The Teacher Vacancy Grant is part of a pilot program aimed at addressing chronic shortages by providing the state's most understaffed districts with resources to attract, hire, support, and retain teachers. The grant allows districts maximum flexibility to use allocated funds in innovative, creative, and evidenced-based ways, such as signing bonuses, housing stipends, down-payment assistance, or loan repayments; to pay tuition and fees or provide residencies or apprenticeships; and to sustain employment of current teachers by providing materials, supplies, coaching, and school culture supports.
Districts in Evidence-Based Funding Tiers 1, 2, 3 (as calculated for fiscal year 2023) have been identified for eligibility. Districts in Tier 4 are ineligible for this program as are the 352 districts that reported having no unfilled teaching positions at the beginning of the 2022-23 school year. One hundred seventy districts have been identified as eligible to receive awards based on the highest counts of unfilled teaching (not administrative or school support) positions and to ensure that 60% (102) of awards go to rural districts and 40% (68) of awards go to urban districts. The 60/40 split is aligned to the composition of all Tier 1, 2, and 3 districts in the state.
National Center for Education Statistics locale classifications were used to determine which districts were rural and which were urban.
Eligible districts have received direct communication from the Illinois State Board of Education.
An information webinar was held on June 27. The slide deck is available here and the recording will be posted soon.
Examples of how districts have utilized grant funding to retain staff include:
- Retention incentives for current teachers (e.g., loan forgiveness)
- Funding for tuition/fees to support current teachers in earning new endorsements and degrees
- Instructional coaching and/or mentoring programs to support newer teachers and provide upward mobility opportunities for excellent, experienced teachers
- Professional learning for teachers to learn new evidence-based practices
- School culture/climate improvement systems, initiatives, and staffing
- Programs and activities to show appreciation to teachers and increase morale
- Wellness programs and spaces for teachers
- Supplies and materials for teachers
- Updated instructional technology to support teachers in planning and delivery of high- quality instruction