CONWAY, S.C. (WBTW) — Horry County Schools says it’s looking to hire between 200 and 250 teachers for the new school year.
That’s as education group SC for Ed tracks a growing number of teacher vacancies in the Palmetto State.
This summer, the group is counting teacher openings on district websites. This past weekend, it counted around 2,200 openings in the state.
“We cannot fill all of the vacancies that we need to throughout the state,” SC for Ed research director Steve Nuzum said. “And that’s been true for years, but it keeps getting worse.”
Nuzum said this past weekend’s count was higher that the highest count from last summer. He said although the estimates aren’t perfect due to factors like inconstancies with job postings, it’s important to track the trends.
“There’s no good timing for a pandemic but from a teacher recruitment and retention standpoint, this is maybe the worst year it could have happened,” Nuzum said.
In Horry County, district spokesperson Lisa Bourcier said HCS has seen a little bit of an increase in retirements and resignations. She said the district is working hard to recruit this summer, as it has been throughout the school year.
“Really reaching out virtually has been beneficial to us,” Bourcier said. “Being able to do on the spot interviews and being able to recruit people very quickly. Also we are very fortunate to have Coastal Carolina University at our backdoor.”
The district hopes pay bumps for staff and substitutes this school year will also help.
HCS also wants to use federal COVID-19 relief funding to hire additional staff.
“Trying to put in some additional incentives and recruitment efforts to obtain top notch teachers for Horry County Schools,” Bourcier said. “Also with the additional ESSER funds we are also looking at hiring additional teachers on top of that — interventionists which are certified teachers, so we are going to be doing some recruitment efforts as well.”
Some in the education field worry not only about teachers retiring or resigning, but a declining interest in the field from the younger generation.
“If we would change the salary structure, and again also focus on the culture in P-12 schools as far as the autonomy teachers have to be creative and innovative, you would see a reverse in the supply and demand issues,” Dr. Edward Jadallah said, the former Dean of the Spadoni College of Education at Coastal Carolina University said. He’s now Dean of the College of Education at California State Monterey Bay.
Horry County Schools says if it can’t fill enough positions, the district starts to look at things like class size and long-term substitutes.