The tally of teachers retiring from Saline Area Schools after the district offered a severance package earlier this year to reduce employee compensation costs was at 23 when Curt Ellis, Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources spoke to bid those educators farewell this week.
"We have 11 of the 23 teachers retiring here tonight ... they represent a total of 568 years of experience," Ellis said, eliciting an audible gasp from the large crowd attending Tuesday's Board of Ed meeting.
Many of those retiring teachers will receive buyout payments of $45,000 over the next three years and some who elected to retire in 2020 will receive half of that amount.
"We're losing a tremendous amount of experience and talent here tonight," he added.
Among the retirees are teachers Diana Aikens, Scott Theisen, Al Leslie, Alicia Seegert, Michael Karapas, Janice Martin, Sandra Miller, Scott Stull, Linda Heath, Pete Loveland, Sherry McCargar, Susan Rosanski and Linda McCormick. Retired assistant superintendent for finance, Janice Warner, was also recognized.
Those who attended were given a commemorative plaque for their service to the school system and the community's children.
Little was said during the evening about the as of yet undetermined amount of savings to the school district that came out from the most recent contract negotiation with the Saline Education Association.
Ellis read a poem from an unknown author called "The Builder," in which the prose poses the question of whether there's more value in building or tearing down to build again, while ruminating on how much easier the latter is than the former.
"On behalf of Saline Area Schools I want to assure our retirees, their friends, and family that are here tonight, we are glad that you were here," Ellis said. "You’ve all been builders here for us in this community and we’re very very fortunate and much richer for your experiences. On behalf of the district, I’d like to thank you."
Superintendent Scot Graden reported that the district will be making extra efforts to poll and study district graduates starting with the class of 2019.
"How do we know that the class of 2019 is successful," he asked rhetorically, indicating that the window within which the district attempts to answer such questions through outreach to the alumni will "widen" to reach out 20 and even 30 years after graduation.
The goal of the polling will be to get a range of reflections on the Saline school district with a range of different experience levels and a range of different capacities for reflection based on more accrued professional and life experience.
"We're looking for real specific feedback on how Saline schools benefitted them," Graden said. "What do they perceive as the gaps in the curriculum or the services that were available."
He added that a greater cross section of alumni will be targeted and more actively pursued, whereas in the past polling efforts have been more voluntary or received more participation from alumni who have their own children in Saline schools, narrowing the sample too much, he explained.
Those interested in how this effort played out can expected a report exactly one year from now, Graden said.
The district hired two new afternoon custodians for Saline High School. The new hires were approved along with many of the aforementioned retirements.