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Education Lab is a project to spark meaningful conversations about education solutions in the Pacific Northwest.

Topic: substitute shortage

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January 29, 2015 at 5:00 AM

More substitute work for retired teachers? Some lawmakers say yes

Substitute teacher Carrie Richardson, who has more than 50 years experience teaching, subs in for a third-grade teacher at Emerson Elementary School in Seattle last November. Photo by Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times 2014.

Substitute teacher Carrie Richardson, who has more than 50 years experience teaching, subs in for a third-grade teacher at Emerson Elementary School in Seattle last November. Photo by Ken Lambert / The Seattle Times 2014.

A bill introduced in the state House on Tuesday would temporarily allow some retired teachers more flexibility in how much they can work without losing their retirement benefits.

House Bill 1737 is a response to the substitute teacher shortage in Washington state, which has left schools and districts scrambling to fill substitute requests and combining classes when subs can’t be found. Lawmakers behind the bill say the shortage is partly caused by a state pension plan that keeps some retired teachers — a group that school districts traditionally rely on for subs — from substitute teaching.

Under the bill, teachers who retired early under a certain retirement plan would be allowed to substitute teach up to 216 hours — or about 27 days — before losing their retirement benefits, at least for a few years.

The bill, if passed, is designed to give school districts enough time to adjust to the substitute shortage. If it passes, its provisions would sunset in 2019, and the teachers would go back to losing their pensions any month they worked even a day for a public employer.

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