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Teacher vacancies drop in South Carolina

The declining economy created mixed results in a new report from South Carolina's public schools. Fewer teachers retired in 2008, which meant fewer classroom vacancies. But the state also hired fewer teachers. Two hundred ninety-six classrooms in South Carolina public schools were without a qualified teacher in October, which is down 40 percent from 291 in 2007. A spokesman for the state's teacher recruitment and retention agency, Mychal Frost, says when the economy is tight, fewer teachers can afford to retire, "so we are less likely to see an exodus in retirement eligible teachers during these times." That's good for districts that might otherwise have vacancies. But the bad news, says Frost, is that tough times mean districts can't afford to hire as many teachers. "This year, there were 15 percent fewer hired," says Frost. "Heading into the next year - this is conversations we've had with personnel directors across the state - the reduction in education workforce is expected to continue." Budget cuts may also impact teacher salaries in South Carolina, which average $44,000. That's about eight-thousand dollars below the national average. In Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, teacher vacancies also dropped in 2008 to just 23 unfilled positions on the first day of school, compared to 99 the year before. The economy may have impacted that, but a CMS spokesperson credits better hiring practices.