Newark Public Schools Call On Retired Teachers for Emergency Help

NEWARK, NJ — Eager for solutions, Newark Public Schools District officials are now turning to retired teachers for help as staffing shortages set off by the coronavirus pandemic persist.

The move from the district follows suit with legislation recently signed by Gov. Phil Murphy that allows retired teachers and professional school staff members to continue to collect their retirement pensions for the remainder of the 2021-22 school year and the entirety of the 2022-23 school year. Faced with staff vacancies since the start of this school year, district officials are hopeful retired teachers will come back to help fill in key positions. 

“We are encouraged to have our own retirees who know our schools and students, and who are invested in our community to return to Newark,” said Newark Public Schools District Board of Education Co-Vice President Flohisha Johnson, who also chairs the Personnel Policy Committee,in her committee report during a board meeting Tuesday.

On Jan. 14, Johnson said that more than 200 retired Newark teachers were contacted to see if they were interested in the opportunity. In one day, the board co-vice president reported that the district received responses from more than 25 individuals who expressed interest. Additionally, Johnson said, the district is still open to any other candidates.

Following Tuesday’s meeting, a post was put up on the school board’s Facebook page the next morning, asking retired teachers to reach out to the district if they were interested in returning to work. In recent months, the district has also hosted virtual job fairs and offered signing bonuses aimed to attract candidates.

As of Jan. 13, Johnson said in her committee report that the district recorded 109 total vacancies. Out of those 109 vacancies, the board co-vice president said that 28 vacancies are being covered by certified teachers, and 43 positions were newly budgeted for the 2021-22 school year.

Those vacancies, paired with many staff members calling out on a weekly basis due to being infected with the coronavirus, have ultimately impacted teachers inside the school buildings. 

One district high school teacher, who asked to remain anonymous, told TAPinto Newark that teachers on occasion had students from another classroom come into their own due to a lack of substitute teachers. Other times, some teachers are asked to sub or take on six to seven periods per day to fill in vacancies.

“I’m in this for the kids, and I will make some personal sacrifices for the kids, but it’s really pushing even me in terms of the chaos that we face and handle every single day inside the buildings,” the teacher said. “It’s a marathon every single day from the minute you step into the building to the minute you leave and beyond that… It’s almost undoable. We just don’t have enough adults to run the building.”

With many staff members stretched thin, the recently signed legislation aimed to get retired teachers back in schools could offer a helping hand in Newark, even if it’s temporary.

“I don’t know how long it will stay in place or for the future but for now it’s a great help,” Newark Teachers Union President John Abeigon told TAPinto Newark.

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published this page in News and Politics 2022-01-27 03:18:38 -0800