Bill to give South Carolina teachers a pay bump advances in Senate

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A bill that would give a one-time pay bump to South Carolina teachers to make up for a pandemic-related pay increase freeze last year has passed a first legislative hurdle, advancing through a Senate finance subcommittee.

Normally, the state-funded portion of teacher pay moves up a set salary scale based on a schedule of salary increases. Because of a pandemic-related government spending freeze last year, teachers did not receive salary step increases.

The bill would allocate $50 million to provide a pay bump. The one-time payment would amount to an average of about 2% of a teacher’s salary. The funding would come from South Carolina’s Contingency Reserve Fund.

Payments would come to teachers in the form of direct deposit and would be required to be paid by June 15.

Members of the Senate Finance K-12 Education Subcommittee unanimously approved the bill, which now advances to the Senate Finance Committee.

Committee members heard testimony from Mellanie Jinnette of the South Carolina Association of School Business Officials.

Jinnette shared concerns that some positions in school districts would not be included in the one-time payment based on how the bill is written.

“There are positions in school districts that are paid based on the salary schedule that do not hold teaching certificates,” Jinnette said.

Such positions include school nurses, ROTC instructors, physical therapists and social workers. Committee members agreed to examine the funding formula before consideration in full committee.

The Senate voted on a similar measure last fall, but the measure was not taken up in the House.

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