Savings incentive

School board approves retirement package

NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck Board of Education is offering eligible teachers a retirement incentive package aimed at saving up to $2.4 million in the next fiscal year’s budget.

The board Thursday night unanimously accepted the package, which would give employees a $25,000 bonus payable in July if they agree to retire. To make the program cost-effective, the borough needs 20 educators to accept. Currently, the proposal states the board can accept a maximum of 30 people.

“If we get over 30, we’ll have to re-evaluate to see if we can accept more,” board Chairman Dave Heller said.

The school board has proposed a $3.6 million budget increase for 2014-15 driven mainly by projected increases in health insurance costs, contractual wage increases and security upgrades at schools. The total proposal is $63.1 million, which carries a 6.14 percent increase; officials say that may be reduced because they are seeking better health insurance premiums for current and retired employees.

Board members say they are exploring all avenues to save money, and they believe the early retirement package will work.

If 20 people accept the offer, the board could save $1.9 million, while it would save about $2.4 million if 30 people take it. Those numbers do not include the cost to rehire teachers whose contracts have not been renewed for next year, said Bob Butler, borough controller.

There are at least 20 local teachers anxiously awaiting word on whether people will take early retirements. This week, the board notified 20 non-tenured teachers that their positions could be eliminated next year. Per state law, school districts must notify any non-tenured teacher that his or her position may not be renewed the following school year due to budgetary reasons.

The more teachers who retire, the better chances those non-tenured teachers have of being called back, board members said.

Charley Marenghi, vice president and spokesman of the Naugatuck Teachers’ League union, said there is a long process to determine who will come back next year and it’s way too early to tell.

“But when they got those notices, it became very real for them,” he said.

The retirement incentive program, though, is a good thing, he said.

“It has worked in the past, so we’re hopeful it will help this time around,” he said.

In 2010, the board offered a similar retirement incentive program. The offer was accepted by 31 people, saving the board about $2 million.

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