Lowcountry schools support Gov. Haley's plan to retain rural tea - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Lowcountry schools support Gov. Haley's plan to retain rural teachers

SOUTH CAROLINA (WTOC) -

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley addressed the high teacher turnover rate in rural schools in our area, and a possible solution to keep educators from leaving poor districts.

Are you planning to be a teacher? You can go to college for free – but there’s a catch. You have to teach in a rural, challenged school district for eight years.

“I think it’s a good plan, what I know about it. Our turnover rate last year was about 15 percent. We lost about 30 teachers,” said Hampton County District 1 Superintendent Dr. Doug McTeer.

Wednesday night, Governor Haley says this year they’ll aggressively start recruiting teachers to rural districts – and give them incentives to stay there.

“When you get up into the older grades it’s much more difficult in certainly, special areas like math, science, special and so forth, are much more difficult to fill,” said Dr. McTeer.

Dr. McTeer says recruiting teachers is just half the problem.

“We lost 30 teachers last year, the biggest reason was for retirement, but we also had a number of teachers that moved to other districts that paid more. That’s a big issue,” said Dr. McTeer.

He says districts with budgets in school districts like Hampton, can’t afford to pay competitive salaries. After a few years, they lose quality teachers who would have stayed if the pay was better.

“We don’t have the tax base to have the amount of money we need. We’ve been asking for schools to be funded mostly by the state instead of being so reliant on the local property tax. It’s a real burden to our local taxpayers to have to pay what they do and it still doesn’t give us enough money to compete with wealthier school districts,” said Dr. McTeer.

Governor Haley says career educators or recent graduates who teach in rural school districts will be offered incentives too. The state can repay student loans, or cover the cost of a graduate program.

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