By CARL GREEN
Springfield, IL – State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) passed legislation last week aimed at eliminating the state’s teacher shortage by increasing the minimum salary for teachers.
“Illinois schools are having an increasingly difficult time attracting and retaining qualified teachers and a big part of that is the fact that we aren’t paying them enough,” Manar said. “This legislation shows the high value we place on teachers and the commitment we have to keeping them in Illinois.”
House Bill 2078 would increase the minimum salary for teachers to $40,000 over a four-year period.
Illinois has not updated its minimum teacher salary since 1980. Since that time, state statute has mandated that that Illinois school districts pay teachers with a bachelor’s degree a minimum of only $10,000.
Illinois is in the midst of a teacher shortage. Last year, more than 1,500 positions went unfilled. More than 2,000 went unfilled the year before.
SHORTAGE HURTING STUDENTS
“This shortage is having a detrimental impact on our children, our state’s most precious resource. A minimum salary requirement will help districts attract and retain high quality professionals who will stay and provide stability for our students, and this is a win for districts and students,” said Kathi Griffin, president of the Illinois Educators Association (IEA).
“We recently held focus groups with high school seniors and college students who were interested in education as a profession. While they respect what teachers do for a living, their biggest reservation about pursuing it as a career is the pay – far and above any other issue.”
CHANGE LONG OVERDUE
The General Assembly passed identical legislation last year, but it was vetoed by former Gov. Bruce Rauner.
“This change is long overdue and has support from both sides of the aisle,” Manar said. “Increasing teachers’ salaries is one of the most effective tools we have at our disposal to keep qualified individuals in our schools and it’s time we take advantage of it.”
Under the measure, the state would update the minimum mandated salary for teachers annually over four years, beginning with the 2020-2021 school year. After that, subject to review by the General Assembly, it would be increased according to the Consumer Price Index. The phase-in would look like this under the proposal:
- $32,076 for the 2020-2021 school year
- $34,576 for the 2021-2022 school year
- $37,076 for the 2022-2023 school year
- $40,000 for the 2023-2024 school year
The measure passed the Senate with bipartisan support. Manar also passed identical legislation, Senate Bill 10, earlier this spring.