Squeezed out: 1 in 10 Beaufort County School District teachers leaving at year’s end


Many driven out by a mix of low pay and a high cost of living; district responding with new pay supplement plan

BEAUFORT GAZETTE: BY SARAH BOWMAN, May 28, 2015

As the end of the school year, about 150 teachers will walk away from their jobs with the Beaufort County School District. That’s about one in every 10 of the district’s teaching force.

That is in addition to about 55 teachers who already left during the year, and the roughly 40 teacher spots that were unfilled at the beginning of the school year.

At 12 percent, Beaufort County schools’ turnover rate for teachers is among the highest in the state and continues to grow almost every year.

The reason: the area’s high cost of living. It’s more expensive to live in the area than in any other S.C. county, according to data from the S.C. Department of Commerce.

Teachers, particularly those in the early years of their careers, struggle to afford housing, food and other necessities and often decide to leave the area. That creates a revolving door of teachers leaving and new ones arriving that hurts students, say district leaders.

Substitute teachers instruct classes for months on end in some cases. And more students must be packed into each class. Even adding just two or three students to a class can make it significantly more difficult for teachers to provide individualized instruction to students, say educators.

Sometimes, classes can’t be offered at all. This year at Whale Branch Middle School, for example, a Spanish teacher quit. The district couldn’t find a replacement so students couldn’t take the course.

“We continually are having to get new teachers used to our environment and curriculum,” said district superintendent Jeff Moss. “We all know we cannot build success on that type of foundation.”

For the teachers who do stick around, it often means working several other jobs.

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