School Board approves one-time retirement/resignation incentive program for some teachers

PUSD's CFO Ruth Alahydoian presents the retirement incentive proposal on Feb. 14

At the Feb. 14 Board of Education meeting, trustees unanimously approved a one-time retirement / resignation incentive program for qualified staff (20+ years in the district or the top end of the pay scale) to help create savings in the district’s budget going forward.

Trustees praised the creative solution, calling it a “win-win” for educators and the district. PUSD Superintendent Dr. Jennifer Hawn said it was not uncommon for school districts to offer periodic retirement incentives for longtime staff, as a way to both honor their service and also help school districts with future hires who are at the lower end of the pay scale. “The emphasis here,” she said, “is on honor of service” even as it comes with budget benefits for the district.

Feb. 26 is the deadline for commitments. The offer — a $40,000 lump sum partially paid for with PEF funds — only pencils out if 10 qualified staff sign up, Hawn said on Wednesday night. PUSD’s Chief Financial Officer Ruth Alahydoian said there were approximately 30 staff members who could qualify. Hawn noted that they have had several inquiries so far. If less than 10 qualified staff sign up, the offer would be rescinded.

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.

PEF said in an email to the Exedra on Feb. 13 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. 

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