CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – An educator advocacy group found there are thousands of teacher vacancies in South Carolina.

Volunteers with the nonprofit, SC for Ed, added up publicly available school district job postings and found there were 3,410 teacher vacancies throughout the state as of this past weekend.

According to Steve Nuzum, the Research Director for SC for Ed, most of those openings are existing positions as opposed to newly created positions.

“Probably at least 3,000 are teachers that, for whatever reason, have left the position or they’re see king to go to another school,” explained Nuzum.

The report lists the following teacher vacancies in the Tri-County area.

Berkeley County School District: 274

Charleston County School District: 281

Dorchester District 2: 57

Dorchester District 4: 35

Jody Stallings, the Director of Charleston Teacher Alliance, teaches 8th grade at Moultrie Middle School. He said vacancies can increase the workload for current staff.

“When you have a teacher who’s not in the room sometimes it falls on another teacher to come up with lesson plans,” said Stallings. “Sometimes they take those students, and they funnel them out to different teachers and that elevates the course load and elevates the number of students that teachers have to teach.”

Educators said there isn’t just one cause leading to this teacher turnover. They cited several factors like declining student conduct, stress from the pandemic, and pay.

“A huge part of it is just decisions made by the state legislator this year. In a major budget surplus year, we really didn’t do anything for the average teacher. Most teachers aren’t going to get any kind of raise,” explained Nuzum.

Nuzum, a teacher himself, said many teachers are making less than the cost of living because their pay wasn’t adjusted with inflation.

According to SC for Ed, the average minimum starting salary for a South Carolina teacher was $39,000 during the 2021-22 school year.

Joy Brown is an educator advocate who is running for CCSD School Board. She said many teachers sign contracts without knowing exactly what their pay will be because the budget has not been approved. Brown said she would like to see that change.

“They aren’t guaranteed their spot, so they’re signing these contracts blind. That’s not ok, that’s not a good way to run things,” said Brown.

The SC for Ed spreadsheet shows the average teacher turnover rate was 6.6 during the 2021-22 school year and 7.3 in 2019-20.