By Katie Dahlstrom
Herald Staff Writer
Nineteen Clinton School District employees will leave at the end of the school year in order to take advantage of an early retirement program.
School District officials offered the program in hopes of off-setting a potential $850,000 budget shortfall the district anticipates for the next school year because of declining enrollment.
“I just want to say publicly how incredibly honored I have been to work with all of these people. They’re commitment to education does not go unnoticed. They have spent this much time and energy because they belive in the vocation of our children and giving the best they could and teaching as a profession,” Superintendent Deb Olson said. “We really need to honor them for their commitment to our kids of our district, but also for our community.”
Previous early retirement programs allowed employees to receive $500 for each year of service to be applied to their health insurance. In November, the school board approved a cash payout program instead.
Employees will be offered $650 for each year of service up to 25 years, capping the amount at $16,250. Employees will pay taxes on these cash payouts, which will be made in July and 2014.
The employees to retire are: Cathie Adkins, 40 years; Judy Carstensen, 27.9 years; Bev Christiansen, 27 years; Andrea Evans, five years; Marilyn Fee, 38 years; Connie Fuglsang, 34.9 years; Dave Gassman, 31.9 years; Margie Bengtson, 31.2 years; Pat Hagge, 24.8 years; Sandy Hermes, 5.8 years;
Joy Horst, 35.8 years; Ginger Ivory, 39 years; Mark Kapusinski, 28.8 years; Nancy Kapusinski, 22.8 years; Jack Martinez, 16.8 years; Mark Massey, 38.9 years; Jan Schultheis, 27 years; Maureen Smith, 28 years; and Jan Culbertson, 3.3 years.
“I don’t want to be the pessimist here, but we are losing a lot,” board president Gregg Obren said. “The rewards that we have seen, now have been picked up by the next generation of teachers...We have that constant cycle. This is just another step in the evolution of what goes on.”
Because employees were given until Friday to submit for the early retirement and the program is new, the actual savings have yet to be determined, district Human Resource Director Jess Terrel said.
“What we have to determine is some vacancies may not be filled, we can move and shuffle. We have to look at that and figure out exactly which ones need to be replaced,” Terrel said.
The board approved the early retirements, with the exception of board member Jim McGraw, who cast the lone ‘no’ vote.
“I’ll be anxious for a number,” McGraw said.