Oklahoma Senate committee passes bill to attract retired teachers back to classrooms & fill empty positions

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The Oklahoma Senate’s Retirement and Insurance committee passed a bill Thursday, extending an earnings exemption for retired teachers who return to the classroom.

A 2017 statute allowed retired teachers to return to Oklahoma classrooms with no earnings limitations. That statute expired June 30, 2020.

The Retirement and Insurance Committee unanimously approved Senate Bill 267, which extends the earnings exemption through 2024, according to an Oklahoma Senate Communications news release.

State lawmakers hope the bill, written by Sen. Dewayne Pemberton, R-Muskogee, will help fill hundreds of empty teaching positions in the state.

“Oklahoma classrooms are in desperate need of teachers for math, science and other important subjects. Legislation was filed last session to extend this exemption for our retired teachers, but it was one among many bills that didn’t make it through when the pandemic shortened the session,” Pemberton said. “I want to thank my colleagues for supporting Oklahoma’s public schools by helping get these outstanding professionals back in the classroom.”

SB 267 allows school districts to reemploy with no earning limitations Teacher Retirement System members who retired as of July 1, 2020, and received retirement benefits for at least one year, provided the teacher was not employed in a school district during the one-year period.

If the bill becomes law, the three-year exemption will begin July 1, 2021, and apply to retired teachers in common and career tech school districts.

The State Department of Education and other education organizations around the state requested the measure, according to the news release.

“We’re pleased to see this bill advance as it can help tackle Oklahoma’s significant teacher shortage. This issue was a real concern before the pandemic, but it’s expected to become more pronounced after this school year,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister. “Allowing retired teachers to come back to the profession without an earnings cap gives these experienced and much-needed educators a meaningful pathway back to the classroom.”

The bill will next go before the full Senate.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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