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South Carolina Lawmakers Push for Rural Teacher Incentive Program

The South Carolina House has approved a budget amendment that would ask the state's teacher advocacy center to develop an incentive program to recruit and retain teachers in rural areas, according to the Associated Press.

The House charged the Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention and Advancement with developing the program, which will focus on recruiting current teachers and aspiring teachers to rural areas. The program will mainly target retention in the state's 21 rural districts with turnover higher than 12 percent.

Nearly 48 percent of schools in South Carolina are rural, according to the Rural School and Community Trust. In 2014 the AP reported that the state's colleges and universities are failing to graduate enough education majors to fill open teaching positions each year.

The incentive program will not receive funding until the next fiscal year, which lawmakers say is necessary to provide time to develop the program. "We're not postponing anything," said Rep. Kenny Bingham, chairman of the state's Ways and Means subcommittee. "We're bringing folks to the table to make sure we get it right. ... You get one shot at these things."

Last year, a state legislative study panel recommended that in addition to incentives, the state raise teacher salaries and provide stipends to improve teacher retention, especially in rural areas. 

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