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Teachers feeling impact of Sweetwater financial turmoil

Sweetwater Union High School District
Posted at 2:01 PM, Dec 24, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-24 17:04:33-05

CHULA VISTA, Calif. (KGTV) -- As the Sweetwater Union High School District deals with financial trouble totaling tens of millions of dollars, employees are starting to feel the impact.

At least 300 employees with the district opted for early retirement, some of whom retired this December.

Peter Bishop has worked for the district for more than 17 years as a math and science teacher.

RELATED: Lack of oversight, massive spending and even larger deficits continue to plaque SUHSD

Bishop says he, along with hundreds of others, was offered early retirement after learning that the district was operating at a deficit.

“There’s always a little bit of emotion when you go through a life transition like that. I’m sorry to leave the kids, sorry to leave my colleagues, those are the folks I’m going to miss, but, you know, time to move on.”

Bishop expects that there will be an impact to schools throughout the district as experienced teachers move out and younger, less experienced ones move in.

RELATED: Sweetwater Union High School District faces potential fraud investigation

“Well there’s no question there’s going to be an impact at every school someone leaves. The teachers that retired were all long-term teachers. Very experienced. When you have that many years in the classroom you bring a lot to the table.”

Bishop said, whoever replaces him has a lot to learn about managing the classroom. “It’s a steep learning curve the first couple of years.”

TIMELINE: Sweetwater Union High School District's budget woes

In November, the district began to offer employees 50-years-old and older who’d been with the district for more than 10 years the option to resign then retire from the district.

Those who selected early retirement were given two options for bonuses: Leave in December to receive 85 percent of their annual salary or leave at the end of the school year in 2019 to receive 60 percent of their annual salary.

The offer comes as the district figures out how to deal with financial woes.

A recent report by the Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team found massive spending, tens of millions in deficit and lack of oversight as just a few reasons for the financial trouble facing the district.