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Charleston County schools dealing with substitute teacher shortage

CCSD headquarters (WCIV)

About 3,200 teachers are in charge of educating the Charleston County School District's 50,000 students, but school leaders admit there's a shortage of substitute teachers.

Perhaps surprisingly, district officials say one of the issues contributing to the shortage is actually more full-time teachers hired over the summer.

"It's a good problem to have in that we were able to add 119 teacher positions back to the classroom across the district with this (year's) budget. But again that will create a need for more substitutes over the course of the year," said Andy Pruitt, Director of Communications and Technology for the Charleston County School District.

School district officials also believe an improved local economy is attracting candidates to full-time, private sector jobs. Certified substitute teachers are paid $80 a day. Non-certified ones receive $64 a day. Public school advocates say that isn't enough.

"We're paying $8 an hour right now. You can't get a babysitter for $8 an hour for one child and you're got 25, 30 kids and you're supposed to be trying to teach them something and keep order, I don't know why anyone does show up for $8 an hour. It's pathetic," said Patrick Hayes, a Charleston County teacher and public education advocate. He’s also the director of Ed First SC.

School leaders contend the pay rate is already established in the district's budget and its competitive with other schools. Patrick Hayes thinks more can be done.

"It’s called supply and demand. And when your supply of teachers is low and your demand is high, you're going to need to pay them more," he said.

Charleston County school officials say the outside agency in charge of hiring substitute teachers is doing what it can to attract and retain quality people to help educate students.

"There are other incentives that are put in if you're a long-term sub. There are other financial incentives that are put in place so we definitely as that people look into that as well," Pruitt said.

ABC News 4 reached out to Kelly Services, the temp agency that hires fill-in teachers, to find out what kind of incentives are offered and how many substitutes Kelly Educational Staffing is hiring. Below is their statement from public relations analyst Denise Ridenour:

"While I don’t have specific hiring numbers, I can tell you however that Kelly Educational Staffing is recruiting and hiring substitute teachers every day. As with many school districts across the US, there is a nationwide teacher shortage, and the demand for teachers is great just about everywhere."

  • During the month of October, KES is sponsoring a bonus program in which one substitute teacher will receive a $2,500 bonus. The program open to substitute teachers who work more than 10 days OR on a Monday or Friday.
  • Substitute teachers are also eligible for Kelly’s Kudos program, also a bonus award program, for working Mon/Fridays or same day assignments.
  • Substitute teachers who accept long-term assignments earn a higher hourly wage.

To apply for a substitute teacher job, call Kelly Services at 843-747-4826. Or send an email to 5456@kellyservices.com.

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