Officials: Few shoreline school employees cite COVID pandemic as reason for retiring

Photo of Christine DeRosa
The Fields Memorial School on 8 Bozrah Street Extension in Bozrah.

The Fields Memorial School on 8 Bozrah Street Extension in Bozrah.

Screenshot / Google Maps

While a number of school employees have retired in the past two years along the shoreline, few have cited the COVID pandemic as the reason for their departure, officials said.

Out of seven districts that responded to Hearst Connecticut Media’s request for data on recent retirements, only two staff members cited the pandemic as the cause this school year.

Old Saybrook Public Schools Superintendent Jan Perruccio said three out of the district’s four retirees during the 2019-20 academic year attributed their departures to the pandemic. This year, none of them gave that reason, she said.

A spokesperson for Montville Schools Superintendent Laurie Pallin said seven people retired during the last academic year. She said two were definitely due to COVID-19. Seven more people retired this year, but the district is unaware of the reasons.

“One or two may be a result of the pandemic, but that is difficult to answer with 100 percent certainty,” the spokesperson wrote in an email Wednesday.

Region 18 (Lyme-Old Lyme Public Schools), Westbrook Public Schools, Guilford Public Schools, the Bozrah School District and East Lyme Public Schools said none of their retirees either this or last year pointed to the pandemic as reasons for leaving.

During the past two years, several shoreline districts saw people retiring for other reasons.

Retiree totals over last two years

Bozrah: 9*

East Lyme: 16

Guilford: 14

Montville: 14

Old Saybrook: 12

Region 18 (Lyme-Old Lyme): 10

Westbrook: 1

*Bozrah's superintendent could not provide numbers for 2019-20.

Of those that responded, Guilford has seen the most retirements with 16 — nine last year and seven this year. East Lyme has had 14 retirements, six in the 2019-20 school year and eight this year.

Old Saybrook also saw eight people retire in 2021. Region 18 had six retirements last year and four this year.

Bozrah Superintendent Portia Bonner was only able to share this school year’s retirees. She said she did not have previous data because she started as interim superintendent in January. This year, Bozrah has nine staff members stepping down.

The retirements included four teachers, a business manager, two secretaries, the director of special education and coordinator of technology.

“Zero retired because of the pandemic,” Bonner wrote in an email.

The district with the least retirements of those that responded was Westbrook Public Schools, which had one retiree over the last two years, according to business manager Lesley Wysocki. The individual did not list the pandemic as their reason for leaving, Wysocki said.

Overall, in the state, retirement is down, according to Nancy Andrews, spokesperson for the Connecticut Education Association, the largest education association in Connecticut.

Vacated roles will be filled with new hires in Lyme-Old Lyme and Bozrah schools, according to the superintendents.

Old Saybrook Schools will not be following suit. These positions are being filled by new and existing staff, while some are not being filled completely.

“We are not filling part of the [middle school] world language and library positions and one elementary position. This is the result of enrollment, and does not have anything to do with the pandemic or budget,” Perruccio wrote.

Montville’s hiring process is also different. Jobs are first posted internally, allowing staff to request transfers. Once that process is complete, they are posted externally. The majority of the positions were filled with outside applicants, the spokesperson said.

christine.derosa@hearstmediact.com