Teacher retirements increase in St. Mary Parish

Teacher retirements have begun to increase in St. Mary Parish, contributing to a similar trend seen across the state.

“Anecdotal evidence indicates that St. Mary has begun to see an increase in the number of teacher retirements this year,” Superintendent Donald Aguillard said.

“We reported three teacher retirements at the December 2012 School Board meeting and two teacher retirements at the January meeting. These figures compare to one teacher retirement in the same time period from last year. We will be watching this trend closely as we complete the current school year,” Aguillard said.

The school system has 689 teachers, he said, and between eight and 10 typically retire annually. Currently there are five additional retirements anticipated for May, and more are expected, Aguillard said.

Across the state, the number of teachers retiring jumped more than 25 percent as the administration of Gov. Bobby Jindal pushed an overhaul of public education that changes the rules on how teachers are evaluated, according to the Teachers Retirement System of Louisiana.

“Superintendents are telling me they are seeing an increase ... even at midterm, people submitting resignations or indicating they are retiring at the end of the school year,” said Michael Faulk, president of the Louisiana Association of School Superintendents.

The Advocate reports the number of retirements from public kindergarten through 12th-grade schools across the state has hovered around 2,500 in recent years: 2,598 for the 2011 fiscal year; 2,512 during the previous fiscal year.

But for the 2012 fiscal year that ended June 30 — the most recent complete year — the number retiring from public systems jumped by 697 to 3,295, an increase of 26.8 percent in teacher retirements, according to retirement system statistics.

The pace is even higher for the current fiscal year, which began July 1 and is almost halfway through, with 1,671 retirements charted by the system.

“This was not anticipated,” said Lisa Honore, Teachers Retirement System of Louisiana communications director.

School superintendents say the retirements are putting a strain on school systems.

Livingston Parish School Superintendent John Watson said the parish has been able to find replacements so far. fill positions,” said Watson.

Lafayette Parish Superintendent Pat Cooper said the retirements are “absolutely” creating problems in having qualified, certified teachers in the classroom, “especially in the high-demand areas: math, science, special ed.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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