Retired teachers can go back to work while keeping benefits with new law

Gov. Bill Lee signed off on the law that states retired teachers in Tennessee can go back to the classrooms while keeping their retirement benefits.
Gov. Bill Lee signed off on the law that states retired teachers in Tennessee can go back to the classrooms while keeping their retirement benefits.
Published: Jul. 18, 2022 at 8:17 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 18, 2022 at 11:33 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Gov. Bill Lee signed off on the law that states retired teachers in Tennessee can go back to the classrooms while keeping their retirement benefits. The legislation was created to help fill teacher vacancies across the state.

The Professional Educators of Tennessee said there are likely 2,000 teacher job openings in the state. The district has 128 teacher vacancies, according to Knox County Schools.

For some retired teachers, like Gordon Sisk, the incentives aren’t enough for him to go back.

“After I retired, I did a little bit of subbing, but that was not a great thing,” Sisk said.

Sisk worked at Knox County Schools for 32 years where he taught social studies. He said the school culture and learning environment were things he didn’t enjoy anymore.

“Teachers don’t nearly make what they deserve for what they’re doing,” Sisk said.

The Professional Educators of Tennessee agreed teacher pay needs improvement but felt the new law is a step in the right direction to feel teacher openings.

“This is something that is going on across the nation. We’re struggling in the shortage area to get teachers into the classroom. Who better than the people who have already proven that they’re capable of teaching?” Executive Director JC Bowman said.

The new law will allow teachers to keep benefits, but can only sign a one-year contract. Retired teachers can resign each year until the law ends in 2025. These teachers can either fill full-time or substitute positions. Bowman said retired teachers will look more toward subbing over full-time.

“That’s a good place to go for our retired teachers is to fill maternity leaves so how do you get them there and keep them in the loop,” Bowman said.

This is only a small solution, according to Bowman. It’ll likely help fill a quarter of openings with more needed elsewhere. Other action includes getting college-aged students more interested in the education route. He also said offering more competitive pay could help with this.

The new law also benefits retired school bus drivers to help fill some of their vacancies.

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