Two efforts to establish an early retirement offer for certified staff in the Wapello School District were defeated Wednesday by the school board, despite a recommendation from Superintendent Mike Peterson to adopt a plan.

Peterson said an early retirement plan could help the district’s General Fund if longer-serving and likely higher-salaried employees were replaced by new staff that might start at a lower salary.

The first proposal, which was rejected on a 2-3 vote, would have offered eligible staff a $25,000 package that could either be placed in a Health Savings Account or paid as a lump sum.

The second proposal would have provided the same incentive, but unlike the first idea would have included a stipulation the board would not offer another retirement plan for four years.

Before either vote was taken, Peterson suggested the offer include a stipulation the board would not offer another early retirement program for several years. He explained he was frustrated over the tepid response from teachers to past incentives.

Only a couple of the seven teachers who were eligible last year took early retirement when the board presented the offer. Peterson said seven teachers would be eligible again this year, but he felt a “wake-up” call would be needed to encourage more participation.

“I would say we don’t revisit (early retirement) for at least three years,” he said, adding he would not disagree if the freeze lasted four or five years.

However, newly-elected board member Doug Meeker said he could not understand why the board should include any freeze with its offer.

“I’m the new kid on the block, but it doesn’t sound like (early retirement) hurts us,” he said.

Board member Doug Housman agreed and pointed out a future board could ignore any freeze anyway.

“I don’t want to tie hands,” he said.

However, when the vote to adopt an early retirement plan with no freeze was presented, it failed on a 2-3 vote, with Housman and Meeker in favor and board members Matt Stewart and Eric Smith joining Board President Duane Boysen in opposition.

Boysen then proposed a motion adopting an early retirement plan, but including a four-year freeze. It failed on a 1-4 vote, with Boysen the only board member in support.

In other action, Peterson said he would present a recommendation at the board’s November meeting to reschedule next spring’s graduation ceremonies.

He said area schools have started holding graduations on a Sunday and family conflicts seem inevitable.

“We have so many families where the family trees are so intertwined we have conflicts,” he said.

Board members agreed and Peterson said he would present a proposal next month for the board to consider.

The board also:

• Agreed to a four-year lease of five new gasoline-powered Blue Bird buses from School Bus Sales, Waterloo, for $244,989; with $48,000 of that payment going to purchase one of the buses for a district spare at the end of the lease period;

• Approved a $41,834 request to the School Budget Review Committee for Modified Allowable Growth to recover spending authority caused by deficit spending in the school’s Limited English Proficiency program;

• Approved hiring Michelle Wade as the district’s new technology director; and

• Agreed to hire Jim Giese Roofing, Dubuque, to inspect the school’s roofs over the next year at a cost of $3,500.