Money Matters

Eligible Wilmington Area School District teachers are being offered an early retirement incentive.

The school board on Monday unanimously approved a voluntary early retirement program for teachers who retire before the 2015-2016 school year.

Depending on the number of participants, the district could save up to $300,000, according to district superintendent Dr. Michelle Miller. She said 20 teachers are eligible, although only about half are expected to take the offer.

Details of the program were made public yesterday.

The agreement states that eligible teachers must have 25 years in the Public School Employee Retirement System, including at least 15 years with Wilmington. They must currently be teaching, must retire under the PSERS system and must submit a formal letter to the superintendent by 4 p.m. Jan. 5. The effective retirement date must be between June 9 and Aug. 15, 2015.

The agreement provides that teachers can choose to receive three years of health insurance paid by the district, excluding vision and dental, and two $10,000 payments to be placed in a tax-advantaged retirement savings plan of the district’s choosing.

Dr. Miller said the district has offered such incentives in the past, the last time being three years ago.

She said the purpose of the early retirement is to save the district money as well as to reduce the staff by attrition in case staff reductions are needed in the future.

In other business at Monday’s board meeting, the superintendent described how the state education department will require the district to implement “performance based assessment” projects that are required for students who fail Keystone exams after three tries.

Administrator Ken Jewell would oversee the assessments for the district. Seniors who fail to score “proficient” or “advanced” after taking the test three times would not be able to graduate unless they successfully complete the project, which is done under detailed state guidelines with supervision, Miller said.

Board members also learned that the rigging system for the curtains on the high school auditorium stage have been inspected by Pittsburgh Stage Inc. and need $11,000 worth of work to make it safe.

Miller emphasized that safety is the first priority and said there is no danger of anything falling. She said the problem will not prevent use of the stage. Meanwhile, the area affected has been cordoned off.

More extensive work may be needed to replace the entire system, which was is 55 years old and has exceeded its 25-year expected life, according to board member William Taylor. He said the company recommends buying new curtains, which would cost $70,000. Miller said the district is studying the situation.

The board also approved policy updates in its ongoing effort to update all board policies. They passed unanimously, except for policy 227, which board member Autumn Miller opposed. One of her concerns is that students can be disciplined for certain activities outside of school. She termed this “a little bit overreaching.”

(Email: grzebieniak@ncnewsonline.com)

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