Las Vegas Sun

October 22, 2018

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Sun editorial:

School budget cuts

Ending early retirement program will save money and keep experienced employees

Clark County School District administrators have announced plans to end an early retirement program, which they say will save about $2.5 million a year.

As Emily Richmond reported in Tuesday’s Las Vegas Sun, the district allows employees who have 15 to 29 years with the district and who have accrued at least 110 days of sick time to put some of their sick time toward retirement. That is a great benefit for the employees. It allows them to retire early and the district pays into the Public Employees’ Retirement System as if they had actually worked all that time.

It is also an expensive benefit. During the previous academic year, 233 employees took advantage of the program, which cost the district $4.2 million.

Some employees are complaining that the district’s plan to shut down the early retirement program is shortsighted and could be costly. One employee told the School Board that absenteeism will increase, saying employees will start calling in to burn unused sick days. As a result, the person suggested, the district will face increasing costs for substitute teachers.

We hope that is not true. We would think employees would use sick time for its purpose, and we would hope that they understand the seriousness of the state’s budget crisis. Clark County school administrators are preparing to cut $120 million from their budget for the next two years.

The early retirement program is a simple, and relatively painless, item to cut from the budget that will do nothing to hurt education. It may actually help the quality of education by keeping more senior teachers and administrators on the job.

A third of the district’s principals have been in the position for three years or less. And the district is continually hiring new teachers to fill vacancies.

The district should be doing all that it can to retain experienced, capable educators.

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