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Bill would allow Tier II educators to collect pension after 30 years

Updated: Jan. 24, 2021 at 10:48 PM CST
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Alabama lawmakers are preparing to roll up their sleeves and get to work during the new legislative session starting February 2.

One of the bills for consideration helps teachers. It made it passed the House last year, but it wasn’t voted on by the State Senate due to the pandemic.

Education professionals in Alabama are divided into two groups, Tier II and Tier II, it’s based on when they started working.

Teachers who started working after 2013 can’t collect their pensions until they’re 62 years old. State representative Alan Baker says, it’s time to change that.

“They need to be shown value in the profession that they’ve chosen,” Baker said.

If Baker’s bill passes, any education professional, who entered the state program after 2013, including bus drivers and cafeteria workers, could get their pension once they’ve worked for 30 years.

This bill does not only benefit first time teachers, it also helps teachers who have moved to Alabama and previously worked in other states like Melissa Lee, who works at James Clemens High School in Madison City School District.

“Even though I’m 14 years into teaching, I should be almost done. I’m only at year seven in Alabama. I would’ve retired at 52 if I had never moved,” Lee said.

Another element of the bill, allowing Tier II teachers to put unused sick time towards retirement.

“We really don’t have an incentive to save our sick leave. So if we retie out with say 100 days, we’ve earned those days but we’re not compensated for them,” she explained.

Rep. Baker agrees, and says the change would add more value to the classroom.

“Then you have subs that are in the classroom, and we’d much prefer having the actual teacher, certified teacher over a sub. So I think that’s very important as well,” Baker said.

Baker says the bill would motivate students studying education in college to stay in Alabama once they graduate.

I’m told this would benefit the teachers and the school districts, but can the state afford to pay out these pensions sooner? This is a question we will be taking to the state superintendent this week.

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