Tennessee bill allows retired teachers to return to the classroom without losing retirement benefits

Substitute Teacher Shortage
Posted at 5:11 PM, Apr 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-05 20:26:01-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn (WTVF) — There will be almost 11,000 teacher openings in Tennessee by 2024, according to the Professional Educators of Tennessee.

Lawmakers have proposed several bills to help with the shortage, and the latest would bring retired teachers back to classrooms while keeping their full retirement benefits.

The bill allows retired Tennessee teachers to be re-hired as K-12 teachers, substitute teachers or bus drivers without having their retirement benefits taken away or suspended.

"I just decided that I should be subbing and, you know, I knew from all of my teaching years that a lot of times it's difficult to get subs, and that's certainly true now," said Nancy Holland.

For more than 20 years, Holland was a teacher spending most of her career with Metro Nashville public schools.

But even after retirement she couldn't stay out of the classroom.

"I just, I don't know that I ever wanted to be anything else, really," Holland said.

Retired teachers can currently return to work, but only for 120 days maximum. Senate Bill 2702 would allow workers to return for an entire school year, giving them the option to renew annually if there are no other qualified applicants.

"As a retired teacher, I can work a certain number of days and it does not impact retirement benefits. I was with Metro long enough that I can keep the insurance for life. So, in some ways, this legislation seems a little redundant for what's going on," said Holland, "But I don't think it's going to do much to alleviate the shortage."

During reemployment in a school system, retirement benefits would be reduced to 70% of retirement allowance. The existing salary cap would be removed.

Senate Bill 2702 would be effective from July 1, 2022 to June 30, 2025.

The bill will next head to Governor Bill Lee's desk to be signed.