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Retired teachers help Kentucky public school staff shortages

JEFFERSONTOWN, Ky. — Higher than normal public school staffing absences due to COVID-19 have caused staffing shortages at Kentucky public schools.


What You Need To Know

  • Retired teachers are helping fill positions during COVID-19 staffing shortages at Kentucky public schools.
  • COVID-19 has caused higher than normal absences at Kentucky schools, causing staffing shortages and the need for districts to use NTI and remote learning days.
  • Senate Bill 25 continues to allow public school districts flexibility to re-hire retired teachers to help fill positions
  • The number of formerly retired teachers a district can hire continues to be a maximum of 10% of its staff

This has made several school districts resort to non-traditional instruction (NTI) and also bolstered the passage of Senate Bill 25 (SB 25) to add 10 remote learning days for districts to use for their schools, grade levels, etc. on a case-by-case basis, meaning no districtwide shutdowns like NTI.

However, the lesser publicized effect SB 25 has on Commonwealth public schools to help relieve COVID-19-related staffing shortages is continuing to allow more flexibility for public school distriJEFFERSONTOWN, Ky. — Higher than normal public school staffing absences because of COVID-19 have caused staffing shortages at Kentucky public schools. This has made several school districts resort to non-traditional instruction (NTI) and also bolstered the passage of Senate Bill 25 (SB 25) to add 10 remote learning days for districts to use for their schools, grade levels, etc. on a case-by-case basis, meaning no districtwide shutdowns like NTI.

However, the lesser publicized effect SB 25 has on Commonwealth public schools to help relieve COVID-19-related staffing shortages is continuing to allow more flexibility for public school districts to re-hire retired teachers.

As a teacher, Missy Payne is most excited when her students connect with the chemistry concepts and labs she teaches. It’s one reason the Jeffersontown high school chemistry teacher is back after retiring last school year.

“NTI wore me out. I was like, ‘I probably would’ve done another year, but I can’t do it anymore,’ so I jumped ship,” she explained.

After four months of retirement from 34 years of teaching, Jeffersontown High School’s principal called Payne to ask her to come back to the classroom. Payne started part-time at the same school from which she retired, which, coincidentally, is also where she graduated high school.

“But then the state came through and said, ‘Hey, you retired people, come on back! We need you,’ and so at that point, I was like, ‘Yes I’m all in; I really want to do this,’ because I forgot how much I missed it,” the 57-year-old said, regarding why she switched to full-time.

On Sept. 9, 2021, the Kentucky General Assembly passed Senate Bill 1 (SB 1) during its Extraordinary Session. The number of formerly retired teachers a district can hire increased from the standard critical shortage limitation of 1% of a district’s staff to 10% until Jan. 15, 2022.

Therefore, when SB 25 recently passed, it extended that 10% critical shortage limit until June 30, 2022. SB 25 also still keeps a retired teacher’s pension intact, with no changes. According to the Kentucky Public Pensions Authority, as of June 30, 2021, the estimated number of people potentially affected is 121,728 retired members.

Jefferson County Public Schools’ Chief of Human Resources, Aimee Green-Webb, who has a doctorate in educational, told Spectrum News 1, 70 retired teachers have come back to teach full-or part-time, thanks to SB 25.

“And we are glad that we are able to keep all of those on board, and continue to recruit more to come back, to help us through the end of the school year,” Green-Webb said.

With COVID-19 related staffing shortages, Green-Webb said Kentucky’s public schools need all the support they can get.

SB 25 also eases the hiring costs associated with bringing back formerly retired Kentucky teachers by allowing public school districts to expense those costs using federal pandemic funds.

Re-hired retired teachers at public schools also still collect their pension checks while earning their salary for teaching, too.

“I mean everybody has to have a carrot, and that definitely was a carrot for me to stay all day versus just doing part time,” Payne explained.

Payne hopes more retirees will take advantage of temporarily returning to the classroom as a substitute, part-time, or full-time teacher to help fill the teacher gap, which she said will also help fill the NTI learning gap.

“They [students] have chunks of missing learning. They may have signed on one day, missed a couple days,” Payne said, regarding what she saw while teaching NTI.

“We have to get them back on track, and we have to do it fast because we are running out of time,” Payne told Spectrum News 1. “So it’s really important to me, I think, that we bring out the professionals that know how to do it, and do it well. I’m glad the state’s taking that initiative to do that.”

After all, experience is considered the best teacher.

Any Kentucky teacher who retired on or before Aug. 1, 2021 are eligible to be re-hired with a Kentucky public school district under SB 25.

Green-Webb said ideally she wants to hire 200 more teachers, retired or not. Retirees who want to JCPS can come from any Kentucky school district.

If you’re interested in teaching with JCPS, Green-Webb said retirees can apply for any open position on the district’s career website to start working again.

cts to re-hire retired teachers.

What You Need To Know:

  • Retired teachers are helping fill positions during COVID-19 staffing shortages at Kentucky public schools.
  • COVID-19 has caused higher than normal absences at Kentucky schools, causing staffing shortages and the need for districts to use NTI and remote learning days.
  • Senate Bill 25 (SB 25) signed by Governor Andy Beshear on Jan. 14, 2022 continues to allow public school districts flexibility to re-hire retired teachers to help fill positions
  • The number of formerly retired teachers in a district can hire continues to be a maximum of 10% of its staff versus the standard critical shortage limitation of 1%.

As a teacher, Missy Payne is most excited when her students connect with the chemistry concepts and labs she teaches. It’s one reason the Jeffersontown high school chemistry teacher is back after retiring last school year.

“NTI wore me out. I was like, ‘I probably would’ve done another year, but I can’t do it anymore,’ so I jumped ship,” she explained.

After four months of retirement from 34 years of teaching, Jeffersontown High School’s principal called Payne to ask her to come back to the classroom. Payne started part-time at the same school from which she retired, which, coincidentally, is also where she graduated high school.

“But then the state came through and said, ‘Hey, you retired people, come on back! We need you,’ and so at that point, I was like, ‘Yes I’m all in; I really want to do this,’ because I forgot how much I missed it,” the 57-year-old said, regarding why she switched to full-time.

On Sept. 9, 2021, the Kentucky General Assembly passed Senate Bill 1 (SB 1) during its Extraordinary Session. The number of formerly retired teachers a district can hire was increased from the standard critical shortage limitation of 1% of a district’s staff to 10% until Jan. 15, 2022.

Therefore, when SB 25 recently passed, it extended that 10% critical shortage limit until June 30, 2022. SB 25 also still keeps a retired teacher’s pension in tact, with no changes. According to the Kentucky Public Pensions Authority, as of June 30, 2021, the estimated number of people potentially affected are 121,728 retired members.

JCPS’s Chief of Human Resources, Aimee Green-Webb, who has a doctorate in educational, told Spectrum News 1 70 retired teachers have come back to teach full-or part-time, thanks to SB 25.

“And we are glad that we are able to keep all of those on board, and continue to recruit more to come back, to help us through the end of the school year,” Green-Webb said.

With COVID-19 related staffing shortages, Green-Webb said Kentucky’s public schools need all of the support they can get.

SB 25 also eases the hiring costs associated with bringing back formerly retired Kentucky teachers by allowing public school districts to expense those costs using federal pandemic funds.

Re-hired retired teachers at public schools also still collect their pension checks while earning their salary for teaching, too.

“I mean everybody has to have a carrot, and that definitely was a carrot for me to stay all day versus just doing part-time,” Payne explained.

Payne hopes more retirees will take advantage of temporarily returning to the classroom as a substitute, part-time, or full-time teacher to help fill the teacher gap, which she said will also help fill the NTI learning gap.

“They [students] have chunks of missing learning. They may have signed on one day, missed a couple days,” Payne said, regarding what she saw while teaching NTI.

“We have to get them back on track, and we have to do it fast because we are running out of time,” Payne told Spectrum News 1. “So it’s really important to me, I think, that we bring out the professionals that know how to do it, and do it well. I’m glad the state’s taking that initiative to do that.”

After all, experience is considered the best teacher.

Any Kentucky teacher who retired on or before Aug. 1, 2021 are eligible to be re-hired with a Kentucky public school district under SB 25.

Green-Webb said ideally she wants to hire 200 more teachers, retired or not. Retirees who want to JCPS can come from any Kentucky school district.

If you’re interested in teaching with JCPS, Green-Webb said retirees can apply for any open position on the district’s career website to start the process of working again.

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