Rock Hill school leaders again raise starting teacher pay for 2019-2020

Thousands of teachers march to SC State House

South Carolina teachers, students and advocates marched to the State House to call on lawmakers to increase their pay and approve reforms that improve the state’s public schools.
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South Carolina teachers, students and advocates marched to the State House to call on lawmakers to increase their pay and approve reforms that improve the state’s public schools.

First-year teachers in Rock Hill could be set to make a minimum of $40,000 starting in 2019-2020.

New salary schedules will be available on June 24, when the school board votes on the 2019-’20 budget, Terri Smith, chief finance officer for the district, said during a public budget hearing Monday.

Rock Hill school district leaders announced the new base teacher pay Monday, up from a previous proposed salary of $39,899 for teachers with a bachelor’s degree and no experience.

“Experienced teachers will not receive less than the beginning teacher’s salary,” Smith said.

Rock Hill leaders also previously approved a $1,000 bonus for certified staff and a $500 bonus for all support staff, to be paid in the fall. The district is offering a $500 signing bonus for math, science and special education teachers.

Better pay is one issue thousands of educators highlighted during a May 1 rally at the statehouse in Columbia, The Herald previously reported.

Rock Hill’s new salary is above the national average of $39,249 and the South Carolina average of $33,148, according to 2017-’18 average starting teacher salaries provided by the National Education Association.

Rock Hill is on par with the Clover school district, which has proposed increasing starting teacher pay to $40,075 for 2019-’20.

Fort Mill remains the top paying school district in York County for teachers. A new teacher with no experience in Fort Mill will make $40,250 starting in 2019-2020.

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

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

Rock Hill’s salary increase is thanks to additional revenue from raised taxes, according to the district. The increase is included in the district’s proposed $172.6 million 2019-’20 budget.

A tax increase will amount to $36 more in taxes each year on a $100,000 business, according to the district.

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.

Public school districts are not fully funded by the state. Under state law, the base student cost should be $3,095 for 2019-20, Smith said.

The state has set the base student cost at $2,489, resulting in a loss of $10.7 million in state revenue for Rock Hill for next school year, Smith said.

Budget highlights:

  • The budget is funded with $63.4 million in local revenue and $107.8 million from the state
  • The 2019-2020 proposed budget is 7.38% higher than in 2018-2019
  • Salaries and benefits account for 87% of the budget
  • The budget includes a state-mandated 4% raise and step salary increase for teachers
  • A step salary increase is included for eligible employees, and all district employees will receive a 4% raise
  • The budget includes a 5% raise to all salary supplements
  • The budget includes three new special education teachers, six classroom assistants, a physical therapist and two language immersion teachers.

  • A security technician, two nurses and five mental health counselors also are included in the budget.
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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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