Hundreds of experienced teachers and administrators in Baltimore County, many of them products of a hiring boom in the 1950s and '60s, are coming of retirement age and leaving the system, but few seem to fear a "brain drain" in county schools.
At least 164 Baltimore County teachers and administrators will retire this year, about 25 more than the average over the past decade, said Helen E. Eder, a specialist in the office of retirement.
The jump this year may also be due to the fact that with teachers at the end of a three-year contract, with no pay raise next year and with retirement benefits based on one's highest salary, many eligible educators are deciding now is as good a time as any to get out.
Retirement pay is based on the three highest consecutive years of salary, so a year without a pay raise would not help that average.
The Anne Arundel school system is also experiencing a jump in retirements. This year, at least 91 teachers and administrators will retire, more than double the last five years' average of 39, said John Kokish, personnel specialist for Anne Arundel County schools.
"We're finding out that this is a graying population," Kokish said.
Several other area counties said they hadn't seen a sizable increase in school retirements this year.
Baltimore County educators see pluses and minuses in the fact that retiring administrators and teachers, many with over 30 years of experience, are being replaced by people who may have fewer than 20.
"It's not going to devastate us in any way," said George T. Gabriel, director of the Department of Research and Evaluation for Baltimore County schools. "What we will lose is experience, there's no question about that. What we'll gain is some more energy and youth and probably a lot of folks better able to cope with changes."
"It's not like they're just pulling in people off of the street," said teachers' union president Ed Veit. "It's good to bring in young people to keep the system young. I think it's important that they have teachers young enough to identify with kids in schools."
Baltimore County likes to hire from within its school system, said Rosalie Hellman, president of the school board. So while the personnel might seem inexperienced compared with the long-time administrators they are replacing, most have worked in the county system in other positions for many years, she said.
"The new people who come along have been groomed as assistant principals and principals," Gabriel said. "And, while we'll miss the experience . . . we'll gain better adaptability."
Adaptability will be important, officials stressed, as the role of administrators and teachers continue to expand and change. Transient populations, statewide testing and children from single parent homes or with learning disabilities have all enlarged the responsibilities of those who work with children.
"The school is not an isolated institution," said Carmela Veit, president of the Baltimore County PTA. "It's a reflection of all that is happening in the community."
"Thirty years ago, you were expected to run a building. . . . Now, you're an instructional leader as well," said Marcella A. Emberger, currently on sabbatical from her position as lead facilitator at the Office of Instructional Development and Grant Programs.
Officials said that the people replacing retired school administrators and teachers are well prepared for the challenges. A number of courses are available to teachers who ** want to go into administrative positions, including one three-part course that addresses the responsibilities and issues that a principal would face on a day-to-day basis, Hellman said.
"These people have been in training a long time," Carmela Veit said. "I think people generally have confidence in the training that the teachers and administrators have received . . . a nice balanced faculty is always an administrator's dream."