NA again offers retire incentive

    For the second consecutive year, North Adams Community Schools is offering an incentive for teachers to make retirement plans in the immediate future.
    The school district is offering incentives of up to $15,000 in cash or tax-deferred accounts to a maximum of 10 and a minimum of five North Adams teachers who agree by to retire at the end of the 2011-2012 school year. The deadline for making that decision is only weeks away.
    "We are looking to provide an incentive for retirement to try and avoid having to RIF (reduction of force) personnel," said Larry Carty, chief financial officer for the school district.
    Carty said revenues received by the school district are expected to continue their downward trend, leaving North Adams schools with fewer and fewer options to stay within its allotted general fund appropriations. He said local tax collections were down this year, as was funding provided by the state.
    The school district's general fund ended calendar year 2011 with a balance of $490,000, after staring the year at $732,000.
    "We are anticipating that funding will continue to get tighter, to the point that the Rainy Day fund will no longer be there for us," Carty said. "When that happens, the only way we have of reducing our general fund to achieve revenue neutrality is through personnel reductions. We would prefer it be done by attrition rather than having to RIF people."
    Money for the retirement incentive program will be made available through savings realized by the school district in the amount being paid this year for health insurance premiums, which Carty was substantially less than had been budgeted for. Additional funding for the program is available through the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (stimulus) program, which provides money for job retention efforts.
    Carty said nine North Adams teachers took advantage of the retirement incentive at the end of the 2011 school year.
    The school board during its regular monthly meeting on Tuesday approved the retirement offer. The board was meeting without Superintendent Dr. Wylie Sirk, who was at home recuperating following a medical procedure.