In a typical year, between 20 and 25 teachers retire from the Westerville City School District.

In a typical year, between 20 and 25 teachers retire from the Westerville City School District.

This year, following more than $16 million in cuts to the district's 2012-13 budget, 63 teachers will retire from the district.

"I would say there are a number of factors that are driving this. Certainly, one of them is the budget cuts and that in Westerville we are having a reduction in force," said Westerville Education Association President Chris Williams, who will retire this year after 31 years of teaching. "Those who can retire feel that (they are) saving a slot for someone who can continue."

However, the retirements have not been limited to subject areas that saw drastic budget cuts, said Superintendent Dan Good, and the district will need to do some hiring to fill those vacancies.

"The retirements are across the board," Good said. "In several cases, the retirements are from teaching assignments where specialized licensure, certification or endorsement is required. We may only place highly qualified professionals in those positions. Consequently, we shall recommend to the Board of Education candidates to fill such positions."

Another major factor for retiring teachers, Williams said, is talk of changes to the State Teachers Retirement System

"There are changes that need to take place," Williams said. "Teachers are going to have to put more into the system and work longer. There are talks of changing the cost-of-living adjustment."

Williams said he was driven to retire after talking to a representative from the system and realizing that it made more sense financially for him to "buy out" the five years he taught in private schools.

Some teachers also have been disheartened by what they see as attacks on public employees, including teachers, as Williams said was evident through the vicious fight to repeal Senate Bill 5 in November.

"People are finding that it's not nearly as much fun to be a teacher as it used to be. There's so much political pressure on us that if it's time to retire, maybe (we) go," Williams said. "A large amount of effort was expended. It seems to be that there are those who are elected officials now, that have it as part of their objective to continue to put pressure on unions."

Though the retiring teachers take with them 2,238 years of teaching experience, Good said he is not worried about losing experience because of the legacy they leave and because of the training that is in place for new teachers.

"A number of veteran employees will retire this year, but true to their altruistic nature, they've built high-quality systems that will ensure we continue to mature as an educational institution," Good said. "I believe the student achievement data demonstrates that our teachers are top-notch, and certainly, another metric that supports that claim is the positive sentiment of students and parents."

Williams, however, said he fears attacks on unions and changes to the state retirement system will result in fewer lifelong teachers.

"My bigger fear is public education will start taking a huge hit," Williams said. "My fear is that public education will be like the Peace Corps: People come on and do a few years of service out of college and then move on."