(1) Except as limited by subsection (2) of section 79-854, all certificated employees from a district involved in a unification or reorganization who are at least fifty-five years of age on the date of unification or reorganization shall be eligible to participate in the Retirement Incentive Plan pursuant to this section if, within fifteen calendar days after receiving notification, the employee signs an agreement to retire effective on or prior to the effective date of the unification or reorganization. To receive a benefit under the Retirement Incentive Plan, a certificated employee must have completed five years of creditable service prior to the effective date of retirement.
(2) A qualified certificated employee who elects retirement under the Retirement Incentive Plan shall receive a benefit in the form of a lump-sum amount, payable in one or two payments. Such payments shall not be included in the determination of final average compensation pursuant to the School Employees Retirement Act. The payments to the certificated employee shall equal seven hundred dollars for each year of service with the district and shall not exceed twenty-four thousand five hundred dollars for each certificated employee receiving benefits under this section.
(3) The Retirement Incentive Plan shall be available to employees only prior to allocation of staff pursuant to section 79-857.
(4) Costs of the Retirement Incentive Plan, prior to the allocation of staff, shall be allocated among the reorganized districts or participating districts in a unification based upon the proportion of valuation each reorganized district receives or each participating district contains. Such costs shall not be included in general fund operating expenditures as defined in section 79-1003 for that fiscal year. Costs associated with agreements beyond the scope of the Retirement Incentive Plan shall be the sole responsibility of the reorganized district or unified system involved in the agreement.
(5) Payments made to employees pursuant to the Retirement Incentive Plan shall be made by the unified system or according to the reorganization plan and, if not specified in the plan, by the reorganized district receiving the largest valuation.
(6) Participation in an early retirement program, other than the Retirement Incentive Plan, shall not be available to transferring staff for a period of one year after the date of unification or reorganization.