In Connecticut, all certified school system employees, including superintendents, are considered “teachers.” Those who have retired from a public school position may only be re-employed in a public school at a salary of no more than 45 percent of the maximum salary level for the position. Note that teachers who have retired have probably reached the maximum salary level for their position, so if they come out of retirement and return to work, they can only earn less than half their pre-retirement salary. There are some exceptions to the restriction, but for most situations, the limit applies.

That may not sound so bad. But consider that, at any given moment in Connecticut, there are a number of school districts that are in the process of searching for a new superintendent, a process that can take many months. These districts need someone at the helm until the new person is in place: an interim superintendent. There is no lack of experienced, retired superintendents who would take such a position for a limited time and keep the business of the school district running smoothly.

But then consider the offer made to these superintendents. Come aboard, out of retirement, help us out, and oh, by the way, we can offer you no more than 45 percent of your previous salary and no benefits. See Conn. Gen. Stat. §10-183v: Re-employment of teachers. The same thing would apply if a school district suddenly found itself lacking a teacher in a required subject.

Is this “double dipping”? Do we care? In these situations, the people being hired have not intentionally set out to maximize their compensation. They have skills that are very much needed in Connecticut’s schools and have been sought out because of those skills. Why should they agree to leave retirement and help out a school district, much in need of that help, when they are paid less than half of what those skills and experience allowed them to earn pre-retirement?

And, as if to rub salt into this wound, if the teacher or superintendent comes from outside Connecticut, the limitation does not apply. So an interim superintendent from another state, less familiar with Connecticut’s education structure, can receive the full normal salary and benefits of the position they are filling, while the better-qualified Connecticut resident cannot. There are always vacancies in the superintendents’ ranks in Connecticut. Is there any wonder why the people best qualified to fill those vacancies decline to do so?