Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed legislation Thursday that will boost the minimum salary for the state's teachers for the first time in three decades. By the 2023-2024 school year, minimum teacher salaries in Illinois are set to reach $40,000 — about four times as much as the current minimum for most teachers.
The legislation will gradually lift teachers' salaries in the next few years. Minimum salaries will jump to $32,076 in the next school year. They will go up to $34,576 the school year after that and then $37,076 the next year before hitting $40,000 a year after that.
"As Illinois' children head back to school, this week and next, this new law says to children and their parents, loud and clear, we value teachers," Pritzker said in a signing ceremony Thursday morning.
Right now, the minimum salary for teachers in Illinois is $9,000 for educators who do not have bachelor's degrees, $10,000 for those with a bachelor's degree and $11,000 for teachers with master's degrees. Those minimum salaries have not changed since 1980, according to the legislation.
Pritzker, a Democrat, said the measure is meant to address a statewide teacher shortage. A survey this year by the Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools found that 89% of districts in central Illinois and 92% of districts in southern Illinois reported problems with staffing teacher positions.
The survey also said that 20% of open positions in 2018 were not filled by a qualified professional or just not filled at all, leading to 225 classes being canceled.
Pritzker's Republican predecessor, Bruce Rauner, vetoed a similar bill last year, saying that "minimum pay legislation is neither the most efficient nor the most effective way to compensate our teachers."