COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC) - The Palmetto State Teachers Association says members of the SC Senate Finance Committee have proposed funding a $1000 pay raise with part of the year’s budget surplus.
The PSTA says the SC House of Representatives wrote their budget using a conservative estimates developed during the worst weeks of the pandemic, but a revised estimate is projecting nearly $200 million more in revenue.
Members of the Senate Finance Committee want to use nearly one-third of this additional revenue to fund a $1,000 pay raise for every teacher, the PSTA said in a release. They say this will help address the state’s ongoing teacher shortage crisis.
At the start of the 2020-2021 school year, South Carolina had nearly 700 vacant classrooms that the PSTA says represented a 26% increase over the prior year.
The PSTA says they have heard repeatedly from their members about how the challenges of teaching in a pandemic are driving even more teachers out of the profession.
While the release says the teacher shortage in South Carolina can not be addressed by any single policy, it stresses any effort to retain more teachers must include pay increases more competitive with those of neighboring states.
The PSTA says they support the 2% pay increase requested by South Carolina Superintendent Molly Spearman, but the $1,000 pay raise will provide more than a 2% pay increase for any teacher making less than $50,000.
This represents a significant portion of the state’s teacher workforce, which the PSTA says is a group largely composed of the early career educators who are leaving the profession at the highest rate.