SC ed agency: $67M is cost for lost pay increases

(File photo/MGN)

By SEANNA ADCOXAssociated Press

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- South Carolina's education agency estimates it could cost $67 million to bring teachers' salaries back on track following several years of frozen salary schedules.

Between 2009 and 2012, legislators allowed school districts to suspend annual salary increases that state law otherwise required teachers to receive for an additional year in the classroom. Many districts managed to fund the increases through local taxes. The option increased teachers' already inequitable salaries across the state.

Frozen salary schedules and step increases are among issues being studied by a joint House and Senate committee on teacher salaries.

Department of Education spokesman Jay Ragley told legislators Thursday that boosting teachers' salaries to where they should be in districts that suspended the steps could cost $67 million. He says Superintendent Mick Zais opposes the idea.