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Superintendent Elect Ellen Weaver addresses teacher recruitment task force

At the start of the 2022 school year, there were more than 1,000 vacant teaching positions in the state.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The statewide Teacher Recruitment and Retention Task Force met for the first time this year at the Edventure Children's Museum in Columbia. 

The 17-member task force, made up of state lawmakers and educators, is set to come up with new ways to recruit and keep teachers in South Carolina's public schools. 

State Superintendent-elect Ellen Weaver joined the task force and it was her first time meeting with the group since she was elected in November.

"Think big, think bold," said Weaver. "The way we structured our system may have worked 100 years ago, but it is not sufficient for the realities of today."

At the start of the 2022 school year, there were more than 1,000 vacant teacher positions, according to the state's Center (CERRA)

Weaver said filling these positions and retaining qualified teachers is her top priority. 

On the agenda were discussions about improving teacher's working conditions, successful teacher recruitment programs, and a working conditions survey that was sent to rural teachers. 

"40 to 50 percent of new teachers are leaving the school within the first five years and minority teachers depart at an even higher rate," said Stan Holland, an educator for UpBeat- an organization specializing in teacher retention. 

Holland said Greenville County Schools use Upbeat and reduced their teacher turnover rate by nearly 2 percent, saving the district about $1.5 million. 

Lexington-Richland Five School District Teacher Leslie Snyder sat in on the meeting and said she was happy with what she heard. 

"A lot of conversations about teachers feeling isolated which i think is absolutely true today in education and most importantly a lot of conversation about bringing teachers in the fold and letting them be a key part of these conversations and decisions," said Snyder.

The group also looked over exit surveys and other ways to coach teachers and provide them with professional development.  

Senate Education Committee Chairman Sen. Greg Hembree said new legislation to solve teacher shortages is likely to come in 2024. 

"Those are the things I think we’re going to have to invest money in to turn it around," said Hembree.

The Task Force will meet monthly and is releasing their findings in May.


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