The Newtown Board of Education wants to offer an early retirement incentive to teachers if enough of the eligible teachers agree to make it worthwhile.
Superintendent Dr. Janet Robinson said the school board is facing another tough budget cycle and hopes an early retirement package will produce savings to offset other rising costs.
Robinson said she will approach the teachers union with the incentive offer, which is to extend their health insurance for five years or until Medicare in return for early retirement.
She said teachers who are over age 60 and have been paying into the state teachers pension system for at least 20 years are the ones most likely to take the incentive.
Connecticut public school teachers have their own state pension fund instead of receiving a town pension or Social Security. They receive 40 percent of the average of the top three years’ pay after 20 years, 50 percent after 25 years and 60 percent after 30 years.
An early retirement incentive for the 2010-11 budget year was accepted by 11 teachers, but that was too few to produce enough savings to make it worthwhile, school officials said.
Robinson said the school budget received only .5 percent more this year, which wasn’t enough to offset rising salaries.
Fortunately, the cost of employee health insurance went down, which is not typical, and school officials were able to find additional savings by economizing on utilities.
But this year, Robinson said, there is no place to cut, while salaries will continue to be the biggest cost increase factor.
Pupil enrollment is projected to decline by 80-100, but it will be spread out across multiple schools and grade levels making it difficult to cut staff without raising class sizes.
In a related development, the Board of Education agreed this week to meet jointly with the Legislative Council and the Board of Selectmen for a preliminary budget discussion. The meeting may take place later this month or early next month, although it has not yet been scheduled.