COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - In 2019, teachers across South Carolina received a 4% raise to their salaries.
The starting salary for a teacher was also increased from $32,000 to $35,000 a year. In 2020, teachers could see an even bigger raise.
State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman said on Wednesday the South Carolina Department of Education will be proposing a 5% raise for teachers in 2020. The state agency's proposed budget will be submitted to lawmakers soon. In that budget, they are requesting about $160 million to help cover the new raises.
"We're talking about almost a 10% raise in a two-year cycle. That's pretty good," said Sherry East, the president for the South Carolina Education Association.
They will be advocating for this 5% raise or more in 2020, she said. Pay plays a big role in recruiting and retaining teachers.
Right now, the average salary for a teacher in South Carolina is a little more than $50,000 a year. It remains below the national average.
Kathy Maness serves as the executive director for the Palmetto State Teachers Association (PSTA). She said she is glad to see teacher pay is a focus for state leaders once again in 2020. "It's great to see this happening. Because it hasn't happened in years before last year," Maness added.
Maness said PSTA will be asking lawmakers for a 10% raise for teachers this year.
"If we can't get that, we hope that we'll be able to get a 5% increase or more for teachers this year," Maness said.
Both East and Maness said they would like to see an important issue regarding salary steps addressed by the General Assembly. They said some long-time teachers aren’t being incentivized to keep teaching. Some teachers in South Carolina don’t get an annual increase in their salaries after working for 23 years as a teacher.
“We’d also like to see step increases go from 23 in some districts to a mandatory 28 or 30,” East said.