Due to a loss in state funding, Superintendent Dr. Brian Maher says this is the last year the Kearney Public School District will be able to offer their Temporary Early Retirement Incentive Program.
KPS has offered TERIP for the last 23 years to staff and faculty 55 and older who have worked for the district for 10 or more years.
"Basically for our staff members in that category, it's a use it or lose it proposition," says Maher.
This year 38 teachers and staff will take the financial incentive and retire, a big exit compared to the usual 10-15 retirees KPS sees annually.
"I wish it was money that we would give to retirees as a gesture of saying 'job well done,' but really what it is is an incentive to move along the folks who are probably at the upper end of your pay scale and allowing you to bring in folks who will be in the lower end of your pay scale," says Maher.
But he says bringing in new teachers to save money has a downside too.
"It worries me a great deal that we'll have 1,135 years of experience walking out our doors," Maher says. "I have no worries that we'll be able to replace the body, my worry is in being able to replace the wisdom that goes with that experience."
Forty-two of those years of experience belong to Kearney High teacher and wrestling coach Tom McCann. He says the incentive money played a role in his retirement.
"For me it was a very tough decision because I love what I'm doing," says McCann. "I think most of the teachers up here, quite a few in this same boat, have been here a number of years, and I think it played into the decision, but I don't know if it was the overriding decision for many."
McCann says for him it's more about spending days outside the classroom.
"Maybe take a little time, spend with my grandkids and my family."
Maher says replacing these retirees will change the culture of KPS as they'll have to do more mentoring of new staff and faculty.
Last year 24 KPS employees retired. Maher says he expects very few will next year since so many capitalized on the incentive program the past two years.