The Beverly Hills Unified School District will not have to lay off any teachers next year because enough teachers and administrators have elected to take early retirement to make up for an expected budget deficit.
Layoff notices were issued to 16 teachers in March as part of the district's effort to reduce a $1.2-million deficit in the 1988-89 budget. At the time, Supt. Robert French said the district would rescind the order if the district raised enough money to reduce the projected shortfall.
The board rescinded the layoff order on Tuesday night after receiving assurances that the savings would come from an early retirement incentive program that attracted 37 teachers and administrators.
"Welcome back," board President Fred Stern said as the motion to negate the notices was approved unanimously.
School officials said the layoff notices were sent because of uncertainty about state funding for next year and because of declining enrollment and increased operating costs. The district enrollment has declined by about 250 students, from 5,020 in 1984 to an estimated 4,700 in 1988.
The layoffs would have reduced the size of the district's shortfall by $761,277 in salaries and fringe benefits. School officials said the savings from the retirement program would be roughly the same.
Under the early retirement program, longtime employees who are usually at the top of the pay scale are given incentives to retire. When and if the district decides to replace those employees, it will do so with employees with less seniority and lower salaries.
Employees age 55 and older who submitted a letter of retirement by May 2 were given as much as $36,000 in bonuses for retiring. The bonuses were in addition to all service and insurance benefits under the state teachers retirement system.
"It is our belief that this incentive program is not only cost effective, but a better alternative than reducing expenses by laying off employees," said Walther Puffer, assistant superintendent.
Thirty-one district employees retired under a similar plan offered in 1985.
Top Officials to Retire
Puffer, who has been with the district 30 years, is taking advantage of the offer, as is assistant superintendent of business John Scoggin.
School board member Betty Wilson described the list of 37 teachers and administrators as being "like a roll call of the people who have made our district special. They will leave a void in our district that will be hard to fill."
For the time being, French said, the district will fill the void with current staff.
"We will not be adding staff," he told the board.