Escalating numbers of Wisconsin teachers and other public employees are storming the retirement rolls, with some citing fear of eroding benefits because of Gov. Scott Walker's collective-bargaining pullback. The retirement rate in Madison schools is running 62 percent above the average of the past five years, according to the Wisconsin State Journal
As of the April 15 deadline to sign up to retire, 138 Madison teachers have decided to retire, Superintendent Dan Nerad told the State Journal. The district plans to fill all of the vacated posts, but losing so many veteran teachers could have a negative effect on students and novice teachers, Nerad told the newspaper.
"A lot of these people have been working with generations of students and influencing people for a long, long time," Nerad said. "Our intention is to replace them with knowledgeable people, but as a rule they will be less experienced."
More than 60 teachers cited collective-bargaining concerns for opting to retire now, said John Matthews, executive director of Madison Teachers Inc.
Patty Schultz, a school librarian for 32 years, including 23 in Madison, told the State Journal that she reached her decision "out of fear. It really revolved around the retirement system. It was sitting in a meeting where people were discussing the possible impact of [the law] and looking at my husband and both of us feeling that we couldn't take what we thought was a risky approach to our future."
Statewide, the number of public employees who filed for retirement in the first three months of 2011 is up nearly 80 percent over the same period last year, the State Journal reported, citing state figures.
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