by Bethanne McCarthy Patrick
TRENTON, N.J. – As schools struggle to find bus drivers who can safely transport kids and custodians who can sanitize classrooms, Assemblywoman Bethanne McCarthy Patrick eyes an opportunity for retired non-instructional staff. To help alleviate the pandemic-exacerbated staff shortages in schools, she recently introduced a bill that would allow certain retirees to return to work without giving up their retirement allowance.
“My bill would allow retired bus drivers to temporarily get back behind the wheel, put lunch aides back in the cafeterias and custodians in our classrooms. These are qualified workers who know how to do the job and are willing to step up to serve their community because they love the kids,” McCarthy Patrick (R-Salem) said. “We just have to allow them to do it without sacrificing their retirement pay.”
The bill (A2941) permits staff who retired from the Public Employees’ Retirement System and served in positions that did not require certification from the state Department of Education to return to employment in a school district for up to two years without reenrollment in PERS.
“Schools are being forced to shorten the school day or go remote to address the staffing shortages. Existing school staff are being made to do more with less. These are unacceptable long-term solutions. Our students deserve the full educational experience. This is a crisis situation that deserves our immediate attention,” added McCarthy Patrick. “While there is a law to allow retired teachers to return to a school district, non-instructional staff are not currently offered that same opportunity. I want to fix that.”
Under current New Jersey law, certain Teachers’ Pension and Annuity Fund retirees can return to work for a limited period of time without reenrollment in the TPAF.
If McCarthy Patrick’s bill becomes law, retirees could start working this school year or next.