Local superintendents were bracing for Teacher minimum salary bump

Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed House Bill 2078 Thursday to increase the minimum salary for Illinois’ teachers to $40,000 a year by 2023. It was a move critics called an unfunded mandate that takes power away from locally elected school boards and could lead to higher property taxes in some districts. Beginning the first school day of the 2020 school year, teachers in Illinois will have to be paid no less than $32,000 a year. That minimum annual salary will then increase each year until it reaches $40,000 a year in 2023. Knoxville District #202 Superintendent Steve Wilder weighed in on the issue in May last year. “First-year teachers in Knoxville next year is going to be right around $37,000,” Wilder said. “We’re in that ballpark. We may get there in three or four or five years. So, not really a concern for me in terms of trying to meet that mandate. I know school districts in our area and across the state who aren’t even close.” According to Superintendent Joe Sornberger, ROWVA District 208 isn’t one of those districts. “We’ll hit that mark before then,” Sornberger said. “So that one, I’m not going to lose a lot of sleep over.” United District 304 Superintendent Jeff Whitsett in May last year was anticipating the move. “We were getting close to there anyway,” Whitsett said. “We’ve actually talked to our teacher association about some ideas and some ways to combat that. If you use an additional salary schedule that way and you start bumping your very first number on that schedule, the rest of that grows in a different way and that could have a huge impact on local districts.” Abingdon-Avon District 276 Superintendent Mike Curry added:  “In five years, we could be close,” Curry said. “Unfortunately we’re nowhere near that at this moment. We’re closer now with this new contract. It would definitely be more beneficial to the industry  if we could all afford to pay first-year teachers $40,000.” After 2023, the minimum salary for teachers would be indexed to inflation, meaning it would likely increase each year.