School Board Limits Retirement Incentive to Five Teachers

HAMPSTEAD – The Hampstead School Board has decided to follow the Hampstead Teachers Association contract and will award retirement incentive pay to just five of the seven teachers who plan to retire this year.

The retirement incentive issue revolves around the portion of the teachers’ contract that says, “The Board will offer a retirement incentive to as many as five members per year. The Board may offer an incentive to more than five members but is under no obligation to do so to more than five members.”

To qualify for the retirement incentive, teachers must have 15 years of work in the Hampstead School District and have reached the age of 55 and be eligible for retirement under the New Hampshire Retirement System. Retirement incentive is determined by seniority in the event of more than five retirement requests received.

Retirement incentive is calculated to 1 1/2 percent of the employee’s final year salary multiplied by the number of years in the Hampstead School District to a maximum of 30 percent in 2013-14, 35 percent in years 2014-2016, and 40 percent in year 2016-17. The retirement incentive is a lump sum payment paid no later than Aug. 15 following retirement.

The seven who have submitted their retirement applications are Susan Brassard, Betty Ann Edmondson, Joann Erickson, Cheryl Sumner, Patricia Huntington, Kathe Cussen, and Valerie Gregoski. All would be eligible under contract terms for the retirement incentive.

The board had put off making a decision on this issue until its meeting of Tuesday, Feb. 11. Assistant Superintendent Roxanne Wilson told the board at its previous meeting that approving the first five of this year’s seven retirement requests would cost $157,000. She said if the board decided to pay the other two, it would add another $47,000 to the total cost.

The board discussed the matter in non-public session and made no comment after coming out of non-public, other than to vote on the motion to approve granting five retirement incentives. The board voted 4-1 to provide only the five retirement incentives, with Jason Cipriano voting no.

In other business Feb. 11:

• Central School principal Dillard Collins said he has already received 65 pre-registration applications for preschool and Kindergarten for next year.

• The School Board accepted the proposed school calendar, which has school opening on Aug. 27 and closing on June 16, 2015, with an open house for both schools on Aug. 25.

• Member Jaye Dimando proposed a Celebration of Hampstead Excellence Night dedicated to all school staff. The board agreed to consider the  matter.

• Dimando would like the district to ask Pinkerton Academy to consider amending the Hampstead sending town contract to allow 10 percent of Hampstead’s students to attend a high school other than Pinkerton. Wilson and Superintendent Earl Metzler agreed to look into it.

Member Jim Stewart offered a sheet of data comparing what the School District spends on its 1,344 students compared to what the Town spends on its 9,025 residents, and the ranking of Hampstead in terms of per pupil cost, tax rate, and percentage of property tax assigned to its schools.

He suggested the time has come for user, activity, and technology fees to be considered as one way to reduce the cost of Hampstead’s education.

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