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County system looks at retirement buyout options

To deal with the recent budget cuts due to sequestration, loss of enrollment, and changes in standards, the Franklin County School Board discussed options at their Feb. 28 meeting on how to absorb the cuts they would face because of this decrease in funding.
Franklin County Superintendent Gary Williams proposed offering a retirement incentive with two separate options to either receive a $5,000 lump sum payment upon retirement or $500 per month for 12 months to begin the first month after retirement.
Williams said the incentive would be available for foundation instructional units only, which includes those employed as teachers, principals, assistant principals, counselors, librarians, career technical director and career technical counselors.
Williams said these areas of employment were selected because they are listed on the foundation chart and are all funded by what is called “Average Daily Membership.”
Williams said the school system is only allotted funding for so many foundational instructional units and they are currently over the limit by nine units.
“If we are going to have to reduce our personnel, and we will when these cuts take affect, we would rather do it by attrition rather than having to lay anyone off,” Williams said.
“We hope the incentive we are offering will be a positive move for those who are already considering retirement.”
Williams said the savings they would receive from just one teaching unit comes out to an average of $70,000.
“Some of the retirements that we could possibly have would be positions that would not have to be replaced, which would be ideal, but some of them will still have to be replaced,” Williams said.
“We have to have a minimum number of highly qualified teachers in every subject at the high school level and right now we are at that minimum across the system, so if retirements came from those areas, the teachers would have to be replaced.
“However, if we replace more experienced, higher-degreed personnel with first- or second-year teachers, the difference in their salaries will help pay for the retirement incentive packages and still help the system save money without laying off employees, which is our main goal.”
Williams said the deadline for teachers or other qualified personnel to accept the retirement incentive package would be March 29.