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Perry Central seeks early retirements

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$12,000 incentive offered through March 26; board hopes four teachers will say 'yes'

By Vince Luecke

LEOPOLD - Perry Central School Board members approved an incentive plan last Monday in hopes of obtaining the early retirements of up to four teachers. The move is similar to offers made by other Hoosier school districts and is a cost-saving measure taken in the face of reduced funding.

Like most Hoosier schools, Perry Central is facing the loss of state revenue and school officials have said about $300,000 needs to be trimmed from its 2010 budget to maintain a healthy cash balance.

A written summary of the one-time retirement incentive approved March 15 acknowledges, "the extraordinary financial constructs facing Perry Central in order to avoid the possibility of a reduction in force."

A Perry Central teacher giving written notice of early retirement effective at the end of the 2009-10 school year will receive a retirement benefit of $12,000 in addition to other retirement and health-care benefits under the master contract with teachers.

Schools Superintendent Mary Roberson said the offer is limited to the first four teachers, two each from elementary and high-school staffs, who submit letters of participation.

The early-retirement offer will expire March 26.

"This is just part of what we've been doing for the past few years, looking at ways to reduce spending from our budget," Roberson said. "For us that means we look at every (vacant) position to see if it needs to be filled. We try to take a positive attitude approach, not looking to cut what we're doing, but asking how we can do things differently to keep a top-notch education while saving money."

In separate requests outside the four-teacher incentive offer, the board approved retirement contracts with librarian Susie Knox

and elementary administrative assistant Karen Kelly. Both will retire at the end of the school year.

Without the additional retirements, the school district could be forced to begin the process of reducing its staff through involuntary cuts. That process, which Roberson said she hopes the corporation can avoid, would have to begin before the end of the current school year.

Roberson said one staff person had expressed an interest in the incentive, but she was unsure whether there would be as many as four takers.