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SLPS avoids mass layoffs as enough employees agree to early out

By Rachel Lippmann, St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis – The St. Louis Public Schools will be able to avoid massive layoffs as enough teachers have signed up for an early retirement plan.

District officials are still making sure that everyone who applied for the early out is eligible, but Sharonica Hardin, the district's chief human resources officer, said everyone is confident about meeting the goal of 250 people.

Six hundred teachers, aides, administrators and other staffers were eligible for an early retirement, Hardin said, but the economy probably kept more from applying.

"They're just a little leery of what's next," she said. "Often teachers in our district retire from St. Louis Public Schools and possibly seek employment in a neighboring suburban district which has a different retirement system."

St. Louis Federation of Teachers first vice president Byron Clemens said the extra cash payments of up to $25,000, which retirees can use to cover the cost of health care, made this early retirement package more attractive to teachers than an early-out offered several years ago.

He praised his members who took the early out, which helped the district avoid laying off as many as 480 people. But, he said, there are downsides to the plan.

"It's a conundrum to get rid of experienced teachers, but under the severe draconian cuts that everyone's having the face right now you just try to put the best face on a bad situation," he said.


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