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Nevis School offers retirement incentive

A possible budget shortfall during the next school year has prompted the Nevis School Board to approve a retirement assistance program for teachers.

Superintendent Steve Rassier estimated six or seven of the district's teachers would qualify for the incentive, which is similar to other area districts' proposals.

The program could result in "significant savings" to the district because the teachers would be replaced with people of less experience, superintendent Rassier said.

A teacher who elects to participate would receive the benefit in addition to the established severance amount. For example, a teacher retiring with 30 years of service would receive $100 per year of service ($3,000) and a retirement assistance benefit of $7,500, totaling $10,500.

A letter of resignation will be required by the last workday in May.

"This may not be available or legally allowable next year," Rassier said.

The board also approved other "budget reductions" which include the elimination of the school liaison law enforcement officer ($8,500), the cheerleading coach ($2,340), a half-time maintenance position ($12,291) and extra-curricular speech advisor ($1,761) - which could be reinstated if student interest is shown.

As another cost-saving measure, board chair Ed Becker reported Rassier has agreed to a salary freeze - but with a pay increase amendment if specified goals are met.

Rassier's base salary for 2009-10 is $90,040 "plus whatever amount of performance pay the board has awarded at the end of the 2009-10 school year for accomplishments achieved during that school year." This could be up to 5 percent of his base salary.

Defined objectives include improvement of student performance as defined by state standards, development of a personnel evaluation system, increased use of technology, expansion of non-sports related co-curriculars and implementation of elements of the district's "strategic plan."

His contract was extended for two years.

In other action, the board:

-Reported the school is participating in a summer food service program, with kids from outside the district invited to participate.

Breakfast and lunch will be provided at no charge to students ages 3 to 18 Monday through Thursday, June 3-July 16.

The dates coincide with summer school, summer rec activities and church camps.

Adults may purchase breakfast for $2, lunch for $3.

Breakfast will be served in the cafeteria from 8 to 9 a.m., lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

The program has received a $2,000 start-up grant. Rassier said the school is estimating 60 meals will be served per day, "which will make this program operational."

Estimated revenues/ expenses are $7,800.

The program could be cancelled at any time.

-Approved bid letting for a handicapped accessibility ramp which will be constructed near the school's southeast vestibule.

The $80,000 estimated amount was included in the school's levy this year. Bid closing is May 28 with a special meeting to be held at 5 p.m. that day to award bids. Construction is projected to begin June 8.

-Reported a cash balance of nearly $1 million, with "revenues and expenditures where they should be," Rassier told the board.

The district, he said, is experiencing a "stable year."

The 2009-10 projected budget calls for anticipated expenses of $5.18 million, on par with this year.

State funding for school districts could be cut by up to 3.2 percent or upped by 2 percent, Rassier said of proposals on the legislative floor.

-Discussed leaves of absence, the board denying a one-year leave to Jim Burnos who works on an annual contract basis as assistant baseball coach.

The board noted his return would be welcome, and thanked him for his service. Scott Kramer was approved to replace him.

The board granted an extended leave of absence for Gwen Adickes who works in food service.

Her initial leave was granted in October for the remainder of the school year. She is attempting to sell a business and has asked for an extension until Aug. 1.

Walt Bromenschenkel expressed concern regarding setting a precedent. "I think this is problematic."

Marv Vredenburg agreed. "I've never been in favor of leaves of absence."

Sherm Anderson suggested a policy review may be in order.