Illinois General Assembly passes bill mandating $40,000 minimum salary for teachers
A bill that would raise the minimum salary for teachers to $40,000 now awaits Gov. Bruce Rauner’s signature.
Illinois school districts would be required to pay all full-time teachers a minimum salary of $40,000 under a bill passed by the General Assembly May 30. Senate Bill 2892 will now head to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s desk.
The proposal would gradually phase in a $40,000 minimum annual salary for all full-time teachers over the following four school years. Starting slightly above $32,000 for the 2019-2020 school year, that minimum would then rise by $2,500 over the next two school years. Teachers would begin earning a minimum annual salary of $40,000 for the 2022-2023 school year, after which salaries would rise annually to reflect percentage increases in the Consumer Price Index.
In Carbondale, where the median household income is less than $20,000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, SB 2892 would mean that new teachers would make more than double that of the typical household in their district.
While good teachers deserve to be compensated as such, and many communities have decided to pay base salaries exceeding $40,000, dictating teachers’ salaries from Springfield would impose costly mandates on local school districts and expose struggling communities to property tax hikes across the state. Illinoisans have already seen their property tax bills rise six times faster than household incomes.
Moreover, many districts do not possess the financial resources to provide $40,000 starting salaries to new teachers. Matt Seaton, superintendent of Streator High School Township District, has said that his district would not be able to afford the changes proposed in SB 2892. The superintendent explained that he “has not seen any additional funding to support this type of a pay increase.”
In Waverly Community School District 6, where 11 high school teachers earn less than $40,000, officials have also doubted their ability to afford the mandate, according to WSRP. For those 11 teachers alone, officials explained, the pay raises required to meet the new minimum would cost the district $50,000. District superintendent Dustin Day voiced his frustration with the proposal, referring to the bill as “another unfunded mandate.”
Illinois teachers deserve far more respect from state government, as they are forced to deal with ill-considered curriculum requirements, a broken pension system and one-size fits all mandates. But making unsustainable promises on the backs of shrinking communities is not the solution.
Rauner should veto SB 2892.