The Orangeburg County School District will offer $5,000 additional sign-on bonuses to full-time certified teachers new to the district for the 2022-2023 school year.

The teachers will need to be hired before Sept. 15 to receive the sign-on bonus.

The bonuses will be for teachers “that are teaching critical need subject areas,” District Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources Ernest Holiday told school trustees on Tuesday.

“I wish we had known this earlier because I think we could have filled a lot of our vacancies,” Holiday said. “With the state of South Carolina, they are all identified as critical needs, but the grant will determine which ones they identify as critical need. This is exciting.”

The bonuses will be funded through a three-year Leveraging Innovation for Educator Excellence grant. The grant offered in partnership with Voorhees University and the Call Me Mister program at Claflin University.

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The sign-on bonuses are not for part-time teachers or substitutes, as specified by the grant, Holiday said.

Holiday said the district is also looking for additional opportunities through the grant to assist with retaining teachers that remain with the district year after year. He said the incentive will be announced in the future.

“Retention is the new recruitment,” Holiday said. “It is hard to find new teachers, so we are trying to keep the ones we have.”

The $5,000 sign-on bonuses come on top of the $3,000 sign-on bonuses approved by the board earlier this year for new teachers.

A nationwide teacher shortage has created a high demand for certified staff, the district has said.

The district believes sign-on bonuses will help OCSD remain competitive with other school systems vying to hire teachers ahead of the 2022-2023 school year.

The three-year grant is also available to the Calhoun County Public Schools District.

In other business:

• The district will continue to encourage all employees and students to wear masks while on the school and campus. The district will continue to exercise health and safety cleaning protocols.

“COVID is not gone,” Superintendent Dr. Shawn Foster said.

• Trustees went into closed session to discuss a contractual matter. The nature of the contractual matter was not publicly disclosed. Trustees also discussed personnel matters.

• The next board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 13, at 6:30 p.m. at district headquarters at 102 Founders Court in Orangeburg.

During the meeting, trustees briefly discussed the need to officially pass a policy re-opening the school board meetings to allow the public to attend in-person.

While some people attended in-person Tuesday, trustee Mary Ulmer said the board has not officially reopened the meetings to in-person public attendance. Ulmer said a policy was passed during the height of COVID eliminating in-person public attendance.

The matter will be taken up at a future meeting. The meetings continue to be live-streamed on the district’s website at

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