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'It's our calling and we take it seriously': Retired teachers could return to class after special session

Under Senate Bill 1, during critical shortages, districts can hire more retired teachers to return full time.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Hundreds of experienced teachers have a chance to keep teaching, after last week's special legislative session. SB1 increased the number of retired teachers districts can bring on full-time during critical shortages.

"We're running short and to not have that worry would be good,” Lisa Oakes, a retired teacher and reading interventionist at Medora Elementary, said.

Oakes works part-time at Medora. During the state's special session, lawmakers passed a provision allowing retired teachers like her to return full time, during what are called critical shortages, without impacting their pension.

Before SB1, 1% percent of teachers in a district could be retired teachers. Under SB1, that was increased to 10%.

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In JCPS, for example, the district could hire as many as 600 retired teachers.

The bill also shortened the waiting period between retirement and the return to the classroom.

"If my parents didn't need me on a daily basis I would definitely consider coming back,” Oakes said.

To teachers, the pluses are obvious. While not all have the time to teach 5 days a week, they say those that come back will be in disposable.

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"Not just the quantity, the numbers, but the quality. The qualified people,” Sheila Robinson said.

Robinson retired in 2012 but was back with Medora students a few days a week by 2013.

"Good teachers are called, it's our calling and we take it seriously,” she said.

For her the school is family, and when she was full time, older teachers led the way.

"They were the mamas of Medora,” she said.

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Many of Oakes' students are adjusting, catching up after a year online. To get back on track, years of experience are a big draw to retired hires.

“Lots of knowledge, lots of skills and strategies,” Oakes said. "Once teaching is in your blood it's hard to turn down an opportunity to remain there."

SB1 reduced the required break between retirement and the return to class to one month.

Only teachers who retired before August 1st of this year are eligible and the exceptions last until January 15th, 2022.

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