“A combination of both (the early retirement plan and changes to the Cost of Living Adjustment) will save the district tens of thousands initially, and over time, we think it will save hundreds of thousands of dollars — potentially more. These savings will incur over the long term. We have structurally changed the cost structure of the district,” said Peterson, adding that teacher salaries make up about 83% of the district’s budget.
In the previous contract, La Cañada Unified was responsible for paying the increasing Cost of Living Adjustment in district-funded health-and-welfare benefits, even if the state government didn’t come through. The change agreed to this week requires LCUSD to meet only what the California government actually funds, which has been nothing at all in recent years, Peterson said.
The elimination of a third training day for teachers will save the district up to $42,000 annually.
The possible win-win situation in the new contract is the early-retirement incentive plan, said Wendy Sinnette, the district’s assistant superintendent of human resources. Sinnette will take over as superintendent following the June retirement of Supt. Jim Stratton.
“In this economic crisis, it was one of the few creative things we could design where the district could save some money and the teachers could get a nice bonus,” Sinnette said.
Teachers who were employed by the district as of Feb. 8, 2011 and are at least 55 years old with five years of district service, or are 50 and have been employed by the district for at least 30 years as of June 30, 2011, will receive a bonus to retire early under the new retirement-incentive plan outlined in the contract.