DENVER, CO – Governor Jared Polis today signed two bills into law that will boost Colorado’s teacher and school staff workforce. These bipartisan bills come at a time when Colorado is facing a dire teacher shortage, especially in rural school districts.
“Getting talented educators back in the classroom will prepare our students for success and I’m thrilled these laws will ease the path for reentry,” said Rep. Barbara McLachlan D-Durango. “Our state is facing a significant teacher and school staff shortage, and this couldn’t be more true for rural school districts. I’m proud of the bipartisan work we’ve done to craft these bills and their passage today is a step in the right direction in addressing the teacher shortage, improving education outcomes for our students and moving Colorado forward.”
PERA Service Retiree Employment in Rural Schools: This bill will make it easier for rural school districts to address the teacher and employee shortages. HB22-1101, sponsored by Representatives Barbara McLachlan and Marc Catlin, will make permanent a program that is currently scheduled to expire that allows retired public employees to return to full-time work in a rural school district without an impact on their retirement benefits. It also expands the program to include school nurses and paraprofessionals.
PERA Employment After Teacher Retirement: This bill will temporarily waive the limitations set by the public employees' retirement association (PERA) regarding the number of days qualified service retirees can substitute teach. HB22-1057, sponsored by Representatives Barbara McLachlan and Mary Bradfield, will make it easier for retired teachers to re-enter the classroom. Under current limitations, if retired teachers work over the number of allotted days, their PERA benefits are reduced. The bill temporarily lifts the waiver until July 1st, 2025. Additionally, qualified service retirees can teach in any school district while there is a critical substitute teacher shortage in Colorado.
Colorado is facing a significant teacher shortage. During the 2020-2021 school year nearly 13% of teacher positions were filled through a shortage mechanism and more than 200 positions went completely unfilled statewide. These bills aim to break down barriers for retired teachers, educators, paraprofessionals, school nurses and bus drivers to work in districts facing a shortage of school staff. Sourcing quality teachers and school staff help better prepare students for success.