Superintendent of CUSD 262 Tim Page weighs in on Bunker Hill Senator’s teacher salary minimum legislation

By Benjamin Cox on May 19, 2018 at 2:27pm

Teacher salaries in the state of Illinois have been a recent topic of extensive debate in the state Government. Many people believe teachers are not able to live comfortably being paid a current minimum salary of ten thousand dollars, which was set back in 1980.

State Senator Andy Manar of Bunker Hill wrote and sponsors Senate Bill 2892, an amendment to the Illinois School Code. Manar spoke in the closing of Thursday's debate of this issue on the Senate Floor to declare the primary question this proposed amendment asks, and why this debate is important.

“I want you to ask yourself the question, 'Is a full-time teacher worth $32,000?' That's the question that this bill proposes, and I believe the answer is an emphatic yes. There are teachers in the senate district that I represent that are living below the poverty level today. That's a fact. It's indisputable.”

The increases would begin in the 2019 school year at 32,076 dollars. 2,500 dollars would be added to the minimum each year for the next two years, and the minimum would be raised to 40,000 at the beginning of the 2022-2023 school year.

Manar continues by saying that teachers today are asked to make many contributions in and out of the classroom, and how this resolution would impact the teaching profession.

“Teachers all over Illinois live below the federal poverty level, yet we ask them to do more. We ask them to cure the ills of society. Ask them to give more for their own pensions. We've chipped away at this over time, and if we don't guarantee a salary for a college graduate, we're not going to get the right folks to go into the teaching profession in the first place. This bill simply says, 'Let's make something a little more competitive for teachers.' I think this is a big boost for the profession."

Tim Page is the Superintendent of Community Unit School District 262. Page supports a living wage for teachers, but says that the district must remain financially secure as well.

'Teaching is a noble profession that people go into because they love kids; they don't go into it for the money. While I applaud the effort to raise their salaries and I think we need to do all we can to pay teachers what they deserve. It's just a matter of paying for that cost, because you're looking at raising taxes in order to do that, and nobody wants that. It's kind of a Catch-22.”

Page also relates how the new evidence based funding formula coincides with the bill.

“Schools in this area especially are all under the new evidence based funding formula's adequacy target, and I don't know how we're going to pay teachers those salaries with our revenue streams the way that they are. And the new evidence-based funding model... Yes, it gives the schools more money, but not nearly enough to cover the difference between the new money that we're getting and the money that the new bill would require."

Senate Bill 2892 had its first reading on the floor of the House this morning, and has been referred to the House Rules Committee.