dombrowski, founder of the Fowlerville Community Theater, called Sergent a competent and “amazingly talented woman”.

The Board of Education did approve the resolution combining the theater manager and technology director positions; however they agreed to table the resolution regarding the layoff. The resolution will be up for consideration at their August 20th meeting.

Sergent tells WHMI while the decision to combine the positions may look good on paper, the actual execution may not work out so well. She discussed her love for the people she works with and the theater stating, “I would do this for free, just to make sure that the arts are being taught and taught properly. That’s where my heart is, is to see these students fly…if we keep taking away from the arts kids, they start to lose hope and I’m all about giving them hope.” (DK)

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