The recently-retired head of the Iowa Department of Education says the agency has been decimated by early retirements and budget cuts.  Nearly 10 percent of the full-time positions in the Iowa Department of Education aren’t filled and Judy Jeffrey, the agency’s former director, suggests hiring replacements won’t be easy.

“Being able to hire high quality into an agency that is expected to lead for the school districts and the area education agencies and the community colleges and the teacher and administrator preparation programs, you must have high-quality individuals who people trust,” she says. 

Jeffrey worked in the agency for 14 years, serving as the department’s director for the past six years. She is among more than 2000 state workers who accepted an early retirement buy-out of up to $25,000.  Workers were paid a thousand dollars for each year of service in state government, again, up to that $25,000 limit, and the state agreed to pay for health care coverage for five years. 

There are 23 vacancies in the Iowa Department of Education today and Jeffrey says potential hires are being snapped up elsewhere as educators sign contracts by July 1st for the upcoming school year. “Hiring season is right now and sometimes government processes are somewhat slow in allowing that hiring to begin,” Jeffrey says.

State agencies are currently under a hiring freeze for most vacant positions. Jeffrey retired in early May.  The governor named an administrator in the agency to serve as its interim director.