Columbus school board accepts incentive plan

The school board is offering teachers a $50,000 separation plan hoping to get earlier retirements. The plan, which was not supposed to be available until spring, is starting sooner due to recent drops in student enrollment. School superintendent Gene Harris. What this does is to help long term preserve our teaching staff. And we also anticipate that those who would take advantage of this opportunity would likely have done so in the spring anyway.

Harris says the separation plan will save the system about $2.6 million provided there are enough teachers who participate. But she says if enough do not — layoffs could still be in the future for some teachers.

The plan targets older teachers nearing retirement and those with high base salaries. The $50,000 will be paid over a five or eight year period. This is the second separation plan the school board has offered in the last couple of years. And that raises the question will teachers retire on their own or will they wait for a buy out?

It’s not a buy out. It’s an employee separation incentive. We do believe that there are individuals right now once the contract had been negotiated last spring that they did decide to wait to see what would happened this spring. So we do anticipate that there are some individuals out there.

Harris says teachers should not expect the incentive plan every year. She says the system’s operational and financial needs will determine when it will be used. In order to participate in the plan teachers must meet five criteria including having a base salary of $60,000 and a current contract with the district. Teachers must indicate they are interested in the plan by October 31. The plan will be offered again in the spring.