5 teachers denied early retirement payments

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By Reed Anfinson
Swift County Monitor-News


It appeared to be a relatively routine action, but proved to be anything but that.

Five Benson Public School teachers had applied for early retirement and requested a $15,000 payment to go toward their health insurance.

The five were: Peggy Bausman, high school business teacher; Shelly Mikkelson, school choir instructor; Ruth Ahrndt, high school science teacher; Jon Ahrndt, elementary teacher; and Don Brehmer, high school trades class teacher.

Early retirement requests are governed by state statute rather than the teacher’s union master agreement, Supt. Dennis Laumeyer explained. The board had three choices with the requests. It could deny them, approve them, or counter offer with a lower amount. The requests for early retirement had to be submitted, or withdrawn, by Feb. 1.

After they had submitted their early retirement forms, Bausman and Mikkelson found out that if their requests were approved, they could no longer teach in the school district. They could substitute teach. Both had expressed an interest in continuing to teach after retiring, but could not withdraw their applications once submitted.

In denying Bausman and Mikkelson’s requests for early retirement, the board was complying with their wishes. However, it also denied the requests of both Ahrndts and Brehmer.

“What has been the board’s policy in the past?” new School Board Member Jim Berens asked.

“Each one stands alone,” Board Member Bill McGeary replied. “There is no precedent set…” in approving an individual’s request.

Board Member Gary Williams said that a cap of $10,000 had been placed on requests by earlier boards....


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