Manar May 2018 350SPRINGFIELD – A vigorous plan to address the teacher and substitute teacher shortage problems plaguing rural and downstate Illinois school districts was approved by the Senate Tuesday.

The measure, sponsored by State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill), is based on suggestions presented by teachers in the 48th Senate District during a series of meetings with Manar in the fall. It slashes red tape to encourage educators outside of Illinois to apply for hard-to-fill jobs here, creates a short-term substitute teaching license and allows downstate retired teachers to substitute in classrooms without jeopardizing their retirement benefits.

“Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures,” Manar said. “We have classrooms that have gone dark all over the state because school districts simply cannot hire all the teachers they need. Cutting red tape and eliminating some of the barriers to teaching in Illinois should help us solve this problem.”

House Bill 5627 received bipartisan support and no opposition in the Senate and the House. It will be sent to the governor’s desk to be signed into law.

The legislation would do the following:

  • Provide full reciprocity for out-of-state educators.
  • Create a short-term substitute teaching license to allow people with certain qualifications to substitute teach for no more than five consecutive days. The $25 application fee may be reimbursed if the person teaches 10 days on the license.
  • Allows downstate retired teachers to substitute teacher for 120 days a year without jeopardizing their retirement benefits, rather than the current limit of 100 days.
  • Allows educators whose licenses have lapsed from failure to complete professional development to qualify for a substitute teaching license.
  • Requires school districts to create a short-term substitute teacher training program to provide information on curriculum, classroom management techniques, school safety and building and district operations.

Also on Tuesday, the Senate approved a measure sponsored by Manar to allow substitute teachers to provide evidence of physical fitness to school districts so they don’t have to pay for the cost of an exam. Applicants would still be required to show proof that they are free from communicable diseases.

This is an additional effort to reduce costs for prospective substitute teachers and get more substitutes into the pipeline. The legislation passed with bipartisan support in both houses and will be sent to the governor’s desk.

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