by TERRY SMITH
Blaine County School District Business Manager Mike Chatterton is expecting that up to 15 teachers will take advantage of an early-retirement incentive plan offered this year as a one-year-only deal.
Approved by the school board on March 13, the plan offers some of the district's highest-paid teachers payments to retire early. Qualifying teachers must be at least 55 and must have been with the district at least 10 years.
In addition to saving the district money—possibly $2.4 million over the next five years—the plan will allow a reshuffling of staff as the district prepares to expand its world languages program starting next year.
"There may be a few positions that we will not refill, but more than likely we'll fill the rest," Chatterton said Monday.
Chatterton said he expects that the new teachers hired will have less experience and thus be "higher" on the district's pay scale tables. "Higher" on the scale is a misnomer because the district's pay scale tables are arranged such that teachers with the most experience and more post-graduate college credits are at the bottom of the scale while teachers with less experience and fewer post-graduate credits are at the top.
Chatterton told the school board on March 13 that 24 qualifying teachers had expressed interest in the program, but that he expects only 12 to 15 to take advantage of it.
Payments that the teachers will receive vary with the number of years they have been employed with the district. Teachers with at least 20 years of employment will receive one-time settlements of 25 percent of their annual salary, while those with only 10 years employment will receive payments of 15 percent of their salary.
The amount of savings to the district is not yet determined, but in arriving at the estimated $2.4 million saved over the next five years, Chatterton said he assumed that 15 teachers with at least 20 years experience with the district would sign up for the program. He further assumed that they would be replaced by 15 other teachers with only six years of teaching experience.
Chatterton noted that saving money is important because state funding to the district has been reduced during the past few years, but he said the main purpose was a realignment of staff as the district places more emphasis on teaching students foreign languages.
"We know that we're going to have to hire new teachers to cover the [International Baccalaureate] and Dual Immersion language programs," Chatterton said.
The International Baccalaureate, or "IB," program was implemented in grades six through 10 in the district a few years ago. IB coursework emphasizes teaching students international skills, and a key component is learning a foreign language.
In the Dual Immersion Program, now in its 11th year in the district, students are taught half in Spanish and half in English to help them become proficient in both languages.
Plans to expand the languages curriculum to include more students were announced by the district in January.
District officials noted then that additional teachers would have to be hired for the expansion.
"If we can offset the cost of those new positions with the attrition positions, then we don't have to create new positions and we're saving money in the budget," Chatterton said.
Terry Smith: firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2013 Express Publishing Inc. The
Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests
throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community.
Subscribers to the
Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited.
The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.