SCHOOL BOARD ELECTION ISSUE
Low teacher morale & pay
One issue brought up by all candidates in the school board election is that teacher morale and lower than surrounding school district pay scales are affecting good teachers staying in Pickens County.
The truth of the matter, with approximately 1100 teacher and admin positions throughout the county, about 70 leave or retire for various reasons each year. This is 6.3% … which is identical to our surrounding counties of Anderson, Oconee, and Greenville. Take into account that Anderson and Greenville are much larger - so their >7% equals more heads.
Also, take into account that Pickens County is currently about two thirds through a retirement cycle with a few more than normal having to retire because of TERI [Teacher & Employee Retention Initiative]. The TERI program forces retirement after a certain number of years. In order to save money, the school district has elected not to rehire most TERI program teachers because they have already double dipped into pay and retirement.
Here is a recent letter from Elliot Southard, Principal at Chastain Road Road Elementary in Liberty. You have to take this at face value. While it's certain, that in order to get a good recommendation, Southard wouldn't mention morale or pay, none the less - he doesn't mention it.
While it is evident that teacher morale isn't rosy - I do believe the same sentiment exists in most school districts in these times that we are in.
Letter addressed to Admin and Teachers ...
It is with mixed emotions that I write this email. After much consideration and prayer, I have decided to accept a position in Anderson School District Four as the principal of Mount Lebanon Elementary and will not be returning to Chastain Road in the fall. This was not an easy decision and came down to the simple fact that Mount Lebanon is much closer to home and will allow me to spend more time with family.
I am grateful for my time at Chastain Road and consider it an honor to have been able to open this school with you. I have often said that opening a new school was the hardest thing that I have ever done professionally, but I also acknowledge that it was successful only because of the effort that each of you put forth from day one. And I could not be prouder of the school that Chastain Road has become. I truly consider each of you part of my family and that makes this decision bittersweet. I wish each of you nothing but the best in the future and anticipate continuing to hear wonderful things from CRE.
I will be working with the district to determine a timeline for selecting the next principal at CRE and will communicate those details with you as soon as I know them.
Thank you in advance for your understanding and support of my decision. If you have any questions or concerns as we move forward, please let me know.
Elliott M. Southard
Principal, Chastain Road Elementary