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Lackawanna schools offer retirement incentive to staff

The Lackawanna School Board on Wednesday agreed to offer retirement incentives to reduce staff through attrition and cut costs.

The cash incentives are being offered to eligible administrators, secretaries and Civil Service employees in the district who have at least 15 years of employment with the district. The overall aim, according to interim Superintendent Robert E. Zimmerman, is to cut staff and reduce the impact of the loss of state aid on the district's budget for the 2010-ll school year.

Administrators in the district who are eligible for retirement are being offered a $15,000 buyout. Zimmerman said that two or three district administrators might be eligible for the offer. If two or more take it, the incentive amount would jump to $20,000 each. They would be required to retire by the second semester of the 2010-11 school year and must submit a letter of their intent to retire to the superintendent by June 1.

Secretaries and Civil Service Employees Association workers in the district must also have 15 years of service to the district to be eligible for the incentive. The district is offering $7,500 each to the secretaries and $5,000 each to the Civil Service workers who must submit a letter of intent to retire by May 17.

Zimmerman said he did not know, offhand, how many district employees falling into the latter two categories would be eligible to take advantage of the cash incentives. Board member John Makeyenko suggested the potential savings must be significant to justify the incentive amounts being offered.

"Obviously, if we have a large number of money going out, the savings is tremendous. Correct?" Makeyenko asked.

"It's a way to save and reorganize your administration staff," responded Sam Masry, the district's interim business administrator.

During the public comment portion of the board's meeting, resident Joseph DiCenzo of Madison Avenue sought assurances that the positions targeted for elimination through attrition will remain unfilled.

"You may save money in the short run, but in the long run you don't save money if you fill all the positions, because there's a 3 percent [pay] increase every year for everybody. You've got to get rid of the jobs and keep them off the payroll," DiCenzo said.

e-mail: hmcneil@buffnews.com

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