Alana Baker

Teachers in Seminole county are being “swept away” by the end of their contracts.

Katelyn Liston, Design Editor

It’s often assumed that teachers have the ‘easy’ job when it comes to school, but that’s not the case. Especially when teachers are being forced out of their ‘easy’ jobs legally. This is becoming a problem in Seminole County, even in SHS, where teachers with decades of experience teaching higher level classes are being forced to retire.

Since Florida ended its deferred retirement option program, teachers have been inclined to sign in to the program to protect their retirement. However, once teachers are included in this program, they are not able to terminate their contract and are forced to retire after five years. The county has the option to rehire them year by year after this, but in many cases, refuses to. This means that, due to their higher salary, Seminole High School is losing experienced teachers that have been here for decades. Students are then left with teachers who do not have plans for or experience in higher level classroom settings, leading these students to score lower on exams and standardized tests.

“Schools are meant to educate students… so that they can be successful in life. By forcing teachers into retirement, even when they are some of the best teachers at the school, the school board is going against their basic purpose,” says junior Jonathan Hefley.

In Seminole County, a teacher who has 28 years or more of teaching experience earns a starting salary of $58,500, which is maximized at $69,500 annually with a bachelor’s degree. On the other hand, a new teacher with no experience receives a starting salary of at least $39,000 or, with a doctorate, $50,000. This means two teachers with no experience and a minimum amount of education can be hired for the price of one extremely experienced teacher. While this is a smart decision financially, does this benefit students? Ms. Kelly Meahl doesn’t believe so.

Meahl says, “[I] am very unhappy about the decision. While I recognize it’s within the district’s right to do this, I feel they are prioritizing financial concerns over the best interests of the students.”

There are three teachers who have taught for over four decades and are being forced into retirement by Seminole County this year at Seminole High alone. While they do not wish to be interviewed, students have reported their teachers’ distress regarding this forced retirement.

Not only are inexperienced teachers going to be teaching these advanced classes, but teachers aren’t required to be legally certified to teach in Florida. If the district approves it, a teacher can work on a temporary, nonrenewable certification for up to three years in a school. There are new teachers at Seminole High School that do, in fact, fall under this category, as well.

Ultimately, the question is: to what extent is it right for Seminole County to hire new teachers in the place of experienced ones, for classes that end in AP and IB exams? Tell us what you think in the comments below.