COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSPA)– Members of the Senate Finance K-12 School Equity Committee are faced with the task of figuring out how to retain good teachers and prevent rural school districts from falling farther behind.
Several education-based organizations like the Palmetto State Teacher’s Association made several recommendations to solving the problem.
The members looked at proposals that offered gas stipends for teachers that lived 25 miles or more away from their district and enhancing the Life Scholarship to include an initiative for students pursuing Education.
“Help get more teachers into education by adding an enhancement into our life scholarship for students going into education… 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,” said Kathy Maness, the executive director of PSTA.
Rural school districts present a unique challenge for both sides. Senator Shane Martin, a school board trustee Spartanburg Co. School District 6, says a lack of population makes it hard to generate excess funds.
“It’s a myriad of problems depending on where you are in the state. 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. Some areas where you have a declining population you have less students. until we get some industry to come in there and provide good jobs.. because no matter what area a child lives in they deserve the same quality education as a thriving area so that’s what we’re trying to do here.”
The executive director of one of the organizations talked about the specific proposals they made, including extending the pay scale for teachers with more than 20 years experience. Most importantly it’s about bridging the pay gap.
Kathy Maness explained. “The rural districts have a difficult way to keep up with the pay. 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 committee will review all of the recommendations and put together a concrete proposal to present later on for possible budget increases to accommodate the suggested incentives.