School board approves early retirement package
The Plumas Unified School District governing board approved an early retirement package for its teachers March 8, but it was met with mixed reviews.
“We thought we were doing a good thing here,” said trustee Bob Tuerck, “but it hasn’t been received the way we thought it would.”
By offering early retirement incentives, the district hopes to save money by reducing its payroll through the attrition of its highest paid teachers. The board was considering a proposal by Keenan and Associates to provide the package.
The board hoped to know as soon as possible how many teachers would opt for an early retirement, so that district budgets could be adjusted accordingly.
Cheryl Chedester, of Keenan and Associates, said that the district is not alone in terms of fiscal challenges and that her firm is working with many districts at this time. She said the programs are designed to “incent senior staff who are close to retirement to leave, but reward them for their service,” while at the same time allowing for new teachers to come in.
Chedester said that the savings realized by the district depended on the number of teachers who opted for the early retirement, but that approximately $926,000 would be the best-case scenario.
The firm will provide an overview of the plans for interested teachers and other employees as well as one-on-one counseling sessions as there are various options for employees to choose from.
Quincy teacher Rob Gimbel said that he had analyzed the situation and concluded that “the district could do it better on its own.”
Chedester said that the advantage of her program was that it relieved the district of fiscal responsibility and the funds were guaranteed and insured. “That’s the critical reason why districts let this be done by an insurance company,” she said.
Gimbel reiterated that using an insurance company, which collected a 1 percent fee, wasted the district’s money. However, school board member Bret Cook thought 1 percent was a reasonable fee, though he admitted he wasn’t too familiar with annuities.
The board decided to proceed with the Keenan option, but also entertain other suggestions presented by March 28.