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5/20/2010 4:36:00 PM
Incentives encourage teachers to retire

Carmen McCollum, Times of Northwest Indiana

While there have been school budget cuts across Northwest Indiana, most school districts hope to avoid a massive layoff of teachers through attrition.

So far, more than 200 teachers have decided to retire, and in one district a handful of teachers gave notice they will retire at the end of the 2010-11 school year.

Many of the districts offered teachers an incentive to retire, paying it into a retirement annuity or a health insurance annuity.

By far, the largest number of retirees was at the Gary Community School Corp., where school spokeswoman Sarita Stevens said there were 116 retirements and counting. She said there could be more.

Gary officials offered teachers a $20,000 incentive to retire. Some of the teachers had been teaching since the 1960s, giving them nearly 50 years of experience. The deadline for getting the incentive payment in Gary was between March 31 and April 26, said Gary Teachers Union President Foster Stephens.

He said the payment was retroactive to Jan. 1, 2010, but it is not clear how many people were able to take advantage of the payment.

"The retirements will save a lot of money for the corporation because those people at the top of the pay scale will be gone. The corporation will be able to replace them with teachers who earn a lot less," Stephens said.

Neither Hammond school nor union officials, who now have the largest school district in the region, have announced how many teachers will retire this year.

Highland will pay $25,000 into a retirement annuity for each of the 10 people who plan to retire at the end of the school year.

The proposed agreement at Lake Central Schools called for a one-time special retirement supplement of $25,000 for certified staff members with a minimum of 10 years experience, provided they also are eligible for full retirement benefits. Twenty-two people will retire. The money will be paid into a retirement annuity.

Indiana State Teachers Association officials said three teachers will retire this year and eight teachers announced they would retire at the end of next school year at Tri-Creek. Each will get an incentive of $30,000 to be paid into a health insurance annuity.

Munster had two retirements, and based on a formula, the School Town of Munster will pay between $10,000 and $15,000 into a retirement annuity. The School City of Hobart offered an incentive of $25,000 to nearly 13 retirees, which will be paid into a health insurance annuity.

Porter Township Schools offered $16,000 to be paid into a health insurance annuity. Similarly, Kankakee Valley School Corp. offered an incentive of $20,000 to be paid into a health insurance annuity.

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