For the first time in three years, job prospects are improving for Midlands teachers.
A few dozen new positions are likely with the opening of three schools in Lexington 1, Richland 2 and Lexington-Richland 5.
That’s on top of the usual range of 75-200 available jobs created by retirements and other vacancies in each of the eight public school districts in Richland, Lexington and Kershaw counties.
The outlook for hiring, after several years of cutbacks, appears “quasi-normal,” Lexington 2 assistant superintendent Jim Hinton said.
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Layoffs and furloughs are a memory unless state revenues — the source of money for most teaching jobs — unexpectedly worsen this spring.
Scores of experienced teachers and new graduates will head to job fairs during the next month to offer resumes, make a first impression and learn about the demands of classrooms. The first Midlands recruitment fairs start Saturday, with each event typically attracting 300-500 candidates.
Kathy Maness, executive director of the Palmetto State Teachers Association, predicts modest teacher increases overall. “We’ll see some gains,” she said.
But some teachers, especially recent graduates, “might not get their first pick” on where they would like to be in the classroom, she added.
Salaries for new teachers in Midlands districts range from slightly more than $30,000 to slightly more than $34,000, according a state report.
As usual, the highest demand is for mathematics, science and special education, the South Carolina Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention and Advancement says. English and language arts instructors also are wanted in some areas, it says. The demand is highest in rural communities.
Lexington-Richland 5 is looking at a dozen new teachers with the opening of a career and technical education center in Dutch Fork, spokeswoman Michelle Foster said. That would be a gain of nearly 1 percent.
Lexington 1 added 11 jobs last year in opening a new elementary school but warns that is no guarantee of more teachers coming on board as it opens a middle school this fall.
More classrooms “do not necessarily create a lot of new positions” as some teachers are shifted from other schools nearby, spokeswoman Mary Beth Hill said.
No determination has been made yet on new jobs for Richland 2 with the debut of a new high school, spokesman Ken Blackstone said.
Scores of experienced teachers and new graduates will go to job fairs during the next month to offer resumes, make a first impression and learn about the demands of classrooms. The first set starts Saturday, with each event typically attracting 300-500 candidates.
The final decision for new jobs in local classrooms won’t come until late spring, after it’s clear how much state aid is forthcoming and districts finalize their budgets.
Maness is promoting a small increase to offset belt-tightening forced by a revenue decline that economists say is ending. About 3,700 teaching jobs were eliminated during the past three years, center officials say.
“I’m somewhat confident that we’ll see something more” in the current $1.2 billion in state aid, Maness said.
The cutbacks over the past few years has led to less interest among college students in becoming teachers, she said, though she didn’t have specific numbers.
“That could be making some think again about going into education,” Maness said.