Phillips Academy Offers Faculty And Staff Early Retirement Package

Twenty-six PA staff and administrative faculty members have said their goodbyes to Andover after accepting the school’s voluntary retirement package. The Voluntary Retirement Incentives Program (VRIP), offered since July, provides incentives for faculty and staff to voluntarily retire earlier than expected, and also helps administrators tighten the school budget. Although faculty members have enjoyed similar incentive packages in the past, the VRIP is the first program to offer the same opportunities to staff members. The first phase of the program was offered only to staff and administrative faculty. Phase two will provide teaching faculty with a similar incentive package. Faculty members will have until October 15 to decide to take the package. “We are very pleased with the number of people who took [the VRIP],” said Stephen Carter, Chief Operating and Financial Officer. The VRIP has allowed the school to prevent large-scale layoffs, which they hope to avoid in the future. “The goal was to avoid laying off good, loyal employees,” Carter said. “The only layoffs were two [Office of Physical Plant] project managers whose positions were no longer needed, and there was nowhere to reassign them.” “Rather than having targeted layoffs, we rolled the dice a little [by offering the VRIP], and it ended up well,” said Carter. According to Carter, some departments that require a fixed number of employees have hired new replacements at lower salaries. “When we rehire for a vacant position, we have recently been able to do so for a lower salary [than the retiree] was earning,” said Carter. “Someone from the power plant left, but we need the same number of workers there, so we hired a new person to fill the vacated positions,” said Carter. Other vacancies were unable to be filled, sometimes stretching the workload for the remaining employees. “The Office of the Physical Plant had eight who took the early retirement program, and we had five openings created by departures during the past fiscal year while we had a hiring restriction in place. We have rehired two [a power plant operator and a technician] people of these 13 positions,” said Michael Williams, Director of Facilities. “All the duties formerly handled by the other folks who have left have been added to the workload of those of us who remain,” he added. Williams is confident, however, that his department “can get the work done with only modest implications to the operations of the school.” “We are working hard to achieve this goal because we understand that these reductions are essential to help the school respond to the current economic realities,” Williams continued. “The Office of Academy Resources [OAR] participated in the academy-wide effort to reduce the size of our business operation,” said Peter Ramsey, Secretary of the Academy. “OAR opened the school year with approximately 10 fewer full-time equivalent employees than one year ago. Five of the [retirements] came as a result of the Voluntary Retirement Incentives Program. The other five came as a result of attrition, unfilled open positions and other factors,” said Ramsey. “Running our business with a smaller team will no doubt impact our work. However, it’s still too early to know what the full effect will be,” Ramsey continued. “It’s important to note that, despite fewer resources, we continue to aggressively pursue our goals in support of the academy’s people and programs.” Michael Kuta, Athletic Director, said that in order to handle some of the workload left by three retiring staff members, the Athletic Department is hiring three new employees. However, the working hours of the new employees will only add up to that of two full-time employees. “We lost about 126 years of memories and experience. That’s hard to replace, but we’re off to a fine start,” Kuta said. “Everyone has been helpful in this transition, and there are still growing pains, but I have nothing but appreciation for the patience of everyone in the department,” he continued. Some faculty members have been spending more time in the classroom to make up for these recent departures, according to John Rogers, Dean of Studies. “Last year I shared teaching a class with another faculty member. Now I’m teaching a full class. These shifts allow us to gain efficiency,” said Rogers. “We outsourced the trash pickup service, which allowed us to eliminate the truck driver position,” said Carter. The truck driver was then able to be reassigned to a different position, Carter added. “[For the faculty phase] we plan to…see where departures are and evaluate the department needs in regard to hiring to fill vacated positions,” he continued. “I believe those who took the package felt the school had treated them fairly.”