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Area school districts not seeing spike in retirements, despite state data

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Wausau, Wis. (WAOW) -- Contrary to statewide data, some central Wisconsin school districts say they're seeing a decrease in teachers retiring compared to previous years.

"We only saw twelve this year for whatever reason," said Tabatha Gundrum, director of human resources at the Wausau School District. "I probably would have expected that number to be closer to 20."

According to the Wisconsin Department of Employee Trust Funds, more than 2,500 teachers retired during the months of April, May and June of 2020.

Some reports point to the stress of the pandemic as the cause of the mass exodus, but Gundrum believes the pandemic is what caused more teachers to stay.

"I wonder if that has impacted them where they're wanting to be just a bit more conservative and maybe stay working another year or two years," she said.

DC Everest, on the other hand, is seeing their retirement rates at about the average for each year.

"When we look at it from the workforce perspective, is that concerning? No, not to us," said Matt Spets, assistant superintendent of business and personnel for the DC Everest School District.

Spets says the priority is bringing in newer teachers. He says with fewer actually entering the workforce, some positions take a bit longer to fill.

"I know it's been tough for a few years finding highly qualified math teachers, people that want to teach special-ed and our neediest kid," he said.

Looking ahead, Gundrum predicts that once the uncertainty of the pandemic dies down, they may start to see retirements go up.

"Time will tell and I will be watching with curiosity, as many others will as well," she said.

Natalie Sopyla

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