Committee looks at retirement incentives to cut costs

Elizabeth Trexler News-Herald

The Loudon County Board of Education budget committee came together this week to try and find places to shave costs.
One suggestion, from board member Ric Best, came up at the last meeting.

Best suggested the board look at retirement incentives for certified teachers who have been teaching for 25 or more years. "The retirement incentive is a re-occurring saving," Best said at the Monday night meeting.

Best informed the board that he's done a lot of investigation into the retirement incentive. He talked about Maryville City Schools and the $2.3 million deficit they had last year.

They had a $510,000 savings due to their retirement incentive last year, Best told the committee. Best explained that with a retirement incentive, the school would retire teachers higher on the salary scale with more years of experience, and turn around and hire a teacher with fewer years of experience lower on the salary scale. "We'd be swapping a $52,000 salary for a $32K or $33K teacher," Best explained.

There are three ways to do the retirement incentive, Best explained, either a percentage of the base pay, lump sum or a combination of the two. "One I looked at used 15%," Best said. The school would pay 15% of the teacher's salary for a certain number of years, some schools do three years. "You're going to make $10-13,000 for each teacher that does this," Best told the committee. "But you have to make it to where it attracts teachers to it."

Best told the board he retired early because of the retirement incentive. "Right now, someone would be paying me bucks on the bottom right hand of that sheet," Best said. "I know how much money Lenoir City made that first year."

Budget committee member Van Shaver also looked into the retirement incentives. "If we were doing it this year, we had 32 teachers and 2 principals," Shaver said. "If 15 of them took the incentive at 15%, it would cost us $33,000 ... a year," Shaver explained. "If we replaced 15, $50,000 individuals, with 15, $35,000 individuals ... our savings over  three years would be $562,000."

Personnel who would be eligible for these retirement incentives would be central office workers, principals and certified teachers.

The committee also looked for a way for pre-kindergarten to run only on the money provided by the state. Best suggested looking first a eliminating staff on a "half-time basis," instead of cutting full-time employees.

Jason Vance, assistant director of schools, agreed cutting half-time first is desirable.

Chairwoman Lisa Russell told the committee that the Tennessee Code Annotated states there must be five and a half hours of instructional time, but the school can charge for watching the children after those five and a half hours.

Other things discussed at the meeting:

Tuition for out of county students;
Directors' conference held March 21-23;
When the budget needs to be sent to county commission; and
Pre--K parapros.