Yesterday, the Illinois Senate passed a bill that would funnel more federal dollars to classrooms that need them the most.
The bill, HB656, passed the House earlier this spring, meaning it now heads to the Governor’s desk where it awaits his signature to become law...or his veto.
When a school district outside Chicago hires a teacher using local funds such as property taxes, it pays only 0.58 percent toward pensions. For a teacher making $40,000, the district would pay $232 to the Teachers Retirement System.
If that teacher is paid with Title I federal funds, the district's contribution to the Teachers Retirement System balloons to $15,416. Illinois is the only state that does this, and the current rate of 38.5 percent is due to increase to 44.61 percent in 2018.
That’s wrong, plain and simple.
Together, we can do something about it. Now that the General Assembly has unanimously approved a fix for this problem, Gov. Rauner should sign it into law.
Many superintendents know what it’s like to make hard choices that impact classrooms. Do they hire a teacher using Title I dollars, knowing that their district will send nearly 40% of that money to Springfield to pay off pension debt? Or do they avoid that charge and buy textbooks or other materials that might not have the best impact on student learning? No superintendent should face these choices.
Gov. Rauner has an easy choice: he can do the right thing, stand with the unanimous bipartisan support in the legislature, and sign HB656 into law. His action will help our state’s neediest students and fix this problem. His veto would signal that overwhelming bipartisan support doesn't count.
Thanks to the General Assembly, we are closer to the finish line but still have a long way to go. I know you will help us get there.