School district could save $268,388 next year through PARS

By: Patty McAlpin News Messenger Correspondent
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School board members voted unanimously at Tuesday’s meeting to explore a supplemental retirement-incentive program that could save the district thousands of dollars. Western Placer Unified School District will partner with Public Agency Retirement Savings (PARS) to present senior certificated and classified employees with an incentive to retire early. PARS representatives project that the district could save $158,085 or more in 2011-12 and about $268,388 or more cumulative over five years. To be feasible, 35 percent of the eligible 141 employees would have to enroll, PARS representative Reggie Smith told the board. “It’s scary to think 141 employees could walk out the door and we’d have to hire replacements,” board member Kris Wyatt said. Superintendent Scott Leaman said staff expects to come back with a plan on June 7 to address how many positions would need to be replaced and a plan for the positions not being replaced. Board President Paul Carras complimented the district on being proactive but cautioned, “We’re not nearly out of the woods.” Leaman said the district is looking at $3 million in reductions, including $1.2 million to be backfilled by federal funds and $1.6 million from employee union concessions. Western Placer Teachers Association President Mike Agrippino said he “compliments” the district on looking into all areas to save money “in these hard budgetary times.” The program is voluntary. Enrollment will take place Wednesday through May 20. Employee- orientation meetings will be conducted by PARS. “Each eligible member will receive an individualized package,” Leaman said. “After we throw out the net, we’ll see who’d like to do it and come back with a recommendation.” Employees who enroll in the Supplementary Retirement Plan would be required to retire from the district on or before June 30, 2011 and could not reapply for district employment in the future. To qualify, certificated employees must be age 55 or older with five years of district service or 50 years old with 30 years of service. Classified employees must be 50 years old with five years of district service. Those who qualified would receive a monthly benefit provided by 75 percent of their final year salary paid into the plan over a five-year period, according to a staff report. The board is expected to decide at its first meeting in June whether to proceed with the program. A one-time fee of $5,000 would be incurred if the district cancels the plan due to lack of participation.