Public school officials are getting some help in their efforts to staff summer school programs and recruit teachers, thanks to legislation passed by State Senator Steve McClure (R-Springfield) and signed into law recently by Governor JB Pritzker.
“The COVID pandemic and related school closures have made it much harder for students and have left many of them in need of additional instruction during the summer,” said Senator McClure. “This legislation makes sure that schools are able to staff those extremely important summer programs.”
Paying teachers to staff summer school programs technically results in pay increases for the instructors. Because the state’s teacher pension system has a cap on how much teacher’s salaries can increase near retirement, schools may not be able utilize those near-retirement teachers for summer school work. Illinois has received billions of dollars from the federal government to help pay for added COVID-related schooling costs.
Senate Bill 1646 removes the pension cap for schools conducting summer school between May 1st, 2021 and September 15th, 2022.
The legislation also includes changes to help public schools recruit teachers with private school experience.
Private school teachers aren’t part of the state’s pension program. When they move to a public school, they will likely lose benefits in whatever private retirement program they had before, and their prior years of private school teaching won’t count toward their new state pension. This creates a financial disincentive for teachers considering making the switch.
Senate Bill 1646 allows teachers to pay into the system to cover both the employee and employer pension contributions, plus the actuarially assumed rate of interest, for up to two years of private teaching. It also requires that their previous private school was certified by the Illinois State Board of Education. Teachers have until June 30, 2023 to take advantage of the program.
“The COVID pandemic worsened what was already a growing statewide teacher shortage,” said McClure. “This legislation isn’t the final answer, but it will provide one more tool to help schools find and hire qualified teachers.”
Senate Bill 1646 was signed into law by Governor Pritzker on August 20th.