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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Friday, June 8, 2001

New bill lets retirees regain teaching jobs

By Mike Gordon
Advertiser Staff Writer

Retired public schoolteachers will be able to return to their old jobs and keep their pension under a bill passed by the Legislature, a Department of Education spokesman said yesterday.

Teachers would be paid at the level at which they retired, but their salary would reflect new contract raises negotiated since, said Greg Knudsen, department spokesman. He said the teachers could be in classrooms by this fall.

"It is an attractive incentive," Knudsen said. "We are in sort of a crisis situation, especially in special-education classes, so we needed some extraordinary incentive."

Teachers must have been retired for two years to be eligible.

No one is expecting a flood of applicants, although teachers are needed in special education, math and science classrooms, among others. Counselors and librarians also are needed.

The department made a similar offer a few years ago to lure back special-education teachers, Knudsen said.

"We had five applicants," he said.

The department has had to recruit about 1,400 new teachers in recent years — about 200 to 300 more than normal, he said.

Karen Ginoza, president of the Hawaii State Teachers Association, said there is interest among retirees. The union hopes to bring back teachers who took early retirement in 1995, she said.

Ginoza urged interested retirees to contact the Department of Education as soon as possible.

But she's also a realist.

"I work with retirees, and trying to get them to come back is difficult," she said. "When you teach, that is all you do. Your whole life, 24 hours, is teaching. So all of a sudden to have a life, it's hard to give up."