Teachers who qualify will have the option to retire early in St. Johns County over COVID-19 concerns

Teachers who qualify will have the option to retire early in St. Johns County over COVID-19 concerns

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. — The St. Johns Education Association and St. Johns County School district are finalizing proposals for teachers who don’t feel safe returning to the classroom.

It took nearly 4 and half hours but the St. Johns Education Association and St. Johns County School District reached a tentative agreement Wednesday afternoon for teachers who want to retire early due to COVID-19 fears.

“In this unusual world we’re living in with the pandemic, an individual who is eligible for retirement could be thinking about their health, the health of their loved ones at home and say I want to take advantage of this opportunity,” Michelle Dillon, President of St. Johns Education Association said.

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Those teachers who opt for the early retirement incentive would get a $6,200 dollar bonus.

The early retirement incentive would only apply to teachers who meet the normal retirement requirements meaning they’ve worked for 30 years or are at least 62 years of age.

Justin Vogel, the chief negotiator with the teacher’s union told me that money would help teachers pay for their healthcare until they reach the age to apply for Medicare at 65.

“That’s what the incentive is for to help to you get to that eligibility,” he said.

Action News Jax told you Monday when the district and union reached a tentative agreement allowing teachers to transfer to St. Johns Virtual School if they don’t feel safe and meet certain requirements.

Teachers can also take an unpaid leave of absence for a year.

They would make the same salary when returning but may not have the same position.

The St. Johns Education Association told me they want teachers, especially those with high risk health conditions to have other option for peace of mind.

“And not worry about unexpected events that occur this year,” Dillon said.

Under this proposal a teacher would have until August 10th to contact HR with his or her decision to retire.

The teacher’s union says they are working on ratifying their list of proposals so they can present them to the school board.

It’s still unclear how many teachers the district could lose under the early retirement incentive proposal.

Action News Jax reached out to the district for that information and we’ll let you know what we find out.

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