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Following a trend from recent years to save the school system money, Calvert County Public Schools is offering an incentive for early retirement to employees who meet the requirements starting this winter.

Nancy V. Highsmith, interim superintendent of the school system, sent out a memorandum Nov. 22 to all teachers, support staff and administrators announcing the eligibility requirements and incentive offer beginning Dec. 2. The measure is intended to cut costs spent on higher salaries of longtime employees.

The incentive will be a one-time payment equal to 7 percent of the eligible employee’s fiscal 2014 salary, according to the memo. In addition, CCPS will pay 100 percent of the cost of retiree health insurance benefits for an individual plan offered through CCPS for a maximum of one year beginning July 1, 2014, for retirees of any age, the memo states.

“We are certainly not trying to push people out,” Eugene Karol, president of the Calvert County Board of Education, said. “But those who are thinking of retiring, anyway, it gives them a little incentive to do so early.”

At their most recent board of education meeting, the board members discussed ways to combat the $2 million deficit the school system is facing next year, which already was brought down from $4 million.

“[We are] looking everywhere we can to cut spending,” Highsmith said at the meeting Nov. 21. In an email, Highsmith said the early retirement incentive provides a cost savings to the school system.

Last year, 59 employees took the incentive and early retirement, saving the school system more than $1 million in salaries, said Victoria Karol, acting director of human resources. She said she anticipates the same outcome this year.

“The budget is going to be a problem this year. Money is tight,” Eugene Karol said. “And we’re looking at all different ways to save money, and this is one way to do it.”

Eugene Karol also said this will give the school system an opportunity to advertise vacancies so new hires can be arranged as soon as possible.

“Knowing your vacancies early is a big plus,” Eugene Karol said.

An employee must have a minimum of five years of creditable service with the school system in order to receive the retirement incentive, according to the memo. The employee also must meet the Maryland State Retirement Agency eligibility requirements for a normal early service retirement.

Offers are made on a first-come, first-served basis, recorded at the time the completed “Retirement Incentive Application Form” is submitted. Forms should be submitted in person to the Human Resources Department between Dec. 2 and Jan. 6 for an effective retirement date of July 1, 2014, according to the memo.

snewman@somdnews.com