School district offers retirement incentive
School district offers retirement incentive
Posted on 04/17/2014
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WEST HAVEN, April 17, 2014 — The school district is offering a voluntary retirement incentive to eligible teachers as a cost-savings measure for next year’s budget and to assist employees who are hesitant to retire due to health care concerns.

The incentive, which was approved by the Board of Education April 15, has two parts: It allows retiring educators to place their severance pay—which is 25 percent of their salary—in a tax-free health reimbursement arrangement account and to receive an additional $1,000 in the account for each of the next five years from the school district.

The district is contractually obligated to offer healthcare to teachers for five years after they retire, but many potential retirees often worry about healthcare coverage for a spouse or their children. The retirement incentive will allow retired teachers to avoid having to pay taxes on the severance pay they receive under the union contract, and to use it in paying for a spouse’s or child’s healthcare, co-pays or other related expenses.

District and union leaders collaborated on the incentive proposal and have received favorable responses from long-time educators who qualify for the offer.

“We recently met with teachers who are eligible for retirement, and some of them showed sincere interest in this plan,” Superintendent of Schools Neil C. Cavallaro said. “Our budget usually benefits each year from teacher retirements, so this will help decrease operating expenses for next year. At the same time, we understand what a significant decision it is to retire, and we hope this incentive also helps teachers feel more confident and secure in making that choice.”

West Haven Federation of Teachers union President Patti Fusco explained that the incentive is helpful to those who have been considering retirement, but weren’t sure if they would make the move.

"There have been several teachers who have expressed an interest in retiring this year but have been hesitant because their spouse or their children rely on them for health insurance. Hopefully this will help those teachers to retire and cover the benefits for their loved ones. The plan is not going to help those people who are not ready to retire, but is perfect for those who are," Fusco said.

The district will save money if multiple teachers retire because their positions may not be filled, or the jobs may be filled with newer teachers at lower salaries. According to Cavallaro, the district may save around $400,000 if eight teachers accept the incentive plan and retire.

Teachers must decide by April 28 if they are retiring and participating in the incentive. Anyone who decides to retire after that point will not be eligible for the incentive. The deadline will assist the district and city in the budget preparation process and in planning for the next school year.

According to the current teacher contract, teachers who retire must have taught for 20 years, will receive 25 percent of their salary in a lump sum as severance, and may receive healthcare coverage for themselves from the district for five years. Under the new contract that goes into effect in August, insurance for anyone who retires after June 30 will be subject to the same premium shares as active employees.

 

Contact: Communications Director Susan Misur, 203-937-4300 X7114; susan.misur@whschools.org