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Educating Horry County students is expected to cost $711.8 million over the next year, according to the budget the Horry County Board of Education gave initial support to Monday night.

Chief Financial Officer John Gardner said that figure includes $6.8 million for extra staffing to accommodate an expected 814 additional students. Gardner said their best estimates indicate there could be a $10.3 million surplus at the end of the year.

Gardner also said that of the money coming to the state from the CARES Act, which was passed to help offset the impact of COVID-19, the district might see around $14 million, which could possibly be used for operations costs as well as salaries.

District 5 member Janice Morreale said budget cuts might be needed, depending on how the district is hit by the potential shortfall from sales tax revenue losses due to COVID-19 closures.

Those potential changes and the rest of the budget details will be discussed in the coming weeks, with a public hearing on the budget at their June 8 virtual meeting. If a final vote cannot be taken on the budget June 8, Gardner reserved June 15 as a final approval vote date. 

Summer programs and school this fall

Chief Officer of Academics Boone Myrick said summer enrichment programs such as Summer Scholars, CREATEing Camps and programs for the artistically-talented in music, dance, visual arts and the like have been canceled because they are mandated to be taught face-to-face.

“There is not a virtual option,” Myrick said.

Myrick said that the district is working on plans for the traditional summer school programs for K-12, but they are waiting for guidelines from the S.C. Department of Education in order to do so.

She said the district is also planning on some professional development options to support equitable instruction for online teaching, including topics on time and number of assignments, communication and documentation, and technology tools like using camera, video and microphone regarding virtual classroom management techniques.

“We’re looking towards the future as far as summer and the school year, thinking forward … virtual delivery should the need arise,” Myrick said.

Superintendent Rick Maxey said district officials still don’t have any answers about what school will look in the fall.

“Everything about COVID-19 is a fluid situation,” Maxey said. “What happens between now and the end of August, it could change greatly.”

Other school board news

  • A potential groundbreaking ceremony for the new SOAR Academy may take place the week of June 15. Details to come.
  • The board discussed working with the City of Conway to place a sign near the campus of Conway High School that says “Welcome to the City of Conway” similar to the new one recently erected near Collins Park.
  • Updating marquis and electrical message board signs at the district’s schools came up in the Facilities Committee discussion, with Director of Facilities Mark Wolfe saying that updating all the needed signs would cost $962,500. The committee suggested dividing that cost over a two- or three-year period to lighten the load.
  • Elevated construction costs due to COVID-19 and additional discovered needs drove up the price tag of the tennis court and track resurfacing and renovation projects for tennis and track fields. The increases make the cost about 8-10% higher than estimates. Tracks at Carolina Forest High, Loris High and St. James High came in at $224,823 over estimate, while the tennis court renovations at Conway High, Carolina Forest High and Green Sea Floyds High came in at $148,271 over estimate. The project costs will be discussed again at the June 1 meeting.
  • Chief of Support Services Daryl Brown said that 4,100 applications were submitted for the new Baylor Meals-to-You program where meals are sent directly to students' families.
  • Early College High School Principal Kandi Fleming has been named the new principal specialist for student services, while Conway High School Principal Lee James will be the new principal specialist for learning services. Both will begin their new responsibilities July 1.
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