Illinois — A bill passed by the General Assembly May 30 and sitting on Gov. Bruce Rauner’s desk proposed that Illinois school districts be required to pay all full-time teachers a minimum salary of $40,000.
“[That] approach to teacher compensation both limits a school district’s local control and imposes a significant unfunded mandate on school districts,” the governor wrote in his veto message.
Anna Jonesboro District 81 Superintendent Rob Wright said decisions about how much to pay teachers should be made by locally elected school boards.
“I don’t see why any one lawmaker should be dictating to local schools across the state what to pay their teachers,” Wright said. “We’re supported by local taxpayers who pay the majority of the cost of our local district. We have seven members on a board of education. Those are the people who should be making the decisions as to what’s best for the district. Not someone who has no stake in our area.”
District 81 pays first-year teachers $39,920 a year. Wright said it was never about costs to him.
He did worry the proposed $40,000-a-year mandate was another attempt to move Illinois’ smaller schools toward combining.
“A lot of people see it as a way to force consolidation,” Wright said. “To squeeze some of the smaller districts out.”
The $40,000-a-year bill passed with a veto-proof majority in the Illinois Senate, though Anna Jonesboro’s state Sen. Paul Schimpf voted against it.
The idea passed in the Illinois House, but was six votes short of a veto-proof majority. Anna Jonesboro’s state Rep. Terri Bryant, didn’t vote yes or no on the plan when it came-up in Springfield in late May.
“Illinois has a teacher shortage crisis that is growing each year,” state Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, wrote on Twitter. “No teacher should live in poverty. Today we start our work to build a coalition to override this veto.”