LAMPASAS — An early resignation incentive program implemented earlier this year by the Lampasas Independent School District will result in a large number of new teachers in classes when the school bell rings in August.
Cuts in state funding since 2011 resulted in a $1.5 million shortfall for Lampasas ISD, Superintendent Randall Hoyer said. In hopes of easing the district’s finances and leaving plenty of time for rehires, officials approached employees with the early resignation opportunity last fall.
“For those employees considering retirement, or those who knew they would be leaving the district, this program gave them an opportunity to do so with an added financial incentive,” Hoyer said. “The number of employees who took advantage of the program was definitely more than we thought, but it also gave us a lot of time to determine what positions would need to be refilled.”
Forty-three staff members resigned at the end of May, with 27 retiring and 16 resigning for various reasons.
“It was definitely a cross-section of the entire staff,” Hoyer said. “Some of our younger staff members knew they were intending to move somewhere else, and those who were close to retiring, within a year or so, thought this may be a good time to leave.”
District officials budgeted approximately $250,000 for the retirement incentives, which are 3 percent to 25 percent of the employee’s annual salary based on length of employment. Staff members with 1 to 5 years of service received slightly more than $1,038, or 3 percent, and teachers with 30 or more years of service received about $15,000, 25 percent.
Hoyer said another driving force of the program was the opportunity it gave the district to pay lower short-term employee salaries instead of higher salaries of veteran employees.
“Although it will take us a couple of years to recoup the cost, we feel certain we will save money in the future,” Hoyer said.
Jan Vann, an eighth-grade American History teacher, was already considering retirement when district officials introduced the program last fall. She retired in May with 33 years of teaching experience, 30 years in Lampasas ISD.
“The last day of school was the hardest for me, but I always knew when teaching became more of a chore than it was fun, it would be time for me to go,” Vann said.
Vann said the incentive finalized her decision to retire, but the increasing pressure of standardized testing also contributed.
Hoyer said the program is a “win-win” situation for everybody involved.
“It’s always a balance because when you lose a veteran teacher, you are losing a wealth of knowledge you can’t replace,” he said. “The advantage is, you’re picking up a more technologically-advanced group of teachers from the digital generation who also relate well with the kids.”
Hoyer said the district has filled all but a few of the available positions and is carefully reviewing whether to fill additional support staff openings, or leave them closed and absorb the savings through attrition.