Monday, May 01, 2017

Colorado lawmakers pass bill to fill rural teacher shortages with retirees

The Colorado Senate last week passed an amended House bill that would help fill the state's teacher shortage with retired teachers, Marianne Goodland reports for The Colorado Independent. "Under the bill, retired school teachers with pensions from the Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA) can teach a full school year at rural schools." That would allow 147 of the state's 178 school districts to hire retired teachers. Current PERA rules cap the number of days a retired school teacher can work at 140 days, short of a full school year.

The amended bill limits the program to 2023, five years short of the House bill, Goodland writes. Rep. Jon Becker, co-sponsor of the bill, called the Senate change a "poison pill" amendment designed to cause the bill to fail, but said he would agree to the amendment in order to get the bill to Gov. John Hickenlooper's desk.

Colorado, whose teacher shortage mirrors the national trend, needs as many as 3,000 teachers to fill existing spots, Monte Whaley reports for The Denver Post. The main problems are a lack of interest and aging teachers. "The number of graduates from teacher-preparation programs in the state has declined by 24.4 percent over the past five years" and "enrollment in the state’s teacher preparation programs in 2015-16 remained flat from the previous academic year with 9,896 students." Also, "at least a third of the teachers in Colorado are 55 or older and closing in on retirement."

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