CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. — Jefferson County schools officials are offering employees a retirement incentive of $1,000 each to help the school system offset declining revenues that total $5.3 million over the past four years.
Jefferson County Schools Superintendent Susan Wall announced the proposal during a news conference Friday afternoon at the school system’s central office on Mordington Avenue in Charles Town.
Although school officials are sending out notices to employees about the possibility of staff reductions, it is possible no jobs will be affected depending on how many people retire, among other variables, Wall said.
Wall said she did not know when the school system would determine whether jobs will have to be cut or how many notices would go out.
Any employee who is approved for retirement by Feb. 27 can receive the incentive, Wall said.
School Board President Pete Dougherty said earlier Friday in a telephone interview that the Jefferson County Board of Education would discuss early retirement incentives at a meeting Monday night.
“There are some budget issues that the board will have to address .... Our tax revenue has gone down,” Dougherty said.
Tax revenue generated by property taxes helps fund the system’s operating expenses, including personnel costs.
The school system, which employs just under 1,300 people, sends out notices about possible employee reductions every year, Wall said. But she said employees may be particularly nervous about the system’s financial status this year in the face of the struggling economy.
“There’s a lot of false speculation and false rumors out there,” said Wall, who noted that she decided to hold the news conference to get the facts out to the community.
Wall said the financial situation facing schools will not impact instruction or students.
She said other financial challenges facing the school system include $1.5 million less stimulus money from the federal government; about $500,000 less funding for federal programs; less carry-over money for the fiscal 2013 budget; and the impact of post-employment benefits on future budgets.
Dougherty said the system received $2.8 million in gaming tax revenue from Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races last year.
Revenues from the casino cannot be used to pay salaries, he said. That money has to be used to pay for building maintenance and other capital improvement projects.
Dougherty said system officials anticipate the annual tax stipend from the casino will increase to $4 million in the coming years.
The school board will meet at 7 p.m. Monday.
Staff Writer Dan Dearth contributed to this story.