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Retirement incentive delayed for employees, needs further analysis

Golden Handshake illustration.(Brian OMalley/The Telescope)
Golden Handshake illustration.(Brian O’Malley/The Telescope)

Many faculty, staff and administrators at Palomar College were looking forward to getting a hefty bonus for retiring early at the end of the semester. This may not be the case any longer.

During the April 13 Governing Board meeting, the board decided to postpone the approval of the Supplementary Early Retirement Plan, also referred to as the SERP because it might not save the college money. The board will make its final decision whether to approve the SERP on April 28.

The SERP is a bonus incentive of 75 percent of a person’s annual salary offered to those who chose to retire early. It was approved by the board on Sept. 9, 2014, under certain conditions; one being that it would save Palomar money over a period of five years.

Across Palomar a total of 89 people signed up to retire, while the District only projected 68 people would.

File photo courtesy of Palomar College Public Affairs.
File photo courtesy of Palomar College Public Affairs.

Governing Board President John Halcon said the board decided to postpone the approval of the SERP because they didn’t have enough time to look over the documents carefully. He said they are very complex documents concerning the analysis over how it would affect the district financially and didn’t want to rush.

With 18 more classified staff retiring than projected and a smaller savings than projected as well, this leaves many faculty and staff concerned if the vacant positions will be filled in a timely manner.

Aaron Holmes, Council of Classified Employees president, said during the meeting the assumptions don’t add up to what he received back in July. The classified staff only agreed to the SERP if the vacant positions would be filled as quickly as possible for the 2015-16 year. Now, it seems with the analysis given, classified staff won’t be hired for nine months.

Holmes urged the Governing Board to review the numbers to make sure it not only saves the District money, but so classified staff won’t be left 45 people short for nine months.

When the SERP was in its negotiating phase last year it was decided that it will only get approved by the Governing Board if it will save the District money in the long run. According to an April 15 email sent out by Shannon Lienhart, co-president of the faculty union, the district can only offer the SERP if it saves the college money or else it “opens the District up to liability for awarding a gift of public funds.”

Faculty and staff had until April 3 to sign up and names will stay confidential until the board passes the SERP, according to Laura Gropen Public Affairs director.

Breakdown of employees who applied for SERP:

– 28 faculty

– 9 Educational Administrators

– 45 Classified Non-Management

– 7 Classified Administrators

Palomar President Robert Deegan, Vice President of Instruction Berta Cuaron and Vice President of Human Resources John Tortarolo, as well as a few deans, officially announced their decision to retire months in advance.

Look for updates about the retirement in the coming weeks on our Facebook, Twitter and our website


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Retirement incentive delayed for employees, needs further analysis