The County School Board on Thursday night approved a retirement incentive for teachers, principals and administrators that provides a one-time payout of up to 25 percent of annual salary.
Supt. Bryan Johnson said the program would bring a projected annual savings of over $6.5 million due to incoming beginning teachers making about $20,000 less than those leaving the system.
He said it would provide funds for the schools to spend on high priority items and also give personnel an attractive early retirement option.
However, Chairman Steve Highlander said he had concerns about losing experienced elementary teachers and those with math and science skills that are at a premium.
Rhonda Thurman voted against the plan, saying it would bring the loss of many senior personnel "with institutional knowledge."
She also expressed concern about where the schools would be able to find that many replacement teachers.
Christie Jordan, finance director, said it was projected that about 150 personnel would take advantage of the option. She said more than that opted for a similar plan in 2009. She said at the time the county schools were trimming personnel due to a budget crunch.
She said the schools would be getting an additional $1.9 million from BEP funds and that could go toward paying the lump sums to early retirees.
Officials said they were stepping up teacher recruitment efforts, including visiting additional colleges and universities, including Vanderbilt.
Those with 25 years of service and above would be eligible for the 25 percent. Those with 20-24 years it would be 20 percent. Those with 10+ years and age 65 above would be 15 percent.
Ms. Jordan said the starting budget for the upcoming fiscal year is $372.6 million. She said a state salary step increase and a state retirement rate increase will raise the base amount to $377.2 million.
In other action, the board finally approved a 2018-2019 calendar. School starts for staff on Aug. 2 and for students on Aug. 8.
There will be three days off for Thanksgiving, but a week off for fall break the second week of October.
Christmas break for students starts Dec. 20. Students do not return until Jan. 7.
Spring break is the week of March 18.
The last scheduled day of school is May 23.
The board is to act in coming weeks on approving a 2019-2020 calendar.