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Nye schools seek retirees to fill some critical vacancies

Even as school officials announced the retirement of more than a dozen teachers and other personnel on Monday night, they hope some veteran workers and retirees will consider returning to fill essential roles in the district.

Nye County School District has a “critical need” to fill several positions, Michelle Wright, director of human resources for the district told school board trustees in a memo on Monday.

“Currently, we have a need for three early childhood teachers and two early childhood special education teachers, two secondary career and technical education teachers, one secondary English language arts teacher, one school psychologist and four speech therapists/language pathologists — including both the northern schools and southern schools within NCSD,” she said.

In addition, Wright says there’s still a shortage of bus drivers in the district.

“We currently have long-term substitutes and independent contractors filling these positions,” she said.

As part of a package of other proposals on Monday, Nye County trustees agreed to allow retired employees to return to work full time for the district and earn a salary to fill some critical roles, while still drawing a pension from their state retirement plans.

“This is a great benefit to a retiree, and allows the district to employ an experienced employee in a hard-to-fill position without requiring additional funding,” Wright said in the memo.

Double-dipping

Thousands of state employees have taken advantage of the 2001 law allowing state retirees to return to jobs in the public sector deemed “difficult to fill,” but critics say it costs the state as much as $23 million annually, according to one estimate.

“Double-dipping” is unfair they say because the pension system’s legislative mandate was meant to help those whose earning power has been substantially reduced by age or disability — not a gateway to help older workers return to the labor market and earn a six-figure income.

In 2023, Nevada’s underfunded Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS) hit an all-time high for debt: $18.3 billion.

PERS is struggling with cash flow too.

In 2022, the system paid out $1 billion more than what it took in via contributions, according to Nevada Policy, a nonprofit watchdog that promotes policies to eliminate unnecessary governmental restrictions.

Current teachers and taxpayers are now paying record-high contributions to fund Nevada’s PERS, which is not on a trajectory to be solvent any time soon. It means that almost all current teachers are expected to be “net losers” — they likely will have paid more into PERS than what they can expect to receive back in future benefits.

In most states, pension debt is a cost borne almost entirely by taxpayers. Nevada, however, requires public employees to share in half of the total PERS cost.

Nevada PERS members have some of the nation’s highest retirement costs, critics say, and by allowing retired state workers to “double-dip” and return to jobs post-retirement is a costly solution that kicks the problem down the road.

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