District Savings Recognized

Teacher Resignation Incentives To Free Up More Than $300K At JPS

From left, Lisa Almasi, district chief operating officer, and Superintendent Bret Apthorpe, discuss how 22 teachers and one administrator took a leave incentive option that left Jamestown Public Schools with cost savings going into the next school year. Estimated savings were calculated to be $325,000 for one year. P-J photo by Jordan W. Patterson

The Jamestown Public Schools District will see savings of more than $300,000 from resignation incentives offered by the district.

“It’s definitely a success,” said Lisa Almasi, district chief operating officer, regarding the incentive leave program.

The district approved the incentive program for teachers and principals at an April 16 board of education meeting. Twenty-two teachers and one principal submitted resignation letters before the May 13 deadline. The resignations were officially approved at Wednesday’s meeting.

Those who utilized the program included Mark Alpaugh, music teacher; Rudi Andalora, elementary teacher; Paige Anderson, social studies teacher; Sue Atkins, elementary teacher; Larry Bentzoni, technology teacher; Carrie Blitz, reading teacher; Andrew Coccagnia, music teacher; David Brunecz, elementary teacher; Michelle Buttafaro, elementary teacher; Susan D. Carlson, special education teacher; Brenda Chandler, library media specialist; Patty Duncanson, guidance counselor; Eileen Healy, elementary teacher; Stephanie Johnson, elementary teacher; Sharon Gollnick, registered school nurse; Kim Lane, special education teacher; Patty Lefford, elementary teacher; Dave Mazzone, art teacher; Christopher Reilly, business education teacher; Roslyn Sisley-Kazelunas, elementary teacher; Terry Smith, middle school teacher; Brent Sutter, assistant principal; and Carla Stringer, registered school nurse.

Although the salaries of teachers leaving total $1,779,927, overall district savings were calculated to be $325,000 for one year after accounting for monetary incentives and estimated replacement salaries.

While observing savings, Dr. Bret Apthorpe, JPS superintendent, previously told The Post-Journal that any cost reduction would feel like a “double edged sword.”

“We’re losing some good people,” Apthorpe said.

Almasi said she would not recommend the inventive leave program be offered every year, but reiterated that it was a success in the current school year.

“This was actually a good move,” she said.

Teachers that elected to utilize the incentive will receive $25,000 in four payments over four years.

Any principal taking advantage of the program will receive up to $10,000 over five years to supplement their health insurance premiums.

Teachers and principals participating will be able to continue to add to their retirement fund while employed elsewhere.

During this time, the district saves money by hiring a new teacher at a lower salary level.

Almasi said the average salary of staff who took the leave option was $81,000, while starting pay for a new teacher is estimated at $45,000.

The district placed a 15-teacher minimum on its offer to ensure there will be a significant amount of savings from the deal. Those teachers also had to be on a certain pay step in order to qualify. Apthorpe said the salary of an eligible teacher is around $65,000. With 22 teachers, Apthorpe anticipated significant savings for the district by replacing those positions with new teachers beginning on a lower step.

To address an ongoing teacher shortage and potentially replace now vacant positions, John Panebianco, director of human resources, has been promoting the district at local colleges and universities throughout the school year.

Apthorpe said their current applicant pool was at 70 submissions during the month of May.