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Archive for Monday, December 21, 2009

21 veteran teachers already committed to retiring from Lawrence Public Schools

Retirees taking bonuses; some going to other districts to teach

Teacher Barb Thompson, of Quail Run School, leads her sixth-grade class through a lesson on mythology Thursday. Thompson is retiring this year after 33 years of teaching. She is one of 21 Lawrence school district teachers who have announced retirement this year.

Teacher Barb Thompson, of Quail Run School, leads her sixth-grade class through a lesson on mythology Thursday. Thompson is retiring this year after 33 years of teaching. She is one of 21 Lawrence school district teachers who have announced retirement this year.

December 21, 2009

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Twenty-one Lawrence teachers set to retire

More than 20 teachers in the Lawrence school district will retire at the end of this school year. Enlarge video

Barb Thompson tried to resist it. She wouldn’t follow three grandparents and her parents into the teaching field.

But after a field experience in a classroom in college, she gave in and joined the family business.

“I think it’s just in my blood,” Thompson said. She’s spent 33 years teaching, the last 22 at Quail Run School.

Thompson, who teaches sixth grade, is one of 21 teachers who have already announced their retirement in the Lawrence school district this year, the first for a monetary incentive. If teachers announce their retirement before certain dates, they get a bonus.

The 21 teachers that already said they are retiring at the end of the school year will get $500 from the district. While that date was originally in October, it was pushed back to November because of ongoing teacher negotiations. If teachers make the decision to end their career in Lawrence by Jan. 4, they can get $250. The last day to announce a retirement is March 1, if the teacher wants to receive additional benefits from the district on top of their state retirement benefits.

“The earlier we know the people are retiring, the better able we are to plan for the future,” certified human resources division director David Cunningham said. “It helps us determine if we’re in a mode where we can hire ... or if we’re in a mode for where we have to maybe look at making cuts. That was the purpose of the incentive, to entice people to give us that early notice.”

With time left on the retirement clock, the district already has the same number of teachers leaving this year as they did total last year.

With the current budget crunch and more cuts pending for next year, school superintendent Rick Doll is torn over the loss of 21 veteran teachers.

“Regardless of whether we’re in budget cuts or not, losing quality, veteran staff is always painful,” Doll said. “With that said, it gives us some flexibility. (21 positions is) close to a million dollars.”

Board president Scott Morgan said that with so much of the district’s general fund tied up in staff, teacher positions will have to be looked at as an option to save money come next year.

“We’ve got to realize that’s where we will, when we lose money, that’s where we’ll make reductions,” Morgan said. “We have a number of early retirements already announced. That helps absorb a lot of the positions that we might have to get rid of.”

Money is also an issue with Thompson, who wants to continue teaching after retiring from the Lawrence school district.

“I can take my early retirement and go to another district and actually get paid a lot more than I’m getting paid here,” said Thompson, who lives in Overland Park. “Having two kids in college, it was partly a monetary concern.”

The other part influencing Thompson’s decision to retire is simply that education is changing, in ways she likes and in ways she doesn’t.

“All the incredible amounts of testing ... it’s not quite my way of teaching,” Thompson said. “I think there are some really good things that have come with the changes. There’s a lot more active learning now.”

Thompson is also concerned about district-wide budget cuts, which leaders have said may affect class sizes next year.

“I want to go out on a good note and not when I’m getting burned out and tired of it,” Thompson said.

But, she’s also going to miss her time with Quail Run sixth graders.

“There’s never a dull moment in sixth grade and I love that,” Thompson said. “That’s the thing I’ll miss the most.”

Comments

onrywmn 4 years, 12 months ago

21 veteran teaches already committed to retiring from Lawrence Public Schools

** should be 21 veteran "teachers" ...

jmadison 4 years, 12 months ago

How many teachers are employed by the Lawrence School District?

cowboy 4 years, 12 months ago

Hey scott , if you got rid of all the teachers you'd really save alot.

Perhaps a simple no comment would have been in order.

snoozey 4 years, 12 months ago

Yes, if you got rid of all the teachers you could save enough money to hire even more administrators - Lawrence already has more of them than either Olathe or Blue Springs.

guavablues 4 years, 12 months ago

Barb Thompson is a rare and exceptional teacher. She speaks her mind and will be missed. Best regards, Mark.

commuter 4 years, 12 months ago

As part of KPERS, does anyone know if a teacher can take early retirement from USD497 and go teach in Olathe and get retirement and a paycheck from Olathe???

If so, this seems to be a little unfair because they are still working and putting money into KPERS. I do not have a problem with them retiring and taking a job in another state.

Maxandwillie 4 years, 12 months ago

A teacher cant draw from kpers twice. they can go to olathe and draw a paycheck only.

kugrad 4 years, 12 months ago

I think the teachers only get KPERS when they actually retire, not if they go teach in another district. The early retirement is a district benefit. I think it is one years pay divided over 5 years plus single coverage (not family) insurance for 5 years. Just FYI, this early retirement program is being phased out by the district and replaced with a small annuity investment that is cheaper for the district.

commuter 4 years, 12 months ago

Cool- maybe a Jr High School math "teacher" will also retire. Parents will be happy that they will actually get to learn math instead of just showing two problems on the board that are in the book.

Maxandwillie 4 years, 12 months ago

Once a teacher get their 85 (combination of age and years teaching) they can retire from their district and draw kpers. They then can go to another district and teach but cant draw more $ from KPERS. They are, however required to contribute to KPERS in their new district.

Rex Russell 4 years, 12 months ago

Mrs. Thompson is my son's teacher at Q R. Exceptional personality and we were lucky to have her before she retired. Good Luck to you Mrs Thompson in retirement.

yankeevet 4 years, 12 months ago

How much is a teachers pension anyway??

think_about_it 4 years, 12 months ago

Those who can, do; those who can't, teach.

getreal 4 years, 12 months ago

It is a sad day to lose 21 veteran teachers. There is nothing like experience when it comes to teaching our children. Public education is consistently under attack in this state, so it's not surprising that many good teachers are leaving from districts around the state. Lawrence has lost one of the best professionals in Barb Thompson. She consistently kept her class engaged and enthusiastic about learning. She is truly an amazing teacher!

kristyj 4 years, 12 months ago

@think_about_it: although I don't necessarily agree with it, i did hear an extension of that phrase from some ed majors in college, "Those who can, do: those who can't, teach: those who can't teach, teach teaching."

KSManimal 4 years, 12 months ago

Yankeevet -

KPERS benefits vary and are based on the last few year's salary, of which the retiree gets a percentage.

USD 497's "early retirement" incentive provides a year's salary, spread over 5 years, for those who choose to retire before other benefits kick in. This was developed, I believe, to save $ by replacing older with younger (=cheaper) teachers. That no longer works, as there are very few young teachers around...and many jobs are filled with retirees who return to teaching. It is being phased out.

USD 497's new retirement benefit, begun last year, pays $720/year into a retirement account. This will eventually replace the old "early retirement" system.

think_about_it -

those who can write, do; those who can't, spew stale cliches.

Larry Bauerle 4 years, 12 months ago

"Those who can, do; those who can't, teach."

Perhaps you should thank a teacher for the amazing creativity you show with this quote. Probably took hours to come up with this one.

Zachary Stoltenberg 4 years, 12 months ago

I thought it went:

Those who can, do; those who can't, teach; and those who can't teach, COACH!

Ricky_Vaughn 4 years, 12 months ago

Just another sign that indicates USD 497 is sliding further into the toilet...along with the rest of this state.

It's sad to me that education is always the first area to get slapped with budget cuts. Cut the National Guard for a change...bunch of weekend soldiers laying around and collecting gov't cheese...how exactly are they bettering society?

Ricky_Vaughn 4 years, 12 months ago

Yeah, I hope your kid ends up digging ditches or working at Taco Bell because he/she couldn't get a quality education.

Ricky_Vaughn 4 years, 12 months ago

I'm sorry, but in my eyes, education is too valuable to be the first area to get cut every time.

Ricky_Vaughn 4 years, 12 months ago

Thanks for the info, Paul. I still think K-12 education should have top priority in terms of funding over the other two.

If cutting funding for the others is "not easy", then why is the education budget cut so frequently?

tomatogrower 4 years, 12 months ago

ShePrecedes (Anonymous) says… That is because they are hiring OCD teachers and horrible principals like Fridell.

Are they OCD, because they insist students write so one can read it, or because they insist on correct spelling? You don't want to ruin their creativity be insisting on proper punctuation and spelling.

4getabouit 4 years, 12 months ago

I don't believe that many districts in Kansas will be hiring next year. Even if they do, almost all districts lay off the KPERS 14% surcharge if the new hire is taking KPERS benefits. So, a retired teacher trying to double-dip will take the hit. In any event, good luck finding work in school districts for next year.

Linda Aikins 4 years, 12 months ago

Can we find out the names of the retiring teachers?

Tracy Rogers 4 years, 11 months ago

Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach. Those who can't teach get on message boards and solve the world's problems.

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