South Carolina’s schools chief said Wednesday the state should pay its teachers more to keep them from leaving.
Education Superintendent Molly Spearman told a state Senate committee South Carolina’s teachers earn about $800 less on average than their counterparts across the Southeast.
“Don’t know that we can fully fund that in one year’s time, but I think we need to re-look and set our goal at least to match the Southeastern average,” Spearman said during a Senate special committee hearing.
According to the South Carolina Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office, the state lags behind North Carolina and Georgia in teacher pay.
Spearman said North Carolina just gave teachers a raise, which could attract South Carolina teachers. “North Carolina just made a huge commitment to teachers’ salaries. So we’re going to see exodus — particularly along the Dillon County line, Marlboro, Chesterfield (counties) where they can go right over into North Carolina,” Spearman told senators.
The Education Oversight Committee’s annual report found more than 4,800 teachers did not return to the classroom in South Carolina ahead of the 2016-17 school year. Issues include pay, retirement and frustration in the classroom.
Spearman testified before the Senate Finance K-12 Education School Equity committee, which is tasked with finding ways to make sure the state’s public schools provide a quality education to all students regardless of their poverty level or zip code.