Some Archbold school district employees can retire from their jobs, then be rehired and collect both pensions and paychecks for one year under a program approved by the Archbold School Board, Monday, March 15.
At the end of the “bonus” year, those who opt for the retire-rehire option will leave their positions.
Right now, the plan is open to district classified staff– custodians, maintenance workers, etc. For teachers to take advantage of the program, the Archbold Education Association– the group that represents teachers in labor negotiations with the board– must ratify the plan.
Following an executive session that lasted about one hour, Jeremy Hurst, board president, read a prepared statement:
“The Archbold Board of Education recognizes the financial forecast of the district, and the dedicated staff of Archbold Area Schools.
“To be fiscally proactive, while offering staff a unique opportunity that benefits both parties, we have proposed two resolutions that would allow eligible staff the opportunity to retire and rehire for one year.”
The board then approved two resolutions.
The resolution applying to certified personnel (teachers) is contingent on AEA approval “prior to 11:59 pm on (Thursday) April 1.”
Is this an indication that the school district is in fiscal trouble?
“I would not necessarily word it that way,” Jayson Selgo, superintendent, said in a Tuesday interview.
“Basically there are variables outside our control that could have a negative impact” on the district financial picture, he said.
“So we are taking every opportunity we can to try to be fiscally responsible until we know exactly where we’re going to be at with our revenue.”
Two factors are causing question marks in the financial future of the district: state funding cuts in response to the Coronavirus pandemic, and the status of the Rover Pipeline property tax valuation appeal.
The funding cuts, put in place a year ago, have been offset by relief packages, Selgo said.
But the Rover Pipeline appeal remains in limbo. In fact, school officials were notified on Monday a decision on the appeal was pushed back from May to November.
“So it’s just another further delay on that funding that we utilized over a year ago to create a forecast that looked very promising,” Selgo said.
“Once those funds are removed it makes the forecast look much more challenging. It’s a frustrating process we have no control over.”
Selgo said he doesn’t know exactly how many classified and certified staff members are eligible for the retire-rehire option.
If a district employee takes the retire-rehire option, the person’s paycheck for the bonus year is at a reduced level.
For example, if a custodian retires and returns, the person will receive the base pay level for the job they do. If a custodian with 20 years of service retires and is rehired, he or she is paid at the custodian base-pay level.
The situation for a teacher is the same. Rehired teachers earn base pay for their position; they do not get credit for their years of service.
Teachers have another option to consider.
If they opt to announce their retirement by March 1 of the first year they are eligible to retire, the district will provide them with an increased severance package based on accrued, but unused, sick leave.
Depending on each teacher’s individual circumstances, Selgo said the increase to the severance package could be thousands of dollars.
After the bonus year is up, Selgo said district officials will evaluate whether or not to replace a teacher based on future funding.
“We evaluate that every time we have a vacancy,” he said.
Right now, the retire-rehire option is only being offered for one year.
Any agreement is subject to the bargaining process between the board and the AEA.
“It’s possible this agreement could be incorporated into the negotiated agreement,” he said.