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— The Rogers School District is losing 89 teachers, administrators and other employees before the start of next school year, the result of a one-time buyout program.

Educators Preferred Corp., the company administering the program for the district, had projected 180 employees would take a buyout, saving the district an estimated $4.47 million over eight years.

Katy Rose, senior vice president of the company, said that projection didn’t take into account the state’s deferred retirement system for teachers. In many cases, it made better financial sense for teachers to stay in the deferred retirement system than to take a $40,000 buyout, Rose said.

The deferred retirement program allows members with at least 28 years in the retirement system to continue working for up to 10 years while they collect a portion of their retirement benefits in an interest-earning retirement account.

“We really couldn’t compete with that for the people who were on it,” Rose said.

The company now is collecting information about how much it will cost to replace the employees who took buyouts. Without that information, Rose said, she could not give a figure for how much money the district will save.

Under the buyout program, teachers and other certified employees with at least five years in the district and 10 years in the state retirement system were eligible for a $40,000 buyout.

Classified employees were eligible for a buyout equal to their salary up to $15,000.

Arkansas, Pages 11 on 03/31/2011

Print Headline: Rogers schools offer buyouts, to shed 89 workers before fall

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