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Trustees approve seven retirements

| January 27, 2005 11:00 PM

By Brent Shrum Western News Reporter

The Libby School Board on Tuesday accepted the retirements of seven longtime educators.

Retiring at the end of the school year will be metals shop teacher Richard Kenck, fourth-grade teachers Rick Brabec and Janet Kendall, first-grade teacher Barbara Sears, high school special education teacher Fred Wolff, high school upper-level science teacher Michael Funk and high school counselor Nancy Chalgren.

Under the terms of their contract with the district, the seven will receive an $11,700 benefit toward monthly health insurance premiums. At current rates, the amount provided to the retirees will provide insurance coverage for less than three years, said district superintendent Kirby Maki.

The contract provides the early retirement incentive to seven teachers each year, with preference given to seniority. Last year, the board agreed to go beyond the bounds of the contract and provide the incentive to 10 teachers. This year, 11 applied, and three of the four teachers denied the incentive attended Tuesday¹s board meeting to ask the trustees to consider bending the rules again and providing them with the insurance benefit.

³I¹m asking you to do the fair thing and what I think is the right thing to do, understanding that you¹re under no obligation to do so,² said high school family and consumer sciences teacher Paula Darko-Hensler.

Joining Darko-Hensler in the request for reconsideration were high school English teachers Rose Goyen and Kathy Dunham. Darko-Hensler said the three ranked ninth through 11th in seniority among those applying for the retirement benefit. The eighth-ranking applicant did not attend Tuesday¹s meeting.

The board agreed to consider the request and make a decision next month. Board chair Teri Kelly noted that the other denied applicant would have to be contacted if the board decides to extend the benefit beyond the top seven.

³If that person doesn¹t rescind, they are number eight,² she said.

Some of the retiring teachers will be replaced with new hires while others will not. Either way, the district and the students will feel the loss of such experienced teachers, Maki said.

³It¹s unfortunate that that¹s the process we¹ve had to use to downsize to some degree, because those people are hard to replace,² he said.

In other personnel business at Tuesday¹s meeting, the board approved a new three-year contract for Maki. The decision followed a closed session prior to the regular meeting during which the board conducted an evaluation of Maki¹s performance.

Under the terms approved on Tuesday, Maki may or may not receive a raise depending on whether other staff receive one. The current three-year contracts for teachers and classified staff expire this year and will be re-negotiated.