Buckeye school board member concerned about allowing superintendents to ‘double up’

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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — Lori Shough recently retired as superintendent of Liberty Elementary School District 25, which serves Goodyear and Buckeye. A day later, she was rehired in the same position, so she could receive her retirement benefits and continue to receive a six-figure salary.

And that doesn’t sit well with Bryan Parks, one of two Liberty Elementary School Board members who voted against the double-take. “I don’t think it’s fair that we have superintendents retiring while earning 5 times teachers’ salaries,” Parks said.

It turns out double dipping is pretty common, with about 60 superintendents across the state retiring and then retiring by the same school district. About 20 years ago, the Arizona Legislature passed a “back to work” law designed to help school districts retain longtime teachers eligible for their state pensions but not yet ready to take their retirement.

Paul Tighe is executive director of the Association of School Administrators. He said rehiring teachers and administrators is quite common and actually saves the district money because the benefit cost for that employee is a bit lower.

“In many cases it’s a win-win,” Tighe said. “Districts can really save money and help veteran employees, whether it’s a teacher, principal or superintendent. They can keep them in the organization to help provide leadership and veteran services.

Superintendent Shough provided the Arizona family with these statements:

“I was an educator in Arizona for 37 years as a teacher, instructional coach, principal, and district leader. No matter the level of responsibility, my goal never changes. Our children deserve to have all the options available to them as they pursue their education and careers, and it is our collective job to ensure that we provide them with an exemplary education.

“State law equitably permits any employee to return to work as an indentured employee. Our District’s contract employees are paid a lesser amount to provide budget savings to the District and to cover the cost of third-party contractor fees. Additionally, districts, and ultimately taxpayers, save even more money because districts don’t have to pay employer-related expenses such as 12.17% to the retirement system. State of Arizona for contract employees. The “return to work” system is a cost-effective option for districts. »

“The legislator has made a major change to the system which obliges municipalities to contribute to the public pension scheme for “retired” employees who return to work (ARS 38-766.02). This legislation protected the health of Arizona’s retirement system by making returning to work cost-free. As long as there are cost savings to districts, no cost to ratepayers, and no negative impact on the pension system, then I think it’s a workable system that helps districts retain employees.

Parks is not convinced. He contacted the Maricopa County District Attorney’s Office, raising questions about whether “double-dipping” with school superintendents is legal. “Even if it’s legal, is it the right thing to do?” said Parks. “It’s not the right thing to do.”

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