What is the Beaufort County School District proposing?
A locality supplement that all staff members, including teachers, would receive solely because they work in the county with the state's highest cost of living. The supplement would not be tied to the individual's performance and is independent of the state-mandated step increases in teacher pay.
Who will get the supplement?
All staff members will get the supplement, according to the school district's budget. That includes teachers, administrators and classified staff such as secretaries, bookkeepers, etc. Some school board members said that staff members earning above a certain amount should not receive the supplement, but the board ultimately voted to give it to all staff.
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How will it be phased in?
The district plans to phase in the supplement over five years, starting with $1,000 in the first year. Another $1,000 will be added each year for four years until all staff members receive $5,000 every year. In coming weeks, Beaufort County Council is expected to approve the district's budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1. That means staff members will get an extra $1,000 during the upcoming school year.
How much will this cost?
In the first year, the supplement will cost the district about $3 million and will not result in a tax increase on county residents. Every year, the cost of providing the supplement will increase by roughly $3 million until taxpayers are paying nearly $15 million extra annually. It remains to be seen if the supplements will result in tax increases in future years.
Will it be part of the salary?
No. The supplement will be a bonus and will not be added to or counted as part of an employee's base salary. This means that staff members' insurance and retirement will not be affected by the supplement. Keeping it out of the salary also gives the district more flexibility. It can be put on hold or removed more easily should future funding not be available.
How did the district arrive at this number?
The district considered creating a locality supplement that was a percentage of an employee's salary, but felt that the new teachers who earn the least -- and need financial help the most -- would get the least amount. And so the district chose to implement a flat rate supplement. Superintendent Jeff Moss determined that an apartment in Beaufort County costs about $400 more than a similar apartment elsewhere in the state. After multiplying that amount by 12, for each month, Moss rounded up to $5,000, to account for some other costs such as utilities and groceries.
Do pay supplements improve student performance?
While there is little evidence that shows higher teacher salaries are directly linked to improved student performance, a project in New York -- funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation -- shows that test scores were higher at a school where teachers were paid more than $100,000. And in South Carolina, the districts with higher salaries have lower turnover rates. But it's unclear if higher salaries cause lower turnover rates. Also, the Consortium for Policy Research in Education, a group at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, argues that higher teacher pay is a key part of enhancing teacher quality, alleviating teacher shortages and redressing the unequal distribution of effective teachers.
-- Staff reporter Sarah Bowman