San Luis Coastal to lose 39 teachers

Thirty-nine of the longest-tenured teachers in the San Luis Coastal Unified School District will end their careers there at year’s end to take an early retirement incentive.

The district offered the deal, agreed to by the teachers union, as a way to reduce payroll costs.

Elementary schools are the most affected, with 16 teachers retiring. Seven high school teachers and four middle school teachers also took the deal.

The remaining teachers came from a variety of disciplines, including music, special education, counseling and a librarian. Some but not all of those teachers will be replaced.

Each retiring teacher will receive a $40,000 bonus, according to the terms of the incentive. The district will not pay that cost in one lump sum, but over a minimum of five years.

The details of the incentive were based on the number of teachers retiring. Had one more teacher retired, then all those retiring would have received $50,000, the maximum offered.

The early retirement payouts will come from the district’s reserves, with the goal of saving money in later years by hiring new teachers at lower salaries.

The highest-paid teachers in the district receive $88,568 annually plus benefits. Teachers at the beginning rung of the 25-step pay schedule are hired at $42,150.

The district has 443 teachers. Nearly 100 instructors are in the top two tiers of the district’s pay scale, many of them earning more than $80,000 a year.

With the number of teachers retiring, the district expects to save at least $1 million a year, Personnel Director Ryan Pinkerton said.

“We are currently in the process of looking at our overall budget and staffing for next year,” said Pinkerton, adding that the goal is to post available jobs by April to fill the needed positions.

An incentive was also offered to management, such as high school principals, directors and assistant superintendents. Those employees have until Feb. 15 to decide.

So far, two management employees, two administrative employees and one principal have committed to the deal, but more are expected, Pinkerton said.

San Luis Coastal, with 7,200 students enrolled in preschool through 12th grade, has a $74 million general fund budget for 2011-12 and is the second-largest school system in San Luis Obispo County.

The district runs schools in Los Osos, Morro Bay, San Luis Obispo and Avila Beach.