The Regional School Unit 13 board voted unanimously Thursday night to offer financial incentives for veteran teachers and aides to retire.

The board voted to offer $10,000 to teachers who are eligible for retirement under the state retirement system and are at least 60 years old and have been with the district for at least five years. The payment for teacher aides would be $5,000 for those who have been with the district for at least 25 years.

The staff must accept the offer by March 1. The employees would have to retire by July.

There are 20 teachers and 14 support staff members who are potentially eligible for the retirement incentives.

The district has the right to cut off the payments when a certain number of employees have accepted the offers. If the maximum number of people accepted the offer, the cost would be $270,000.

Board member Jamie Doubleday of Thomaston, who chairs the negotiations committee, said the district is facing possible significant layoffs due to a projected financial crunch next year.

Retirement incentives are often offered by companies to trim costs as veteran employees are the top paid employees. RSU 13 faces a gap between expenses and anticipated revenues of at least $2.5 million.

RSU 13 has yet to reach a contract agreement with its teachers. There is a two-tiered pay scale for teachers in the district, with teachers who previously worked for Maine School Administrative District 5 (Rockland, Owls Head and South Thomaston) earning more than those hired under the former SAD 50 (Thomaston, St. George and Cushing) system.

The SAD 5 contract for teachers, for example, has the top pay being $57,254 for a person with at least 19 years of experience and 15 credits beyond a master’s degree. The base pay for a teacher with no experience and a bachelor’s degree is $34,497. The difference between the top and bottom of the scale is $22,757. For SAD 50, the scale is $32,386 to $54,501, a difference of $22,115.