HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - It's not even Spring Break yet, but the Horry County School board is already planning for next school year. At the center of their planning efforts: an estimated $14.5 million.
Several department heads pitched issues they would like to see settled through this year's budget, but one thing that dominated the night: the possibility of PDL, Personalized Digital Learning for elementary school students.
"I believe PDL is going to be approved, or a form of PDL for the elementary schools," School Board Chair Joe Defeo said.
However, Defeo says it won't happen without addressing some of the board members' concerns.
Some board members said they are disappointed with how things went this past year, especially when these devices break.
"The fact is once we do a PDL initiative, if that student is bound to do his or her work around that iPad or that Windows-based device, then they're out of luck without it. and we need to make sure they have a device in their hands."
Defeo says the proposal has been added to the next meeting agenda, but they will not vote on it until they are clear on how loaners will be available, and how insurance will work.
Other big topics covered Monday night included student growth, the cost per student, the need for more ESOL (English to Speakers of Other Languages) teachers, and the need for new school buses sooner than anticipated.
"A lot of our busses are getting up in age, as a matter of fact I shared with some of the newer board members...there are buses out there from 1987, which would have been, I would have been a sophomore in high school, it's time to get those out of the rotation," Daryl Brown said.
Brown is the Chief Officer of Support Services for Horry County Schools.
Defeo says they will be considering speeding up the process and investing money faster, especially after recent bus break-downs.
"You know you can go a long period of time, and nothing happens, and then over a period of 3 or 4 weeks you have break downs and buses and concerns, so I think when those things happen, you tend to look at it a little more seriously," Defeo said.
The county would be purchasing 10 new school buses if they vote to spend the money now.
As for the entire projected budget amount discussed tonight, Defeo would rather be safe than sorry.
"14.5 million dollars is too much of a negative situation to be in," Defeo added.
However the state still has to come up with their numbers and Chief Financial Officer, John Gardner expects to see the numbers change by the budget deadline in June.