By ASHLEY AMASON
An early retirement incentive bonus may soon be on the table if approved by the Walton County School Board (WCSB) and collective bargaining agreement. In a workshop April 19, Chief Financial Officer Jim McCall presented options for an early incentive retirement bonus to curb pay-scale costs in next year’s strained budget. “Next year’s budget is not going to be a good one,” McCall opened.
After researching early retirement plans from Okaloosa, Bay, Pasco, and Pinellas school districts as well as the Walton County Board of County Commissioners (BCC), McCall presented two options—Okaloosa and BCC—to the board and superintendent.
Employees who meet qualifications for normal retirement, either 30 years of service or age 62 with six years of creditable service with the Walton County School District (WCSD), can receive 40 percent of their nine, 10, or 12-month salary excluding instructional and ESP supplements under the Okaloosa plan, or $1,000 for each year of creditable service under the BCC plan. The board has not chosen which plan, if any, will be enacted. According to McCall’s presentation, “The retirement incentive will not be paid to any employee who continues employment beyond June 30 of the year they reach their first eligibility for normal retirement benefits…and employees who have previously retired or are within their last 24 months of DROP are not eligible.”
Additionally, the incentive may change or cease at the board’s discretion. Should the board move forward with the BCC plan, it will have a net initial cost of $900,252 with a meager first-year savings of $15,600. Savings in subsequent years, 2012-13 through 2015-16, would total $1,050,851. Savings could be higher depending upon the rate of attrition.
McCall’s staff estimated 28 likely candidates are eligible for the early retirement incentive bonus.
In the regular WCSB meeting, Principal Mike Davis announced 100 industry certifications have been earned at the Walton Career Development Center. Five of 27 students who’ve earned the title Microsoft Office Specialist from Freeport High School were present with Principal Shirley Foster. The credits earned for the Microsoft examinations are college transferable.