School board tables discussion on retirement incentive

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Discussion to offer a monetary incentive to employees considering retirement from the Carson City School District at the end of the 2023-24 school year was tabled until the Jan. 23 meeting by the Board of Trustees on Jan. 9 after members asked for clarification.

Superintendent Andrew Feuling and Associate Superintendent of Human Resources Dan Sadler presented the incentive plan with a fiscal impact not to exceed $40,000 this fiscal year, which is not adding expenditures but comes from projected savings, Feuling said. The option differs from a previous legislative mechanism called a Voluntary Separation Incentive Plan (VSIP) in 2012 that was offered to administrative, certified and classified employees who chose to separate from the district and had been reintroduced by former Superintendent Richard Stokes in December 2019 when budget reductions were expected for the 2020-21 fiscal year.

Feuling, who was the district’s chief financial officer at the time, said the plan presented now is not the same as before and called the state’s financial status back then “rough times.” The district doesn’t seek to encourage early attrition, Feuling said, but it helps to identify veteran employees early in their decision process.

“As we continue to look at what our needs are and just the natural cycles of our employees and making decisions in their life to continue with us or not to, we’ve talked about trying to identify that process earlier, and really it gets down to looking at the budget and looking at the needs of the district, looking at the needs of staffing and enrollment numbers,” Feuling said.

Sadler explained the 2022-23 school year had been the first time the district was able to get ahead in its hiring process, bringing more than 70 certified staff members on board between January and August 2023.

“That’s the highest we’ve ever had historically, but one thing to our advantage was to get the word out there early, particularly prior to our surrounding school districts and notifying them, saying, ‘Hey, we’ve got positions, we’re open for business,’ and to get people through that hiring process much sooner,” Sadler said.

Sadler said initially the district would require a self-imposed deadline in February for those interested in getting their affairs in order with Nevada’s Public Employees’ Retirement System for benefits.

But during the discussion, there was confusion with the language in the agenda item, and Trustee Molly Walt asked for clarification on retirement versus resignation for employees who had completed over those who had worked in the district for one year. Board members questioned whether employees might view the incentive as an early exit and an opportunity to seek employment elsewhere rather than permanent retirement as they worried about filling ongoing vacancies.

School district attorney Ryan Russell said the agenda’s wording stated employees must provide their “intent to retire from the Carson City School District” and not to resign was a matter of semantics, and Sadler said there was no way to verify that an employee was retiring for the purposes of PERS.

“We don’t have enough people coming out of college to fill these (vacant) positions,” Trustee Mike Walker said. “We have to get creative with the way we look at some of these things.”

Walker recommended tabling the item until the Jan. 23 meeting, seeking clarification on the language.

Bordewich Bray Elementary School Principal Cheryl Richetta spoke before the board voted, saying last-minute resignations often leave administrators scrambling with bigger concerns.

“If you put an incentive in place for people who are leaving, that’s going to have some people who, they know it’s coming anyway, but they’re waiting until last minute to say, ‘Let’s do it in March,’ and they make that decision, but it’s going to help us out tremendously,” Richetta said.

The board approved to table the item until the Jan. 23 meeting 7-0.


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