If any Southwest Licking staff or faculty members are planning to retire, the school board will be making it worth their while if they inform the board within the next few weeks.
The school board voted 3-0 Jan. 17 to provide incentives to employees considering retirement and asked them to send letters of intent to the board as soon as possible. Cindy Zaino and Roger Zeune were absent.
The board acted on the measure after Superintendent Robert Jennell announced during a Jan. 12 special meeting that he intends for the district to cut $1 million from its budget this year and $1.2 million the following in an effort to keep the district off the ballot until 2015.
Jennell said a plan for meeting that reduction is currently being considered and those cuts would likely be announced during the February board meeting.
However, he said, he hopes a reduction in staff and programs can be avoided if enough employees retire.
He said he suspects that several do plan to retire and the sooner those employees notify the board of their plans, the easier it will be to decide on budgetary reductions.
"We feel there should be an incentive for a letter to be written to the board," Jennell said. "We'd be very grateful for letters to help us shape our savings. Potentially, we won't have a list of any teachers (to be cut) and we could keep all programs."
He proposed that employees who send a letter of intent by Feb. 1 would receive a $200 bonus and those who send a letter by Feb. 15 would receive a $100 bonus. Bonuses would be retroactive.
Jennell emphasized this would not be enough of an incentive to convince someone to retire early, but it would help encourage notification.
"It makes it so hard to plan when we don't know," said board member Don Huber. "It helps people to remember that this is really important to us.
"We're hoping there won't be a reduction-in-force list."
In other news, the board on Jan. 12 elected Dave Engel as its president and re-elected Zaino as vice president.
Jennell also will host a State of the Schools presentation at 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 31, in the district office gymnasium, 927-A South St. in Pataskala.