The Associated Press
TOLEDO - About 11,000 retired teachers in the state were back in classrooms last year, a number that has risen nearly 40 percent since 2000.
While the majority work only part time as substitutes, 11.6 percent take home salaries in excess of $50,000 while also drawing their pensions, an analysis by The Blade newspaper shows.
The numbers have increased since Ohio lawmakers changed retirement rules in 2000, allowing public employees to return to jobs within two months of retiring.
Proponents of hiring retired educators say it lets the state keep experienced people who otherwise might have taken jobs in other states. Others worry that bringing employees back to the same jobs makes it harder for younger workers to advance and reduces the number of openings for graduates.
Of the 89,257 retirees in the State Teachers Retirement System in 2003, 11,323 worked, state figures show. That's up from 8,252 out of 81,111 retirees in 2000.
Increasing the pool of substitute teachers was one reason lawmakers made it easier for retirees to return to work. But school systems also are finding they can rehire administrators at lower salaries while saving on health care at the same time, which is available through the retirement system.
A principal in Perrysburg plans to retire at the end of this year. He makes $82,000 now but will be rehired at a salary of $73,800.
"We are getting a seasoned employee at a much lower cost," said Aura Norris, personnel director at Perrysburg schools.
Not everyone supports the concept, though.
"It comes up in discussion whether or not we should encourage it, whether or not it impacts the district's ability to change direction," said Dave McClellan, president of the Toledo Association of Administrative Personnel. "If you're trying to infuse the district with fresh thinking, how do you do that by rehiring people who have been in the system for 30-some years?"
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