Charleston County teacher pay raise proposal numbers explained

Published: Mar. 13, 2023 at 5:19 AM EDT|Updated: Mar. 13, 2023 at 5:33 AM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The Charleston County School District board will hear Monday night why a task force thinks its teachers should get a raise.

The goal of the increase is for teachers to be able to afford to live in the community where they teach. School board members will hear a recommendation to increase the starting salary by about 35%.

Currently, a 22-year-old who was just hired with a bachelor’s degree makes an annual salary of $43,146. The committee calculated the cost of living in the Charleston area with rent with a roommate of a 2 bedroom, 2 bath apartment. At the end of each month, the task force presentation says the new teacher is $155 dollars in the red under the current pay structure.

That number is even worse when accounting for some of the more experienced teachers who have mortgages.

Affordable housing is a key issue here. A common rule of budgeting suggests that renters spend no more than 30% of their monthly income, before taxes, on rent.

The task force presentation shows that a teacher with a bachelor’s degree would need 22 years of experience to afford a home in Charleston County under the current pay scale. Additionally, that 30% rule is often the qualification to be approved for a mortgage or as a renting tenant.

The task force presentation says to raise salaries where the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Charleston is equivalent to 30% of a teacher’s salary is “unattainable under current district budgetary restraints.” But the task force said 40% might be easier. Right now, it’s at about 54%.

When you run the same monthly expenses under the 40% rule, the first-year teacher with a roommate comes out $565 in the green. However, a projection for a one-bedroom apartment still shows debt each month.

The task force hopes that by fixing this calculation, they’ll be able to retain good teachers in the school district, which they say they are losing faster than they can replace.