Davenport schools offering early retirement to all eligible employees

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Some Davenport teachers will have the chance to retire from the classroom a little early.

At a special meeting on Thursday, December 17, 2015, the school board approved early retirement packages for all eligible district employees, including teachers, administrators, secretaries, custodians, food service workers, and maintenance staff.

Under the new deal, teachers with at least 20 years of experience will be eligible for the lesser of $25,000 or 35 percent of employees' last annual salary.

"First of all, there's a little more money on the table, which is good for prospective employees. Secondly, this plan will go for the next three years, which is really good, so people close to retirement can plan over the next couple of years," said Toby Paone, representative for the Iowa State Education Association.

Though some schools may lose a wealth of experience, it's also a money-saving measure for the district that will be looking to cut around $5 million from next year's budget.

"As we look at all of our budgets and what's going on, that's one of the benefits from offering the early retirement, certainly," said board president Ralph Johanson.

Right now, board members say they have no idea how many employees will accept the deal or how much the district could save.

"It's always a concern -- that experienced people will leave and those people walk out the door. But this district also needs financial stability, so it works both ways. And early retirement is not mandatory. People don't have to leave if they don't want to, so we'll cross those bridges when we come to them," said Paone.

The various unions must now ratify the incentive packages, as well.

District employees have until February 1, 2016, to apply for early retirement.