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Maine legislators consider new bills to address the state's teacher shortage

Robbie Feinberg
Maine Public

Maine lawmakers are considering several new proposals intended to help recruit and retain more teachers.

Staff shortages are already impacting many districts, and have led students with disabilities to lose out on class times in some schools.

One of the measures heard by the legislature's education committee on Tuesday would allow the state to reissue teaching certificates to retired teachers whose certification had lapsed.

Michael Perry, with the Maine Department of Education, said such a policy could make it easier for retired educators to fill vacancies.

"Creating a pathway for retired teachers to return to the classroom could offer some immediate relief to the field, as we continue to strengthen the educator workforce," Perry said.

Teachers would have to have been retired for 10 years or less to qualify, and would have also had to have been employed by public schools for at least a decade.

Democratic State Sen. Joe Rafferty of Kennebunk is also proposing a bill to add five staff members at the Maine Department of Education, with a goal of speeding up response times and getting teachers certified faster.

"As I know, I still hear from educators that the certification process is slow. Which I feel may result in our losing some quality stuff to other New England states," Rafferty said.

The education committee also considered a proposal to provide extensions and waivers for certain certification requirements under specific circumstances.