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Southmoreland district offers incentives for teachers

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Friday, Feb. 15, 2013, 12:51 a.m.
 

As a cost-saving measure, Southmoreland school board members approved an incentive program to encourage teachers close to retirement to make that decision.

With a 7-2 vote, the board approved incentives of $10,500 for six years per teacher if they choose to retire.

Director Catherine Fike and Ken Alt cast the dissenting votes.

Fike said she could not determine the amount of money the district was saving in the long term by using these incentives. She explained a cost estimate to the board she determined with figures from the last five years, including payments for unused sick days, to determine the effect of teacher retirements on the fund balance.

“I just have one question: if we have spent $4,112,507 on retirement bonuses, how much have we saved? And it would have to be an amount in excess of that, is that correct?” she asked.

Superintendent John Molnar said he had not calculated the entire total figure but would be able to provide that to board members at their next meeting. From the advice of business managers, he said the incentive program would save an estimated $83,600 in the first year for a top-tier-paid teacher with family insurance benefits, if the teacher is not replaced.

Molnar said six teachers are eligible to take the incentive.

“The object here is obviously to help us to find a way to both reduce our staff, and for those who do have to be replaced, bring them in at a lower salary,” he said. “The object here is to save some dollars in our budget in the forthcoming years.”

Director James “Butch” Beistel said he agreed with the advice of the business managers during his vote in favor of the measure.

“There's other school districts using this method, so it has to be positive,” he said after the meeting.

In other business, directors voted unanimously to close the administration building at 609 Parker Ave. in Scottdale, setting a date of June 30 when employees would be relocated to other buildings throughout the school district.

Solicitor David Petonic first suggested waiting until the end of the summer, but Molnar said he preferred to work on the move before preparing for the next school year.

The building, built in the 1920s, housed the former North Grade School.

The board plans to have the building appraised and will discuss the manner of its sale at future meetings.

Stacey Federoff is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at sfederoff@tribweb.com or 724-836-6660.

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