Chester County schools raise first-time teacher pay above SC average

First-year teachers in Chester County will make a minimum of $38,851 starting in 2019-2020.

The increase in teacher pay is included in the Chester County School District’s proposed $52 million budget for 2019-’20, said Becky Crouch, district spokesperson.

The Chester County school board plans to approve the budget following a public hearing at 5:30 p.m. June 10 at the district office, 509 District Office Drive.

Currently, a teacher in Chester County with a bachelor’s degree and no experience makes $33,760, according to the district. Teachers who hold a doctor’s degree with at least 24 years of experience make $73,288.

Chester’s new base salary, announced May 24, is below the national average of $39,249 but above the South Carolina average of $33,148, according to 2017-18 average starting teacher salaries provided by the National Education Association.

South Carolina lawmakers gave final approval in May to a $9.3 billion state budget that includes a 4% pay raise for teachers and sets the starting teacher salary at $35,000, reports The State newspaper. Gov. Henry McMaster still needs to sign the budget into law.

Other schools have also raised starting teacher pay.

The Rock Hill school district is raising the first-year teacher salary to a minimum of $39,899, The Herald previously reported. The district also announced May 30 a $1,000 bonus for certified staff and a $500 bonus for all support staff, to be paid in the fall.

York Preparatory Academy, a public charter school in Rock Hill, approved raising new teacher pay to $40,000.

The Clover school district has proposed increasing starting teacher pay to $40,075 for 2019-’20, said Ken Love, assistant superintendent of business services.

Fort Mill teachers will make a minimum of $40,250 in 2019-’20, according to the school district.

Better pay is one issue thousands of educators highlighted during a May 1 rally at the statehouse in Columbia, The Herald previously reported. Teachers also are pushing for education funding, fewer standardized tests, smaller class sizes and a voice in education policies.

Chester County budget highlights

Chester County will receive $1 million from the state to help fund the 4% raise and step salary increases for teachers, according to the district. The district will need to spend $250,000 for teacher salary step increases, Crouch said.

The district is proposing a 2% pay raise for all other employees, Crouch said.

The district is calling for a tax increase. The amount will be presented June 10 to the board.

Tax increases apply only to businesses, non-owner occupied homes and rental properties. Act 388, South Carolina’s property tax reform measure, replaced tax on primary homes with a one-time sales tax increase on retail purchases to support school operations, The Herald previously reported. Act 388 has led to a loss of revenue for public schools.

Chester County’s school budget is funded with 39% in local money and 58% in state revenue, Crouch said.

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Amanda Harris covers issues related to children and families in York, Chester and Lancaster County for The Herald. Amanda works with local schools, parents and community members to address important topics such as school security, mental health and the opioid epidemic. She graduated from Winthrop University.
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