Activists hope charter school will curb violence in Horry County

Activists hope charter school will curb violence in Horry County

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - A petition to bring a new charter school to Myrtle Beach has dozens of signatures. That petition, along with a proposal for an all-boys academy, is now awaiting approval from the state.

Myrtle Beach Community Activist Bennie Swans has a vision. "Every morning they'll [students] get a healthy dose of self-esteem so they can poke out their chests, they'll know where they came and they'll know where they can go," explained Swans.

Swans' proposal calls to convert the old Waccamaw Pottery building, on Highway 501, into a charter school academy for boys, kindergarten through 5th grade. He says the recent violence in Myrtle Beach's Racepath Community and throughout Horry County has been a constant concern. A charter school could serve as the foundation to help curb the violence in the area.

"Empowerment and education is the way to solve the problem of violence and crime," stated Swans.

Currently there are four charter schools in Myrtle Beach, but none are considered to be an all-male charter school. Swans said up to 160 students enrolled at the Grand Strand Charter School for Boys would learn curriculum based on STEAM-- Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics.

"We're talking about them wearing uniforms! Children not with sagging pants, not with shirts hanging out of their pants, but with bow ties and jackets on, and respecting the teacher," Swans said.

Swans said the charter school would be part of the Horry County School district. School Board Chair, Joe Defeo says if the board and state approve the school, state and local funding would be available.

The South Carolina Public Charter School District confirms Grand Strand STEAM Academy for Boys did submit an application to open a charter school in Horry County for the 2017-18 school year.

Laura Bayne, spokesperson for SCPCSD said, "As for our approval process, once a school submits an application to the SCPCSD, it undergoes a thorough review by a team of both internal and external evaluators. That team then submits a recommendation to the District Board of Trustees to accept or deny the applicant based on the strength of the application and the capacity of the charter committee to create a high quality school."

Bayne said The Board of Trustees is required by law to vote on all applications within 90 days of submission, so all applications submitted to the SCPCSD this cycle should have a final determination in hand by early May.

According to Defeo, the Horry County school board has never denied a charter school application, but he says the plans are preliminary, and it is tough to determine which direction the school could go, but he agrees a plan that will benefit the children is what everyone wants.

"If we involve parents, policy and an educational pursuit, that child will change, he will grow and he will learn, and he will develop into being a fine young man that's major contributor to society," explained Swans.

Copyright 2016 WMBF News. All rights reserved.