Thursday, August 12, 2010

Some suburban districts rehire many laid-off teachers

By the time suburban students return to class this month, their districts will have hired back about half of the teachers they let go last spring when the lingering recession and state financial woes forced sweeping cuts, according to a Tribune analysis.

There's hope for even more hires since Congress passed a federal school jobs bill this week that promises to send $415 million to Illinois as early as September.

But many education officials sounded a note of caution Wednesday, saying they can only work with the money they have in hand when the school year begins. They appreciate the money for teachers, but say they've learned to be skeptical about windfalls in a state beset by financial troubles and unable to deliver all of its promised funds.

School finance experts said the federal cash for school jobs will surely help. On average, districts invest up to 80 percent of their resources in personnel costs.

"They are so far behind in getting money from the state that any new money is good," said William Phillips, a former superintendent who now teaches school finance at the University of Illinois at Springfield. "But timing is the biggest factor right now."

Phillips' comments were featured in a August 12, 2010, article in the Chicago Tribune.

Download a PDF of the article