CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD)- Education leaders in Charleston County are discussing the future of teacher pay during a budget meeting on Wednesday.
There’s story after story of teachers in CCSD who say they can’t afford basic needs.
“A few weeks ago, a teacher was in my room and her eyes were red, swollen, crying, and I said why are you crying? And she said I’m not crying, I just went to the school nurse, I’ve got pink eye in both eyes,” Middle school teacher at Moultrie Middle, Jody Stallings said. ” I said you’ve got to get to the doctor, and she said I can’t afford the doctor bill, the eyedrops and rent this month…”
Because of the low wage, lots of times teachers leave to find other jobs.
“I just received a message from a parent who said they’re advocating, because their kindergartener just finished their first year of school and it was their teachers last year of school. The teachers just couldn’t afford to live here,” Teacher at Charleston School of the Arts, Patrick Martin said.
That’s why Wednesday, advocates are continuing their work to increase teacher pay.
During a district budget meeting, leaders discussed adding $7,000 to starting salary.
“To bring minimum teacher salary up to $50,000 and hopefully that will create a livable wage for teachers,” Martin said.
To keep teachers in the classroom and provide them with what they need to live in Charleston, some say this is a non-negotiable.
Stallings said, “It’s really not a discussion of whether we’re going to do it or not, it’s how we’re going to do it.”
This effort isn’t happening without support from the public, with hundreds of written comments to the board, dozens of spoken comments at board meetings and a petition with over 2600 signatures.
“Really the community and Charleston has rallied around this effort and we’re super excited that hopefully today the voices have been heard and something will happen,” Martin said.
Advocates are also thinking long term.
They’re asking for the board to pledge a base salary increase to $58,000 over three years.
Wednesday board members decided to create different salary scenarios to present to the school district.