SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Several bills were passed to address statewide teacher shortages during Illinois’ most recent legislative session. Wednesday, Gov. JB Pritzker signed four into law.

Effective immediately, the cost for reinstatement of an expired teaching license in Illinois was reduced from $500 to $50 after House Bill 4246 was signed.

Additionally, House Bill 4798 was signed which allows students with at least 90 credit hours in an approved educator preparation program to be granted a substitute teacher license. This law becomes effective January 1, 2023.

Senate Bill 3988 was also signed, reducing the minimum age for paraprofessionals to help in K-8 classrooms from 19 to 18 years of age. This law becomes effective January 1, 2023.

A fourth bill, Senate Bill 3907, was signed tripling the amount of time a short-term substitute teacher is allowed to spend in the classroom. Prior to its signing, they were limited to five consecutive days in the same classroom; that number has been increased to 15.

According to the Illinois State Board of Education, nearly 5,500 education positions went unfilled for the 2021-2022 school year. Approximately 2,400 of those were paraprofessional positions, and 2,100 were teachers. For more than 5,000 of the positions school districts gave the reason “lack of qualified applicants” as to why they were not filled.

This bill signing was the latest in a series of new laws which collectively aim to give school personnel additional days off if they are fully vaccinated and still catch COVID-19, protect bargaining rights when a special education co-op is dissolved or combined, allow sick days to be used for mental health reasons, and increased funding for a variety of programs and purposes.