Ryan Hagen, Staff Writer
Posted: 05/24/2011 04:11:23 PM PDT

COLTON – The school board will likely decide tonight to reverse last week’s vote rejecting an early retirement plan for teachers and counselors.

The plan – which offers a financial incentive for older employees to retire this year, allowing the position to be left vacant or filled by a newer employee with a lower salary – failed May 19 on a 3-4 vote.

But several Colton Joint Unified school board members who initially voted against the plan, saying they weren’t sure it would save money, said an email the president of the teachers association sent May20 convinced them.

“I’m looking to change my vote,” said board member Pilar Tabera. “To be honest, it was just a matter of a lack of asking the proper questions and getting the information I needed to make a knowledgeable decision. … I have it now.”

The district has been struggling to cut $10.5 million from its budget. It made it about halfway there by laying off 72 teachers, nurses and counselors on May 5.

“We’re stunned they would turn down an opportunity to save millions of dollars and bring back (laid-off) teachers,” said Karen Houck, president of the Association of Colton Educators. “It’s a win-win.”

Savings of the Supplemental Early Retirement Program are difficult to predict because it depends on who retires and who replaces them, said Jaime R. Ayala, assistant superintendent of business services.

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