Amherst Schools expect flood of retirements this year

By Jason Hawk -

Note: This story has been corrected. Changes to be implemented in 2017 affect the School Employees Retirement System, which is used by non-teaching public school staff.

Clinic aide Kamille Cocco and teacher aides Beverly Kalivoda and Linda Koch are the latest Amherst Schools workers to put in for retirement — and many others are likely to join her by the end of the school year.

Superintendent Steven Sayers told the board of education Monday that big changes to the School Employees Retirement System will kick in Aug. 1, 2017. He believes they will bring the departure of many well-known Amherst Schools workers.

Sayers said he fielded retirement questions from three other staffers in the week preceding the meeting.

SERS had 122,855 active members and 74,372 benefit recipients last year. It paid out $1.2 billion in pensions and health care reimbursements.

But as part of a 2012 reform bill passed by the legislature, Ohio’s five public pension systems have been gradually overhauled.

Chief among the changes are increased age and service requirements for retirement that will be effective next fall. A grandfather provision allows members who served 25 years on or before Aug. 1 to retire now.

Though sad to see longtime employees leave, Sayers said retirements could come at a worse time.

The district is looking to shrink its staff and doesn’t want to lay anyone off, he said.

Fewer workers will be needed when Powers and Harris elementary schools are demolished and replaced with one new building. The drop in payroll expenses is one way in which the Amherst Schools will save about $500,000 per year with the new school.

Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-988-2801 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.

By Jason Hawk