Thirty-one Westside educators — with a total 1,034 years of experience — have opted to take early retirement under programs that will end after the current offering.
Three others previously had indicated their intent to retire early, bringing the total number accepting the package to 34, said Eric Weber, assistant superintendent for human resources.
Weber’s report to the Westside school board Monday followed its decision in October to amend policies affecting early retirement, essentially phasing them out.
Administrators have said they want to offer a replacement plan in the spring. Any such plan must be financially sustainable, they said.
The school district has been pinched by rising costs, a state spending lid and a change in state law that will include the cost of programs such as early separation under the spending lid as of September 2013.
School districts had been allowed to put the cost of such programs outside the lid.
Westside has provided cash payments based on longevity to teachers and administrators who have been with the district at least 20 years and are at least 60 years old. The board lowered the age to 57 by Aug. 31 when it amended the policies in October.
The district also has provided life insurance and medical coverage for most retiring employees, in many cases up to age 70.
Under the amended version, those who turn 55 and have at least 20 years of service by next Aug. 31 will be grandfathered in and will receive the health and life insurance benefits when they retire.
Board member Scott Hazelrigg said he hates to lose the educators but was grateful for the years and experience they have offered the district.
“There’s just some incredible educators in this mix,” he said.
Weber said the teachers and others participating in the program represent $3.2 million in salaries and benefits.
Replacing them with teachers earning average salaries will save about $817,000 annually, he said. That is a conservative estimate, however, given that some of the new hires likely will be beginning teachers, Weber added.
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