Florida superintendents are handing pink slips to veteran teachers who earn extra-juicy pension packages, while also staying in the classroom past the age they were eligible to retire.
In 2003 when the Florida legislature authorized extensions of the state's DROP (Deferred Retirement Option Plan) program, it was looking for ways to help districts address serious teacher shortages. With school enrollment now stable and budgets shrinking fast, school districts are no longer all that interested in keeping the high priced teachers on their rolls.
Plans like DROP are common in many districts around the country, but they are an expensive solution for tackling teacher shortages since they retain teachers who are at the highest end of the pay scale. They also are an expensive program for the state, as they prompt teachers to retire earlier than they might have, thus requiring the state pension system to pay out more years of benefits.
But there's no question that these programs are a good deal for end-of-career teachers who still have the energy for classroom duty. For example, a teacher with 30 years of service and who is as young as 52 can go into the DROP program for five years and then retire at 57 having accumulated a tax-deferred account worth almost $200,000.