SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — Governor JB Pritzker recently signed a series of bills into law to address the nationwide teacher shortage.

Officials said the bills will simplify the licensing process for educators, lower licensing fees and create more opportunities for prospective educators.

These initiatives build on Gov. Pritzker’s record of addressing the burden of the state’s current teacher shortage, which includes raising the minimum wage for teachers to $40,000 per year, increasing funding for the Minority Teachers of Illinois scholarship program by 120%, a $200 million investment in early childhood education workforce development programs and increasing funding for teacher preparation programs.

“All across the nation, school districts are fighting the impact of teacher shortages,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “That’s why I’ve worked with lawmakers and school districts across the state to find new ways to bring people into the profession and encourage them to stay there. In this fight for our children’s futures, school districts should know they’re far from alone.”

“Gov. Pritzker’s investments in strengthening our education system and increasing funding for schools have boosted teacher salaries, recruitment, retention and diversity, even during the difficult years of the pandemic,” said State Superintendent of Education Dr. Carmen I. Ayala. “Today’s bill signing builds on those efforts to help schools meet the ongoing need for more substitute teachers and paraprofessionals. Continuing to make strategic, equity-driven improvements to our teacher pipelines will ensure that all students have the well-supported educators they need in every classroom, every day.”

House Bill 4246

State law currently requires educators to pay a $500 penalty to immediately reinstate a lapsed license. Under House Bill 4246, fees for renewing lapsed educator licenses will be reduced to $50.

The law is effective immediately.

House Bill 4798

Under current law, substitute teaching candidates must hold a bachelor’s degree or higher. House Bill 4798 allows currently enrolled teaching students to obtain additional classroom training by giving them the option to obtain a substitute teaching license if they have completed 90 credit hours.

The law is effective January 1, 2023.

Senate Bill 3988

Currently, the minimum age requirement is 19 for paraprofessional educators who work with students from pre-K to eighth grade. Senate Bill 3988 lowers this age requirement to 18, providing prospective educators with the chance to start a career earlier.

The law is effective January 1, 2023.

Senate Bill 3907

In the event of a disaster declaration, short-term substitute teachers are only able to spend 5 consecutive days in the same classroom. Under Senate Bill 3907, this number is increased to 15.

The law is effective immediately.