Due to budget issues and the looming state shortfall, officials in a school district in northeast Nebraska offered teachers an early retirement package late last year and started recruiting new teachers.
A. J. Johnson, superintendent of Hartington-Newcastle, says they knew some teachers would take the option — and take a lot of experience with them.
“We knew in advance how many people were eligible and we figured we might get that number, around four or five, and we prepared for that,” Johnson says. “Certainly, when you add up all of the years of experience, that number throws you for a loop. When you think about 163 years, that’s a lot of experience that we’ll be losing.”
Johnson says it’s unusual for a small, rural district to have people stay as long at they do, as oftentimes, such districts have a lot of turnover every year.
“You’ll see about half the staff stays a long time and about half the staff turns over and we don’t seem to have that here and that’s great,” Johnson says. “That’s a testament to the community, the kids, the parents and that this is a great place to teach.”
Of the four teachers retiring, one has been on staff 42 years, two others have 41 years, and the “short-timer” of the bunch has 39 years on the job. Johnson believes they have replacement teachers in line to join the staff in the fall.
By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton