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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The Oklahoma State Senate approved legislation designed to draw retired teachers back to classrooms across the state.

Senate Bill 267, written by Sen. Dewayne Pemberton, R-Muskogee, allows former teachers, who 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, to return to the classroom for three years with no earnings cap, according to a State Senate news release.

The state currently allows for retired teachers to only be paid up to $15,000, but the new bill allows school districts to determine the pay of retired educators who return to teaching in Oklahoma, according to Pemberton, who is the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Education Chair and Education Committee Vice Chair.

“This important legislation extends the exemption we passed in 2017 to provide a meaningful pathway for retired teachers back to the classroom as we continue facing a significant teacher shortage. It expired last year, so it’s imperative that we get this signed into law and back on the books,” Pemberton said. “Although positive steps have been taken to reduce Oklahoma’s teacher shortage, many districts are still struggling to find qualified educators to fill teaching positions as student enrollment continues to climb. This will again welcome these outstanding professionals back to the classroom without restricting their pay.”

There were close to 600 teaching vacancies at the beginning of the 2019 school year, according to the Oklahoma State School Board Association.

The bill next goes before a State House of Representatives committee for further consideration. Rep. Jadine Nollan, R-Sand Springs, is the principal House author of the bill.