New numbers on the teachers taking the golden handshake: The tally is now up to 562, with more paperwork streaming into the San Diego Unified offices. That is 71 people shy of its goal.

The magic number — 633 — is based on an estimate of how many teachers need to take the exit bonus for it to break even for the school district over five years, said Tim Asfazadour, who directs staffing for educators. That number, in turn, is based on the average salary of all the teachers who were eligible for the bonus. It was calculated back before anyone knew who was actually signing up for the deal.

But the number is only an estimate. If lots of very senior teachers who earn the most money take the bonus, it could break even with a lower number of teachers signing up. It matters who they are. If more of the younger, yet still eligible teachers took the bonus, it could actually cost schools money.

So what happens if the school district doesn’t hit that goal? It’s up to the school board to decide whether to offer the bonus or not. Sam Wong, who oversees human resources in San Diego Unified, was quoted in the Union-Tribune today saying, “I’m not sure 633 is attainable. But I think we are close enough for the board to consider this.”

Some members of the school board aren’t so sure. “My assumption was that if it didn’t get to 633 that it was a dead deal,” member John de Beck said this morning. “I’m not going to vote for an early retirement if it’s going negative on us.”

The school board is getting updated numbers on how much the teachers who are taking the bonus actually earn, and whether going forward with the plan would save or cost the district. If the plan is canceled, teachers who signed up for the plan are not bound to leave the school district. The board will discuss the bonus in a closed meeting on Tuesday.


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