Back to School with a Bump in Pay

With back-to-school days rapidly approaching, the Beaufort County School District administration can point to a significant change that will improve the educational environment of both students and faculty for the 2022-2023 school year.

First, Beaufort County school board voted to significantly raise its teacher salaries this year. With the raise and available bonuses, a new teacher in Beaufort County School District will make approximately $50,000. According to Dr. Frank Rodriguez, the District’s Superintendent, this makes Beaufort County School District one of the highest paying districts for educators across South Carolina and will help the District fill its last positional vacancies without lowering the quality of services it provides. “Moving from 53rd in the state [in pay] to possibly the number one position is really important in terms of recruitment and retention of teacher,” Rodriguez said.

As other districts across South Carolina and the nation grapple with staffing challenges, Beaufort County School District’s ability to provide competitive pay should not be overlooked. A significant reason why the District was able to increase pay is the strong funding streams the County draws on through its resident military installations and the economic benefits they provide. According to the most recent state-sponsored survey in 2022, the Beaufort region is the recipient of approximately $2.5 billion in annual economic impact from the military, primarily from Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, and Navy Hospital Beaufort. This impact contributes to the economic health of the region and allows for increased public funding such as the increase in teacher salaries.

Beyond the economic and funding impacts, military partnerships in Beaufort County continue to increase the educational value of the area’s schools. One way this can be seen is the Department of Defense’s funding of several full-time Military Family Life Counselors to serve the Beaufort County School District. These are professional counselors who focus on supporting military and military-connected families and children both academically and socially/emotionally. In an area with as many military ties as Beaufort, these Military Family Life Counselors provide a massive benefit to children of all ages and backgrounds who attend school in the county. Military programs have also funded various opportunities for the Beaufort area schools. A more recent event was a grant awarded to the Beaufort County School District in 2021 which provided $750,000 in total funding to eight schools in the district for expansions of science and technology capabilities. This money allowed the awardees to buy new computers, establish robotics classes, and provide other exciting opportunities for students to learn.

As children, teachers, and parents alike prepare for the new school year, the whole community should take pride that the military-civilian partnerships of the area remain strong and working for the good of all in the Beaufort region. Good luck to all returning students and educators!

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The Military Enhancement Committee (MEC) of Beaufort County Support Fund is a charitable fund administered by the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry. Its mission is to enhance the quality and value of the military installations of Beaufort County, namely, Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, Naval Air Station Beaufort, and Beaufort Naval Hospital. The MEC seeks to defend these installations against any threats like closure or natural disaster, while also positioning them for enhancement through personnel, resources, and other opportunities that both benefit the Department of Defense and our region.