NEWBERRY — In an effort to help retain teachers in Newberry County, the Newberry County School Board has dropped a 10% reduction to active retiree teacher salaries. Active retiree teachers are typically teachers who have gone through TERI (Teacher and Employee Retention Incentive Program).
TERI is designed for employees who retire from the South Carolina Retirement Systems, but want to continue employment with the agency and retain the same positions they held prior to entering the program, according to admin.sc.gov.
“When the recession bottomed out in 2008, part of the budget cutting measures the school district took during that time was actually 15% reduction in active retiree administrator salaries and 10% reduction to active retiree teacher salaries,” said Superintendent Jim Suber. “That basically has stayed in place since 2008.”
Over the last couple of years, Suber said the looming teacher shortage gets more challenging. He said it is going to get more challenging due to the fact that not as many colleges and universities are producing as many teacher education or certified graduates.
“We are continuing in education, not only in Newberry, but across the state and this country, to lose retirees. We felt like we had to do something to incentives the active retiree teachers we have left to stay with us,” he said.
In fact, according to CERRA, South Carolina’s Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention and Advancement, in 2016-17 4,842 teachers did not return to any teaching position, while only 1,898 graduates completed a S.C. teacher education program.
According to Suber, the reason they made the decision to do this mid year is because they have sent out their letters of intent. These will let the District know who is retiring, moving, going to another district or leaving the profession.
“What happens is that as some of our neighboring districts lose teachers, they start coming and searching for teachers from across the state, and those nearby. With a lot of districts that surround us having either never cut the active retiree salary back when the recession took place, or they have restored them,” Suber said. “We felt that before recruiting season started, we needed to restore our active retiree salaries and give them their just due. Just the right thing to do.”
This will impact less then 10 teachers currently in the district. In 2008 the salary reduction impacted about 40 teachers and administrators, with the majority being teachers.
“We’ve still got less than 10 of those people who have been loyal and faithful employees, and have stayed with us in Newberry County and done an outstanding job in the classroom, and we just think it is time to put them back on the pay scale where they normally fall. Hopefully we can retain them for years to come,” Suber said. “Not only do we value what they bring to the table and the classroom each and every day, but you are talking about seasoned veteran teachers. Obviously through years of experience they are able to share some of that with our younger teachers, some cases they may be assigned as mentors to our first and second year teachers.”
Reach Andrew Wigger at 803-276-0625 ext. 1867 or on Twitter @ TheNBOnews.