Fearing a looming state budget crunch and competition for young teachers, a northeast Nebraska school district is offering early retirement options to its eligible teachers.
A.J. Johnson, superintendent of the Hartington-Newcastle district, says they want a head start on hiring teachers for next fall.
“How can we get a system in so that we can know well in advance when they’re going to retire?” Johnson asks. “One of our concerns is, there’s a teacher shortage in a lot of different areas so having the opportunity to know in January that a teacher is going to retire would help us get a jump on the hiring process.”
Johnson says the early retirements would help them stabilize their budget.
“There’s a lot of uncertainty in the state budget situation and how it’s going to trickle down to schools,” Johnson says. “We don’t rely on state equalization aid, however, I believe the state will do something about budgets and that’s going to trickle down and we have to be prepared for that by making some moves now.”
Johnson says the district has presented the option to its teachers who are of retirement age.
“They’re grateful to have the offer but they’re also going to take the time necessary to make the decisions,” he says. “Those are life-changing decisions.”
Up to ten teachers in the district could qualify for the early retirement option.
By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton