Golden Handshake up for approval, 74 college staff accept gesture

All that was needed for the Board of Trustees to vote on an early retirement program was 44 Cerritos College employees to take the “Golden Handshake” retirement plan.

As of late April, 74 employees have agreed to no longer work and take an early retirement.

The Golden Handshake was offered to college employees and faculty members who are at their retirement age of 55 or with the retirement incentive at age 50 and have to work for the district more than five years.

Among the 74 retirees were 37 faculty members, four certificated managers, 31 classified, one confidential and one classified manger.

Though the retirement incentive has not officially been established, with more than enough volunteers the Board of Trustees is expected to pass the retirement plan when it gets presented on their May 4 meeting, Cerritos College President Dr. Linda Lacy.

“I’m making a recommendation to the board that it accepts this,” Lacy said. “I believe, from every indication of the board members, they will.”

The “Golden Handshake,” which is a voluntary retirement plan for employes at Cerritos College, is said to help the current budget downfall in the long-run.

Within the first year of the retirement to have taken action, “the school will have accumulated [approximately] a two-million-dollar savings,

 “After a five year period it still looks like we can have a million dollars in savings,” Lacy said.

Reason for the million dollar decrease in savings is during the “first year, you haven’t replaced the faculty with permanent employees, so you save on their health benefits and other things,” Lacy said.

After a five-year span, the money will have to be paid back into the incentive package and annuities.

“Ultimately, it will still be a nice savings after five years.”

Faculty’s last day of work will be the last day of finals and classified staff’s last day of employment will be in late June.

Lacy believes that this will be a good thing for part-time or new beginning teachers who are seeking jobs to apply to.

“We have not employed part-time teachers with all the budget cuts,” she said. “So it will be a good time for us to hire part-time teachers.”

Faculty who get hired to replace those retiree professors will be hired for a year as  part-time employees, but will be replaced by permanent staff after their year is over.

Two permanent employees from the nursing and pharmacy programs have already been permanently hired, and the college hopes to hire the remaining 35 within a year.

Departments will decide how they would like positions to be filled.

“The classified and management positions will be replaced, effective July 1 or August 1,” Lacy said.

Anna Montero, business major, finds herself affected by the retirement plan and its possible effects.

“I think hiring part time teachers will affect us because for example if we have a question we’re not going to be able to go to their offices,” she said, “It will affect us in our grades and learning process.”

The early retirement program has not been offered to Cerritos College employees since 2003.

Though early retirement incentives are design to avoid major layoffs and to improve financial budget, Cerritos College can not be 100 percent certain that the early retirement program can avoid budget cuts.

Depending on Governor Jerry Brown’s decision on the May 16 budget revision, California community colleges can be severely affected if he decides to cut up to $12 million dollars in the budget.

“We are going to start and try to rebuild our fall and spring semester schedule with classes and different things so the [money in our] savings keep us from having to keep cutting more and possibly adding back,” said Lacy.