BERKELEY COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - While lawmakers are busy working on education reform in Columbia, local school districts are doing what they can to help recruit and retain teachers.
In Berkeley County, leaders have turned to job seekers who don’t have traditional education backgrounds.
However, they are finding the salaries they are able to offer are hindering these efforts, too.
Seeking alternative educators has become a byproduct of the teacher shortage felt statewide.
Berkeley County School District recruitment officials say they have been going after job seekers with non-traditional backgrounds to help fill the void in area classrooms. While this practice has been happening for years, Berkeley County officials say they have found that even this employment stream is being affected by what they can pay.
Shelley Greene, who is a certified employment coordinator for Berkeley County School District, believes the big manufacturing companies and industries moving to the Lowcountry have become more appealing than teaching jobs.
So instead of focusing on the salary in the recruitment process, officials are pitching retirement benefits and family-friendly schedules to entice new hires.
Greene says the recruitment strategy has become more important than ever,
"It's a hard fight," Greene said. "Eighteen years ago when I started this job, I can honestly tell you when somebody emailed me with elementary or early childhood I didn't talk to them. There were 20 people for one job. But now everybody is really important. I mean, everybody is important. Physical education. Social studies. We are having a real dire need for art education majors."
Later this month, the district is hosting an information session on alternative certification programs in coordination with the South Carolina Department of Education.
Their flyer simply asks, "Do you have a desire to teach and a bachelors degree?"
The event will be held January 24 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Men Riv Education Park in Goose Creek.
This will also be the second year that the district has increased its recruiting efforts by adding a third recruitment event to the year, according to Greene.
The first of those teacher recruitment fairs for 2019 will be held on March 16 from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at Cane Bay High School. Registration starts at 8 a.m.