‘Retire and rehire’ is criticized by Maine politicians

Superintendent Eric Haley, who serves the Waterville, Vassalboro, and Winslow school districts, retired last Friday, October 27 and is primed to be rehired later next month on November 27. This move will allow the 63 year old to begin collecting his pension early while still receiving a yearly salary. Many have criticized his decision, even Maine state governor Paul LePage, who revealed his negative sentiments on the matter in a phone interview with Central Maine.

“Shame on the city of Waterville for letting that happen,” LePage said over the phone to Central Maine, who has been critical of this practice ever since he held the position of Waterville mayor from 2003-2011.

Haley, on the other hand, sees this as the only option for his family’s financial future, which he discussed in a phone interview with Central Maine.

“It’s just a financial decision to start drawing my retirement now instead of later,” Haley said in the interview with Central Maine. “I don’t know when I’m going to stop working. I like it too much.”

He later revealed that he is not at all surprised by LePage’s reaction.

“If I retired from the superintendency and I was going to be in charge of Walmart, for instance, nobody would raise an eyebrow,” Haley said to Central Maine. “But because I’m going back to the same position, it seems to infuriate people.”

This practice has been criticized by politicians like LePage as “double dipping”, wherein teachers and/or district employees supposedly receive more money from the state than they supposedly had earned. However, Executive Director of the Maine School Management Association Steve Bailey clarified in an interview with Central Maine that this is simply not the case.

“It’s not like he’s being paid twice for the same job,” Bailey said to Central Maine, explaining that employees of the district earn their pension based on the years that they have taught before retirement. Haley, in fact, will receive a lower pension than he would if he waited to retire later on.

Nevertheless, LePage stands by his critiques of the practice, and discourages Maine school employees from following Haley’s lead.

“Welcome to government in Maine,” LePage said in an interview with Central Maine. “This is really bad stuff, and teachers can do it, too.”

Meanwhile,Waterville Mayor Nick Isgro’s opinions on the matter are much less strong than that of LePage, he revealed in an interview with Central Maine.

“This is the first I’ve heard about it, and I’m looking forward to hearing more,” Isgro said to Central Maine. “I think it’s unfortunate I’m finding this out from a news reporter and not from the school board or superintendent.”

With or without the approval of Maine state politicians, Waterville superintendent Haley will return to his position on Nov 27.