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Teacher bills co-sponsored by Stuart become law

Two bills sponsored by State Rep. Katie Stuart, D-Edwardsville, to address Illinois’ ongoing teacher shortage have now become law.

HB 5472 removes barriers that prevented retired teachers from serving as substitute teachers without jeopardizing their retirement benefits; and SB 3907 extends the number of consecutive days that a substitute teacher can work from five to 15. The two bills were signed into law last month by Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has further disrupted our education system, and retired teachers are an obvious choice to fill the ranks of substitutes during a shortage, but under existing law these experienced professionals could not act as substitutes without endangering their retirement benefits,” said Stuart. “With the signing of this bill into law, we’ve removed bureaucratic red tape which needlessly kept many qualified people from being available to support our schools at this critical time.”

“Supporting our schools as they continue to deal with the ongoing reverberations of the COVID-19 pandemic is paramount,” said Stuart.

Stuart highlights state funding adjustments for area schools

Stuart is also raising awareness after the Illinois State Board of Education found and corrected a coding error in the funding formula it uses to calculate state funding levels for local schools. The error, which is now being corrected, caused schools and school districts throughout Illinois to be underpaid by the state.

“I commend the State Board of Education for finding and correcting this coding error,” said Stuart (shown). “No system is perfect, which is why having procedures in place to ensure integrity and correctness – especially where taxpayer dollars are concerned – is so important.”

Schools in the 112th State House District, which Stuart represents, were among those that will be receiving funding adjustments. Collinsville Community Unit School District 10, as one of the bigger examples, is slated to receive in excess of $791,000. Edwardsville Community Unit School District 7 will also be receiving supplemental funds.

Stuart, a former teacher and reliable advocate for education at all levels, voted in favor of legislative measures aimed at ensuring sufficient supplemental funds were available to properly address the underpayments. She also, in 2017, supported the original implementation of an evidence-based funding formula. The recently enacted state budget contains $350 million for evidence-based education funding, a measure that Stuart supported.

“There is no such thing as a dollar wasted on education,” said Stuart. “Ensuring our schools receive all the money they are entitled to is very important.”

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