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Gov. Lee signs legislation lowering barriers for retired teachers to return to classroom amid school staffing challenges

By Tamas Mondovics

Editor

Senator Ken Yager (R-Kingston) and Representative Rebecca Alexander (R-Jonesboro) joined Governor Bill Lee last week for a ceremonial signing of legislation to help alleviate school staffing challenges.

According to a recent press release from Gov. Lee’s office, the new law allows retired teachers to be reemployed as K-12 teachers, substitute teachers, or bus drivers without losing or suspending their retirement benefits.

“Our K-12 schools are facing serious staffing challenges for classroom teachers and bus drivers,” Yager said, adding that the law will help address those issues and eliminate barriers for qualified and experienced retired teachers to return to the classroom.

“The idea for this legislation came to me from educators in my district,” he said. “I appreciate Representative Alexander’s work to pass this in the House.”

Currently, retired members of the Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System (TCRS) have the opportunity to return to work, but only for a maximum of 120 days.

The bill is said to remove that limit and allows retired teachers and bus drivers to return to their service for one-year renewable annually, provided there are no other qualified applicants.

“As we continue to identify new ways we can support our teachers and create solutions to address staffing shortages, we are excited about the opportunity to welcome these experienced professionals back into our schools,” said Alexander. “Our students need them, and we are grateful for their dedication.”

During the reemployment, retirement benefits would be reduced to 70 percent of the retirement allowance the member is otherwise entitled to receive, and the existing salary cap would be removed. The bill is effective from July 1, 2022, to June 30, 2025.