NEENAH - Some teachers in Neenah are preparing to sue the district.
It's over changes in the district's early retirement package.
Educators are seeking to restore millions of dollars in retirement benefits.
Two teachers are representing themselves and 256 other Neenah teachers.
They want the district to reinstate $60.7 million in supplementary retirement benefits.
The district has long offered an early retirement plan, separate from the state's pension fund.
Benefits could total $300,000 or more for each employee.
According to the district, the plan cost taxpayers almost $5 million annually.
It also meant the district had a more than $184 million unfunded liability.
In October, the school board changed the lucrative plan for qualified employees.
The new plan got rid of yearly stipends and health insurance.
Instead, teachers were offered payments of $99,000 or less.
That decreased the district's liability to just more than $100 million.
The district declined to comment for this story because it involves a legal matter.
An attorney representing the teachers said they are accusing the school board of breaking contractual commitments and promises to staff.
"For decades, the Neenah teachers have been promised this retirement plan would be there when the time to retire has come," said attorney Heath Mynsberge.
In a notice of claim, the teachers say the district used the early retirement plan to draw in new staff to the district, and as a tool to negotiate lower salaries.
"They've passed up jobs, they've passed up other opportunities because they could never make back what they made, or what they would make, with the retirement so they stayed in Neenah," Mynsberge said.
The district referred us to its attorney for comment, but our calls were not returned.
The teachers' attorney says he expects a class action lawsuit will be filed soon.
He adds the teachers are only seeking compensation for the services they've already performed.
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