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Pay-to-leave incentive flops with SW teachers

The South Whidbey School District will go through the full process of reducing its teaching ranks after an early teacher vacancy incentive failed.

Only two teachers submitted their notices to leave the district by the March 15 deadline. Of the many requisites of the incentive, at least five qualified teachers needed to turn in their notices to receive the $2,500 cash bonus. Because only two teachers said they were leaving the school district, no one gets the money.

District Superintendent Jo Moccia proposed the program to the school board in February as a way to curb future layoffs and unemployment costs. The school’s business director estimated 70 fewer students will enroll in South Whidbey schools next year, which means a hefty reduction in the school district’s revenue. The program was supported by the South Whidbey teachers union, South Whidbey Education Association, as a creative way to avoid layoffs.

“It’s too bad the incentive didn’t work out. It was a generous offer from the district to teachers who were ready to retire,” said SWEA co-presidents Val Brown and Jan McNeely in a statement. “Unfortunately we have only two retiring this year. It is difficult to say if a different incentive may have gotten a larger response. Our sense is those who qualified still enjoy teaching and aren’t quite ready to be done.”

“The association does appreciate the offer and the willingness of Dr. Moccia to try something new,” they added.

The teachers who submitted their intent to leave the South Whidbey School District have until March 30 to rescind their decision. In past years, the school district has released its reduction in force (RIF) list in April.

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