2017-04-21 / Front Page

Retirement package entices 35 teachers

Bonus deal to help MUSD save money
By Caitlin Trude

Come June, Moorpark Unified will say goodbye to 35 educators who have chosen to take advantage of a special early-retirement incentive at the end of the school year.

At its April 11 meeting, the MUSD board of trustees voted 4-0 to implement the retirement package, a move that will reduce payroll costs and reward veteran teachers for their service. Trustee Ute Van Dam was absent from the meeting.

The incentive, implemented by Public Agency Retirement Services, gives participants the option to accept additional severance pay for the next five years or to add years to their pension plans.

“Our motivating factor for the incentive was the win-win where there (are) cost-savings, but it’s also a recognition of the services and dedication that our teachers have provided to the district,” said Kelli Hays, MUSD superintendent. “It was not to prevent layoffs because we’re not in a situation this year or next year for layoffs.”

A similar retirement incentive was last offered to MUSD faculty in 2012. At that time, 15 teachers retired from the district.

About 31 of the 35 teachers who will retire this year will be replaced, Hays said, though that number may change depending on how many students enroll in MUSD in the fall.

School officials project $2.3 million in savings over a five-year period if 31 teachers are replaced in the fall. But if the district must hire new teachers to replace all 35 outgoing faculty members due to higher enrollment numbers, the five-year savings is reduced to about $1 million.

“I know there’s a lot of schools kind of worried that (they’re) going to lose these great teachers,” Trustee Robert Perez said.

Hays said the district will put in place support programs for new teachers over the summer and throughout the school year.

“There are some schools that will be affected more than others, so we are going to ensure that we have mentor teachers available to (assist the new teachers),” she said. “We’re going to discuss with our stakeholders the best way to address that. We have some retired teachers who would love to come back and assist us with that.”

In other business, the superintendent presented an update of MUSD’s enrollment numbers.

During the month of March, Hays said, 41 new students enrolled in Moorpark schools while 16 left the district.

Of the 16 students who left the district, she said, seven moved out of the area and three were transferred to Providence School, a juvenile facility that provides educational services to incarcerated minors. Another student returned to his home district after his inter-district transfer was revoked due to attendance issues. Two students transferred to private schools and two enrolled at schools in neighboring districts. The status of the remaining student is unknown.

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