State Senator’s Bill Would Allow Retired Teachers to Return to Classroom to Help With Shortage

By Benjamin Cox on March 21, 2023 at 6:14pm

Gibson City State Senator Tom Bennett is advancing legislation that he says will help schools with the teacher shortage.

Locally, Jacksonville School District 117 has over 20 permanent teaching positions that have remained unfilled for the better part of two school years or more. Several of those positions, like special education teachers and STEM teachers, have all been deemed hard-to-fill positions.

Bennett filed Senate Bill 1468 on Feb. 7. It would allow retired teachers to work up to 750 hours per school year (150 days) from 2023-2025. Then, from 2026 onward they could work a maximum of 500 hours (100 days). Bennett told RFD Illinois he’s reached out to newly retired teachers in the past to provide insight: “They are some of the best people who can come back and teach to where they know the subject matter, they know the students, they know the other teachers, they know the culture inside the school. What we are trying to do is provide an opportunity for them to come back and teach without them being penalized for being retired.”

The bill has been back by various groups and teachers unions across the state. Bennett believes it will give school districts flexibility in covering those hard-to-fill vacancies by putting seasoned staff in classrooms.

Jacksonville School District 117 Superintendent Steve Ptacek says that District 117 is currently in preliminary discussions with Illinois College to pilot a program to help long-term substitutes who want to get a teaching certificate obtain one through an expedited program while allowing them to remain in the classroom. Ptacek says that final details on the teacher pipeline program are currently being worked out and more details will be announced in the future.