Proposal would allow Mississippi’s retired teachers to return without losing retirement benefits

Published: Jan. 10, 2023 at 8:11 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Nothing’s stopping retired teachers from changing their minds and eventually coming back to a school setting. But they’re limited in how they can return. A new proposal at the State Capitol could bring them back without jeopardizing their retirement benefits.

Mississippi’s pipeline of educators is weakening faster than it can be refilled.

“We’re losing a lot of good teachers into retirement,” noted Lauderdale County District Superintendent Dr. John Mark Cain.

But as the president of the Mississippi Association of Educators notes:

“Many of our retired educators have expressed that they have a desire to go back into the school community,” explained Erica Jones, President of the Mississippi Association of Educators. “It’s questions around whether or not their retirement will be affected.”

If they do come back:

“They can only work at 50% of the capacity and earn 50% of what they retired as earning,” described Clinton Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Andy Schoggin.

Rep. Jody Steverson of Ripley is filing a bill that would let them return without those questions.

“They will be able to draw 100% of their retirement plus a first-year teacher salary,” noted Steverson.

Steverson notes that the two cannot be combined to increase their “high four.” Their “high four” will still be locked in at their current retirement rate. He explains the “high four” is the average salary from the highest four years of their employment.

Steverson first planned to propose a reduced retirement pay of 70%, which is what Tennessee approved last year. However, the change to keeping it all is a strategic one.

“We have teachers currently retiring from Mississippi, drawing 100% of their retirement and going over to Tennessee and teaching,” said Steverson. “So the 70% would not benefit, you know, counties across Mississippi that join other states.”

Maybe you’re thinking, wait, didn’t they retire?

“I think we find that there are some who at the end of their term and have the opportunity to retire after some time realized they miss it, they miss the connection, the opportunities to be in front of kids and really make a difference,” said Schoggin.

And Lauderdale County’s Dr. John Mark Cain thinks that interest may increase for other reasons.

“As we see the price of things move up and then those individuals see the cost of insurance and things like that, I think it’s very viable that we will see those individuals want to take advantage of something like this,” added Cain.

The proposal will be for four years with the hope that the teacher shortage will improve in that time. It could be re-evaluated after four years.

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