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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a bill into law that removes the earnings cap for retired educators who return to teaching in Oklahoma.

Senate Bill 267 was written by Sen. Dewayne Pemberton, R-Muskogee, who serves as Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Education Chair and Education Committee Vice Chair, and signed by Stitt on Monday.

“Even after the two historic teacher pay raises, Oklahoma still had around 600 vacant teaching positions in 2019. We realized we had to do more to fill these crucial positions, and one of the most common suggestions we heard from our districts was lifting the earnings cap for retired educators who return to teaching,” Pemberton said. “This bill extends the exemption approved in 2017 to welcome these fine educators back to our schools without restricting their pay. With enrollment continuing to increase, this will allow districts to decide what to pay these professionals and fill their teaching vacancies.”

The state currently allows retired teachers who return to the classroom to make a maximum annual salary of $15,000. That will change when the bill goes into effect on July 1.

The bill allows former teachers to return to the classroom for three years with no earnings cap if they retired as of July 1, 2020, received retirement benefits for at least one year and haven’t been employed by a public school during that time, according to a State Senate news release.

Rep. Jadine Nollan, R-Sand Springs, who wrote the bill for the Oklahoma House of Representatives, said the bill is vital to addressing Oklahoma’s growing teacher shortage.

“This legislation provides a wonderful opportunity to put experienced teachers back in the classroom, which will greatly benefit our students,” Nollan said. “It will also help our schools fill their workforce needs. Not only do our students and our schools benefit, but we are able to do this without impacting the teachers’ retirement or the pension system. It is a win for everyone.”