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Sartell-St. Stephen school board approves retirement incentive plan

by Mike Knaak

The Sartell-St. Stephen school board approved a retirement incentive program at the Dec. 17 meeting aimed at helping the district plug a hole in its operating budget after a levy failed last month.

To qualify for the program, teachers need 30 years of active teaching service or have taught for 15 years and be between 55 and 65 as of June 30, 2018.

Interested teachers must submit notice for retirement to the superintendent prior to Feb. 1, 2019.

The district expects an operating shortfall of between $1million and $1.5 million for next year, according to Supt. Jeff Schwiebert.

Schwiebert anticipates between two and 10 teachers will take advantage of the offer allowing the district to make programming plans and possibly avoid layoffs.

“We don’t want to cut people,” Schwiebert said. Finding out retirement plans in February makes budgeting and planning easier.

The net expense saving with a retiring teacher is about $40,000, he said.

If a teacher qualifies, the district will place $6,600 in a Health Care Savings Plan with the Minnesota State Retirement System.

The incentive plan passed unanimously.

The school board conducted a series of community listening sessions on what to do next to deal with the levy defeat.

The district had asked voters to approve the levy to support the additional costs of operating the new high school as well as improve technology, maintain class size and support innovative learning programs.

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