COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSPA)- Governor Henry McMaster, along with every lawmaker in the state, vowed to make education a priority.
Tuesday the governor unveiled a component of his 2020 executive budget that keeps to that promise.
Speaker of the House Jay Lucas recapped the discussion he had with Governor McMaster concerning education.
“Governor McMaster and I had a conversation about 18 months ago and we were quite frank that there were some holes in our state’s education system,” Lucas explained.
South Carolina lawmakers have spent the last year trying to fix the state’s education system, pledging changes in the classroom.
Speaker Lucas and other legislators traveled the state speaking to “Teacher of the Year” winners. Lucas highlighted the concerns educators brought to the table.
“They wanted to talk about testing. They wanted to talk about classroom climate and parental support,” Lucas said.
Another topic of discussion was teacher salaries. Teacher pay is just one of many grievances educators are asking lawmakers to address.
Tuesday afternoon, Governor Henry McMaster announced additional investments in education.
“We have a lot of great people who want to go into one of the best fields which is teaching. they don’t want to do it for the money, but they can’t do it without the money. so we’re fixing that now,” McMaster said.
The governor is committing $211 million in his executive budget to give all teachers a $3,000 raise. It’s an investment the General Assembly says is needed to attract and keep teachers in the classroom. More than 7,000 teachers did not return to their positions in the state this school year.
Molly Spearman, the state superintendent of education, outlined the potential impact of the governor’s proposed raise.
“With this I bet we’ll start hearing young people say I want to be a teacher and parents won’t talk them out of it. They won’t say you can make more money doing something else,” Spearman said.
For those in the classrooms, the extra money makes a huge difference.
“My husband and i are both educators. the most recent salary increase played a significant role allowing us to purchase our first home,” said Meredith Blackwood, an elementary school teacher in Cayce.
The governor’s proposal would boost the average teacher salary to about $52,000, placing it $2500 above the southeastern average.