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In Culver City : 55 Teachers Offered 'Golden Handshake'

March 09, 1986|JOHN L. MITCHELL | Times Staff Writer

Culver City teachers nearing retirement age will be given credit for two additional years of service if they accept a "golden handshake" retirement arrangement unanimously approved by the Culver City Board of Education last week.

The program for teachers between the ages of 55 and 60 could save the district up to $2,000 a year for each teacher who elects to retire before May 2, the date the offer expires. Fifty-five of the district's 200 teachers are eligible to participate, but school officials estimate that only 10 to 15 teachers will accept the offer.

"Statistically, when these plans are offered, about 10% to 15% of the eligible teachers take it," said Ralph Villani, assistant superintendent of personnel. "I think we will get more because there seems to be a lot of interest."

Work Experience Credit

The program gives teachers credit for two full years of work experience. The retirement salary is based on a formula that takes into account the number of years served and the salary at the time of retirement. A 60-year-old teacher with 30 years of experience can retire at 60% of his salary.

Villani said the teachers' union requested the retirement incentive program as part of its contract negotiations. "There are teachers who are burned out and would like to leave because teaching is a stressful job," he said. The 60-day program began on March 4.

Villani said that school districts have been offering similar early-retirement programs for years as a way to reduce teaching staffs because of declining enrollment. The state requires that the district reimburse the state teachers retirement fund in the amount that the teachers would have contributed to it if they had stayed at work. The district must also prove that its golden handshake program will not cost it anything.

"The district saves because retiring teachers who are at the top of the salary scale are replaced by teachers at the low end," Villani said.

Despite the benefits, Villani said, "The district is not trying to urge senior teachers to retire." He added that the district will have to replace some of the older staff members anyway. "The competition for qualified teachers is stiff and we need to start making some replacements," he said.

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