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Teacher Retirement Deal Continues to Evolve

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Aired 4/19/09

The San Diego Unified School District wants to offer veteran principals, bus drivers and office clerks extra money in exchange for retiring early. The plan initially included only teachers. KPBS Reporter Ana Tintocalis has more.

 

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  (Photo: San Diego Unified trustees Sheila Jackson, John de Beck and Richard Barrera are set to meet with teachers union leaders regarding a Golden Handshake.
Ana Tintocalis/KPBS)

San Diego Unified is expanding its early retirement plan -- also known as a Golden Handshake -- because the district has to plug a projected $63 million state budget shortfall for next school year.
 

These deals typically target veteran teachers because they get paid substantially more money.
 

But the district's Sam Wong says including just teachers wasn't translating into enough savings.
 

He says the deal helps the district stay afloat financially, but San Diego Unified loses experience.
 

Wong: We have to do a much better job of up-training, of our teachers that are coming in brand new, office workers, its everyone in the system, its principals. What sort of training and support are necessary so that they can get to speed.
    

Unions representing administrators and office workers are satisfied with the plan. San Diego Unified and the local teachers union are still haggling over the terms of an early retirement plan for veteran teachers.
 

The teachers union wants the savings to go towards the salaries of existing teachers. They say that's because San Diego teachers are poorly paid.
 

The union's Camille Zombro says boosting teacher pay is possible.   
    

Zombro: The federal stimulus package, that fills the budget hole. Our current school board majority has actually done some really good work to figure out some cost efficiencies. And they're well on their way to filling the budget hole in San Diego Unified just by spending money efficiently and being better watchdogs of the public funds.

 
The deal could save the district up to $12 million. Some district officials say the district needs to hold on to those savings, not spend it on teachers salaries.
 

Ana Tintocalis, KPBs News.  

 

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