School leaders vote to change Scholars Academy, STEM school

Published: Oct. 21, 2019 at 11:18 PM EDT
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HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) - Horry County Schools leaders voted to make significant changes to two of its programs Monday night.

HCS currently offers two separate programs that allow a select number of students to learn in a different environment.

The first is the Scholars Academy. Students from across Horry County take college-level classes at this school on the Coastal Carolina University campus and it’s paid for by the county.

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

School officials believe doing so will allow more scholarship opportunities to students across the school system.

“The students at the academy and scholars have opportunities to take higher-ranking classes which in return gives them a high-ranking GPA that beats out our area high school students that have worked just as hard," one mother said at the meeting who supported the proposal.

“I don’t care if she can qualify for salutatorian or valedictorian. She doesn’t either. She wants to learn in a collaborative environment so she can be a neurological researcher," a father said who was against the proposal.

A slideshow was presented, which shows if the academy would have been a standalone school in 2019, there would have been more than $500,000 worth of scholarships available to other students.

This slide shows the difference in scholarships available to students if the Scholars Academy...
This slide shows the difference in scholarships available to students if the Scholars Academy is a standalone school(HORRY COUNTY SCHOOLS)

The proposal passed after it was changed to say there would be no class ranking at the Scholars Academy and current students will be ranked with their base schools until graduation.

The second program voted on was the Academy of Arts, Sciences and Technology. The proposed change was to no longer offer four-year STEM program classes.

Instead, the district would expand the STEM classes at high schools across the district and only juniors and seniors will be able to attend AAST.

Some said the current curriculum can’t be replicated in the base schools.

“I’m not really convinced at this point that just by offering additional STEM offerings at our base high schools and breaking off this freshman and sophomore class is going to enhance STEM education in Horry County," said vice chairman John Poston.

“I’m of the opinion that we don’t really need to try to fix what doesn’t seem to be broken right now," said board member Ray Winters.

Other board members disagreed and in a 7-3 vote, the motion passed.

Students currently enrolled in the four-year program will be allowed to stay at AAST through graduation.

The changes being made will not go into effect until the next school year.

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