The Reverend W. Russell Freeman will be the next District 1 representative for Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach on the Horry County School Board.
The seat became available after the resignation of previous District 1 member Holly Heniford, after her Sept. 6 arrest on a driving under the influence charge.
Freeman was chosen from eight candidates who were chosen to be interviewed, which turned into seven when one candidate dropped out at the last minute. Other candidates were Deloria G. Armstrong, Marilyn A. Cox, Micah Paul Gore, Richard Marcus Jordan, Sr., Joni Clayman Poff, William B. von Herrmann, and Dana Zamrik.
Poff dropped out of the race Monday evening.
Freeman is currently the pastor at Little River United Methodist Church, and has three children in Horry County Schools - two in North Myrtle Beach High School, and one in the Academy of Art, Science and Technology.
The board asked a series of six questions to each candidate, who were given the questions beforehand in order to prepare. They included questions regarding opinions on board governance, school security, how to best communicate with parents and students, their opinions on tax increases and the penny sales tax, as well as what they believed were their top three issues facing schools today.
With three children in the system, Freeman feels he has a “particular stake in what’s going on.”
“Knowing there’s an opportunity to help guide what we do in our school system … in my job I see people coming in every day – one of first things they ask is what about school system? Just being able to help and help guide them would be something I’d be good at. [If you put me] on the board, I would immerse myself, take it seriously and know what I’m doing before I make statements about it or vote on it. I think we all have a stake in what goes on in the schools," Freeman said.
He also said that he would favor renewing the penny sales tax over raising the millage.
“I really debated this one,” Freeman said in his interview. “I keep coming back to the penny sales tax for lots of reasons. It recognizes that a lot of what our children are preparing to do is to work in this county – and part of what we do in this county is hospitality. I feel good about asking them to pay for a little bit of our education.”
He said his choice for the top three issues facing the school board currently are teacher retention, classroom size, and preparing students for an ever-changing workplace.
In discussing a conversation with a principal in the district talking about how many graduates were moving on to college, Freeman said he was impressed that the principal also mentioned how many were going straight into the workforce, the military, or internships.
“We need to focus to prepare students to be able to get a job. Not all children need or want to go to college, that can’t be the only thing we’re doing,” Freeman told the board during his interview.
Freeman will be officially sworn in during the Nov. 19 meeting. The originally scheduled Nov. 18 meeting was moved to Nov. 19 during Monday night's work session.