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Following Urbana’s lead, Champaign substitute teachers will get a raise too

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Unit 4's Garden Hills Academy in Champaign.

CHAMPAIGN — Champaign substitute teachers will now earn at least $140 per day – $30 more than they were making before.

The Champaign Unit 4 Board of Education approved the raise on Monday evening, following a similar move from neighboring school boards. 

“We’ve reviewed our rates and determined that we are no longer competitive with other districts,” Unit 4 human resources head Ken Kleber told the board.

Urbana School District 116 increased the pay for substitute teachers to $130 per day in late October. Mahomet-Seymour also raised pay for substitutes to $150 per day.

More experienced substitutes in Champaign have the potential to earn even more money. For example, a part-time Unit 4 teacher who subs for a full day can now make $160. This is $20 more than before.

Champaign requires that substitutes have a bachelors degree. Interested applicants without bachelors degrees can apply to become assistant teachers instead.

“We are also short TAs, so we’re trying not to cannibalize from our various workforces,” Kleber explained.

The raises will take effect retroactively from October 30. Any time worked since the October 30 payroll period began will count under the new rates.

Many school districts across the country struggled to find enough subs to cover classes even before the COVID-19 pandemic. The situation has gotten worse during the pandemic, with roughly 77% of districts short on subs, according to an EdWeek Research Center survey.

While Kleber alluded to a substitute shortage in his conversation with the board, the official word from Champaign is that standard HR practices – not a nationwide labor crisis – are motivating the raises.

“The district is always looking for substitute teachers. The purpose of the raise is to ensure that we remain competitive with others in the area. We have always prided ourselves with having a strong compensation packages for all of our employees,” wrote Unit 4 Chief Communications Officer Stacey Moore in an email.

Labor shortages have already impacted Champaign schools this fall. Unit 4 has hired a private security firm because the Champaign Police Department has too few officers to post any in schools. School lunches are also more limited this year because the factories the district sources from are understaffed.

Emily Hays is a reporter for Illinois Public Media. Follow her on Twitter @amihatt.

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Emily Hays

Emily Hays

Emily Hays started at WILL in October 2021 after three-plus years in local newsrooms in Virginia and Connecticut. She has won state awards for her housing coverage at Charlottesville Tomorrow and her education reporting at the New Haven Independent. Emily graduated from Yale University where she majored in History and South Asian Studies.

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