COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - As schools work to open their doors in just a few weeks, many districts are still working to fill vacant teaching positions.
Data compiled by SC for Ed on all the teacher job listings for every district across the state shows that, as of August 1, districts were still on the hunt for over 1,000 teachers.
Education leaders said that many teachers are retiring or quitting, but there aren’t enough replacements to meet the demand, leaving some districts may be faced with more shortages than ever before.
“We have a real problem COVID related. teachers don’t feel safe going back to the classroom right now,” Sherry East, the SC Education Association President, said.
East said teacher shortages aren’t a new problem, but COVID-19 complicates how to handle that problem.
“Before, we were facing districts that were going to have to cut classes or double up, things we already knew were a problem just got worse times 1,000,” East said.
A list by SC for Ed shows as of this week districts are still looking for 1,158 teachers, with a total of 345 vacancies in the Midlands.
That data shows that each district in the Midlands had the following number of job postings for teaching positions as of August 1:
Calhoun - 8
Clarendon - 3
Fairfield - 14
Kershaw - 25
Lex 1 - 26
Lex 2 - 4
Lex 3 - 3
Lex 4 - 0
Lex/Rich 5 - 15
Lee - 6
Saluda - 4
Newberry - 3
Orangeburg - 14
Richland 1 - 147
Richland 2 - 27
Sumter - 46
To view a full list of the number of job postings by district across the state and for links to each districts job postings, visit the SC for ED spreadsheet.
“A thousand vacancies is an absolute crisis. We lose about 6,000 teachers a year and we only graduate about 1,700 a year and then we try to make the difference with international teachers, people coming in from other states,” Chris Haas, an SC for Ed Midlands representative, said.
Haas said their report last year also showed over 1,000 teacher vacancies a few weeks before the school year, which is a number that significantly dropped by school start dates. However, Haas said he worries the numbers won’t go down this year.
“This year, what I’m hearing from teachers is that teachers who are close to retirement maybe aren’t going to hang on for that extra year or two or three because it doesn’t seem worth it to come back this year. And then, there’s other teachers who are much younger who maybe have pregnancies or other health issues who have them strongly considering whether it’s worth the health risk to head back to the classroom this year,” Haas said.
East said the teacher shortages have existed in past years because of pay and work environment.
“We never fixed the reasons why people were walking out of the profession. So, now on top of that, you are probably looking at a double shortage of teachers,” East said.
The South Carolina Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention, and Advancement’s Annual Educator Supply and Demand report showed that, at the beginning of the 2019-20 academic year, districts reported about 550 vacant teaching positions. A spokesperson for CERRA said that, if the number of vacancies continues to be high as the school year begins, it will place a large burden on school districts as they try to open their doors.