Seventeen Decorah teachers with combined service of 508 years to the District will retire at the end of this school year.

Over the past three months, the District has received early retirement applications from teachers at all of the District's schools, following the Board's approval of the package in October. A total of 26 certified teachers qualified for the early retirement package.

At October's meeting, Superintendent Mike Haluska said if all 26 eligible employees chose to take the package, it would save the District more than $1.5 million over the next four years.

The list

The Decorah teachers taking advantage of the District's voluntary early retirement offer include the following: Elizabeth Lorentzen, high school art teacher, 43 years; Bill Post, high school business and physical education teacher, 41 years; Diane Lovstuen, facilitator for assessment and instruction, 41 years; Cindy Albers, high school PE teacher, 39 years; Susan Haemker, kindergarten teacher, 36 years; Rick Twedt, high school vo-ag teacher, 34 years; Ruth Procter, fifth-grade teacher, 34 years; Marilyn Sensor, kindergarten teacher, 34 years; Kris Lynch, seventh-grade teacher, 34 years; Barb Johnson, early childhood special education teacher, 32 years; Jim Fritz, high school band instructor, 28 years; Carol Gaustad, elementary art teacher, 25 years; Mary Wagner, third-grade teacher, 20 years; Ingrid Lansing, early childhood special education teacher, 19 years; Kathleen Severson, title/at-risk teacher, 18 years; Elaine Lore, high school family and consumer science teacher, 15 years and Meg Storkamp, seventh-grade teacher, 15 years.

Also retiring is long-time John Cline Administrative Assistant Susan Nelson, with 26 years experience.

In addition, the District will say good-bye to Carrie Lee Administrative Assistant Barb Post, who is resigning after nine years with the District.

The program

The 17 teachers taking early retirement will receive 50 percent of their base salary, paid in three, yearly installments.

In addition, if the eligible employee was covered by a District health-insurance plan on June 30, 2014, the District will contribute each month toward the employee's continued participation in the District health plan for up to eight years, unless one of the following occurs first: A) the employee dies; B) the employee fails to make payment of the balance of any premium costs for coverage or C) the employee becomes eligible for Medicare for any reason (regardless if the employee actually applied for Medicare coverage)

The District currently covers employees' participation in the single-coverage insurance plan. The early retirement agreement states they will receive the dollar amount equal to the cost of the single plan as of July 1, 2014. If the rate increases over the eight-year timeframe, the employee will be responsible for paying the difference.