School board member Patti Truesdell speaks during a meeting of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District School Board in Soldotna, Alaska, on Monday, April 1, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

School board member Patti Truesdell speaks during a meeting of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District School Board in Soldotna, Alaska, on Monday, April 1, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)

School Board approves rehiring retired teachers

There are at least 25 full-time positions that will need to be filled for the next fiscal year

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District’s school board unanimously approved a resolution last week allowing the reemployment of retired teachers to address vacancies that would otherwise be unfilled.

According to the resolution, reemployment of retired teachers without compromising their retirement benefits is allowed under a Senate bill signed into law in November 2018. That bill was sponsored by then-Sen. Peter Micciche.

School Board President Zen Kelly said on April 1 that the resolution allows for rehiring retired teachers but comes with stipulations — the resolution describes requirements like advertising positions for at least 10 days and otherwise actively recruiting other applicants. The authorization must be renewed each year, he said.

“There is a huge benefit though, to the school district, in bringing back talent,” he said. “People we’ve invested in, who have worked years in the school district, to fill these positions that are hard-to-fill positions.”

KPBSD Human Resources Director Nate Crabtree said Friday that the resolution allows a retired person to come back as a full-time teacher without putting their retirement on hold and while continuing to draw benefits. He said it’s a tool that the district can use to fill otherwise empty positions, but it isn’t and shouldn’t be their first choice.

KPBSD Finance Director Elizabeth Hayes said that the school district is always looking to find high-quality teachers and employees who might stay with the district in the long term.

“We need qualified people in the classroom,” she said. “Sometimes the retirees are the qualified people that we have available to us because no one else is out there.”

The move to allow hiring retirees has come before, but Crabtree said this year’s authorization is coming early because recruiting is getting more challenging.

Even under a budget scenario where the school district is assuming no additional funding from the state, there are at least 25 full-time positions that will need to be filled for the next fiscal year, Crabtree said.

Those positions are beginning to be posted and people have been expressing interest — a “decent portion” will be filled. But if positions are still open as summer approaches and unfolds, the district may need to make use of the tools that it has to get teachers in classrooms. Retired teachers require little onboarding and come with tremendous experience gleaned working with students in local schools.

“These are folks that are in our communities,” he said. “They know our kids. They know the district.”

The text of the resolution and a recording of the school board’s meeting will be available to view on the school district’s BoardDocs website.

Reach reporter Jake Dye at jacob.dye@peninsulaclarion.com.

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