(The Center Square) – The Illinois House and Secondary Education Committee this week heard ideas on how to address staffing shortages at Illinois schools.
State Rep. Sue Scherer, D-Decatur, introduced multiple teacher reimbursement bills during the hearing, all of which seek to address the statewide teacher shortage Illinois schools are facing.
Scherer said not enough attention is being given to the problem.
“I just don’t have the feeling that people are completely aware of how very, very serious our teaching shortage is right now” Scherer said.
According to a survey by the Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools, 90% of Illinois schools are currently experiencing staffing shortages.
House Bill 4246, introduced last month, would reduce the renewal fee for substitute teachers’ licenses. The fee would be changed to $50 down from $500.
Scherer discussed the need for substitutes during this historic shortage.
“Currently there are over more than 2,000 positions either not filled, or filled by someone who is not qualified to teach there today,” Scherer said.
House Bill 4139 was also heard. The bill would set up a reimbursement grant for public school teachers.
Teachers who attended an Illinois public university could get a percentage of their tuition paid back by taxpayers over time.
State Rep. Avery Bourne, R-Morrisonville, said the bill would be an expensive way of trying to fix a problem the state is already working on.
“We already have programs that are targeting student debt,” Bourne said. “This may be a really expensive way of dealing with a problem that we might be able to get at in a more efficient way.”
Both of the bills were approved by the committee.