SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Thursday signed legislation raising teachers’ minimum salary to $40,000 in an attempt to better address the statewide teacher shortage.
The current minimum teacher salary ranges from only $9,000 to $11,000 and hasn’t been raised in decades. The new law phases in the increases over four years: $32,076 for the 2020-2021 school year, $34,576 for the 2021-2022 school year, $37,076 for the 2022-2023 school year, and $40,000 for the 2023-2024 school year.
“As Illinois children head back to school this week and next, this new law says to them and their parents loud and clear: we value teachers,” said Pritzker. “In signing this legislation, we’re addressing our teacher shortage and gradually putting teachers on track to make at least $40,000 a year by the first day of school in 2023. To teachers all across Illinois: I see the care and compassion you put into your work, and I’m proud to help make sure you earn what you’re worth.”
In the years following, the minimum salary will rise based on the Consumer Price Index, subject to review by the General Assembly.
WMBD spoke with Superintendent of Peoria Public Schools, Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat about this bill.
She says her district is already ahead of the curve when it comes to what teachers are paid, but this could help attract teachers to come to Illinois even from other states.
“Peoria Public Schools, we’re ahead of schedule. Our teachers, as I said, brand new, bachelor’s degree, no experience. They come in and are making over $41,000 currently. So we’re ready,” Dr. Kherat said.
While the increase in salary is very attractive, Dr. Kherat says many teachers go into the profession for much deeper reasons.
“For a lot of people, it’s not all about the money. Especially the young ones they’re really interested in making a difference in society. I have a lot of young people who come in and they want to help with social injustices and inequities. They’re interested in working for the underdog,” Dr. Kherat said.
Dr. Kherat says although Peoria Public Schools does offer more than the average for teachers to come and work, the district has been affected by the teacher shortage as well.
“We have to continue to think outside the box and we’re doing a lot of innovative things. I say we’re sort of a lab district, a lab school with all of the experimentation that’s going on. We’re continuing to work on our climate. To say ‘When you get here, you’re happy because you’ll be empowered to do things differently and to try different things,” Dr. Kherat said.
President of Illinois Federation of Teachers Dan Montgomery says this bill is a major step in addressing the teacher shortage.
“We have a teacher shortage in our state, and research shows that fair compensation plays a major factor in a person’s decision to choose and stay in a profession,” Montgomery said.
“Too often new teachers struggle financially, and many are forced to work a second job to make ends meet. This legislation is a major step in improving starting salaries and paying teachers based upon their years of education, which will encourage high-quality professionals to enter and stay in the profession,” said Montgomery.
“We thank Senator Manar and Representative Stuart for advancing this much-needed bill and Governor Pritzker for signing it into law,” Montgomery finished in his statement.
HB 2078 takes effect on Jan. 1.
According to Illinois State Board of Education data from the 2018-2019 school year, there are 4,196 unfilled positions in school districts across the state, including 1,848 unfilled teaching positions.