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Eden School Board discusses early retirement incentives

EDEN — Both discussion about and opposition to early retirement incentives for teachers took place during the Eden School Board’s Jan. 15 meeting.

Board Member Barbara Henry read her speech about the early retirement incentive.

“We’re challenged with what I believe is a morally wrong, financial incentive to any school staff,” Henry said.

“In the real world, you make a life change, things are uncertain, scary [and] unnerving,” she added. “It’s like jumping off and falling off a high cliff. Please do not use the children’s education funds for your launching pad. Do not use our children’s funds that the community rightfully owns.

“The teachers earned and the community paid, honest wages ... honest vacations ... great health care ... a decent retirement,” Henry added.

The superintendent’s office told The Sun that Henry misspoke, and that teachers do not have anything paid for, in regard to health care after retirement. Teachers may still purchase health care through the district, but it is paid for solely by the individual.

Henry wrapped up her speech by asking that, if the incentive passes, teachers reconsider and donate or sponsor the community in some shape or form, whether it be via scholarships, donations to the curriculum, transportation or an activity.

“Should the board majority go ahead with the financial incentive, I challenge any teacher who accepts that incentive to give it back to the students in the community, where I feel it belongs,” Henry said.

The board members, except Henry and Board Member Michael Breeden, expressed agreement.

Superintendent Sandra Anzalone said that, to her knowledge, this early retirement incentive is the first proposal of this nature.

Eligible teachers would have 45 days, by law, to decide to retire, she said; a minimum of three teachers must follow through, for the incentive to carry forward.

In other board news:
– The board approved a motion to declare as excess unnecessary library books.
– A surplus of buses was approved by the board. Transportation Supervisor Rose Heckathorn said, “More than two [buses] would be very good because, at this point, if I have a breakdown and [Athletic Director] Marissa [Fallacaro] has sports, it’ll be challenging to get the sports out. Because right now, I have no spare buses.”

Heckathorn added that she and Fallacaro are coordinating with transportation as best as possible, but if a bus were to break down, it would cause difficulty for students in need of transportation.

The next Eden School Board meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 12 in the high school cafeteria.
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