Students and parents won’t have to worry about make-up days from Hurricane Dorian taking any of their holiday vacation days, as Horry County Schools Superintendent Rick Maxey announced that the days to be made up are already built into the school calendar.
Schools were closed from Sept. 3-6, and the make-up days will be taken on Oct. 14, Oct. 15, Jan. 17, and Feb. 18.
“We were blessed and very fortunate overall as far as the school system is concerned, we didn’t have the type of effects as we did with Florence,” Maxey said.
Five schools in the district served as shelters, which housed a total of 739 evacuees among them.
Comparing district employee pay
Board members again want to hire a firm to do a comprehensive salary study of all district employees to see how their pay compares to surrounding districts.
In February 2017, HCS hired the firm MGT to do a similar study, but got none of the results they wanted. They received information on market averages, but no comparisons of teacher and other employee salaries with neighboring school districts.
The firm charged the district nearly $120,000, of which the district only paid half due to less than desired results. District 4 board member David Cox confirmed the district did not finish paying the firm, and the firm was also more than three months late in delivering their results.
“We’re losing people to other areas and we don’t need to let that happen,” said Board Chairman Ken Richardson.
Cox said he would be excited to do a study again, but District 9 board member Chris Hardwick said he did not think an outside firm needed to be hired.
“Within our organization and with our [employees’] expertise, I think we can do it. I would like to see it first within the organization before bringing someone from outside,” Hardwick said.
District 2 member Sherrie Todd agreed.
“I don’t know why we need to pay someone for a study. Just find out what other people are paying, and just go from there. We’ve got to keep our teachers. Our HR department is wonderful and they know what we need,” Todd said.
Cox disagreed, saying that gathering the needed information is too time-consuming.
“People in Human Resources already have a full boat they have to row,” Cox said.
Vice-Chairman John Poston agreed that it is a lot of work, and said that a third-party perspective brings some validity.
Poston said the study has to look at more than just dollars – the whole compensation package needs to be considered.
District 10 member Neil James said his place of business does a review of this nature annually.
“We were losing talented individuals, HCS is no different,” James said. “We need to pay and compensate our employees appropriately. When we get the results, we need to be willing to act upon the recommendations. We don’t need to needle it and try to reduce it … [we need to] put it in our budget going forward.”
Richardson reiterated that the study involves all employees, from Superintendent to custodians and cafeteria workers.
“There’s no reason to do it if we’re not prepared to come back and do what they want,” Richardson said. “This is the biggest thing I’ve tackled since being chairman of the board. We have people who haven’t had a raise in 12 years. I don’t know how I’m going to be remembered … but I’d like to be known as the guy who brought things up to date … this is our time to do something good for HCS.”
The compensation study will be on the board agenda in the coming weeks.
Joe Burch, HCS coordinator of planning, said that in their “Day 10” student enrollment data, the district this year is up 653 students from last year for a total of 45,132 students.
Burch said that the district continued to see “enormous” growth in middle schools, a lot in high schools, but saw elementary numbers “flatten” this year. Middle school enrollment is up 420 students from last year, Burch said.
Carolina Forest shows the largest growth numbers, with 413 more students this time around. The St. James cluster comes in second, with 130 more students.
Heniford steps down from policy committee
Horry County school board member Holly Heniford apologized to the board Monday night for her weekend arrest on a driving under the influence charge, and she resigned as chair of the board's new policy committee.
Heniford did not attend the meeting, but she provided a letter to chairman Ken Richardson, who read her statement to the board. In the letter, Heniford said she will remain on the school board and continue serving District 1, which includes Little River and North Myrtle Beach. She said she remains dedicated to her duties as a board member.
Richardson said Heniford did not want to cause a distraction during the board's work session Monday, so she chose to be absent.
Heniford was arrested Friday night by North Myrtle Beach police and released from jail early Saturday. She has not publicly discussed her arrest outside of prepared statements.
In her letter to the board, Heniford said she decided to leave the policy committee so that it was free of distractions as it considers important business regarding board governance.
A licensed real estate broker, Heniford was elected to the school board in 2014.