Numerous San Diego Unified Teachers Set to Retire, Presenting Another Hurdle for In-Person Learning

Over 100 school teachers will be retiring December 31 as a result of a retirement incentive offered by the San Diego Unified School District. 

The five-year incentive to retire totals $25,000 to $75,000. To be eligible, teachers and most other employees must be at least 55-years-old with 15 years of experience at SDUSD. School police must be 50 years of age with 15 years of service. 

“District officials declined to provide preliminary retirement numbers, but union representatives told Voice of San Diego 130 members of the teacher’s union submitted retirement papers by the deadline last week, plus 26 administrators (including two principals and three vice principals) and another 200 or so non-teaching employees, like office, maintenance and food workers,” reported Ashly McGlone for Voice of San Diego.

The entire transition process remains elusive to both faculty and families. It remains unknown whether San Diego Unified will bring in substitutes or new hires to replace the retiring teachers. Future grading decisions also remain unclear, especially as replacements will be left to score classrooms whom they will only have been acquainted with for half a year. It would certainly have been more practical for the District to reset the retirement date from December 31 to the end of the school year. 

“Ultimately, they were insistent that the only type of incentive they would agree to is one that was for people who retired December 31 without any flexibility,” explained teachers’ union president Kisha Borden. “The Education Code wouldn’t allow [San Diego Unified] to use substitutes to cover a classroom without an assigned teacher, but the District has assured us that their regular hiring process will allow them to have enough applicants to fill vacancies that still exist on January 4.”

The definite losers of the retirement incentive are the students of SDUSD, whose academic progress has already been severely affected by remote learning. A long period of substitutes or the hiring of possibly inexperienced teachers will only magnify their troubles. 

If the District hopes to maintain its fading credibility, it should work to respond to the concerns of the community as quickly as possible. Students are increasingly being treated as an afterthought rather than the priority, which must change before parents lose all faith in SDUSD.