COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) – A South Carolina school district has approved $1,000 bonuses for about 3,600 employees.
The bonuses, unanimously approved by the Richland 2 School Board on Tuesday, will go to teachers, but also all other full-time, permanent employees such as technology personnel, Superintendent Baron Davis said at the meeting, The State reported.
“We want to remain competitive with other school districts that have offered bonuses,” Davis said.
The bonuses will cost the district $4.1 million, according to a release from the district. Teachers will likely see the bonuses by the end of February, spokeswoman Libby Roof said.
Schools will also receive $25 more per student for classroom supplies and an additional $25 per student for upgrading media centers. Those initiatives will cost $750,000 each.
“Teachers are (dipping) into their pockets to get supplies for students,” Davis said.
The district will also invest $3.5 million into building renovations. Board Chair James Manning said this will save the district money in the long run because it will reduce the need to borrow money and therefore pay interest on loans.
“This is a big deal to be able to put these dollars aside and reduce stress on that fund,” Manning said of the building fund.
Richland 2 is making these one-time expenditures because the district had a $16.9 million surplus from last fiscal year. The district is spending $9.1 million of that and rolling over $7.8 million into this year’s budget, according to the release.
School districts throughout the state have been struggling to recruit and retain teachers in part because pay has sagged behind other states in the region. Last year saw massive teacher demonstrations at the South Carolina State House demanding better pay and better working conditions. After that, the state legislature spent $160 million to give teachers a 4% raise.
Gov. Henry McMaster announced late last year his plan to ask for $211 million more to increase teacher pay throughout the state. The average teacher salary in Richland 2 is $52,149, according to the state Department of Education. That’s higher than the statewide teacher salary average, which is $50,182, department data show.
“We are so happy to see teachers have that bonus,” said board member Teresa Holmes. “They deserve it.”