School Board committee discusses retirement incentives, cap on sick days

Friday, October 2, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Superintendent Chris Belcher wants Columbia Public Schools to hire from the best.

To do so, the district would need to get into the hiring pool sooner — a move that can only be made if it knows in advance whom it needs to replace.

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Superintendent Chris Belcher's proposed

"This early declaration of retirement program is voluntary and offers and eligible employee a financial incentive upon retirement.

"All Full-time certified employees who have completed the last ten (10) consecutive years of service in the Columbia Public School District and who qualify for retirement under Public School Retirement system guidelines are eligible to receive a sick leave payout at a rate of $100.00 per day if notification to retire is submitted to the district as follows:

"Interested employees shall notify the district in writing of their retirement under this program no later than the first day school is back in session after winter break of the final year of employment."

*This is in no way a final draft and not necessarily what the committee plans to bring to the board for approval, just Belcher's proposition.

To read more about what the committee discussed at the meeting, go to the Missourian’s education blog at

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Belcher proposed to the School Board Policy Committee on Thursday that teachers who notify the district of their plans to retire or resign be given some monetary incentive.

He hopes that by getting into the hiring pool sooner, Columbia Public Schools will be able to hire better teachers who are going to stay with the district longer.

No decisions were made at the meeting, and the committee does not plan to bring any suggestions to the board until November at the earliest. Until then, the discussion will continue and teacher groups will be consulted, Belcher said. It is a possibility that such an incentive would be effective for teachers retiring at the end of this school year.

Currently, a teacher can accumulate an infinite amount of sick days, receiving one per month, with a compensation of $70 per day, the amount of money it would cost the district to hire a substitute teacher for one day. The sick days accumulate from year to year.

Belcher proposed raising the $70 compensation as an incentive for teachers to notify the district earlier about retirement plans. One possibility discussed was a sliding scale in which an employee would be compensated more depending on how early he or she notified the district.

Teachers would not be bound to any such plan.

Belcher proposed an additional policy change that would put a cap on the number of sick days an employee could accrue; the employee would be compensated for these days upon retirement or resignation.

Once an employee reached the designated maximum, all additional days would be compensated for in partial pay on a yearly basis, said Nick Boren, chief operations officer.

A similar system was in place at the Kearney R-1 School District, Belcher’s previous employer. He said employees there looked forward to extra money right before the holiday season, when Kearney paid the employees for their additional sick days.

Belcher said some employees would be grandfathered in to the previous policy and would be able to receive compensation for all sick days accumulated.

The committee is putting off any policy recommendations until appropriate financial assessments and cost-benefit analyses can be made of the proposed plans. The committee members expressed a need to see information regarding the average number of sick days an employee retires with as well as other calculations to better assess the proposals.

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