Although information has been filtering in that a much higher percentage of teachers have been retiring this year throughout the state, at St. Charles Parish Public Schools the number of teachers retiring has stayed steady and even decreased slightly this year.
A report released by the Teacher Retirement System of Louisiana earlier this year revealed that the number of school system retirees has jumped 26 percent from 2011 to 2012. In that same time period the percentage of teachers retiring in St. Charles Parish went down from 3.39 percent to 3.02 percent.
John Smith, St. Charles Parish District 5 School Board member and president of the Louisiana School Board Association, said the statewide increase in the number of teachers retiring coincides with the passage of new state laws governing teachers.
"As it stands, as far as the Louisiana School Board Association is concerned, we do understand that there is an increased number of teachers retiring and we donít have empirical data to say that it is because of the new policies put in place, but there is a close correlation between the timing of these retirements and the passage of the new legislation," Smith said.
Last year, the state legislature passed laws making it more difficult for teachers to gain tenure, requiring school systems to deny wage increases to teachers whose students perform poorly on standardized tests. The superintendent of a school system also has more authority to make personnel changes within a school district with little to no school board input.
John "Jay" Robicheaux, School Board vice president, said although St. Charles Parish has not seen an increase in the number of retirees, he expects to see an increase soon.
"I think it will be happening, I just donít think it is happening yet. The pressure our district puts on our teachers on top of the pressure the state puts on them I have no doubt the trend will continue into St. Charles Parish," he said. "I would give it a year for all of the policies and all of the requirements to kick in and for the pressure to be greater on teachers."
Robicheaux said the school district has been in tune with changes in law regarding teacher performance and has done their best to help teachers navigate the new requirements. Still he does not think that will be enough in the end.
"We do a really good job supporting the teachers and helping them through the process of all the requirements, but there is only so much you can help a teacher with," Robicheaux said.