The Decorah School Board has unanimously tabled a discussion regarding whether to offer early retirement to classified staff.

"Classified" staff refers to anyone working in the District who does not hold a teaching degree.

At Monday's meeting of the Decorah School District, the Board discussed the proposed policy and anticipated savings to the District. Over the past three months, 17 District teachers have taken advantage of an early retirement which was offered to certified staff.

During the discussion Monday night, comments centered around whether offering a retirement package to eight eligible staff would truly save the District money.

"When we did this for the teachers, the driving force was to save the District money. It was quite a savings. When I look at this scenario, the first three years would not be a savings, we would have a loss ... if we're going to look at a retirement benefit for this group of people, we want to make sure it would have a financial impact on the District," said Board Member Brian Petersburg.

Like the early retirement package offered to teachers, the District retirees in question would be offered half of their salaries, spread over a three-year period. Unlike, the teachers, however, they would not receive any benefits.

"Such an offer is, in no way, designed to be something of a golden parachute. We have to look at it as a financial measure and make sure it is a good investment for the District," said Board President Ron Fadness.

Petersburg said if all eight people took retirement, it would cost the District $83,000.

The Board next noted savings wouldn't be as great for the classified staff, because their salaries aren't as large.

"Their ladder doesn't climb as fast," said Fadness.

"Nor as far," added Superintendent Mike Haluska.

The Board acknowledged savings projections are a guess, as it is unknown how long some of the employees might choose to stay if they don't take early retirement.

Petersburg said he had tried to be conservative with his projections, but he would be surprised if the early retirement offer would help the District financially.

"This is a much more difficult decision than I thought it would be," said Fadness.

After he suggested tabling the issue until a future meeting, Board Member John Hjelle said, "I want to make the right decision for the people who are involved, and of course, the District."

The Board also discussed the fact Melanie Tietz was absent from Monday's meeting and noted that because it was a important decision, having Tietz in attendance would be beneficial.