Teacher turnover a concern at state, local levels - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Teacher turnover a concern at state, local levels

TIMMONSVILLE, SC (WMBF) - Governor Nikki Haley is trying to get better educators in the districts many teachers usually choose not to go to, the low-performing, poor, rural schools.

As part of her proposed budget, Governor Haley is introducing the idea that teacher recruitment incentives could be the key to brighter futures for students.

The South Carolina Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention and Advancement, or CERRA, would be responsible for the Rural Teacher Recruiting Initiative program if it passes.

Teachers would have to commit to a certain number of years in a rural school districts with teacher turnover higher than 12%

According to CERRA, Florence County School District 4 has the fourth highest teacher turnover for 2013-2014 at 24%.

Compare that to nearby Florence School District 1 whose turnover was 6.7%.

Incentives would include salary supplements, such as paying a teacher with less experience the same they would make with more experience if they choose to teach in a rural district. There would also opportunities for subsidies for higher education for current students or loans for recent graduates.

FCSD4 Superintendent Andre Boyd said the district can really use any help to improve its teacher retention and recruitment. Teachers often leave after a year or two because of the difficulties they face in with the job in the district, he said.

"One, come to a school that's labeled a low-performing school," he said. "Then, to come here and they're faced with so many challenges as far as far as the limited resources, the limited pay."

The district's funding is also low, so teachers get about $250 dollars a year to spend on supplies, meaning many have to use their own paychecks.

"I'll make some personal sacrifices to make sure that the children not just get the minimum, but get more, get what they deserve," said Charlene McKnight, an English teacher at Timmonsville High.

The starting salary in FCSD4 is about 31,600 dollars, which is more than $3,000 under what a teacher makes in Horry County Schools with the same experience. Horry County Schools' teacher turnover rate is 6.3%.

"One who is compassionate about making a difference for students over making a living, but when they're compassionate about making a difference for students, I think it's our responsibility to make sure that they can make a living and it is a challenge," Boyd said.

FCSD4's teachers also often have more responsibilities. Elementary school teachers actually teach one or two subjects to multiple grade levels instead of the traditional self-contained elementary classroom model. High school teachers also teach various grades. There are only three elective teachers for the entire district.

In addition to FCSD4, FCSD3 and Marion would be the other two Pee Dee school districts to qualify based on last year's turnover if the Rural Teacher Recruiting Initiative passes.

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