CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) — Schools across the country are facing teacher shortages, but officials across Lowcountry school districts say most of their schools are almost fully staffed.
“It’s been one of our best years in the last 15 years or so,” said William Briggman, head of Human Resources for the Charleston County School District. Officials say CCSD has just two unfilled teacher positions as of the first day of school on August 20th, down from around 70 unfilled positions at this time in 2017. That’s from an overall teacher workforce of 3,500.
“That does not mean there’s not a crisis when it comes to young folks entering the teaching profession,” Briggman warned.
A report from the State Department of Education shows a 30% drop in the last four years for college students majoring in education.
“There are definitely going to be struggles in the future to hire teachers,” Briggman said.
Dorchester District Two officials informed ABC News 4 there were four unfilled teacher positions as of August 16th. Berkeley County officials say they still have 34 unfilled positions, more than double the 15 vacancies the district faced at the start of school in 2017.
“There’s more vacancies than there are people to fill them...that hasn’t always been the case,” said Eddie Ingram, Superintendent of Berkeley County Schools.
BCSD officials say the current number of unfilled positions doesn’t necessarily reflect how many teachers need to be hired. They say it takes about two weeks for student numbers to stabilize and get a clearer idea how many teachers are truly needed. Either way, Superintendent Ingram has plans in place.
“We have done things like combine classes,” he said. “The last option would bethe substitute teacher carrying out plans that are written by other licensed professionals.”
Dorchester District Two Superintendent Joe Pye attributes his district’s low teacher vacancy number to the district’s reputation.
“Word of mouth. Other districts all pay more than us. They offer these big incentives that we can’t afford to do. Yet again for any teacher that I lose to someone else, I’m picking up two and three from them.”
William Briggman said CCSD is on pace to being the highest-paying school district in the state, and they’ve invested nearly $12.3 million in their teachers this year.
“12.3 million dollars is the most increase for a group I can remember,” he said. The money will increase the salary of first-year teachers in CCSD by more than $800.
The State Department of Education says there were 550 teacher vacancies across the state before school started in 2017. Numbers for 2018 are expected in October.