Addressing teacher shortages
Last updated 3/1/2022 at 3:10pm | View PDF
One of the problems that was exacerbated by the reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic was our continued shortage of teachers. The lockdowns and the closing of the schools had the same effect on the teaching profession as it had on other areas of the economy. For better or for worse, many thought this would be a good time to accelerate retirement or consider a different profession. Teachers were not immune to these influences. There are other factors which have contributed to our shortage of teachers. Therefore, this situation begs a long-term solution.
However, there is also a short-term solution to our teacher shortage: retired teachers. Of course, I am talking about teachers who probably retired before COVID. Teachers like me who retired for the "old" reasons, i.e., taught for 30 years, time to take some time for myself, etc. Today's economic realities have made working while retired a necessity. And why not work at something one enjoyed? People do not become teachers because they think they will retire rich. They become teachers because – and I know this may sound trite – they want to teach.
Under current law, a retired Colorado teacher cannot work more than 110 days as a substitute teacher. This is far short of a full school year. The current situation requires the ability to work more days as a substitute teacher. The 110-day limit is regulation of the Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA).
I sponsored HB22-1057 to address this issue. HB 1057 suspends the 110-day limit for three years. PERA maintains that this policy will negatively impact them. I do not agree. However, I and my co-sponsor Rep. McLachlan agreed to limit the suspension to a three-year period to lessen any impact.
The bill accomplishes its purpose by NOT raising taxes. It does NOT require school districts to implement this. It does NOT affect PERA contributions. And it is NOT a permanent change in statute – it is for three years.
I am disappointed that this bill will take effect (if the governor signs it) so late in the school year, but legislative and academic calendars do not always line up. It is my intention that legislation I initiate be for the benefit for the people of House District 21 and Colorado.
It is my honor to serve as your representative in the Colorado State Legislature.