by Justin Murphy

Harry Kennedy discusses the retention rate of teachers in city schools. Wochit

The Rochester City School District will offer $50,000 retirement bonuses to veteran teachers, part of an effort to find savings in a difficult budget year.

The bonuses will be paid over five years and are available to members of the Rochester Teachers Association who are eligible for retirement under state regulations and have worked in the district for at least 10 years.

As of Thursday afternoon, 111 employees had already applied for the package, and RTA President Adam Urbanski said he believes more will come forward after it was officially ratified by the school board last night.

“The retirement Incentive is a win-win for our members as well for our district,” he wrote in an email to members. “It affects us all — not just those who decide to retire under this incentive. It spells substantial and ongoing savings for the district, reduces the structural fiscal deficit, averts or reduces the projected teacher layoffs, and creates an opportunity for further diversifying our teacher ranks.”

About 600 RTA members are eligible for the incentive, Urbanski said, but he guessed no more than 200 would take it.

That could cost the district up to $2 million a year for the next five years, but would result in significant compounded savings over time. The salary difference between a first-year and 20th-year teacher, not counting benefits, is about $23,000.

The proposed 2018-19 budget included 194 teacher layoffs. An enthusiastic response to the retirement incentive along with other attrition could make those unnecessary.

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