NH district finds more predictable retirement frees up funds

Nashua, New Hampshire, School District superintendent Mark Conrad said that a recent change to teachers' contracts has made budgeting significantly easier this year.

As part of the most recent contract negotiations, teachers must now submit a binding letter of their intent to retire by February 1 in order to receive their severance benefits, unless retirement occurs due to health problems or other unplanned circumstances.

Knowing how many teachers are going to retire allows local officials to more accurately calculate the government's liability, Conrad told the Nashua Telegraph. As a result, the district can reduce the amount in its severance reserve account without taking a significant risk. He also noted that the savings are allowing the district to avoid layoffs for the first time in three years.

The previous contract asked teachers to submit non-binding letters by mid-February, which Conrad states led to large numbers of letters being received each year. Some teachers would turn in letters for up to six consecutive years, he said, making it extremely difficult for officials to predict how many would really be leaving the workforce.

According to president Bob Sherman of the Nashua Teachers' Union, educators filed these letters because many fear legislative changes to the New Hampshire Retirement System may deprive them of their benefits. This may encourage some teachers to retire before they would have otherwise to avoid the risk of losing their severance compensation.

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