Newark, NJ schools giving big payday for retired teachers to return
NEWARK — Dozens of educators short of a full staff, New Jersey's largest school district is offering $92,000 for retired teachers to return to work.
There are 26 retired teachers in Newark classrooms as of Monday, Newark assistant superintendent Yolanda Méndez told NJ.com. They expect another 10 within the next few weeks.
It's a sizable paycheck — nearly 50 percent larger than the recently increased $62,000 starting salary for new teachers in the district. And the retirees who choose to return to work for the 2022-2023 school year will still be able to collect their pensions thanks to a new law this year.
NJ law to hire retired teachers
The Newark school district is just one public school system taking advantage of the law signed by Gov. Phil Murphy in January.
Officials said at the time that it was a stopgap measure as the state faced a shortage of teachers. The law will expire in June 2023, though NJ.com reported that Newark administrators would support extending it.
Jonathan Pushman, director of governmental relations for the New Jersey School Boards Association, told New Jersey 101.5 in January that there was a "critical staffing shortage crisis."
“When we are facing the vacancies that as I’ve said have only been exacerbated by the public health emergency, we need as many tools in our belt as possible,” Pushman said.
Nine months later, there are still plenty of job openings in Newark and other schools.
Teacher shortages at NJ schools
In late August, Newark schools announced hiring 600 new teachers thanks in part to its recent pay increase and a $4,000 signing bonus for critical positions. But even that was not enough as the district still needs to fill over 60 positions, Méndez told NJ.com.
Paterson schools needed to fill nearly 170 vacancies in late August. The district offered a $7,500 hiring bonus in exchange for a two-year commitment from new teachers.
Paul Brubaker, communications director for Paterson schools, told New Jersey 101.5 that it had 137 teacher openings as of Monday.
Hiring bonuses have become more common as employers, in the public and private sectors, look to fill positions.
NJ Transit in August 2021 offered a $6,500 signing bonus for new bus drivers. One month later, a state Return and Earn program provided small businesses incentives to hire and train new employees, and the hired workers could look forward to an extra $500 on their first paycheck.
Includes prior reporting from Michael Symons and Dan Alexander.