Iowa received some $90-million from the Federal Education Jobs Bill, but not all districts are using the money to retain teachers. The Cedar Rapids school district is offering 25-thousand dollars each to 135 teachers and administrators as an early retirement incentive as the district needs to downsize because of declining enrollment. Superintendent Dave Benson says the plan cuts personnel without resorting to painful layoffs.
“We’ve been a declining enrollment district for a number of years and that trend is continuing, so obviously if we can incent some retirement, uh we may also gain in positions the full value of the position if we ultimately don’t have to fill it at all,” Benson says. He says some of those spots could possibly be filled with less experienced — and lower paid — teachers. But he says there are drawbacks.
“The people that have put their career into the school district carry a tremendous amount of institutional memory of how things are done and why things are done the way that they are. And that is a very important issue, and we try to ensure that those institutional memories are passed from one generation to the next,” Benson says.
Teachers who accept the offer would retire at the end of the year. Cedar Rapids is a contrast to nearby Iowa City where student enrollment is growing and some class sizes are pushing 30 students or more. Officials say they’ll put the district’s share of the federal funds toward hiring twelve new instructors and paying for 51 additional teachers hired just last year.