March 3, 2011

Portland schools extend retirement incentive deadline

By Kelley Bouchard
Staff Writer

PORTLAND — Public school officials have extended the deadline for eligible employees to accept a retirement incentive in the hope that more people will take it, the school district announced today.

Forty-one of about 200 eligible workers had accepted the offering as of Monday's original deadline.

Now, the remainder have until March 15 to consider the incentive, which includes a one-time payout ranging from $10,000 to as much as $20,000 for higher-paid employees.

It also reduces the time that employees must have worked in the district to be eligible for retirement. In past years, the service minimum was 25 years. Under the incentive, it's 10 years.

The school board will ultimately decide whether to go through with the incentive program depending on how many take the incentive and how it benefits the school district.

Superintendent Jim Morse presented a $92.7 million budget on Tuesday that calls for eliminating as many as 81 positions heading into the coming school year.

Targeted positions include 31 teachers, 38 educational technicians, six administrators, three custodians and one secretary. The district has nearly 1,200 employees.

It's unclear how many people may be laid off or how many jobs may be saved by the retirement incentive because some employees who retire will be replaced, likely by workers who earn lower salaries, Morse said.

The 41 initial takers earn annual salaries and benefits totaling $2.6 million.

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