The school district retirement buyout program will be phased out, with the incentive ending March 1, 2017.

The Lincoln County School District Board voted 3-1 to end buyouts after discussion at the Feb. 11 board meeting. The incentive has been used for teachers or staff members who wish to retire early or have to retire early due to a medical problems. It allows for the district to do the buyouts over two years. It can save the school district money on salaries over the long hall, but puts a dent in the budget in the short term.

During the meeting district superintendent Steve Hansen read letters from five previous staff members who had been denied the buyout incentive. Hansen said there was no violation of the buyout policy but a misinterpretation on the applications for the five retirees. The board approved the buyout requests for the five staff members and then discussed whether to phase the policy out.

With over $200,000 in buyouts currently committed, Hansen expressed concerns that such funds could be better used to purchase new school busses or be spent on kids’ education. Board member Wade Poulsen asked Pam Teel, who will replace Hansen as superintendent after the school year, what her opinion on the matter was. She stated that she feels this policy is not financially advantageous.

Poulsen commented that district would be better off phasing the policy out. Board member Pat Kelley stated he thought it was better to keep the incentive in place and that he feels teachers deserve the buyout.

There was also discussion on whether the policy could be kept with changes. A union director who was at the meeting said he felt it was not necessary to have or not have a buyout incentive. He said he was a teacher in Washoe County for many years, and that school district had a capped amount set for its buyouts along with other restrictions.

Hansen commented that even a capped amount would not be advantageous financially for this district and that moneys would be better spent on education for the kids.