Georgia lawmakers invite retired teachers back to classrooms

Senators working under the Georgia Gold Dome on Tuesday, March 22, 2022, sent Gov. Brian Kemp legislation he sought allowing retired teachers to return to work in areas where there is a shortage. (FILE PHOTO)

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Senators working under the Georgia Gold Dome on Tuesday, March 22, 2022, sent Gov. Brian Kemp legislation he sought allowing retired teachers to return to work in areas where there is a shortage. (FILE PHOTO)

The most experienced retired teachers could return to Georgia classrooms where they are most needed while collecting their pensions under legislation approved on Tuesday.

The state Senate’s final approval of House Bill 385 fulfills a goal set by Gov. Brian Kemp last year to expand the teacher workforce.

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It would temporarily allow some teachers who have been out of the classroom for a year after teaching 30 years to earn full-time pay while collecting their pension. It would only be allowed in content areas and parts of the state that the Georgia Department of Education deems an “area of highest need.”

Currently, retirees can work up to 49% of full-time hours.

The legislation by Rep. Shaw Blackmon, R-Bonaire, addresses teacher shortages amid a wave of retirements and a drop in interest in the profession among college students. Parts of the United States have experienced shortages though it hasn’t been as big a problem in Georgia.

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Kemp sought this expansion last year with another pipeline bill he signed it into law. That legislation backed efforts to create an alternative certification path for military veterans, to mentor teachers, to impose new training requirements in colleges, and to attract more minority college students to the teaching profession.

It also placed the teacher of the year on the Georgia Board of Education in an advisory role.

Under legislative rules, bills affecting state pensions must sit for a year after introduction during a 2-year legislative session to ensure time to assess the impact. HB 385 passed the Senate 50-1 Tuesday after passing the House 169-0 in February. It now goes to Kemp for his signature. It would be in effect from July 1 through June 2026 if he signs it.