South Carolina lawmakers consider salary stipend, loan forgiveness for teachers

COLUMBIA, SC (WBTW) – South Carolina state lawmakers reviewed incentives school districts could use to attract and keep teachers in the Palmetto State.

Some South Carolina school districts are experiencing a teacher shortage and with turnover rates higher than 11 percent, members of the general assembly are taking action to try and put more educators in the classroom.

Lawmakers have been working with agencies across the state to identify the problems teachers face and solutions to those challenges.

“It’s a myriad of problems depending on where you are in the state,” expresses Senator Shane Martin. “Sometimes somebody may have to travel a long way to get to a school district or they don’t want to live in a certain area, and there’s not going to be one magic silver bullet that’s going to fix the problem.”

Districts in rural counties are seeing the problems on a bigger scale because of a lack of money.

“The rural districts have a difficult way to keep up with the pay,” identifies Palmetto State Teachers Association Executive Director Kathy Maness. “For example, a teacher that I know lives in Marion County and teaches in Horry County and makes $10,000 less for teaching in that rural district.”

The recommendations reviewed by lawmakers included a salary stipend for teachers in the rural school districts, loan forgiveness, and even some changes to how South Carolina recruits teachers.

“Help get more teachers into education by adding an enhancement into our life scholarship for students going into education,” says Maness. “So we think that would be a great thing for them to add to increase the number of years that our new teachers have mentors. The first couple of years are really difficult going into that classroom.”

The committee will now review all of the recommendations and put it together in one proposal to present during session to look at possible budget increases to accommodate the suggested incentives.