Greenville County district leader talks impact of TERI ending, c - FOX Carolina 21

Greenville County district leader talks impact of TERI ending, combating teacher shortage

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Every year the teacher shortage grows in South Carolina, Margaret Spivey, the Director of Professional Employment for the Greenville County School District, is one of the people tasked with finding new ways to find and keep teachers. 

"The biggest thing that we  have done is created our alternative certification program called GATE, Greenville Alternative Teacher Education Program, and basically that's a grow your opportunity for folks who did not go through traditional methods to become a teacher and work while they're doing that," said Spivey.

On average, Spivey said Greenville County deals with about 500 teacher openings at the end of every year. At the start of the 2017-2018 school year, Spivey said every position was filled. At the end of the current Spivey said there may be something else working against the teacher shortage statewide.

"The teacher shortage is very real, it has been for a number of years now. And so the TERI program... the ending of the TERI program is only going to intensify that," said Spivey.

In Greenville County, Spivey said 143 teachers are currently enrolled in the Teacher and Employee Retention Incentive or TERI program. The program ends on June 30, 2018. Since 2001, TERI allowed teachers and other state employees to formally retire, but still work for their same salary and bank their retirement checks in a separate fund for a maximum of five years. 

Spivey said some of those teachers will be asked back to continue working without the full incentive program but some positions will end up vacant. 

"However, we try to be very proactive in our approach. We do things to recruit people into the profession," said Spivey. 

Unfortunately thought, a state report released on December 31, 2017 showed those interested in the profession are dwindling. It said,"The number of South Carolina graduates eligible for a teaching certification declined from 2,447 in 2013 to 1,898 in 2016 as reported by the Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention, & Advancement (CERRA)."

"It is a very scary reality so we expand our search for where we look for those who are traditionally trained, so we do go out of state. We hire as many in state folks as we can. And of course those alternative programs," said Spivey.

FOX Carolina reached out to several Upstate districts to find out how many teachers are currently enrolled in the TERI program. Spartanburg District 2 reported they have 12. Spartanburg District 5 reported 13. Spartanburg District 7 reported 34 teachers and 49 total district wide employees.

The South Carolina Public Benefit Authority sent FOX Carolina TERI enrollment per school district as of July 2017. The following numbers include all district employees, not just teachers: 

  • Abbeville: 13
  • Anderson 1: 24
  • Anderson 2: 20
  • Anderson 3: 12
  • Anderson 4: 25
  • Anderson 5: 49
  • Cherokee: 35
  • Greenville: 284
  • Greenwood 50: 54
  • Greenwood 52: <10
  • Laurens 55: 20
  • Laurens 56: 19
  • Oconee: 40
  • Pickens: 74
  • Spartanburg 1: 14
  • Spartanburg 3: 16
  • Spartanburg 4: <10
  • Spartanburg 6: 30
  • Union: 26

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