House panel discusses incentives to attract substitute teachers
Free lunches and extra pay could be the very enticement to bring in more substitute teachers during the serious school shortage across the state, according to Rep. John Cavaletto (R-Salem).
“Maybe we ought to start doing that, maybe we have to feed them to start getting them,” Cavaletto said at the March 7 meeting of the House Elementary & Secondary Education Committee, where lawmakers discussed how to immediately lure more ancillary educators into school districts especially on Mondays and Fridays.
A fall survey sent to 500 district superintendents in Illinois revealed there is a uniform concern across the state on the teacher shortage, Illinois Association of Regional School Superintendents President Mark Jontry, who said his own fiancee who is an elementary school principal, has to leave her office daily to sub in the classroom.
“It is especially acute in western and southern Illinois rural areas,” Jontry said, adding the lack is now affecting the administration of several school programs.
Jontry's recommendations included offering full reciprocity, which is currently $80 to $100 a day, to out-of-state substitute teachers in 40 surrounding counties as well as paying retired teachers an additional $10 daily.
“I know it is a problem as I was a principal myself and it is difficult to get substitute teachers,” Cavaletto said, adding he would bring in vocational teachers including bricklayers to supervise a class.
But that is not enough according to Cavaletto, who said supervising a class and teaching a class are two different matters altogether.
Rep. David Olsen (R-Downers Grove) said the lack of teachers could be in part to the disconnect between community colleges and universities with high schools and the ability to recruit substitutes.
“Sometimes the conflict between these groups seems to be very challenging,” Olsen, who added he was a College of DuPage trustee for a time, said. “That is something I think we really do need to work on.”