Parents, students pack HCS board meeting over proposed changes to STEM schools

Updated: Sep. 23, 2019 at 11:39 PM EDT
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HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) - Many parents are concerned about a proposed change the Horry County Schools board is considering making in regards to the Academy for the Arts, Science and Technology and the Scholars Academy.

The proposed change would make it so only juniors and seniors can go to school at AAST, and the change would also make the Scholars Academy a stand-alone school.

At AAST, students are part of STEM major programs. Other schools in the district offer those programs as well, but HCS officials said they are considering making the change in order to ensure students and parents are aware that those base schools offer those programs.

In the proposal, HCS lists the purpose of the changes is “to provide more opportunities for students to reach their post-secondary goals.”

Many parents aren’t happy with the proposed changes.

“Making changes to these schools will significantly impact the community,” said Jennifer Kuperman, who is the parent of a Scholars Academy student.

“I think that it’s going to make a huge impact,” Heather Reno, an AAST parent, said.

Reno said one of the concerns over changing AAST to a two-year program is class sizes at base schools.

“There are some kids that just don’t do well in a big setting like Socastee High School or Saint James High School or Conway High School,” she said.

Reno believes if kids have the opportunity to go to AAST for all four years, the class size issue wouldn’t be a problem.

The other proposed change is to make the Scholars Academy a stand-alone school.

Just like AAST, the Scholars Academy is a program where students go to class every day, but they graduate from their base school.

That means their class rank is determined by where they stand at their base school and not the Scholars Academy.

This is a big factor for parents, because they say some scholarships require students to be in the top 6% of their class, which is a lot easier for a Scholars Academy student to do when they’re based on their base school.

Parents worry that students at the Scholars Academy wouldn’t rank as high in their class if it was a stand-alone school.

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