BETHEL — Members of the Telstar Education Association who are of normal retirement age, but have not yet made a decision to retire, will be offered a retirement incentive package of $5,000 per year for two years, the School Board decided Monday night.

The TEA includes the district’s teachers, educational technicians, and secretaries.

In order to be eligible for the incentive, employees must have reached normal retirement age, as determined by the Maine Public Employees Retirement System, and must not have previously resigned from the district or announced their retirement.

Superintendent David Murphy said that employees who had accrued 10 years of employment under the Maine system before June 30, 1993 are eligible to retire at age 60, but in most cases employees would need to have reached 62 years of age to be eligible.

“We feel that if there are folks who take advantage of this, it will likely result in a significant savings to the district,” Murphy told the School Board.

Employees who accept the package would receive the $5,000 incentive payment as a lump sum in July of each of the two years, and would be responsible for their own taxes on that amount.

The Finance Committee based its recommendation of $5,000 per year for two years on the cost of health insurance for employees following retirement.

Under the Maine system, when eligible employees retire, the state pays 45 percent of their health insurance premiums for single coverage until they become eligible for Medicare at age 65.

Murphy said that in some cases, employees may put off retirement because of concerns over paying their share, about $4,700 per year, of premiums.

“If you have someone who is 63 and has been planning to work another couple of years, this would give them an option of leaving early and taking the incentive,” he said.

“That would allow us to open the position up, and either offer it to someone else who might be in a position of losing their job this year, or of attracting some new folks to the district. So we don’t see any down side to it.”

He estimated that there were a total of about a dozen employees who would be eligible to take the incentive.

An incentive was last offered by the district in April of 2011, when eligible TEA members were offered a retirement incentive of $3,000 per year for five years.

At that time, according to Central Office Administrative Assistant Robin Gundersen, three employees took advantage of the incentive.

STAFF CHANGES

Murphy told the board he had accepted resignations from Billie Jo Putnam, Telstar Middle School math teacher, and Norman Greenberg, TMS social studies teacher, effective at the end of the school year.

At the recommendation of TMS Principal Clark Rafford and Dean of Students Mark Kenney, one of two middle school physical education/ health teacher positions will be eliminated and replaced with a sixth grade core content academic teaching position for 2015-16.

Elaine Ferland, currently the teaching principal at Andover Elementary School, will be the district’s fulltime educator effectiveness coach, a position that is funded by the district’s multiyear TIF4 grant and is currently filled on a half-time basis by Clark Rafford, who is retiring.

SAD 44 Special Education Teacher Dee Robinson was appointed to the District Steering Committee for the TIF4 grant, taking the place of former TMS Guidance Counselor Richard Curley, who resigned in March.

Murphy said TMS Language Arts Teacher Lindsay Luetje had indicated interest in serving as the TMS TIF facilitator for the 2015-16 school year. She will replace former TMS Special Education Teacher Cindy Savage, who held the position before resigning this year.

Duncan McFarland, parttime elementary instrumental music teacher, was appointed to a second-year probationary contract.

Appointed to third-year probationary contracts were Jennifer Boles, elementary art; Heath Booth, TMS math; Michelle Brown, THS/TMS social worker; and Autumn Gregory, TMS language arts.

The following staff were appointed to continuing contracts from third probationary contracts: Debra Borchardt, district speech pathologist; Erin Crockett, Crescent Park School kindergarten teacher; Jim Rose, THS math teacher; and Megan Smith, who currently teaches kindergarten and first grade at AES but will remain with SAD 44 next year.

Maine teachers are appointed to probationary contracts, based on regular evaluations and recommendations from building principals, for the first three years of their careers, before becoming eligible for appointment to continuing contracts.

The board also approved the nomination of Karen Thurston, Andover Elementary School teacher, to be appointed by the Andover School Committee to a continuing contract for the 201516 school year, subject to her employment by the new Andover School District.

Murphy told the board that the Andover School Committee has not yet hired a superintendent, but requested that Thurston’s contract be approved by the SAD 44 board as a signal to both Thurston and the Andover School District of their intention to employ her. In other business, the School Board set the date for the annual District Budget Meeting. It will be held on Tuesday, May 26 at 6:30 p.m. at Telstar.

District towns will vote on the budget referendum at the polls on Tuesday, June 9.


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