By Wendy Gragg
Killeen Daily Herald
Offices were emptied, parties were thrown, and goodbyes were said, but several Killeen school district employees have had second thoughts about retirement.
Several Killeen Independent School District administration hires were announced Tuesday, including many familiar faces.
The positions filled were the principalships for 10 schools, coordinators for two campuses and an executive deputy superintendent for Killeen Independent School District.
The principalship announcements came just before the announcement of the executive deputy superintendent, Dr. Jim Hawkins.
Hawkins is leaving his post as superintendent of DeSoto Independent School District for the KISD job. Hes not new to the district, though, having been KISDs assistant superintendent for business services from 1989 through 1997. Hawkins will rejoin KISD Aug. 11.
Six of the principals named have been rehired after retiring last year, in order to slip through the Social Security loophole. Those principals and schools are: Pat Young at Brookhaven Elementary, Lucille Husung at Cedar Valley Elementary, Jennifer Sullivan at Clifton Park Elementary, Linda Pelton at Haynes Elementary, Pat Perkison at Hay Branch Elementary and Sandra Forsythe at Smith Middle School.
A record number of KISD employees retired before July 1, so that their Social Security spousal benefits would not be slashed or cut altogether.
Rules established by the Teacher Retirement System state that when an employee retires, there can be no contract, agreement or promise of future employment, unless as a bus driver or on a half-time basis. There are some avenues retired employees may take to get back into the district, however.
A statement from KISD said that the rehired employees indicated a desire to come back, then went through the normal application process along with all other candidates.
Jennifer Sullivan is giving up half of her retirement funds next year to be able to resume her position as principal of Clifton Park Elementary School.
It means enough to me to be able to come back to Clifton Park, Sullivan said.
The only reason I retired was that Social Security thing.
Sullivan said she was never promised shed get her job back. She cleaned out her office and went on a cruise given to her by the Clifton Park staff as a retirement gift.
She even contracted to appear at certain speaking engagements next year. She said she just found out Tuesday she would be back at Clifton Park and shes thrilled. Sullivan said shes not worried about sore feelings from her staff.
Ive already had some call and say theyre glad that Im back, she said.
Some teachers arent fully behind the rehires, though.
A teacher from Smith Middle School, who wished to remain unnamed, said rehiring isnt what is best; its what is easy.
I think there were a lot of quality people who didnt have a chance at the jobs because the district felt it would be easier to rehire the people who had been there before, the teacher said.
The same teacher said there is also a feeling of having been misled by those who said they were leaving and had parties thrown and gifts given in their honor.
Why didnt they just say, Were retiring to get the Social Security benefits and well be back, rather than us thinking we would be getting all-new people, the teacher said.
Dr. Ann Farris, KISD deputy superintendent, said the shortage of administrators has been as severe as the shortage of teachers.
Its been a little like pulling teeth, she said.
After more than 1,000 hours of interviews and two rounds of principal hiring, Farris said the decision came down to hiring the best person for each job.
The top priority is quality, she said.
Other principalships announced Tuesday were Sue Cummings promotion to principal of Fowler Elementary, Sharon Millers promotion to principal of Eastern Hills Middle School and Corbett Lawlers return from retirement as principal at Rancier Middle School.
Also named were Bobbie Reeders as coordinator at Pathways Learning Center and Johnny James as coordinator at the Killeen Alternative Center.
Contact Wendy Gragg at firstname.lastname@example.org