Schools hiring retirees in their old jobs

Some area school districts are considering hiring newly retired employees into the same positions as the region braces for a wave of retirements prompted by changes to the State Teachers Retirement System of Ohio.

The controversial practice, also known as “double dipping,” has drawn scrutiny in recent years because the rehired retirees draw both a salary and a pension.

The newspaper sought information from about 30 districts in Montgomery, Greene, Miami, Preble and Warren counties on whether they are looking at rehiring for the 2013-14 school year any administrators or teachers retiring this school year.

Officials in at least three local school districts — Centerville, Mad River and Bellbrook-Sugarcreek — said they have approved or are considering rehiring administrators or teachers into the same positions.

Districts reporting they are not considering retire-rehires this spring include Dayton Public, Kettering, Northmont, Vandalia-Butler, Fairborn, Tipp City and Troy.

“We do not have a policy against retire-rehire but in these tough economic times have chosen not to do so because we can typically hire less expensive staff members,” said Marion Stout, Troy’s business manager and director of human resources.

Several districts, including Brookville, Huber Heights, Oakwood, Piqua, Trotwood-Madison and Valley View, noted they have hired retirees in the past but are not considering any this spring for the upcoming school year.

In Centerville, one of the largest area districts that already has surpassed the number of retirements it saw during the 2011-12 school year, Superintendent Tom Henderson said they are considering allowing five staff members — two central office administrators, a principal, guidance counselor and teacher — to retire and be rehired.

“All of the staff are in key positions and this allows us to work on a transition plan and provide a significant savings,” Henderson said, pegging the combined savings at $190,590. The employees are Assistant Superintendent Bob Yux, Student Services Director Gary Perkins, Weller Elementary Principal Theresa Gum, and a guidance counselor and an English teacher at Centerville High School.

Yux — who has 34 years of service, including 22 in the Centerville district — earns $130,445. He plans to retire on June 28 and could be hired back into the same position on Aug. 1 at $97,978, according to details the district provided at the newspaper’s request.

The new salaries for the guidance counselor and teacher would both drop from $87,120 to $36,067 annually, a difference of $51,053, according to the district.

Henderson said the school board likely will decide by mid-May and the individuals will be listed on the May 27 agenda for contracts.

Under a 2003 state law, school districts must notify the public in advance about potential retire-rehires and hold public hearings on them.

STRS of Ohio spokesman Nick Treneff said Ohio has 15,766 actively teaching re-employed retirees in K-12 schools, educational services centers and colleges. He estimated about 70 percent of them are part-time.

State pension changes that became law in January include new guidelines for cost-of-living adjustments for STRS and increasing member contributions give teachers an incentive to retire by July 1.

The Ohio School Boards Association says in a fact sheet about the procedural requirements for rehiring retirees that it is an option many school districts consider. “In some districts, these decisions are controversial; in others, they are not,” the sheet says.

In Riverside, the school board in March approved rehiring Mad River Local Superintendent Necia Nicholas effective July 2 after she retires on June 30. “Her salary is $119,842 and will be the same after she is rehired with no change in benefits,” district Treasurer Jerry Ellender said. That will allow her to collect a pay check and a retirement check.

Ellender said Nicholas had not planned to retire but the changes in the STRS “would have caused her substantial loss in benefits if she did not retire this year,” he said.

“The board wanted her to continue as superintendent for the district,” he added. “Salary and benefits are negotiated between her and the board and they agreed to keep them the same since she is still doing the same job.”

Bellbrook-Sugarcreek Superintendent Keith St. Pierre said the district has rehired two part-time teachers, whose pay will be frozen next year.

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