Big changes could be coming to some Horry Co. middle schools in 2014

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – The Horry County School Board is closer to making some big changes that will affect where your children will go to school next year. Attendance line changes have been recommended in Carolina Forest, Conway, Loris and North Myrtle Beach. Parents in one of those areas say some of the changes will hurt more than help.

Parents whose students will be sent away from Ocean Bay Middle School have been pretty vocal about proposed attendance line changes in their area, even sending out flyers to make the community aware.

These are the students who will be sent to Black Water Middle School if the board starts the approval process Monday: students who live west of Highway 501 between Conway and the Intracoastal Waterway, and those who live off of Gardner Lacy Road all the way to Conway, plus the students in Waterford Plantation, and Myrtle Beach National.

It's the parents who live the furthest away who have the biggest concerns, those who live off Burcale Road and the Arrowhead community. WMBF News looked up the distance, and the difference between traveling to Ocean Bay Middle and traveling to Black Water Middle is less than a mile. Both trips come out to nearly 10 miles, which is about 15 minutes of drive time. But parents say if students are sent to Black Water Middle in Conway, then most of the time traveling will be spent on Highway 501, which is a safety issue.

Arrowhead parents have even been having community meetings, and they plan to show up at the school board meeting Monday night and show how strongly they feel.

"We have one position with regard to option four," said parent Carla Schuessler. "And that is it's not the solution to the problem we have, and then also show the support that we want to be there and involved."

WMBF News talked with Horry County School Board Chair Joe Defeo, and he says the recommended attendance changes in Carolina Forest were the best consideration when it came to all the realignment options. He says the site committee didn't have an easy choice, but they had to make a decision, which is taking some kids to fill up classroom seats in underused Black Water Middle School.

Since there seems to be such an opposition from parents, the board might consider moving on to the other options to help with crowded classrooms in the area. Which would be building on to Ocean Bay Middle, or making additions in the Forestbrook area to make more room.

But first, the board will have to make a decision on what's on the table now, and this option comes down to a vote Monday evening.

"If the board rejects this recommendation, which I personally believe it will, we are in a good shape to just move on to the next step," explained Defeo.

Monday's vote won't be binding. It's a Committee of the Whole vote, which is similar to a first reading, just to see where the board stands at this point. Even if the board officially votes down the recommended changes, it won't be completely back to the drawing board. Defeo says the school board still expects to vote on a final decision within a month or two. Parents are encouraged to come out and voice their opinions at the Horry County School Board meeting.

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