As the Fort Dodge Community School District anticipates lower enrollment, less state aid and a possible 0 percent allowable growth for the 2011-2012 budget year, the Board of Education approved an early retirement package to offer to employees as a way of preparing for some potentially challenging times Tuesday evening.
"Our financial status is still good," said Fort Dodge Community Schools Superintendent Doug Van Zyl. "But we have to be as proactive as we can be now when there are things at hand that we may not know the answers to for a while. There are those at the state level who aren't seeing the need to fully fund education, and if we want to continue to do what is best for kids when there are decreasing funds we'll have to consider other options."
As many as 110 employees are eligible for the early retirement option, which would allow anyone age 55 and older with 10 or more years of service to the district the option to retire at the end of the current budget year.
The retirement packages would include the cost of two years of health insurance valued at $14,929.20, which would be paid to the retiree in the form of a Health Reimbursement Arrangement.
Early retirements could potentially reduce the number of staff who may otherwise be terminated as a result of budget cuts.
"We don't know the number of other jobs that could be in jeopardy because we don't know yet what is going to be final with the legislature," Van Zyl said. "We already know we will be close to $1 million back, and we need to be able save through that process."
"Early retirement will be a win-win," said Board Vice President Stu Cochrane. "We can't have zero new money and not transfer those costs somewhere."
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