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Greenfield schools welcome retired teachers

District comes out ahead, officials say

Sept. 20, 2011

Greenfield - While radio talk show hosts and some residents decry what they call double-dipping, Greenfield school officials say the district comes out financially and educationally ahead when recently retired teachers are brought back into the classroom.

To that end, the district rehired a math teacher, a library media specialist and a speech pathologist, all of whom had retired in June, to return to work this month.

Doing the math

District officials say it is about $15,811 cheaper to hire a retired teacher than a new teacher.

While the three "retired" teachers are paid more than new teachers would take home, they took a hefty pay cut - $47,000 rather than the $73,447 they were previously making, on average.

That reduction, along with the fact that the district will not have to pay as much in benefits, offsets the higher salaries compared to that of a new teacher, officials calculate. The district also avoids the small training costs associated with new teachers.

The benefits savings is a factor, said Kristin Kollath, director of business services for the district.

If a new teacher is hired, the district pays toward health insurance and into the state retirement system for that teacher, she said. But it also pays for health insurance for the retired teacher as part of the district's retirement program benefit.

By hiring a retired teacher, the district does not have to pay two health insurance premiums or into the state retirement system, she said.

Normal hiring process

Plus, the schools get excellent teachers who come back at lower pay, said Superintendent Conrad Farner, whose sentiment was echoed in a district press release issued by the district Sept. 15.

The dual goals of getting the best possible educators while controlling costs are both met with the hiring of the three retired teachers, officials state in the press release, which was triggered by a question at the Greenfield schools annual meeting Sept. 12.

"Each was determined to be the most qualified candidate" following interviews with multiple candidates for each post, officials note in the release, adding that the district posted all the vacancies the way it normally does.

The three openings were among more than 40 the district had to fill last summer. And all three are in areas that are in the "difficult to fill" category, officials said.

"There are few highly qualified individuals with the necessary experience and certifications to successfully perform the duties of these positions," they stated in the press release.

Unfair criticism?

In a subsequent phone interview this week, School Board President Bruce Bailey said criticizing schools because of double dipping is unfair in some cases.

"Every situation is different," he said. "If you have an excellent teacher and in a specialty that's hard to find, it's a win-win, if you use it wisely, as we are," Bailey said.

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