Gretchen Whitmer signs bill easing rehiring of retired Michigan teachers
- Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed legislation that makes it easier for retired school employees to return to work
- The law eases restrictions on how long retirees must wait before they can return to school work while collecting pension benefits
- The measure had wide bipartisan support amid a worker shortage in MIchigan
Retired Michigan public school employees can now return to work sooner than before without forgoing their pension benefits under the latest measure intended to help reduce a shortage of teachers and other school workers.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed House Bill 4752 into law Tuesday. The law allows public school employees to work in public schools after retiring while keeping their retirement benefits as long as they either wait six months, or if they choose to work within six months and earn no more than $15,100 in the calendar year. (Retired superintendents could not return to work as a superintendent within those six months.)
Previously, retired public school employees had to wait nine months before they could work at school without forgoing their retirement benefits.
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School district leaders say they are working to address critical teacher shortages and need the option to hire recently retired employees. They say the law is one tool to help staffing concerns but not a permanent nor complete solution to getting more teachers into classrooms. The law includes a 5-year sunset on the retirement rules.
Bob McCann, executive director of the K-12 Alliance of Michigan, which represents 123 Southeast Michigan districts, told Bridge Michigan the law is a positive step. But he said the income cap for freshly retired workers will provide a disincentive for teachers and social workers to return. His group had advocated removing any sort of income threshold.
“It’s a good bill, but it just could have been a lot better and it’s just unfortunate that it’s not,” he said.
The bill passed with wide bipartisan support in the House and the Senate.
Lawmakers have passed several measures in recent years to help school districts with staffing concerns. They temporarily expanded who could be substitute teachers, reduced some barriers to allow retired employees back in schools and eased barriers for getting out-of-state teachers credentialed to work in Michigan.
They approved funding for scholarships for college students studying to become teachers and provided stipends for student teachers who previously were unpaid as they worked alongside professional teachers. And funded teacher training programs at the Detroit chapter of Teach for America and at a group of intermediate school districts and university providers.
“This new law provides needed relief for local school districts that have temporary vacancies and for recent school retirees who still want to help out their districts on a limited basis,” State Superintendent Michael Rice said in a statement. “If we have experienced educators who still want to help in roles like teachers, substitute teachers, or athletic and academic coaches, there shouldn’t be financial obstacles in their way.”
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