Number of Ga. Teachers Retiring Spikes | News
Several teachers in Houston County retired halfway through the year, like many others around the state.
13WMAZ's Jennifer Moulliet explains the increase in retirements.
"It was about time and this made it time," says Rick Unruh.
Unruh decided to retire after spending 33 of 37 years in the Houston County School system. He had stints at Houston County High and spent the last few years of his tenure as Northside High School's media specialist.
"I thought it was my thirty-sixth but I miscounted."
Unruh wasn't the only one to retire in the middle of the school year, across the state over 1,700 school personnel put in to retire December 1st, fourteen in Houston County alone.
"There was a financial incentive for those eligible to retire which would equate to approximately $94 a month for the rest of their lives if they went ahead and went out early," explains Superintendent Robin Hines.
The incentive Superintendent Hines is referring to is actually a tax adjustment, that is being abolished, but if you retired before December 1st of this year you're grandfathered in.
To break it down: Before 1989, state retirement wasn't taxable. But a federal lawsuit changed that. Legislators pushed back. So they compromised and added an adjustment on the first $37,500 a person got. What that meant was the most they'd get back was $1,125 a year.
In addition to that adjustment, another exclusion was introduced in 2006. When you turn 62, the first $35,000 dollars you made was excluded. And at 65, the amount jumped up to $65,000. You also got that $1,125 a year, to off-set the income tax that you weren't paying, essentially a double benefit.
So the Teacher Retirement System of Georgia decided to get rid of that three percent adjustment or that extra $1,125.
Superintendent Robin Hines says it poses a problem when employees retire or leave in the middle of the school year but says Houston County is fortunate. "We have a great pool of applicants all the time, and we were able to easily fill the positions."says Hines.
He says it provided a benefit for their employees to leave early.
"They're valued employees and they've done a great job for a long time, but it's always exciting to get new ideas and young vibrant teachers in." says Hines.
For Unruh it was thirty-seven years well spent. "I could not have spent the bulk of my career any place that I would have enjoyed it more."