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Official says retirees might be answer to teacher shortage in South Dakota but others disagree


SIOUX FALLS, South Dakota — Officials with School Administrators of South Dakota are considering retired educators as the answer to the statewide teacher shortage, but state's retirement board doesn't support with the prospect.

Earlier this month, School Administrators of South Dakota Executive Director Rob Monson suggested changing a 2010 law that deters retired teachers from re-entering the workforce in a new position or a similar one. He said retired teachers would need a monetary incentive to return to the classroom.

"We're looking for a way to keep them in South Dakota instead of retiring and going over to teach in Minnesota or Iowa or Wyoming," Monson said. "If you could have that incentive to stay on, draw a salary and retirement wage while not having to retire, that might get some people to stay."

But Rob Wylie, executive director of the South Dakota Retirement System, told the Argus Leader (http://argusne.ws/1K9wYT3 ) that it's unlikely the law will be changed because it could cost the state millions of dollars.

Before 2010, when a set of regulations went into place to prevent public employees from retiring early and then re-entering the workforce to obtain additional benefits, the retirement system incurred more than $5.3 million annually in unanticipated costs. Dozens of state employees retired early and almost immediately returned to work, increasing the total value of their retirement benefit by nearly $50,000, Wylie said.

"There was a certain amount of people who sometimes took advantage of us," Wylie said. "The Board doesn't want to return to the place where we were pre-2010 where people could retire and return to their job and in essence were being subsidized to do that."

After a meeting earlier this month on the proposal, it appears that it won't gain traction, because the state retirement system's board of trustees and the South Dakota Retirement Laws committee discussed it only briefly before dismissing the subject.

"They were fairly adamant about closing the door on retire, rehire," Monson said.

Besides, many retirees don't have the energy to return to the classroom, according to South Dakota Retired School Personnel Association President Betty Beyer, 82, a former 7th and 8th grade art teacher at Chester schools.

A governor-appointed task force is considering potential solutions to the teacher shortage.

Information from: Argus Leader, http://www.argusleader.com

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