SD Teachers Union Wary of Golden Handshake
Thursday, February 5, 2009
Teachers union leaders are expected to sit-down with San Diego Unified school district officials today to analyze a district plan that would allow more than 630 veteran teachers to retire early. KPBS Reporter Ana Tintocalis has more.
The so-called Golden Handshake allows veteran teachers to take a financial buyout in exchange for retiring early. District officials say the deal could save the district millions because veteran teachers are costly. They're pushing the school board to approve a version of it next week.
But Union president Camille Zombro says district officials haven't fully vetted the plan.
Zombro: We're trying to do the best we can to protect the people who may take this. For some folks, it will be great. They're ready to retire, they're within a year or so. But there is so much our potential retirees need to know and understand.
The union’s new executive director Stephen Johnson echoed that sentiment, saying there are still too many unanswered questions. For example, he wants to know how each school would be affected if its veteran teachers leave. Union leaders believe veteran teachers means less experience in the classroom.
Johnson: We're not saying no to it, what we're saying is, let's be very careful before we set forth into an area, I would describe as a 'voluntary layoff' with the district is doing strategically is it's a way for us to bless what they're doing.
Johnson also says next week's deadline is unrealistic. The district is looking to plug a multi-million dollar budget shortfall next school year.
Ana Tintocalis, KPBS News.