COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSPA) – A task force created last year to study the best ways to recruit and retain teachers in South Carolina has released its recommendations to state leaders.

At the start of the 2022-23 school year, school districts in South Carolina reported more than 1,400 vacant teaching positions. An update to that report released this year, shows there were more than 1,200 open teaching jobs in February.

The South Carolina Teacher Recruitment and Retention Task Force began their work last year. The task force was established with a one-year budget provision. It was made up of state lawmakers, state education officials, future, current, and former teachers.

The task force studied and considered policies that increase recruitment to the teaching profession, improve teacher preparation, transform compensation for teachers, enhance the effectiveness of teacher evaluation, and improve working conditions for all teachers.

They released 23 recommendations to state lawmakers and education leaders last week.

SC Education Association President Sherry East said some of these recommendations have been priorities on their legislative agenda, “If you needed fresh data, you have it. If you needed concrete ways to help this problem, you have that now. Some things can be done legislatively and on the local level, let’s do it.”

Officials said the recommendations fit into four broad categories: compensation & evaluation, recruitment, educator preparation, and working conditions. Individual recommendations include defining career ladders for educators, developing a profile of the Prepared SC Educator, and continuing to increase the starting salary for teachers.

Their first recommendation is to increase the starting teacher salary pay to $50,000 by 2026. This was something Governor Henry McMaster has voiced his support for.

Other recommendations include having local school boards revise their policies for student behavior and parental support and expanding loan forgiveness programs for teachers.

“This important report speaks powerfully to key themes I’ve heard from educators across the state. We must pursue clarity of vision and alignment of resources to reimagine how we recruit, prepare, and support new educators; equip and grow our teachers as classroom leaders and our principals as school culture builders; and ensure that when it comes to student discipline, our educators know that we have their back.”

State Superintendent of Education Ellen Weaver

You can read the full report here.