A bill allowing retired teachers to return to the classroom unanimously passed the Senate on Wednesday, May 8.
Teacher vacancies are a pervasive problem in some school districts, particularly rural or lower wealth districts that have trouble attracting new teachers. The 2017-18 State of the Teaching Profession report highlighted the issue. The subjects with the most vacancies included core subjects for elementary school, math for middle school, and Career and Technical Education for high school.
Anson County Schools, Northampton County Schools, Warren County Schools, Mitchell County Schools, Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Schools, Edenton-Chowan Schools have the highest teacher vacancies among all of NC’s school districts. All of these school districts are in Tier 1 counties, which are economically distressed counties.
Senate Bill 399 aims to solve the problem. The bill permits retired teachers to come out of retirement and go back to teaching at a high need school without jeopardizing their retirement benefits. High need schools are defined as either a Title 1 school or a school that received an overall school performance grade of D or F.
Under the bill, retired teachers can keep their retirement benefits and receive an annual salary of $35,000. Retired teachers who decide to teach STEM or special education would get paid on the sixth step of the teacher salary schedule, or $40,000. While these teachers wouldn’t qualify for state salary supplements, they would be able to receive local salary supplements.
The primary sponsors of the bill are Sens. Rick Horner, R-Nash; Phil Berger, R-Rockingham; and Jay Chaudhuri, D-Wake.
“This bill allows the most experienced teachers we have in the state to come out of retirement if they choose to do so, and share their wealth of knowledge with students that need it most,” Horner said in a news release.
“Students across our state can benefit from the expertise of these experienced teachers and this bill ensures that those teachers are able to help our neediest students,” Chaudhuri said in the same news release.