CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD)- Charleston County School District (CCSD) leaders say that a November hiring event drew about a third of the usual number of applicants for teaching positions.
“We had 27 candidates apply and express intertest. That number is definitely low. Prior to the pandemic we could have 80 or 90 this time of year,” said William Briggman, the Chief Human Resources Officer for CCSD.
The applicants were mostly new college graduates, but some current CCSD teachers attended.
The district says that recruiting younger people to teach is getting more difficult.
“It just validates what’s happening in the profession where we’re seeing fewer of our young people and college students pursuing education,” said Briggman.
There is also a difficulty in retaining current teachers for CCSD. So far in the 2022-2023 school year, 48 teachers have resigned. Briggman says that figure is high compared to other years.
There are 33 teacher vacancies out of 3,700 education positions across the district as well.
“The number one concern is looking at teacher compensation. It’s a message that is going to take awhile to get out there as compensation increases so our young folks know that if they pursue being a teacher it’s a livable wage,” said Briggman.
Teachers have been speaking about more than pay increases. The Charleston Teacher Alliance says that help teaching a new curriculum and disciplining students is needed.
“This is the time of year when students are going to test the rules, said Jody Stallings, who teaches in Charleston County. “That’s a really easy area where principals and districts can support teachers and get the behavior where it needs to be.”
CCSD has created a task force to address teaching issues. It’s made up of teachers, school leaders and human resources staff.
“Part of what the task force has done already is creating a shared document called ‘The Think Tank’ to gather what teachers are hearing from their colleagues in their schools to see what’s making teachers leave the profession,” said Briggman. “We’ve really finalized what we’d like to recommend to the Superintendent and the Board what the salary structure for teacher should look like going into 2024.”
In Dorchester School District Two, there are efforts happening as well. Superintendent Dr. Shane Robbins is using unencumbered lunch hours, free after-school care and other resources to help keep teachers in the classroom.
“Currently we are working on a program to present to the Board that would provide longevity bonuses for employees who have remained in the district as well as new teacher signing bonuses. Teacher and employee salaries are also being discussed and will be based on our ability to minimize operational costs to meet the increased expense,” said Dr. Robbins.
Stallings thinks that school districts need to first stop the exodus of teachers by increasing pay and to have school leaders ask teachers what they need before looking to the future.
“Then you want to take a long view forward. All of the potential teachers are in our classrooms right now. So what are we doing to show those potential teachers that this is a job that is worthy?” said Stallings.