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Senate adopts bill to encourage retired teachers to return as subs


The state Senate has adopted a bill that would encourage recently retired teachers and other school personnel to return the classroom as substitutes.

That goal is to help alleviate a shortage of teachers and support staff in schools. The bill would allow retired school personnel to return to work as substitutes after four months.

The current requirement is to wait at least a year.

“You know we have a huge problem in Michigan with the lack of substitute teachers,” said Republican state Senator Dale Zorn, the bill sponsor.

Zorn says the shortage of people to work in schools has gotten worse with the wave of retirements during COVID-19 – and this will deal with just part of the problem.

“There’s no fix out there that’s going to be 100 percent,” Zorn told Michigan Public Radio.

Doug Pratt is with the Michigan Education Association agreed. He told Michigan Public Radio there are a lot of factors contributing to the shortage.

“Is this going to help in some areas in terms of providing some additional educators for classrooms? Sure,” he said.

“Is it going to solve the problem? No, because we’re not dealing with addressing the core issues, which is the lack of compensation and respect for the education profession.”

The bill cleared the Senate with wide bipartisan support.

It now goes to the state House.

There are concerns about the potential impact on the school employee retirement fund. The bill has a sunset clause that would require the Legislature to revisit the question in two years.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987. His journalism background includes stints with UPI, The Elizabeth (NJ) Daily Journal, The (Pontiac, MI) Oakland Press, and WJR. He is also a lifelong public radio listener.
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