This article was updated on Feb. 13 to include a statement from the Piedmont Education Foundation
The Board of Education will consider a budget cut proposal for the 2024-2025 school year on Feb. 14 that will affect teachers and staff across programs and at every grade level. Meeting materials for the school board meeting posted on Friday also say that the Board will vote on a one-time retirement/resignation incentive program for longtime staff. The memo says that the Piedmont Education Foundation will help underwrite the $40,000 buyout.
After the public hearing on Feb. 14, the School Board will vote on the budget reductions at its Feb. 28 meeting. The district must give preliminary notices to affected teachers and staff no later than March 15.
PUSD has held budget workshops since the beginning of the year to identify cuts it says it must make in order to meet its current salary offer to teachers. PUSD and the Association of Piedmont Teachers (APT) declared impasse in labor negotiations at the end of last year; mediation between the two parties continues. In January, APT notified the district of its intent to strike if that process fails.
$40,000 teacher buyout
The PUSD memo says that “in order to increase the number of separations in the 2023-24 school year, Piedmont Unified School District in partnership with the Piedmont Education Foundation will offer a one-time retirement / resignation incentive program for qualifying non-administrative certified employees. This offer is possible this year due to unique circumstances and is not likely to be available in future years. Funding for this incentive program will come from the savings created in next year’s budget. This will not be a new cost to the district.”
The incentive program will apply to staff who have worked for Piedmont Unified School District for 20 or more years (since 2004-05) or are on the maximum step and column on their applicable salary schedule. The District says it will provide a one-time lump sum payment of $40,000, prorated by the employee’s 2023-24 FTE, as an incentive to retire or resign from the district as of June 30, 2024.
The memo says that PEF will help underwrite the payment and the offer will have a neutral or positive impact on the PUSD budget.
Qualifying staff must submit their retirement or resignation by Feb. 26, 2024, with a resignation or retirement effective date of June 30, 2024. A minimum of 10 qualifying staff must participate for the District to offer the incentive program. Should the District receive fewer than 10 qualifying submissions, the incentive program will not be offered. Employees may rescind their retirement/resignation if the program is not offered.
PEF said in an email to the Exedra on Tuesday that:
In terms of fiscal outcomes for a healthy school budget, the one-time retirement incentive plan could create significant, low seven-figures in total budget savings for the District over the next several years. PUSD requested PEF’s support for this program so they could offer a one-time financial gift to retirement-eligible teachers (at levels 20-25 of experience) who themselves are considering retirement options and timing. A large cohort of 15 certified teachers qualify. If qualifying educators are interested in the program, PEF and the District would each contribute $20,000 per teacher (for a total of $40,000 per teacher) as a parting thank you for their service to our kids and the schools. PEF views this program as a win-win, whereby teachers who want or plan to retire this year receive a one-time, meaningful unplanned bonus. And, the District can engage in succession planning, hiring experienced talent who can contribute to our kids’ education. No qualifying teacher is obligated to participate in this program, it is fully their own choice. Should teachers opt-in and the program go forward, PEF would contribute up to $300,000 in a match with the District. These funds would be sourced through PEF’s Discretionary Fund.
Find the Feb. 14 Board of Education meeting agenda and details HERE. The meeting will be held in-person in City Hall starting at 7 p.m. and streamed live on KCOM channel 27. Virtual comments can be made via the Zoom link listed on the agenda.