‘Alarming’ teacher report shows spike in educator vacancies in South Carolina

State - Regional

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) – An annual report tracking the supply and demand of South Carolina’s educators saw the highest number of vacancies since the report started 20 years ago.

The Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention and Advancement, or CERRA, released its latest Educator Supply and Demand report this week.

“Extraordinarily alarming is the word I keep using,” South Carolina Education Association President Sherry East said. “Because we started the school year with over 1000 vacancies.”

The report said showed 1,060 vacancies across the state among teaching and service positions. That’s an increase of more than 50 percent over last year and the highest amount since the report started in 2001. There were about 930 more teachers than last year that did not return to a position in the same district.

“Plenty of teachers say this will be their last year,” East said. “So if we don’t do something, next year’s numbers could be even higher than this year’s.”

Horry County Schools said middle- and high-school math positions are among the hardest to fill.

“Because of the ESSER funds, 20% had to be used for learning loss, so a way of doing that is to hire additional interventionists,” HCS spokesperson Lisa Bourcier said. “And so you’re adding positions on top of positions that are unable to be filled. So those numbers may be skewed a bit because you’re increasing your staffing.”

State Superintendent Molly Spearman said in a statement that the report should be a wake-up call for decision-makers. In addition to supporting salary increases, the state Department of Education also supports providing teachers protected planning time, increasing money teachers get for supplies, and other measures.

East said compensation is just one piece of the puzzle. Teachers’ workload must be addressed, she said.

“Even during this pandemic, we have not taken one thing off teachers’ plates,” East said. “All we’ve done is add to it.”

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