LORAIN – Lorain Schools Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson has proposed a one-time payment of $40,000 to teachers as incentive to retire early.
The buyout offer would be in addition to the benefits already received by retiring teachers and would be available to teachers with 20 or more years of service and at least 10 years of consecutive service in the Lorain school district.
Atkinson estimated that about 90 teachers would be eligible; she couldn`t say how many would accept.
In addition to saving the district money, having such a package on the books would show the Ohio Board of Education that the school system was being proactive in trying to dig out of its financial hole, which could be looked upon favorably by the state when grants are distributed, Atkinson said.
“If just one person accepts it, I would take it,” Atkinson said. “I`ve been working vigorously to bring back art and music, and this would help.”
Art and music programs were cut from most of the elementary schools over the summer – physical education was cut entirely – as a way to save money. Elementary school days were shortened by 45 minutes.
More than 240 teachers were laid off. It was all to avoid a looming $15 million-plus deficit that was discovered by Treasurer Ryan Ghizzoni when he was hired in April.
More than 100 of those teachers have been recalled, mostly by using grant money, but Ghizzoni is still predicting financial shortfalls of $2.6 million at the end of fiscal year 2010, $10.7 million at the end of fiscal year 2011 and more than $22.3 million at the end of fiscal year 2012, if new money does not come in.
Atkinson said the buyout is intended for teachers who are already considering retiring in the next few years but who would see the incentive payment as motivation to leave sooner. The school district would save money by not having to pay that teacher`s salary, enabling it to hire a younger, less-expensive teacher.
The proposal needs approval from the school board, which rejected the resolution Monday – saying the new school board, which will see three new members, should decide on it.
The members-elect – Paul Biber, Jim Smith and Tony Dimacchia – said they likely would support the proposal because it would save the district money. Biber guessed that only nine of the 90 eligible teachers might take the deal, but he said the district needs to take all it can get.
“Right now we have to pursue every avenue available to use,” Biber said.
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