With the Rutherford Education Association’s approval of a retirement incentive plan, the Rutherford County Board of Education will vote to buy out teachers on the verge of retirement.
“REA members had a chance to vote on the proposal and an overwhelming majority voted for it,” said Keith Cornelius, chief negotiator and president-elect of the REA.
Last month Rutherford County Schools approved a voluntary buyout plan for experienced teachers to plug an anticipated budget shortfall next fiscal year.
The buyout offer was proposed to plug a possible $1.1 million shortfall in the school system’s budget. The shortfall comes from falling sales tax revenue because of the current economic crisis.
The system has frozen support staff positions and cut utility costs, among other things, to try and plug the gap.
Under the proposal, teachers with more than 15 years but less than 25 years of experience will be offered between $15,000 to $20,000, depending on level of education, to retire early.
If 24 veteran teachers take the buyout, the system will pay more than $57,000 in the first year. But it would save more than $367,000 in the second year.
Evans declined to comment on whether the $789 billion federal economic stimulus package set for a vote today in Congress could save some of the jobs.
Cornelius said the teachers’ union approved the plan because it’s a one-time offer focused on teachers who are looking at retirement anyway.
“It really does not hinder anyone and only adds a little incentive to those retiring between now and the end of the school year,” he said.
The board will also hear a motion to approve a bid from Nashville’s Robert S. Biscan Construction for $18,724,000 to build Buchanan Middle School.
The company has been used on other projects for the school system, including Stewarts Creek Elementary, LaVergne Lake Elementary and Browns Chapel Elementary School.
The Rutherford County Board of Commissioners will also consider whether to move forward on the project Thursday night.
Recently, some commissioners and County Mayor Ernest Burgess have raised concerns about opening a school in 2010, considering today’s economic conditions.
Burgess said previously the county may need to raise property taxes to fund the recurring operational costs of building the school, along with another middle school on Dejarnette Lane across from Oakland High School.
The school board argued the cost of construction and low interest rates make now a prime time to build the schools.
Biscan’s bid came in $2.6 million less than budgeted. Sewer costs and land preparation were both cheaper, Superintendent Harry Gill Jr. said.
Gill said the schools are needed to “improve the quality of education in Rutherford County” and move more than 3,000 students into classrooms and out of portables.
Michelle Willard can be contacted at 615-869-0816 or firstname.lastname@example.org.