Pennsylvania Bill Gives Incentives For Retirement
About 10,700 Pennsylvania teachers will be eligible for a one-time offer of early retirement this summer if the state legislature passes a bill supported by Gov. Richard L. Thornburgh.
The Governor said the bill could save the state's school districts--which, like districts across the country, are facing budget cuts and declining enrollments--$72 million this year, if enough of the eligible teachers take the offer.
The money would be saved by replacing the older teachers with younger ones at lower salaries, or not replacing them at all.
Under the proposal, teachers 55 years old and older would be allowed to take early retirement with full benefits in June, July, or August, if they have 25 years of service. And teachers between the ages of 50 and 55 with 25 years of service would be able to retire during the same period with more benefits than are usually given to teachers who retire early.
To receive full benefits under current Pennsylvania law, teachers must either be 60 years of age with 30 years of service; have 35 years of service regardless of age; or be 62 years old with at least one year's teaching experience.
Endorsed by School Boards
The Governor's bill has been endorsed by the Pennsylvania Federation of Teachers and by the state's school-boards association.
It is also given a good chance of winning the approval of the legislature, according to sources in the state Senate.
The Pennsylvania Education Association (pea) has endorsed the concept of the Governor's proposal, but is supporting a legislative amendment that would make early retirement after 30 years of service a permanent option for teachers.
However, Fred M. Heddinger, executive director of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, said that a permanent early-retirement option for teachers "would have a devastating effect on the financial condition of ... the state's retirement system." Mr. Heddinger said his organization will oppose the amendment backed by the pea
Currently, early-retirement options can be negotiated between teachers' unions and local school boards in Pennsylvania. Governor Thornburgh's proposal would establish the one-time early-retirement option in all districts regardless of negotiated contracts.