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Chatty Belle - The World's Largest Talking Cow

Monday, March 14th, 2011 -- 2:04 pm
Posted by Riley Hebert-News Director

Gov. Scott Walkerís budget repair bill has many area teachers considering retirement.

Neillsville superintendent John Gaier says as many as 15 teachers might elect to retire under their current collective bargaining agreement, which provides up to 9-years of post-retirement health insurance.

Under the Walker bill, which was signed last week, the collective bargaining agreement is completely scrapped, with the exception of the salary schedule.

"We only have two official letters in, but I've met with upwards of 15 teachers who are considering retiring, and probably four or five support staff that are considering retiring, as well," Gaier says.

The districtís health insurance is pricey: family plans cost over $25,000 per year and single plans cost $11,000.

Another reason staff are considering early retirement is the percentage of the premium they pay will likely go up as the school board tries deals with a projected $730,000 cut in revenue under the Governorís biennial budget.

If they retire now, the percentage of the premium they pay will stay the same.

"A case like that has already gone to trial. Basically, they will maintain the (percentage) of premium; however, if we change the plan--if we go to a higher deductible plan to lower the premium costs--the retirees will also go into that plan," he explains.

Early retirements should save the district a considerable amount of money.

A first year teacher with a Bachelors Degree earns $34,000 in base salary compared to $57,568 in salary for a 19-year veteran with a Masters Degree.

"If indeed ten experienced teachers with Master's Degrees and beyond are retiring, that is a huge savings to the district and it does protect jobs," Gaier notes. "It's sad it comes down to that, but we're going to have to find money somewhere."

Plus, if the board does away with post-retirement benefits, it will remove a huge liability from the district's books.

April 15th is the deadline for staff to give notice that they plan to retire.

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