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Union proposes retirement incentive

April 14, 2009
By MIRIAM MOELLER Journal Staff Writer and The Associated Press

MARQUETTE - The Marquette teachers union is scheduled to present a retirement incentive plan to the school board today in an effort to help the district save money while avoiding layoffs.

A special school board meeting is at 5 p.m. at the Marquette Area Public Schools Central Office board room.

MAPS is facing a projected $3.7 million budget shortfall for the 2009-10 school year.

"It is actually cheaper to have a buyout than let people go this year," said Matt Edgell, president of the Marquette Area Education Association.

The union proposal would offer teachers interested in retirement $6,000 per year for five years if they retire prior to the 2009-10 school year. The proposal could save the district $1.2 million in the first year and $3.4 million by 2011, if all 34 teachers who have expressed interest in the plan retire, Edgell said.

"We did a study and the board could realize a savings of over $1.2 million in the first year alone without having to lay off the 11.2 teachers that they were planning on," MAEA member Greg Seppanen said.

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This move would help reduce school payroll by replacing older, higher-paid teachers with younger, lower-paid teachers.

"It's buying power for younger teachers in the district," Edgell said. "It has a lot of positives."

Edgell said the MAEA has conducted a survey that showed that of its 207 teachers, 34 were interested in retirement. He said he believes that about 15 to 20 teachers would take advantage of the incentive, if the board approves it.

The MAEA began crafting a retirement incentive after a statewide Michigan Education Association retirement incentive proposal was rejected by state legislators as too costly.

The MAPS board will discuss the proposal for the first time tonight, according to Superintendent Jon Hartwig.



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