SPRINGFIELD – The $40,000 minimum teacher salary bill passed the Illinois House of Representatives Tuesday evening on a 79-31 vote.
House Bill 2018, sponsored by Rep. Katie Stuart, D-Collinsville, modifies the current school code which sets the minimum salary for teachers in Illinois at $10,000 a year for those with a bachelor’s degree and $11,000 a year for those with a master’s degree. In addition, Illinois is in the midst of a teacher shortage in which only 15 percent of school administrators in the state recently told Southern Illinois University in a study they had no shortage of teachers.
The increase would be phased in over the course of five years, giving districts time to plan financially for the change. This bill was passed last year, but was vetoed by Gov. Bruce Rauner.
“Our ultimate goal is to make sure the students in our state have qualified, caring teachers working with them on a daily basis,” said Kathi Griffin, president of the Illinois Education Association. “We have done focus groups to see what’s keeping our youth from going into the profession, and they tell us they respect teachers but want to earn a decent living. It’s the salary. This bill will help.”
Rep. Stuart said her ultimate goal in proposing the bill was to help solve the teacher shortage, as well, a problem that has been especially prevalent outside the suburbs.
“I was a teacher. I know how important it is that teachers feel valued, that teachers earn a decent living. A good teacher can make a huge impact on a student’s life. Every adult can point to a teacher who had influence on his or her life. It’s imperative that we continue to attract the best and brightest to this profession. This bill works toward that goal,” Stuart said.
An analysis of Illinois State Board of Education data shows that fewer than 8,000 of the state’s 130,000 teachers make less than $40,000. Illinois could bring all of the teachers currently being paid less than $40,000 up to the $40,000 mark this year and only use 10 percent of the evidence-based funding formula dollars. However, the bill does not make that proposition, instead phasing it in over five years. And, the new evidence-based funding formula is designed to funnel money to the school districts with the most need, helping to ensure every district can meet its financial obligations.
The 135,000 member Illinois Education Association (IEA-NEA) is the state’s largest education employee’s organization. IEA represents preK-12 teachers outside of the city of Chicago and education support staff, higher education faculty, retired education employees and students preparing to become teachers, statewide.