A new report from Advance Illinois shows the statewide teacher shortage is felt most acutely in districts with many low-income students. But it's also hitting rural and wealthier districts.
Williamsfield is a village halfway between Peoria and Galesburg, with fewer than 300 students. Superintendent Tim Farquer said he can't find teachers who meet state licensing requirements for every subject. Instead, he's filing paperwork seeking waivers.
"What we're hopeful for is that folks will realize that this is an emergency situation," he said, "and that districts and potential candidates need immediate licensure relief to increase the number of quality applicants on the market."
Only about a third of his students are low-income. Finding teachers has become so difficult across Illinois that some districts are offering signing bonuses.
Paula Markey, superintendent of the West Central district near the Iowa border, says she offers potential teachers a $500 incentive. Others offer even more.
"There are school districts that have offered like $500 the first year, and then if they're still there the second year $1,000, and if they're still there the third year like $1,500," she said. "And that's to try to not only attract teachers but also to keep them in the district."