The Marcus-Meriden-Cleghorn School District briefly discussed their early retirement policy Monday evening at their regular October meeting. Early retirement has not always been offered each year and has been regarded as a management tool.
Early retirement is for full-time employees who are between the ages of 57 and 65 during the year they wish to retire. They also need to have completed a total of 15 consecutive years with the district.
When the policy originated, a lump sum of $15,000 was paid to the retiree but that amount has been reduced to $7,500. Upon retirement, the employee will be eligible to participate in the school district's group insurance plan for single coverage at the district's expense by meeting the requirements of the insurer. When the retiree reaches 65 or secures other employment or dies, the coverage will end. The spouse of the retiree can also be insured on the district's policy at the expense of the retiree.
The board had a difference of opinion whether or not the district should offer early retirement each year or be selective as to when to make such an offer. The policy noted it was up to the district to make that decision each year.
When a teacher has the correct years of service, they may feel pressure to retire when the offer is forthcoming as the offer may not be there the following year. They take a risk at waiting for another year.
The district is most always ahead in saving money as a younger instructor with fewer years of experience is not as costly as one who has been around some time. If the retiree is making nearly $40,000, a younger teacher may only cost the district $25,000. Over the years, it helps the district financially. Presently, there are a few teachers who would be eligible. A couple of the board members, Vernon Lettuce and Loren Mohning, will meet with the administration and come up with a recommendation for the board to consider. The board's attorney will also be consulted on what he feels should be in place.
A contract issue brought forth a lively discussion on whether it is necessary for the middle school to have an annual produced and sell at $13 each. To hire someone to oversee this effort, will cost the district nearly $1,000. Some board members felt this was one place to make a cut in the budget. Furthermore, some doubted as to whether enough books would be sold to cover that cost not to mention the printing of one.
Board member Mohning felt the board is going to have to crunch the numbers even harder this year to keep the budget in line. Business manager Jodi Mongan presented the board with the district's budget pointing out some hard facts to them.
Last year's budget was predicted to be over $280,355 when in fact, the board made cuts bringing the deficit down to within $158,960 of the budget. For 2006-2007, the manager predicts a shortfall of $167,171. With the board making more cuts, that figure will narrow down. Mohning felt this is one area to make a $1,000 cut.
Board member Jeff Gross also asked about predictions on kindergarten enrollment for next fall. Elementary Principal Kathy Tritz-Rhodes thought it would be the same as this year, around 24 students. That also brings up some concerns as all districts in the county are noting reduced numbers.
Mongan asked the board to reduce her hours in order to help the family business as it is requiring an accountant. It would also helped the district by hiring an aide to answer phones and other routine items leaving her do the district's finance records. Mongan believes concentration of her efforts would serve the district and her own family.
The board increased the amount of the district's depository limits to $7 million. They also agreed to listen to a proposal from Northwestern community college for advertising at sporting events.
Supt. Jan Brandhorst noted there will be tighter security at the school buildings with one primary entrance and for folks to sign in. ID's will be given out and more questions asked why one is in the halls.
The board was grateful for all that the Marcus and Meriden Fire Departments do promote fire safety along with the booklets handed out to students.
Board member Jerry Moser commented on making homecoming more of an occasion for students and the community. Although it was better than last year, he felt more should be done on homecoming day. Mohning also liked the idea of promoting school spirit and to lend support to the volleyball team's successes, speech and music accomplishments.