Illinois Senate approves required $40k minimum teacher salary

Illinois lawmakers want to fix the state’s teacher shortage by forcing local school boards to pay teachers at least $40,000 a year.

The bill would require schools to pay every educator an annual wage of at least $40,000 by the 2022-23 school year. Starting next year, the minimum salary would be $32,076. After starting salaries hit $40,000 in the 2022-23 school year, the minimum salary rate would continue to increase yearly at the rate of inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index. The annual increases the 2022-23 school year would be subject to review by the General Assembly.

While it wouldn’t affect many Chicago and suburban Chicago school districts, many in southern Illinois would have to increase pay for teachers. According to the Illinois State Board of Education, more than 500 schools would have to increase their beginning pay for teachers with a bachelor’s degree, some by more than $10,000 over the next four years.

Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, said the state’s new education funding formula signed into law last fall would send those schools more money. He said this would guarantee that it goes to teacher paychecks.

“This will reinforce the need to continue down the path toward greater equity,” he said. “It would work together nicely with the work that we’ve done on evidence-based funding.”

Republicans, including Sen. Dale Righter, R-Mattoon, said this would be a massive unfunded mandate for rural schools.

“If you are looking for the unfunded mandate of all unfunded mandates, it is before you today,” he said.

Sen. Jason Barickman, the GOP’s leader in education matters, said the new school funding formula wouldn’t cover the difference in the teacher raises, resulting in bigger deficits at a local level.

“One school district is going to have a negative $900,000 impact over four years as a result of this bill,” he said.

The House narrowly approved a similar bill last month. They’ll now have to vote on this one for it to be sent to Gov. Bruce Rauner.

This story was originally published on the Illinois News Network.