The Shenendehowa Central School District saved more than $500,000 this year by giving teachers and administrators a retirement incentive that attracted 23 people.
The district paid out half of each incentive payment July 31 and will pay the rest in January.
Shenendehowa has offered retirement incentives periodically over the past several years to save money by hiring less experienced workers to take their places.
Attracting people earlier in the year through an incentive also allows the district to know during its budget process how much it will need for salaries, said Superintendent Oliver Robinson.
If several people are retiring, that could allow the district to avoid laying off some other workers and keep programs intact, he said.
The district paid 18 teachers $197,200 for the retirement incentive. It saved $489,900 from the teachers retiring and by hiring teachers at a lower point on the pay scale.
The net savings from teachers is $292,700, and those lower costs continue to future budgets.
“The incentive pays for itself as well as provides some added benefits,” Robinson said.
Five administrators received $10,000 each for their incentive and the district saved between $250,000 and $300,000 net from consolidating some of the administrative positions and promoting from within to fill the open positions.
Employees had to be eligible to retire — at least 55 years old with at least 10 years of experience — to get the incentive.
To get the benefit, teachers had to submit their intentions in January, two months before the usual March deadline.
The down side to a retirement incentive is the district loses valuable expertise.
“You lose a tremendous wealth of experience,” Robinson said. “We’ve had some highly skilled, highly valued employees retire.”
To make up for the loss, the district focuses on mentoring and staff development for the newer teachers.
The district decides each year whether it will offer an incentive based on how many people are eligible for retirement.
“I know for sure we’ll look at it again,” Robinson said.