LEWISTON — Superintendent Todd Finn urged the School Committee on Monday night to “change the narrative” regarding rehiring retirees who wish to reapply for their positions.

Finn said Maine removed restrictions June 20 on retirees who returned to work, including limiting them to five more years of service or only receiving 75 percent of their pay.

He said while Lewiston has no policy that contradicts the new law, since 2011 Lewiston has made it “common practice” to prohibit retirees from applying to positions from which they had retired.

During a School Committee meeting in 2012, former Superintendent Bill Webster said “not on my watch” to rehiring retirees for their old jobs while they drew pensions. His comment came on the heels of his predecessor, Leon Levesque, retiring in 2006 and being rehired as superintendent shortly after he began receiving a pension.

Finn urged the School Committee to help “change the narrative” in Lewiston regarding retirees being rehired and help “publicly welcome valued candidates back to positions that they may have vacated.”

Committee member Thomas Shannon said he was the chairman of the committee when Webster “uttered that policy statement about no double-dipping on his watch.”

“That was his position,” Shannon said.

He turned to Finn, adding: “I don’t have any problem with your position. We need all the best teachers we can hire. We shouldn’t allow any obstruction to get in the way of taking our students to the furthest end they can go.”

In an Aug. 5 interview with the Sun Journal, Finn said due to promotions and retirements, there were 37 teaching positions and 46 educational technician positions to be filled before city schools open.

The committee voted to fill nearly half of the positions during a meeting Aug. 12.

Finn said Monday the School Department was “up by 24 (positions filled)” compared to last year at this time.

“There are still several positions out there that, if we were to let retirees know that Lewiston is retiree-friendly, they would submit an application,” Finn said.

Other committee members expressed a willingness Monday to reverse the committee’s practice of not rehiring retirees.

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