An early retirement package approved by the Decorah School Board could save the District more than $1.5 million over the next four years.

"The savings is huge," said Superintendent Mike Haluska of the package that was approved by the Board at its regular meeting Monday evening.

Currently there are 17 teachers in the District who qualify.

In order to be eligible, someone must meet the following requirements:

• They must be at least 55 years of age by Aug. 15, 2014

• They must have completed their contracted responsibilities no later than Aug. 15, 2014

• They must have been employed by the Decorah School District for at least 15 years

• Their age plus the number of total years of public school employment in the United States must equal at least 80 years on Aug. 15, 2014.

Interested employees must make application to the District no later than Jan. 6, 2014.



The benefits

Teachers who opt for the early retirement package will receive 50 percent of their "generator base" salary, paid in three, yearly installments. For example, if a teacher's base salary for the current year is $48,000, they will receive three payments of $8,000, in January of 2015, 2016 and 2017.

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; C) the employee becomes eligible for Medicare for any reason (regardless if the employee actually applied for Medicare coverage).

The District currently covered employees' participation in the single coverage 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.



Savings

Haluska explained the savings to the District's general fund realized by the program would be up to $368,000 the first year, $379,900 the second year, $391,300 the third year and $403,014 the fourth year. He said these numbers account for inflation in the salaries of the teachers who would replace the retirees.