AUBURN — Teachers ages 62 and older will be offered a retirement incentive that includes up to three annual payments of $4,000.

The payments would continue until each retiree reaches age 65 or qualifies for Medicare, according to an agreement between the School Committee and the Auburn Education Association.

The committee voted Wednesday night to authorize Chairwoman Karen Mathieu to sign the memorandum of agreement, which was crafted to help balance the budget in a difficult year.

“We need at least five teachers to opt in to take this,” Superintendent Katy Grondin said. “If we do not get five teachers, it would not be fiscally advantageous.”

Fifteen teachers are eligible, she said, and the first 12 who sign up will be accepted.

“This is a one-time incentive and not an early incentive,” Grondin said. It only applies to teachers who will be 62 by Aug. 31 and who have completed years of service during the 2019-20 school year as defined by statute, according to the memorandum.

Teachers must notify the committee by May 18 that they intend to retire.

The economic impact of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 — a statewide stay-at-home order that has shuttered many businesses and closed schools — has affected 2020-21 budget deliberations.

The School Committee already has cut $2.03 million from the superintendent’s initial spending plan of $48.36 million.

Four positions would be eliminated under the most recent proposal, but this plan relies on using federal coronavirus relief bill money to retain teaching positions.

Grondin said Wednesday night that officials around the state are unsure how the federal money can be used by school districts.

Auburn expects to get about $2 million and had put more than $700,000 toward balancing next year’s budget.

“We have two more weeks to get clarification on what can be paid for with the grant,” Grondin said.

The committee is scheduled to resume budget deliberations May 20.

Another wild card is whether the state will issue a curtailment of subsidies, she said. The state is facing a $1 billion revenue shortfall, committee Vice Chairman David Simpson said.

If the state is going to reduce aid to schools, “we need to be looking at reducing our budget now,” Grondin said.

She said a district lawyer was looking into furloughs “and how that would work.”


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