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Wednesday Morning Roundtable 3

Jeff Pirozzolo, superintendent of the Auburn Enlarged City School District, speaks at the Auburn Hilton Garden Inn in 2016.

The Auburn Enlarged City School District will be offering a retirement incentive to teachers in order to save employee jobs in light of an impending deficit.

The district's board of education approved the memorandum of agreement between the district and the Auburn Teachers Association on the incentive at a board meeting Tuesday night. The incentive is for eligible employees who send in an irrevocable letter of resignation to the district by March 1. If 11 to 14 eligible employees send in letters, the incentive will be $5,000. If the district receives 15 or more letters, the incentive will go up to $7,500.

Pirozzolo said in an interview with The Citizen on Wednesday that staff was informed of the incentive and that he talked to board members and association president Cheryl Miskell about it around three weeks ago. He said the incentive is meant to save jobs in light of the district's incoming deficit, which Pirozzolo said comes to $4 million. 

Pirozzolo said this decision was in the works before Cayuga Centers announced Feb. 22 that its residential treatment program will be closing.

There are 19 district employees who work at Cayuga Centers, and 18 of them have seniority, allowing them to take positions elsewhere in the district. Pirozzolo had said Tuesday night that seven teachers and five aides from other schools in the district could lose their jobs as a result unless funds to keep those positions can be found.

District business manager Lisa Green said at the Tuesday night board meeting that the district is expected to lose a minimum of $450,000 to $600,000 if staff are not laid off immediately, as the district bills the counties where the students in the program come from for tuition. That figure will rise if staff are kept longer. Green and Pirozzolo said at the meeting that the district received no advanced notice of the closing.

The school board decided at the Tuesday meeting to table voting to cut staff members. Pirozzolo said the district is working on ways to try to secure enough money to save those positions. He noted some of those 18 employees will be filling vacant positions. 

Pirozzolo said Wednesday that employees are eligible for the incentive if they are 55 and have 30 years of teaching experience or are 62 years of age. He said he believes that 17 people qualify for the incentive. 

"This is all about saving jobs for next year," Pirozzolo said.

Staff writer Kelly Rocheleau can be reached at (315) 282-2243 or kelly.rocheleau@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @KellyRocheleau.

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Education Reporter