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SPRINGFIELD – The severe shortage of substitute teachers available in rural and downstate school districts would ease under a measure approved by the Illinois Senate and now pending in the House.

manar andyThe plan, sponsored by state Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, increases to 120 the number of days a retired teacher can return to the classroom as a substitute without affecting his or her retirement status. Currently, the limit is set at 100 days.

“We have an urgent problem in classrooms all over the state. Not only are school districts struggling to hire full-time teachers, they also can’t find substitutes to fill in when teachers are sick or need to be out of the classroom for training,” Manar said. “Retired teachers – people who already know what to do in a classroom – can help ease the burden on schools if we give them the opportunity to do so.”

Senate Bill 3045 was approved by the Senate with no opposition in late April.

The results of a survey released earlier this year showed that numerous Illinois school districts are experiencing substitute teacher shortages. The survey of more than 500 superintendents was conducted by the Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools.

Southern Illinois superintendents’ responses indicated the shortage is more severe there than it is in other parts of the state. The association recommended increasing the number of days and hours retired teachers can work as a way to significantly relieve pressure on schools.

Manar said it’s troubling to hear about schools around the state canceling classes when they are unable to find subs.

“Every time a substitute teacher is available to work, that’s one less school social worker or interventionist a principal has to pull away from their duties to fill in,” he said.