School districts, including Foxboro, holding steady on teacher retirements despite pandemic | Local News

August 5, 2021

Area school districts, including in Foxboro, are not seeing a slew of teacher retirements in the wake of the pandemic, though some are seeing a smaller pool of applicants to fill some vacancies.

Many school systems across the country are experiencing a higher number of teacher retirements than usual, largely because of COVID-19 and hybrid learning demands and burnout. Some districts also are facing teacher shortages.

That trend isn't showing up in area school systems, however, school official say.

"We have not seen more retirements. We actually had less retirements than what we have seen in past years," Foxboro Superintendent Amy Berdos said. "We have been able to fill any open positions."

The teacher situation in Attleboro schools resembles past years.

"We typically have 15, plus or minus a few, retirements each year," said Julienne Singer, the school system's human resources director. "We are currently at 15, no more than usual."

The search for replacements is also not posing a unique challenge.

"We have not had any difficulty getting enough applicants for our positions," Singer said.

In Mansfield, the situation is a little different than past years.

"It’s been an interesting year with retirements," Superintendent Teresa Murphy said.

There were retirements of three school personnel, which includes teachers, nurses, therapists, and other faculty members, during the school year.

"In addition, we’ve had two retirements since school let out for the summer," Murphy said. "This was a first for me. Summer retirement announcements are unusual."

Murphy, who has been superintendent for five years and had served as assistant superintendent for two years, explained for budget planning purposes, the district has an early retirement incentive that provides a bonus if a teacher announces retirement plans by the end of November, and by February school officials generally know of upcoming retirees.

"I anticipated additional retirements, but I’ve had a few teachers who are at retirement age tell me they are putting retirement off for another year or so because they didn’t want last year to be the way they ended their careers," Murphy said.

Some positions are seeing an unusual number of resignations and retirements, though.

"The group that we saw many more retirements and resignations is among the ranks of paraprofessionals," Murphy said.

The school system recently posted 11 paraprofessional positions.

"Never seen that many leave in one year," Murphy said.

The district is getting swamped with applicants for its few teaching vacancies.

For the elementary teaching positions, the district received roughly 150 applicants per posted position.

"The pool is deep," Murphy said.

For other positions such as world language, special education, computer science, and math, the applicant pool is smaller as is usually the case compared to regular classroom teachers.

"We’ve attended job fairs, recruited candidates, and sought out individuals seeking alternative paths to licensure," Murphy said.

Norton schools are also finding it more of a challenge to fill certain positions.

"We are not seeing an increase in retirements," Superintendent Joseph Baeta said. "However, the application pool for certain areas such as special education, math, sciences, world languages is not what it was."

Across Massachusetts, school officials say they aren't seeing a mass exodus of teachers either.