Work on the state budget for next fiscal year is underway in the Senate.
Senate Finance Committee member State Sen. Vincent Sheheen, D-Kershaw, is among those proposing an increase in new teachers’ pay. “We recommend increasing the starting salary for starting teachers to $32,000,” Sheheen said during a committee meeting on the budget Thursday.
Low pay in South Carolina has been a problem in retaining and recruiting teachers, particularly in the poorest rural counties, where teachers often leave the bare minimum pay for urban and suburban districts which chip in their own local money on top of the state’s pay. The current minimum salary is $30,113 for a first-year teacher.
State Sen. Tom Davis, R-Beaufort, said channeling wages to educators is what needs to be done. “It seems to me that we’ve got enough money in the system and there are enough dollars that we appropriate for K-12 and not enough of it is getting to teachers.”
The bump was included in the budget plan which passed the House last week. The change would impact the least-experienced teachers in 20 school districts who current pay below the $32,000 threshold.
“We’re also trying to give a one percent pay increase in this budget to teachers on top of their step increase,” Sheheen said.
Sheheen said that South Carolina overall spends about the national average on education.