Hoping to stem a tide of retirements similar to what the experienced last spring, the Greendale School Board plans to allow qualified future retirees to lock in benefits they earned before 'Act 10' went into effect.
Governor Walker's controversial budget repair bill took effect in June 2011, ending the current collective bargaining agreements in Wisconsin. Across the state, many teachers opted to retire rather than face increases in health insurance costs or reductions in benefits.
Nineteen Greendale staff members retired at the end of the 2010-11 school year, up from an average yearly retirement of five-to-ten employees in the district. That echoed a trend statewide, as data from the Wisconsin Retirement System showed that state public school retirements in 2011 were nearly double those from 2009 and 2010 - 4,935 compared to 2,417 and 2,527 respectively.
Currently there are 31 employees in the Greendale School District who were employed fifteen or more years as of June 30, 2011 making them eligible for the level of benefits available prior to the enactment of the 'Act 10' legislation. The benefit would be frozen at the amount each retiree was eligible for on that date.Years (FTE) Benefit (% of 2010-11 Contract Rate) 15 70% 16 73% 17 76% 18 79% 19 82% 20 85% 21 88% 22 91% 23 94% 24 97% 25 100%
The cost to the district is estimated to be $2 million over the course of those retirements.
School district administrators recommended at the December 19 school board meeting that the board commit to honoring the retirement benefits for those employees who are eligible.
Director of Business Services for the school district, Erin Green, said, "We want teachers to feel confident they don't need to leave this year because they are at risk of losing benefits they've earned."
She went on to explain that this will help with staffing planning throughout the district.
The board voted unanimously to honor the teacher severance benefit commitment although the district has not decided when or how the benefit would be paid out.