13 Perelman Teachers Take Early Retirement Option

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The move comes a year after a dispute over the day school’s board decision to no longer recognize the teacher’s union.

The Perelman Jewish Day School staff directory will be decidedly different next year after 13 teachers accepted an early retirement package from the school.

The school offered packages to 27 of the aproximately 50 teachers at the school, according to Judy Groner, who started as head of school in 2014. Eligibility for the plan was based on years of service and proximity to retirement age. 

The move comes a year after a dispute over the school’s board decision to no longer recognize the teacher’s union. It is not clear what role that played in the school’s decision to offer the retirement package or in the teachers’ decisions to take it.

“The teachers with whom I have spoken who have opted to take the retirement plan offered to 27 of us are happy with their decisions,” Lisa Richman, a veteran teacher who had been the union president last year, stated in an email. She was eligible for the package but decided to continue teaching.

The Jewish Exponent tried to reach some of the retiring teachers but could not find any who would comment. More than 300 students in grades K-5 attend the school, which has campuses in Wynnewood and Melrose Park.

During the dispute last year, talks between the board and faculty became tense, and the American Federation of Teachers filed charges, later dismissed, on behalf of the teachers.

When asked about whether the dispute and the retirements were related, Groner wrote in an email, “Only as it relates to a positive atmosphere of open dialogue between school administration and faculty.”

“Not having a union in place at our school has given us more flexibility to recognize teacher excellence, collaborate with teachers, assign teachers to the most appropriate classrooms and is allowing us to recruit the most talented new teachers for our school,” said Tracey Specter, president of the Perelman board. 

Several teachers said privately that the acrimony following the labor dispute last year has dissipated, and they credited Groner for trying to restore a more positive relationship.

“We will miss the wisdom of these teachers, who left their mark on decades of Perelman students,” Groner wrote.

Groner was unsure how many teachers will be replaced, saying the decision will be based on next year’s enrollment.