Five of the six Horry County Board of Education members up for re-election say they are ready to run again.
The districts with open seats are as follows: District 1 (North Myrtle Beach and Myrtle Beach); District 4 (Carolina Forest, Myrtle Beach, Socastee and St. James areas); District 5 (Socastee and St. James); District 8 (Carolina Forest and Socastee); District 9 (Carolina Forest, Conway, Green Sea Floyds, and Loris), and District 11 (Aynor, Conway and Green Sea Floyds).
All incumbents and those filing as of Tuesday afternoon are Republicans.
Filing for those seats opened Monday and will continue through March 30 at noon.
Russell Freeman, who was chosen by the board to fill the District 1 seat of former board member Holly Heniford last November, has chosen to run to keep the seat.
“I’m just now figuring out what I’m doing,” Freeman said. “I think I might be able to serve the community a bit better – it takes six months to a year to figure it out. It’s not what you expect. There’s a lot of good that can be done.”
He said he’s busy meeting with principals, parents and students to figure out what they need and how best to serve them, and he looks forward to possibly getting the chance to continue doing so.
District 4 member David Cox has been on the board since 2008, and said that even though he said in the last election he wasn’t going to run again, he has changed his mind.
Two things helped in his decision, Cox said. The death of former chairman and friend Joe DeFeo, and his relationship with new chairman Ken Richardson are what made him want to keep his seat.
“He and I agree on most decisions,” Cox said of Richardson.
Some of the board’s decisions that he’s proud of include increasing the hourly wage for school bus drivers, and then overseeing the human resources committee that decided to let employees donate sick days.
“On the face of it, this doesn’t sound too difficult, but with the enormity of the workforce it is,” Cox said. “I really want to serve one more term.”
He said the human resource committee is in the midst of an employee salary study that involves every employee “from the very top to the bottom.”
“I hope to see this study completed and implemented, but to do that I need to be elected one more time,” Cox said.
District 5 member Janice Morreale is running for re-election because she wants to continue to be a voice for students, parents, and the employees of Horry County Schools.
She is proud of the recent implementation of the employee donation of paid sick leave policy, and she is also passionate about staying on top of the growth in Horry County.
“The St. James community is one of the areas experiencing exponential growth. I hope to remain on the board so I can be a part of the conversation for the next phase of new construction and additions and renovations,” Morreale said.
District 8 member and board vice-chairman John Poston has served on the board since 2008, and said he loves being on the board and visiting schools, engaging with students, interacting with staff and attending events.
The district budget is just one of his priorities, and he said he wants to continue to work to keep taxes low.
“Our board has lowered millage a total of 14 mils since I joined in 2008,” he said. “Our current millage rate is 10 mills below the 2011 rates. That is incredible for a district that has grown as much as we have in the past 10 years.”
Poston hopes to continue improving the quality of Horry County Schools, advocating for smaller class sizes and lower teacher to student ratios, as well as pushing to keep instruction relevant to the changing society.
“I have pushed for, supported and been a part of many district achievements including personal learning device initiatives, a district-wide STEM initiative, expanded programs in the arts and sciences … and other expanded educational opportunities for students,” Poston said.
District 9 member Chris Hardwick is the only school board member up for re-election who announced he will not be running. He has served on the board since 2016.
“It’s been a wonderful experience, but I only said I was going to run one time,” Hardwick said.
Shanda Allen, representing District 11 since 2016, said she hopes to keep being the voice for that area.
“I enjoy what I do. Hopefully I serve the people well, I do my best. If God’s ready for me to do it again, I’ll do it,” Allen said.
McKean Nowlin, an economist with three children who previously has taught at Coastal Carolina University and Horry-Georgetown Technical College, hopes for a chance at the District 4 seat against the incumbent Cox.
Her children are getting older and starting school, and she said she thought the timing was right.
“There is an ethic in my family about ‘When you can serve, you do.’,” Nowlin said. “The timing worked out for me.”
Some of the issues Nowlin hopes to focus on include the recent decision that made Scholars Academy its own school, and barring ninth- and 10-graders from attending the Academy of Arts, Science and Technology.
“If I’m disappointed, I should run and see if I can do something about it,” Nowlin said.
Modernizing education is also important to her, as well as teaching students how to work within a digital climate, such as recognizing falsities online and learning more about technology.
“Communicating appropriately … skills they will need to live in a digital economy. They’ll be the ones creating them [digital technology], not just consuming them. Things are going to get more automated … our kids have to be able to adapt to that.”
Nowlin also hopes for more synergy between the city, county, and school district.
“We should be working together not suing each other,” Nowlin said.
James Edwards of Loris filed to run for Hardwick’s empty seat in District 9, but was unavailable for comment on Tuesday.