Another veteran teacher at Riverside-Brookfield High School has accepted a $25,000 buyout to retire one year earlier than planned. District 208 Superintendent Kevin Skinkis has been offering the buyouts to some highly paid veteran teachers approaching retirement as he slashes payroll costs in an effort to reduce or eliminate next year’s budget projected deficit.

On Feb. 28 the school board unanimously approved the buyout of long time English teach and department chair George Miller. This brings to four the number of veteran teachers who are retiring at the end of this school year, earlier than they had originally planned.

The school board is offering the $25,000 payments to certain highly paid teachers close to retirement if they retire early. The early retirements save the district money by cutting some of the most highly paid teachers from the payroll and reduce the need to lay off younger teachers.

As is required under the current contract, the district will also reimburse Miller $7,671 for the employee portion of the early retirement option penalty imposed by the Illinois Teacher Retirement System (TRS), the pension plan for Illinois teachers.

Under the early retirement option, the district also must pay a penalty of $15,675 to the TRS.

Miller came to RBHS 30 years ago as an English teacher. He has served as the chairman of the English Department for 25 years and also serves as the chairman of the World Languages Department.

District 208 Superintendent Kevin Skinkis is considering eliminating department chairs at RB next year. Currently department chairs receive a stipend and, depending on the size of their departments, one or two release periods to do department chair work, which includes the evaluation of teachers and other administrative tasks.

Miller has three release periods, two as English Department chair and one as World Language Department chair. He teaches two classes, Advanced Placement literature and contemporary literature, each semester. The typical teaching load for a teacher at RBHS is five classes per semester.

“He is a valued member of our faculty, an influential instructional leader and scholar, and a mentor to countless students and staff,” said Principal Pamela Bylsma. “While we wish him well in his retirement, we will miss George Miller deeply.”

Miller has a bachelor’s degree from the University of California- Berkeley and a master’s degree from University College in Dublin, Ireland. He brought expertise in British and Irish literature to RBHS and has been an active member in many professional organizations.

“Mr. Miller epitomizes the role of a life-long learner,” Bylsma said.

Miller did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

Miller is at the absolute top of the RBHS salary scale, earning $126,999 in base salary and an additional $19,746 for his work as the chairman of the two departments.

His $126,999 salary is for a teacher with a master’s degree plus 45 additional hours of graduate credit and 20 or more years of experience.

There are currently 10 teachers at RBHS at that level and two, Miller and music teacher Kevin McOlgan, have accepted the district’s buyout to retire early.

Finance officer rehired

On March 13, the District 208 school board voted unanimously to rehire Tim McGinnis as the district's part-time chief financial officer. McGinnis started at the district in July 2011 after Chris Whelton left to take another job.

McGinnis will get a $10,000 raise next year and will probably work a little more. This year he is earning $65,000 and is supposed to be working half time.

Next year he will work three days a week (150 days total) and be paid $500 a day.

Superintendent Kevin Skinkis said he was "very pleased with Tim's performance," noting that McGinnis came into the job during a challenging period – with a new superintendent, four new school board members and the district's budget facing a $1.6 million deficit.

"Tim has done a great job," Skinkis said.

Ed. note: Just to clarify, McGinnis will be receiving the same rate of pay next year, $500 per day. He'll be paid more in total because he will be working more hours.