Education

Should Horry County Schools offer bonuses to lure new teachers to the area?

Horry County Schools 2017 Teacher of the Year Whitney Glenn from Pee Dee Elementary goes over the day's lesson with her second grade class.
Horry County Schools 2017 Teacher of the Year Whitney Glenn from Pee Dee Elementary goes over the day's lesson with her second grade class. The Sun News

School board members want to give teachers an extra incentive to come to Horry County.

About $375,000 could be used for signing bonuses for new teachers, according to a board proposal. A defined cap on signing bonuses of $2,500 per new teacher has been discussed but not finalized, according to school board chairman Joe DeFeo.

“We approved that last year, and we’d been discussing what to do and how to use those funds,” he said. “I pointed out it was already approved and (Horry County school superintendent Dr. Rick Maxey) is free to go ahead and work those signing bonuses to go ahead and hire teachers.”

Starting salaries for new teaching hires in the district range between $36,010 and $45,585, varying based on their level of education.

“We have the third- or fourth-highest starting salary for teachers in the state and among the highest in the state in exiting pay,” DeFeo said. “And that’s if you have a doctorate.”

School board members also discussed the possibility of using the allotted funds to reward tenured teachers in Horry County. But that may not be legal, according to the state and national school board associations.

DeFeo called it “a moral issue” that some teachers employed by the school district as many as 30 years make less than some new hires. However, he and other school board members felt it was important to offer added incentives for new teachers.

“I realize there are two sides to the story, but I am leaning toward" offering signing bonuses, said Horry County school board vice chair Neil James. “We are now in the second semester and have vacancies that have not been filled. If this is an enticement, I would encourage us to do so."

The proposal comes just in time for Saturday’s teacher recruitment fair at Conway High School. It will begin at 9:30 a.m.

According to Horry County Schools spokesperson Lisa Bourcier, the district needs 250 new teachers for the 2018-19 school year.

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