District Wants Most-Experienced Teachers to Leave

Senior teachers with the San Diego Unified School District are being offered an incentive to retire.

The move was approved by the board on Tuesday night. The agreement, which was hammered out with the blessing of the labor unions, could save the district millions of dollars and help to balance the budget, which has a gaping hole in it in the wake of state cuts to education.

Teacher Susan Rogers was not planning to retire until next year. The deal -- which offers a bonus of a year's salary -- was more than enough incentive to retire to in Idaho early.

"I think it's just great," Rogers said. "It will be good to get some new teachers in at lower salaries, and I think it's great teachers at the top can go out with a little bit of a gift."

District chief human resources officer Sam Wong said the plan will save the district $5 to $8 million the first year (if about 630 teachers accept the offer).

"That will help us because we have a $77 million problem," Wong said. "It's a huge problem, and that's only part of it, but it's an important part of it."

About 250 of the 630 teachers getting the deal would have retired anyway. That subgroup includes Molly White, who has been an educator for 34 years.

"I think they're going to save a lot of money," White said. "They can pay for two teacher with my salary."

The head of the teachers union said that schools will experience some instability as teachers transfer to other schools. Some people are left wondering, though, how the loss of veteran teachers will be felt around the district.

"We believe that while we have talent going out the door, we have talent coming in the door," Wong said.

Wong said that resources for mentoring and training will have to be used wisely.

For their part, some veteran teachers said that new teachers with new ideas will be a breath of fresh air for classrooms.

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