SPARTANBURG COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) – In Governor Henry McMaster’s State of the State address, he said he wants funds for K-12 to be appropriated in a simple and easy way.
“School districts will receive the funds necessary to support an average ratio of 11.7 students per teacher, with an average salary of $66,524 including benefits,” said Governor McMaster.
Local education non-profit, Public Education Partners Greenville County, said it’s wonderful to focus on education, but it’s not a quick and easy fix to lower the ratios.
Catherine Schumacher, president and CEO of the organization, said at the beginning of the school year there were over 1,000 open teacher positions across the state, so lowering the ratios is a challenge.
“We applaud the governor in his commitment to do that, but the devil is in the details,” Schumacher said. “How are you going to do that when we’re seeing a really big decrease in the number of teachers that are coming out of our teacher education programs in South Carolina?”
She said the governor raising starting teacher’s wages to $38,000 is a good start, but it’s about more than just the money.
“The challenge is getting everyone to focus on the work that it takes, not just about money, but about creating environments and attracting teachers to some of these areas where we have a hard time attracting teachers to being in the classrooms,” said Schumacher.
Public Education Partners said Greenville County has the highest starting teacher salary rate in the state, at over $41,000.
Schumacher said all of the Upstate districts have made the commitment to start teachers higher than the minimum salary.
“As long as the Upstate districts continue to really make that investment, and the community support them, then we’re going to continue to be competitive in this area, attracting really good teachers,” she said. “But statewide is a bigger challenge.”
More information on the funding plan can be found in the governor’s budget.