In an effort to save money and avoid the layoffs of younger teachers in the district, the Lawrence Board of Education approved on Monday a cash incentive to teachers who choose to retire at the end of the school year.
“We’re trying to meet budget objectives and keep the system intact,” said Trustee Dr. David Sussman. “Due to union rules from Albany, we’d either to lose our best and brightest young teachers or come up with a band-aid solution. We agreed to offer a buyout to 13 senior teachers.”
According to the memorandum of agreement from the district, members of the Lawrence Teachers Association that are eligible for retirement and have worked in the district for at least 10 years can receive a one-time payment of $30,000 if they notify the district of their retirement effective by June 30 of this year. The teachers have to give notice by March 30.
“Our goal is to save younger teachers who were at risk of getting laid off as a result of our reductions,” Superintendent Gary Schall said. He added that the board’s approval of the program is “a real gesture toward the administration and faculty of our schools.”
The program also has the support of the LTA.
“The retirement incentive approved by the board of education last night saves money and preserves jobs,” said LTA President Lori Skonberg. “It's a win-win.”
The board will present a budget of $93,100,000 this year, which includes $3,200,000 in mandated increases in payroll, employee benefits, special education costs and contract costs. The retirement incentive — which is similar to one by the Hewlett-Woodmere School District — is part of the reductions to offset the mandates.
“We’re faced with the same pension problems that are faced across the state,” Sussman said. “We all look forward to Albany to have some vision and courage to correct the problem so it doesn’t happen year after year.”