Senator Jeff Smith (D-Eau Claire) and Rep. Sondy Pope (D-Mt. Horeb) are circulating a bill draft for legislative support authorizing school districts to rehire retired teachers without those teachers having to give up their pensions.
This bill matches a provision included in Governor Evers’ 2019-21 budget proposal that was removed by the Legislature before the budget was signed into law.
It also comes on the heels of a similar proposal by Rep. Mary Felzkowski (R-Irma) which is not limited to retired teachers, but all Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS) retirees; however, that proposal caps a retiree’s return to 3 years and also includes an increase in the minimum retirement age for all WRS participants who fall into the general employee classification, including state employees.
As we stated in response to the Felzkowski bill, while the WASB seeks a comprehensive approach to improving the supply of teachers, our members have adopted a resolution in support of allowing persons receiving a WRS pension payment who return to WRS-covered employment the option to continue to receive their pension. We are also supportive of the Smith/Pope bill as a move in the right direction and another potential tool for school boards to use in addressing teacher supply issues.
It makes no sense to us to have qualified and willing teachers sitting idle when teachers are needed to fill vacant positions across the state. Like the Felzkowski bill, this bill will encourage retired teachers, many of whom hold teaching certifications in hard-to-fill subject areas, to return to teaching, immediately increasing the supply of qualified, licensed teachers in those areas.