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All Horry County Schools employees could see a bump in their paycheck this next school year, thanks to the possible implementation of the Comprehensive Salary Study findings that will bring HCS employees up to par with neighboring district salaries.

“All employees will receive a compensation increase either through the impact of the study, the application of the STEP increase and/or the $1,000 salary increase in teacher salaries as mandated by the state,” said HCS Chief Financial Officer John Gardner.

The June 2020 study findings said that HCS needed to spend an extra $14.1 million to bring HCS employees along the same line with salaries of competing districts such as those in Greenville and Charleston.

The aforementioned $1,000 state-mandated increase is only for teachers and nurses, not for support staff or aides, District 11 member Shanda Allen confirmed. 

If the budget is approved as presented, employees could expect to see their improved paychecks beginning in July 2021.

A third round of CARES Act funds

In addition to the recently-announced $55 million that Horry County Schools will receive from the CARES Act, Gardner announced that there will also be another round of CARES Act money headed to HCS soon, to the tune of $125 million.

“The big question that has been raised is whether or not it can be used for new construction, and at this time we don’t know yet,” Gardner said.

Superintendent Rick Maxey reiterated that rules of the previous CARES Act funds noted they must be used for things related to addressing the effects of COVID-19, and likely cannot be used for new construction projects.

The $55 million in CARES Act funds have to be spent by September 2023.

The 2021-2022 proposed budget of $766.6 million is an increase of $54.8 million from the current year’s budget of $711.8 million, due mainly to these salary changes from the state and the comprehensive salary study.

The board will be giving preliminary approval to this budget on May 17, and will conduct a public hearing and final approval of the budget on June 7, 2021.

Quarantine changes and COVID-19 updates

Maxey announced Monday night that student and employee quarantine timeframes are now reduced to ten days instead of the original 14 days.

“Given this decline [in cases] and the disease activity report – we’re at a ‘medium’ right now – we think we can move to that flexibility of the ten-day quarantine,” Maxey said.

Elementary school playgrounds opened back up last Friday as well.

“These are two very good steps forward as we contend with the pandemic,” Maxey said.

He reiterated that the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control has said that masks in schools need to continue at least through the end of this school year.

K-12 HCS Virtual enrollment for 2021-2022

Chief of Student Services Velna Allen told the Horry County Board of Education on Monday that 1,647 students have committed to the K-12 HCS Virtual program for next school year.

This number breaks down to 481 on the elementary level, 494 in middle schools, and 672 high school students who have opted for virtual schooling.

Allen said that the numbers will change a bit as new kindergarteners or new students possibly make the choice for virtual. The deadline for current students to make their decision was April 30 and that deadline will stand, she said.

HCS Teacher of the Year Top Five Finalists

The top five teachers up for the HCS Teacher of the Year are Mindi Penn from the Academy of Arts, Science and Technology; April Troglauer from Aynor Middle School; Jill Barnes from Loris Middle School; Caroline Kelly from Pee Dee Elementary School; and Jacob Scheuer from Saint James High School.

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