The Lockport School Board last week said goodbye to 27 teachers who are retiring at the end of this week, and challenged 25 newly hired teachers to match or exceed the standards those retirees set.
"It's an unusually large number of retirements," noted Board President Marietta Schrader.
In recent years, the district has seen no more than 13 or 14 teachers retire at any one time.
"It's sad so many teachers are retiring because we are losing so much expertise. I hope they will come back and maybe substitute teach for us," Superintendent Terry Ann Carbone said after publicly honoring the retirees last week. She gave each of them a certificate and a yellow rose for "the great job" they did here for so many years.
"They represent a combined 800 years of service," Carbone said. Most had more than 28 years of service. Two were with the district for 37 years.
Assistant Superintendent Susan Grigg said the board also plans to hire two more special education teachers as part of the teacher replacement process.
Grigg said two of the retirees -- a home and careers teacher and an art teacher -- are not being replaced. She said the board has added a new mathematics teacher to the high school staff, and another special education teacher to take over a program that has been run by the Orleans-Niagara Board of Cooperative Educational Services.
"That's a lot of good teachers to retire," said Board Member Thomas Fiegle. "I challenge the new set of teachers we've hired to step up and do the job these retired teachers did, and take it one step further. I know it's going to be a challenge for them, but I hope they are up to it."
Schrader said she has confidence the new teachers will do a good job.
"We use a three- or four-step process to assess teacher candidates. It's quite rigorous. They have to do a teaching plan and a multitude of other things to show they are capable. So we end up hiring the best of the best," Schrader said.
Carbone also announced that 17 teachers are slated to receive tenure next fall, making them permanent district employees.
"They've completed their probationary time in a very successful manner. We look forward to an ongoing relationship with them, or, as Trustee Fiegle would say, 'They have their work cut out for them.' We are behind them 100 percent, and we will help them to meet the lofty goals the Lockport City School District sets for them."