Signing bonus? Horry County School leaders debate teacher retention incentives

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Like other counties around the state, the Horry County School District is about to enter another hiring season facing a teacher shortage.

"The exodus has to be stemmed, but we don't know how," School Board member David Cox said. Then he asked: "What will keep teachers teaching? I don't know."

Cox said South Carolina loses around 4,500 teachers every year, and only hires around 2,000 to replace them.

With Horry County's population growth compounding the problem, school district leaders are trying to figure out how to recruit new teachers, and more importantly, keep them around.

"Do we recruit new teachers with a signing bonus, or do we give existing teachers a longevity bonus hoping they'll stay?" Cox asked.

School Board Chairman Joe DeFeo said he's open to any idea that will work, but doesn't think a one-time signing bonus is the answer.

He also said it might offend teachers who have been with the district for years without receiving the additional compensation.

Most of the people involved in the discussion believe base salary isn't the problem, citing a study done in May that found Horry County is the highest paying school district in South Carolina.

No decision was made Monday night. The School Board will revisit the topic in two weeks during their next meeting, and will be under pressure to make a decision before the district's educator job fair the following Saturday.

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