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More Retired Teachers Could Return To Maine Classrooms

Some school officials in Maine say that a state law passed earlier this year could help them bring in retired teachers to fill vacant teaching jobs.

The law lifts certain restrictions on the practice called "double-dipping," in which retired state employees return to another state job and receive a salary in addition to their pension. Steven Bailey, the executive director of the Maine School Management Association, says retired educators can bring needed expertise to the classroom, and have earned the right to a state pension.

"They've earned that benefit. They've paid into the system,” says Bailey. “Their money's been invested. They've earned that. That does not come out of our local share, that does not come out of our local budget. So it's not like we're paying them twice. They've earned that."

The new rules remove a limit on how long certain retirees, including teachers and school administrators, can go back to work, and also eliminates a cap on how much they can receive in salary. Bailey says that flexibility could help districts that are still having trouble finding teachers, particularly in special education.

“This is something that is becoming more frequent. People are talking about it in a positive way,” he says. “And schools and districts are able to get qualified people for some very important positions.”

Bailey says schools are looking at other solutions to fill teaching slots, including training other district employees to become certified teachers.