Just two weeks short of a deadline for attracting Glendale Unified 75 employees into early retirement to minimize the scope of layoffs later this year, district officials this week reported that just nine have applied for the offer.

The incentive entails a teacher being paid 50% of their base salary over the course of five years, or the employee’s lifetime, in addition to health benefits.

Out of the pool of 1,290 employees that include teachers, nurses or counselors, about 350 are eligible for the early retirement plan.

During Tuesday’s school board meeting, Glendale Unified Supt. Dick Sheehan said that despite the low number, officials expected things to change as the deadline gets closer.

“We do expect that there will be an increase, but it’s just to what extent,” Sheehan said. “Even with an increase, we are running behind where we need to be.”

Maria Gandera, assistant superintendent of human resources, said the two remaining weeks could mean many more teachers taking up the offer.

“Traditionally, people come in at the last minute because it is a life changing opportunity for them,” she said.

The retirement agency working on behalf of the district reported receiving dozens of calls from employees asking questions about the offer, she added.

Plans to lay off teachers remain tentative, but school officials have said 75 to 125 employees could be let go in an effort to save about $6 million.

Meanwhile, average class sizes would increase at the elementary level to 30 students per teacher from 24, saving an estimated $3.8 million.

Adding two more students per average class size in grades sixth through eight would save an additional $1.9 million, according to the district.

The potential cuts loom as the district officials work to reduce the projected $36-million deficit Glendale Unified faces in 2015-16.

-- Kelly Corrigan, Times Community News

Follow Kelly Corrigan on Twitter: @kellymcorrigan