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Hundreds Of Teaching Positions in Northern Illinois Unfilled As The School Year Approaches

Illinois schools have struggled with a teacher shortagefor several years. The pandemic has only intensified it.

Chris Dvorak is the regional superintendent for LaSalle, Marshall & Putnam counties.

“As the school year begins this week, and next week for most of our schools, we have a number of vacancies and we're working to get people properly licensed,” he said.

Sixty-five percentof Illinois school districts say the teacher shortage is getting worse. Dvorak says in LaSalle County, that number is even higher, at 85%.

Dozens of positions in his regionsit unfilled with the first day of school in sight. Some schools are hiring international teachers. Other Illinois schools are offering signing bonuses up to $5,000.

He says the state has tried to step in and help. Illinois passed a $40K minimum salary plan, axed the Basic Skills Test and have made it easier for out-of-state teachers to transfer their credentials.

“It's going to take several years and that continued commitment, but we are seeing good results,” Dvorak said.

More recently they’ve also created pathways for short-term licenses. The state allowed endorsement waivers to let educators teach classes outside of the subjects they were hired for during the pandemic as well.

The Illinois regional superintendents’ group recently made a series of policy recommendationsincluding for the state to increase funding for higher-ed programs focused on high-needs positions like school psychology and special ed.

Peter joins WNIJ as a graduate of North Central College. He is a native of Sandwich, Illinois.