NORWICH – Norwich teachers have an added incentive to retire at the end of this academic year, thanks to an agreement reached this week between their union and the school district.
“Personnel costs are the biggest cost of running the district,” said Superintendent Gerard O’Sullivan, who explained that offering the incentive will be a way of reducing costs for the district as they face difficult budget decisions. Between reductions in state and federal aid and rising healthcare and retirement contributions, the district faces a staggering budget deficit next year.
“We have a $2.6 million problem staring us in the face,” said Deputy Superintendent Robert Wightman. Incentivizing retirements and resignations will help narrow that gap, he explained, and could help save other jobs. “It may be enough to tip the scale.”
Offering an incentive to retirees is nothing new. There was already a retirement clause in the Norwich Educator Organization’s contract, O’Sullivan explained. The memorandum of understanding signed by the district and the NEO this week removes the restrictions in this clause. Now, any teacher who has been with the district for 15 years or more will be eligible to receive a bonus upon retirement or resignation. That bonus will range from $10,000 to as high as $20,000 based not only on the individual’s time with the district, but also the total number of employees who opt to leave under the program. In addition, they will be compensated for unused sick time, and also receive between $3,000 and $6,000 toward their annual health care expenses until they turn 65.