Schools in Illinois are preparing to send teachers home with bigger paychecks.
That could be a challenge for small school districts, but some are already preparing for it and said it opens more opportunities.
Brown County Schools Superintendent Vicki Phillips said there are a handful of teachers who will be impacted by this salary hike.
She said while they still are figuring out how to fund it, it’s going to overall benefit teachers and students.
As a teacher, being involved is required in Tom Little’s elementary P.E. class.
He said it makes for a better learning environment when teachers care, which is why he stands behind the new law that raises the minimum teacher salary to 40,000 dollars in Illinois.
“Just having the potential for more teachers is going to give us a very competitive field where we can pick who really fits the needs of our kids,” Little said.
Beyond that, Little said it could be the answer to a state-wide teacher shortage.
“I think it’s going to help get more kids interested in going into teaching,” Little said. “For those guys coming out, they have their loans to pay for and things like that, so we think it’s a real good thing to help get people into the teaching field.”
Phillips agrees and said she’s been preparing for this.
“It probably will end up costing us funds from something else that we would have been able to spend money on,” Phillips said. “However, for the immediate future, we already had a contract that was headed in the trajectory of what this law requires.”
She said she’s all for giving teachers what she thinks they deserve.
“It’s really important in my book, as well as our school board’s book that they be compensated fairly for what it is they do,” Phillips said.
It’s a mindset Little said he appreciates and will benefit the students.
“I think the security of going home and not having to worry about your bills will help those teachers have different energy, different excitement and really be able to focus on students, instead trying to make ends meet,” Little said.
Phillips said because their newest contracts do include a pay raise, she said she doesn’t think this salary hike will impact this district for another two years.
The new law phases in the increases over four years: $32,076 for the 2020-2021 school year, $34,576 for the 2021-2022 school year, $37,076 for the 2022-2023 school year and $40,000 for the 2023-2024 school year.