Birmingham Superintendent Dr. Craig Witherspoon offered very few details about how much a retirement incentive package might cost the employees.
"We will have a program and a meeting to discuss all the information and the tax implications, the retirement implications to this."
We do know that the base incentive for certified employees is $20,000 and $13,000 for classified employees. Anyone wanting to participate must also meet one of two criteria. You must have 10 years of service and be at least 60 years of age; or you must have 25 years of service regardless of your age. There is also a bonus package for people with 30 or more years of service.
With personnel expenditures making up 78% of the school system's budget, the hope is that at least a quarter of the 329 eligible employees will participate, saving the system at least three-million in a quest to fill a $23-million hole.
"If they don't step forward," says Board President Phyllis Wyne, "then the next step is Reduction in Force and I truly, truly hope that we don't get to that point."
The Birmingham AFT is still looking over the plan, but the AEA says it will support it to avoid a reduction in force.
"A reduction in force where the board attempts to force employees out." says AEA spokesperson Lance Hyche. "They attempt to force employees to take jobs that they don't necessarily want to have. We think that's wrong."
Other parts of the plan include considering additional school consolidations, selling surplus properties, implementing an energy management plan, and eliminating additional Central Office positions.
It's a comprehensive plan to close a $23-million gap.
"Everything that we can do voluntarily or operationally that we can reduce costs and not get to the point where we're involuntarily impacting staff, we want to do," Dr. Witherspoon explains.
The board could vote before its next regular meeting.