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Ga. bill allows retired teachers to get new salary and keep pension

Published: Mar. 23, 2022 at 7:20 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - A bill that would allow retired teachers to come back to the classroom while also receiving pension is set to be signed into Georgia law.

Although it aims to address staffing shortages across the state, some educators believe it may not be enough.

“I’m not just talking union teachers, or City of Atlanta teachers. I’m saying -- no.” Frankie Long continued, “In fact, the few teachers I know still in the classroom are counting down the days. They can’t wait to get out.”

After 30 years in metro Atlanta classrooms, Long cannot imagine going back. She says, not even House Bill 385 can get her out of her recent retirement.

“Because it’s not teaching the way I knew it,” she told CBS46.

HB 385 would allow a form of double-dipping if an educator completed three decades of teaching prior to retirement.

The goal is to fulfill thousands of Georgia teacher vacancies, and it’s been a goal of Gov. Brian Kemp’s since last year.

The re-employed retirees would receive a salary while also maintaining their pension.

From recent student brawls to bullying, plus new technologies and contracts, educators argue you’d be hard-pressed to find retired teachers, many of whom are senior citizens, willing to accept the incentive.

“There are some wonderful payoffs in teaching. It’s more like a ministry than anything else, but even ministers get paid a lot.”

Georgia Federation of Teachers President Verdaillia Turner added, “We’ve been losing our best teachers.”

President Turner believes it will take massive changes to fill in gaps.

Massive change just happened in Tennessee, a state facing similar teacher staffing challenges. The state partnered with universities, primary schools and federal officials to establish a teacher apprenticeship program. It shrinks the teacher education program by a year while allowing those in the program to become a co-teacher in a local classroom, to eventually teach the class on their own.

Still, Turner says HB 385 is a needed and overdue step.

“Retired teachers [were] penalized for working so many hours,” she explained. “So it’s a start.”

Under the bill, retired teachers coming back would be subject to filling a spot in which the school is facing the most shortages.

After Gov. Kemp signs the bill, it would be in effect from July until June 2026.