WALES — On Wednesday night, the school board will weigh whether to give up to five $4,000 annual payments to teachers on the cusp of retiring as incentive to make it official.

Superintendent Jim Hodgkin said Regional School Unit 4 is not looking to trim staff; the plan is to rehire for those positions.

Payments are intended to help bridge the health care expense gap until retirees turn 65 but, as proposed, they don’t have to be spent on health insurance.

Hodgkin said 31 teachers in the district are eligible for retirement this year or next, which means turning either age 60 or 62, depending on their retirement plan in the Maine Public Employees Retirement System.

“Every year, we look at staff and staffing patterns and we realized we had quite a number of people who are at the top of the scale,” he said. “In talking to some of them, consistently it’s that they think about retiring but can’t afford to for insurance reasons.” 

That $4,000 a year would fill most but not all of the additional cost of buying health insurance until qualifying for Medicare at 65, he said.


If the teacher was already 65 or older, the proposal would see them receiving a one-time $4,000 payment.

The incentive would be capped to 12 teachers this year and 15 at the end of the next school year. Teachers would have to let the board know by April 10, 2015.

“Because the board agreed with the concept (at the last meeting), I’ve already sent out a letter and I’ve had a number of people respond already,” Hodgkin said.

The district, which covers, Litchfield, Wales and Sabattus, has offered similar incentives twice before in the past six years but both times was looking to reduce the workforce.

Hodgkin anticipated the move would save RSU 4 money but declined to estimate how much. He said it depends on the pay levels of the new teachers hired and whether the board uses the difference to cut spending or put it toward something else, such as more teachers, programs or capital improvements.

“It isn’t as simple as saying, ‘This is going to save this much money,’ because it may or may not,” he said. “There’s still some work to do.”


The board meets Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at Oak Hill Middle School. It’s crafting the full budget now and hopes to vote on it next month. 

“There are pros and cons for this,” Hodgkin said. “I think financially it makes sense. There are always people who are philosophically opposed to giving people incentives to retire, especially because it’s public dollars.”

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This story was corrected at 11:59 a.m. to reflect teachers being eligible for Medicare when they retire.

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