District to offer severance packages

By: Melanie Williamson

Following an executive session at the Monday, April 10, school board meeting, the board voted to offer a severance package to eligible certified and classified employees within the district. According to superintendent Phil Pempin, this decision is part of an ongoing effort to control expenses and push off the need for a new school operating levy for as long as possible.

The district recently enlisted a company called EPC to conduct a study in order to determine the possible cost savings of offering such a plan, and it was determined that it would be beneficial. Pempin stated that they had conducted a similar study several years ago and found that it was not a reasonable option at that time, but that conditions were different now.

Pempin explained that while not as common within school districts, this is a common practice in the business world. Treasurer Suzanne Wilson added that it was done in Wellington schools with successful results.

Classified and certified staffs that have been with the district for at least ten years will be eligible for this offer. All qualified employees will receive a letter with their personalized severance package proposal. There will also be an open meeting to explain the packages and what is being offered. This will also give employees the opportunity to ask questions. They will then have 45 days to decide if they want to accept it.

According to Pempin, the saving to the district will come in two ways. First, as positions are vacated, the district can determine if a replacement is needed or if the school can function sufficiently without. Secondly, for the positions that require a replacement, there will be a cost savings on hiring in a new employee.

The potential savings will depend entirely on how many employees opt for the severance package and how many new employees are hired in. However, Wilson stated that ideally two to four of the certified staff and one to two of the classified staff will accept the severance package. Wilson also stated that the severance packages will be a one-time offer and not an annual one.

Pempin shared that they did not go into executive session expecting to vote on it. However, after deciding to go forward, they wanted to allow as much time as possible to get through the process. He further stated that he felt this was a win-win situation for many. The district will save money and the employees that may be close to retirement anyway will have the option to leave early.

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