A multi-ethnic group of college age students surfing the web and researching a paper together.

The state Education Department is asking South Carolina lawmakers to increase pay for all teachers by 2% next school year.

The agency’s budget request also said leaders want to tweak pay for teachers in their first five years of service so they get the full annual cost of living increases given to all teachers, according to The State newspaper.

The 2% raise for teachers would give them an extra $800 to $1,700 more a year depending on how many years they have worked and their education level.

The department also is asking for money to raise pay for school bus drivers by at least 5%.

That would raise the minimum pay for drivers from $8.44 an hour to at least $8.86 an hour. Many districts put extra money into salaries, raising pay up to as much as $25 an hour, Education Department spokesman Ryan Brown said.

School districts are competing for drivers with trucking companies that can pay more, Brown said.

“Teacher salaries are an issue, but if you can’t get kids to school, it doesn’t really matter,” Brown said.

The General Assembly will consider the requests when they return in January.