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Posted by Jerry Bender
Retirement and Health Benefits
The beauty of the democratic system is that citizens have access to their political leaders. And often, those leaders listen and respond. This has certainly been the case in addressing the lack of substitute teachers for school districts. But, this only occurs if and when legislators hear from those in their communities. (See remarks below on SB 5148 for an important opportunity to be heard.)
As reported earlier, there have been at least three different approaches to increasing the pool of available substitute teachers.
Proposals range from removing the restrictions prohibiting early retirees from returning as substitute teachers to removing the same restrictions on both classified and certificated employees. The only bill to date that has had a hearing is one that lies somewhere in between:
HB 1737 Addressing the availability of retired teachers as substitutes.
A teacher in Plan 2 or Plan 3 that has retired under the ERF factors may be employed with an employer for up to two hundred sixteen hours per school year (27 days) without suspension of his/her benefits.
Representatives Orcutt, Santos, Magendanz, Bergquist, Ortiz-Self, Kilduff, Kagi, Zeiger, Tarleton, Muri, Condotta, Pollet
This bill had its first public hearing February 11 before the House Appropriations Committee. Numerous persons testified in support of the concept of the bill, but not its specific restrictions. Superintendents from McCleary and Olympia pointed out that the 27 day limitation would not serve students well. Others testifying indicated the same.
Some members of the committee asked the prime sponsor, Rep. Orcutt, if he would entertain an increase in the number of days. He said he would, but only a minor increase. A fellow Republican suggested 12 weeks as the limit since that was the leave granted under FMLA. No response.
WASA’s position continues to favor SB 5148.
SB 5148 Allowing members who retire early under alternate early retirement provisions as set forth in RCW 41.32.765(3) and 41.32.875(3) to work as substitute teachers and continue receiving retirement benefits at the same time.
Senators Parlette, Dammeier, Chase, Conway, McAuliffe, O’Ban
This bill directly addresses the need for substitutes with no limit as to the number of days allowed. Should a district and students need a long-term sub, then a district could hire one, instead of a series of short-term subs as would be the case in HB 1737 cited above. This bill stands a solid chance of being passed. Its prime sponsors in the Senate are leading Republicans.
It is scheduled for a public hearing on Monday, Feb. 16th at 3:30 before the Senate Ways and Means Committee. This is an important time for representatives from the education community to be heard by committee members. You are urged to attend and let them know how important this issue is to your school and students. Please contact Jerry Bender if you can attend.
Now, to shift slightly, but still on the topic of substitute availability, late this last week, SB 5941 was introduced:
SB 5941 Concerning certification of adjunct faculty as common school substitute teachers.
Sponsors: Senators Rivers, Rolfes, Litzow, Dammeier, Angel
This bill requires the Professional Educator Standards Board to amend or adopt rules that provide for issuance of the certification necessary to serve as substitute teachers, other than emergency substitute certification, to adjunct faculty currently employed in institutions of higher education who meet certain criteria.
This bill, if passed, would help increase the pool of substitute candidates, a good thing.
Clearly, legislators are aware of the need for qualified substitutes. This issue has grabbed their attention because they have heard from their constituents.
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
The Nexus Group