Teachers Retiring In Greater Numbers As Pensions Change

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Some local school districts are seeing two or three times the usual number of teacher retirements.

Cathy Williams said that she is one of many giving up her post.

“I am retiring before I lose most of my pension," Williams said.

Williams spent 35 years teaching, much of it at Champion Middle School in Columbus. She taught students who have special needs.

"I am a caretaker. I am a nurse. I am a doctor, a lawyer, a judge,” Williams said. “I make sure that my students are protected.”

Williams said that teaching was a demanding job, but one she loved. She said that she would have stayed three more years, but this fall the General Assembly is expected to pass major changes in the state's pensions systems, changes Williams and many of her colleagues do not like.

"People are going to be working longer, putting more into the system, and getting a lesser benefit than those who have gone before the," said Bill Leibensperger, vice president of the Ohio Education Association.

Leibensperger said that there are many reasons why people retire, including health and family responsibilities. However, for many teachers, money is at the heart of it this year.

The recession is forcing pension changes as local districts face huge cuts from the state. Many have already cut staff.

Leibensperger said that some districts are giving incentives for more experienced teachers to leave their jobs because they receive higher pay than new teachers, meaning students will see fewer familiar faces this fall.

Dublin City Schools will loses 50 teachers, twice the usual number and the Hilliard City School District will lose 43, up from 11 last year.

Williams said that she and many of her friends who are retiring do not like the some lawmakers' calls to link teachers' pay to student test scores.

"I really resent that you're going to base what I do with my students, on the outcome on a test. I want my gold watch. And my gold watch is my pension."

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