CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – The South Carolina Senate budget proposed giving teachers at least a 4 percent raise this year, causing starting salaries to rise from $32,000 to $35,000.

Coastal Carolina University’s campus is filled with future teachers, and around 60 percent will start their careers in South Carolina classrooms.

“Obviously we (teach) because we love it; we love kids, but making sure teachers can make ends meet is also really important,” former elementary school teacher and early elementary program coordinator at CCU, Catherine Scott said.

According to the National Education Association, the nation’s average teacher salary is more than $60,000, while South Carolina’s average is around $50,000.

However, that could soon change following the Senate’s version of the state budget which allotted $159 million for teacher pay raises, allowing for at least a 4 percent salary increase.

“The state is making good progress towards meeting teachers’ needs. We know that teachers spend a lot of time and funds outside of what they get for their salaries and invest it in their classrooms, so it’s nice to see that they’re making an effort to recognize that,” Scott said.

Teachers with less than five years of experience are set to get the highest pay raises under the proposed budget, in an effort to recruit more educators to South Carolina.

According to Scott, the state Senate’s proposed budget is a good start, however, she says it is important to keep pushing for higher teacher salaries.

“Teachers aren’t martyrs. They’re going in, they’re investing time and money and training, so providing a good system for the students we work with. When you think about the fact that teachers spend a good chunk of time with these children, and sometimes that’s the adult that children are with for much of the day, we need to recognize that,” Scott said.

The Senate passed their version of the budget last Thursday. Now the budget will head to the House for final approval or more changes.