Horry County school leaders discuss student growth, teacher recruitment and capacity issues

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - During Monday evening's Horry County School Board meeting, some big topics discussed involved student growth, capacity issues and teacher recruitment.

School board officials said this school year, the district saw an additional 900 students, saying essentially that is enough to build a brand new school. So WMBF News asked the district what is being done to keep up with the growth?

For the first time, the school board voted and approved to put a transfer deadline in place for students to help with over population. If a school is at 95 percent, a student will not be allowed to transfer. To be more proactive, school board members said all students must put in a transfer request by June 30.

The schools are identified as either category one schools, which are at 100 percent capacity, and category two schools, those that are below 100 percent in regards to transfer to other schools.

Concern board members have heard the concern with energy consumption in the newly built schools, and whether they are performing the way they were built to perform."It's been a big topic in the past, but what I think since then is these schools are going to work, they've done it before and they will be energy positive, they are under contract to make them energy positive. We are going to save 700 possibly $900,000 in energy bills when everything is all said and done," Horry County Schools Board Chairman Joe Defeo said.

Defeo continued, "What's getting lost in all the discussion is the whole design of the schools, and how they were built for the students and the teachers and collaborations and that's what's really cost the money in the schools."

Another big item discussed was teacher longevity and signing bonuses. The discussion concerning the $375,000 approved budget to help recruit new teachers will continue. Defeo said Horry County is the 4th highest in South Carolina when it comes to teachers' starting salary, but board members can't ignore there are still 250 teacher vacancies this year.

The five year capital plan, while still a draft, was also discussed. The plan deals with growth in certain areas in Horry County and capacity issues. School leaders said the plan is a very extensive plan that has taken months to prepare and put together.

In order to set their five year capital plan in place, Defeo is asking for a finance meeting, first to be able to prioritize which projects the district can fund, which facilities are aging and whether additional new schools need to be built.

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