Advocates hope teacher pay bump will aid recruitment

VIDEO: Advocates hope teacher pay bump will aid recruitment

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - What would you do if your budget suddenly had $1.7 billion more than projected? The senate finance committee wants to use some that money to help out teachers.

South Carolina teachers could be making more money in the next school year. The committee approved a 2% raise for state employees and a $1,000 raise for all teachers for the fiscal year that starts on July 1.

This comes as school districts and teacher associations are trying to stem the hemorrhage of teachers out of the state and profession. According to the Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention, & Advancement, - a state-funded teacher recruitment program – around 6,000 teachers did not return to their school district for the 2020-2021 school year.

Kathy Maness is the executive director of the Palmetto State Teachers Association. She says the need for teachers is reaching a tipping point.

“When districts in South Carolina have a hard time hiring elementary and early childhood teachers because they’re not there, we’re in a crisis,” Maness said.

The CERRA report shows nearly half of the teachers who didn’t return this year had less than 5 years of experience. Maness says a salary bump is a good way to encourage teachers to stay in South Carolina.

“We have to do something to make teaching attractive to young people. Raising the pay is definitely one thing,” Maness said. “It’s very important at the first year that we raise those salaries because we’re having to compete with Georgia and North Carolina and our starting pay has been less than those two states so that is very, very important.”

The thousand-dollar raises will cost the state around $72 million but Maness says it’s a small price to pay for figuring out how to teach in a pandemic. She says they’re grateful for the efforts of the General Assembly in recognizing a need and addressing it.

“I think this is a way for the General Assembly to say, ‘hey, we see what you’re doing, we know you are having to work harder than you have ever worked before and we appreciated what you’re doing for the students of South Carolina’,” Manesss said.

The budget now moves to the senate floor for full consideration.

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