BRIDGTON — Alan Smith was recently rehired as the superintendent of School Administrative District 61 one month after officially retiring, and will now collect both a pension and salary.

Smith

State law allows those under the Maine State Retirement system to start collecting a pension while also re-entering the workforce to earn a full paycheck.

Smith, who has served as superintendent for six years, officially retired on Sept. 30 and then reapplied for his old job at the end of October.

Assistant Superintendent Pat Hayden served as the superintendent during October.

Smith said the process to rehire him was “the same process that’s always been used,” including review of applications and discussion in executive session, although the School Board did not interview him because “they obviously know me well.”

School Board Chairwoman Janice Barter and Vice Chairwoman Karla Swanson Murphy did not respond to requests for comment about Smith’s rehiring.

In addition, he said the district will save $15,000 a year since it is no longer required to contribute to his state retirement.

Smith said he does not understand why some feel it is unfair for him to collect both a pension and a salary, a practice often called double-dipping by detractors.

I would wonder if I had retired from this district and gone to another district if they would have had the same thoughts. Because it’s coming back to the same position, it seems odd to them,” he said. 

Regional School Unit 14 Superintendent Sandy Prince retired from that district in June and now works as the interim superintendent in Scarborough.

Similar to Smith, Eric Haley, superintendent of Alternative Organizational Structure 92, which covers Waterville, Winslow and Vasselboro, retired and was then rehired in the same district.

Steven Bailey, executive director of the Maine School Management Association, said “retiring and then being hired back by their district, some (districts) are OK with that and others are not. It really depends.”

From the employer point of view, if it has worked out well and they want the person back, it seems to be a good fit because they’re gaining the experience of a person who has been working there all these years,” he said. 

Bailey added that due to a shortage of personnel in the workforce, districts may be attempting to retain the services of well-liked employees.

It’s not unusual for a person to retire from one position — the police department, military, they do it all the time — and then go on to another career,” Smith said. “If you’re not going to take advantage of the opportunities you have, aren’t you selling yourself short?” 

I did not enjoy my 30 days of retirement,” Smith said. “It was more difficult than I thought it was going to be. I’m very pleased that (the School Board) supported me to return to the position.” 

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