Board of Education holds off on incentive

Elizabeth Trexler News-Herald

The Loudon County Board of Education decided to put off offering the retirement incentive this year and to form a committee to look at the option of a retirement incentive next year.

The committee is made up of Gary Ubben, Ric Best and Bill Marcus.

The special called meeting held Thursday afternoon was to discuss offering an incentive to teachers this year. However, many on the board voiced concerns about it being rushed.

"I'd rather take our time and make sure we do it right," board member Van Shaver said.

Ubben voiced concern about losing "our most experienced teachers."

"Is this decision going to affect the quality of the education of our school system," Ubben asked.
Another concern he brought up was if the incentive would be successful.

Assistant Director of Schools Jason Vance said the board will not know if something will work until it is tried.

Some voiced concerned about retired teachers' insurance problems.

Board member Bobby Johnson Jr. said the teachers he talked to said they continued to teach because they needed the health insurance.

"I want to make sure we take care of them, because they gave us their service," Johnson said after the meeting.

Marcus said some teachers will go on their spouse's health insurance plan after they retire.

Many teachers continue to work after they retire from the school system, Best said.

"There's an awful lot of unknowns here," Shaver said. He went on to say he wasn't comfortable voting for the program on Thursday.

"I also have a little bit of discomfort," Ubben agreed.

"It is a tried and proven program," Best said. However, he said this may not be the best time for Loudon County to put this in to place.

What it eventually came down to was if it wasn't done this week, it could not be done according to Ubben. This is because teachers need to file their retirement by a certain date in order to get their state retirement benefits.

"I think we need to look at it a little more," Marcus said.

Ubben asked if there had been a poll of teachers to see who was considering retiring. But, board member Leroy Tate said it was illegal to ask someone what their intentions were for leaving.
"If we do this program, I'd rather wait until next year," Marcus said.

The board ultimately decided to form a committee to study the options for retirement incentives and the options to offer the Loudon County teachers.