Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Retirement Benefits Lure Educator into Busy School Board Primary

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Retirement Benefits Lure Educator into Busy School Board Primary

Article excerpt

An attractive retirement package may have influenced C.T.

"Mickey" Fields -- director of applied technology for Clay

County Schools -- to enter the race for a seat on the Clay

County School Board.

An educator for 22 years, Fields has debated for months whether

to be a candidate for the seat now held by School Board

Chairwoman Norene Frazier. She and board member Carol Studdard,

who is unopposed, are running for re-election.

Hoping to save an estimated $10 million, the board is in the

final stages of offering the retirement package that is

providing an impetus for Fields.

An administrator, Fields said he has had a "burning" desire to

be a policy-maker for Clay's largest employer. "I'm just going

into an area that I know," he said. "I'm not running against

Frazier."

Fields has filed with the Supervisor of Elections Office an

intent to run against Frazier in the District 4 Republican

primary. Qualifying dates for the Sept. 3 primary are July

15-19. To qualify, a candidate must collect approximately 800

signatures of registered voters or pay a fee of an estimated

$1,668.23, 7.1 percent of the $22,243 board member's salary.

A third candidate in the mix is Republican George E. Westwood,

a TWA pilot who has been active in the Parent Faculty

Association at Ridgeview Elementary and who filed an intent to

run last fall.

Trying to save $10 million, the board is trying to tempt 186

school employees to retire by June 30. The deal calls for 8

years of paid health insurance, a 25 percent bonus and

reimbursement for up to 180 days of unused annual and sick

leave. To qualify for the retirement package, employees must

have 15 years of service and be 57 years old.

While two unions who bargain for about 2,350 workers still must

act on the plan, it is expected to be approved. …

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