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Statewide teacher salary increases awaiting Haley's approval - Charleston City Paper

on Mon, 07/16/2012 - 11:15

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Excerpts from a July 3 article in Charleston City Paper, by Paul Bowers:

Last Thursday, the S.C. Legislature approved a budget for 2012-2013 that included a requirement for increased teacher salaries. In the previous two years' budgets, the state dropped its requirement that school districts give teachers automatic annual salary increases, but the current budget brings back that mandate. The budget is now awaiting approval from Gov. Nikki Haley, who has until Thurs. July 5 to approve the budget or make any vetoes...

The $6.7 billion budget sets aside $48 million for school districts to increase teachers' pay by 2 percent. It also provides an additional $153 million in funding for schools, and it requires all districts to give teachers credit for the previous year's worth of experience. Step increases are based on each district's salary schedule, which raises a teacher's salary for every year of experience up to 30 years...

A district can opt out of providing the required additional step increase, but it has to apply to the State Board of Education for an exemption and prove that the pay raise would create a budget deficit...

Patrick Hayes, a fourth-grade teacher at Drayton Hall Elementary School, started a petition on in February asking the Legislature to restore teacher salary increases. He says he used the mailing-list function on SignOn to encourage the 9,000-plus petitioners to call their state senators and representatives. "Right in the middle of it," Hayes says, "one of my members called me and said, 'I talked to my senator, and he said he's ready to do more for us, but [a key Senator] is lining up votes to keep us at 2 percent.' So I sent another e-mail and said, 'Everybody needs to call him tomorrow.' They did, and we ended up with an amendment that gave us the step increase back."

Hayes says he is pleased with the outcome. "The only threat left would be if Nikki Haley vetoed it," he says.


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