HomeColumbiaSouth Carolina House Committee proposes $4,500 raise for starting teachers to combat...

South Carolina House Committee proposes $4,500 raise for starting teachers to combat teacher shortage

Columbia, South Carolina – Teachers in South Carolina who are just starting their careers are on the verge of seeing their annual salaries increase to a minimum of $47,000. This potential raise, which amounts to an additional $4,500 over the current baseline, has received the green light from the state’s House budget committee as of Wednesday.

This initiative is part of a larger plan to allocate an extra $230 million specifically for the purpose of boosting teacher salaries. This move is aligned with Governor Henry McMaster’s ambition to elevate the starting salary threshold to $50,000 by the year 2026. This initiative represents a significant leap, nearly $20,000, in the baseline salary for new teachers compared to where it stood a decade ago.

The state’s foremost teacher association has warmly received this proposal, interpreting it as a significant gesture of support for educators from kindergarten through to 12th grade. This comes in the wake of a major demonstration in 2019, where approximately 10,000 teachers expressed their discontent on the Statehouse grounds.

Their grievances centered on the challenges of increasing class sizes, burdensome workloads, and salaries that did not reflect their dedication and effort. One of the notable achievements from this advocacy was securing a provision in the budget plan that extends the duration over which teachers can receive salary increments.

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Historically, the system in place had a cap on salary increases, effectively disqualifying teachers from receiving any additional pay beyond their 23rd year of service. However, with the new proposal, there is a push to amend this, advocating for the extension of eligibility for salary increases up to the 28th year of teaching. This change is seen as a pivotal improvement, particularly for those educators who are in the later stages of their careers, ensuring that their experience and continued contribution to the education sector are duly recognized and compensated.

The plan put forward closely mirrors the governor’s budget suggestion and ideas from a task force last May, aiming to tackle the state’s teacher shortage issue. This academic year began with over 1,600 teaching positions unfilled, marking a 9% rise from the year before, as per reports from the state’s Center for Education Recruitment, Retention, and Advancement.

Differing from previous strategies, this new proposal from the House doesn’t give the same salary increase to all teachers. Instead, while all teachers will benefit from a raise, those at the beginning of their careers are set to see a more substantial bump in their starting pay.

In a recent ranking by the National Education Association, South Carolina’s initial pay for teachers was placed 40th nationwide. Although it was below the 2023 national average of $43,000, it still managed to surpass the starting salaries in neighboring states like North Carolina and Georgia.

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However, the House’s plan does not fully adopt Governor McMaster’s vision for overhauling teacher pay. The governor had proposed a major change to the longstanding state salary schedule, which has determined teacher pay based on their education level and classroom experience since 1977. Instead of receiving small yearly raises, teachers would have experienced more significant pay increases every few years under his proposal.

Even though the proposal from the House committee establishes a baseline for teacher salaries, it’s important to note that individual school districts have the leeway to offer higher pay to their educators.

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