CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - The Charleston County School District's Board of Trustees voted on Monday to increase the pay for substitute teachers in in the county.
The vote will mandate that certified substitute teachers earn a minimum of $12.50 per hour.
"We're just trying to stay competitive and keep teachers in the classroom when that teacher is sick," School Board Member Todd Garrett said.
Garrett said he supported the pay increase because the school district only managed to find a substitute for an absent teacher 78% of the time this year.
"Each school is having to scramble to be able to cover to keep that classroom taken care of," Garret said.
Garrett isn't surprised it's been hard to find substitutes because until Monday night's vote they could make as little as $8 per hour.
"When you're only paying someone eight bucks an hour to be in there with 25 kids, you're not going to get a qualified candidate," Garrett said.
Garrett is hopeful the district will now have plenty of good candidates to choose from.
The increase means that certified substitute teachers will now make between 86 to 256 dollars a day. That's up from a range of 64 to 150 dollars a day.
"When you're looking at Berkeley just across the river, or Dorchester County just up the road, people living in that market—we're going to be the most competitive payer moving forward," Garrett said.
The school district has budgeted about $4 million for substitute teachers.
This change will cost about $700,000, but that money will come from the district's general fund, rather than from tax payers directly.
On Monday, the board members decided that was a cost they were willing to pay.
"Ideally we're going to attract more retired or current teachers who aren't working full time to be willing to come back and work in Charleston County because we're paying them competitive of what they earned when they were actually a full time employee here," Garrett said.