Horry County School Board considers changing attendance lines

The school board was presented with a recommendation to solve overcrowding in certain schools.

CONWAY, S.C. (WPDE) - Horry County is growing at a rapid pace, and that includes the number of students enrolling in schools. Because of overcrowding in some areas, the school board is looking into changing attendance lines.

For the last six months, the Facility Optimization Committee, made up of about two dozen people, has been looking into how to solve the problem of overcrowding in some Horry County schools. At Monday night's school board meeting, Joe Burch presented the group's recommendations.

The committee recommended there should be four site committees formed to study the needs in Conway, Carolina Forest, North Myrtle Beach, and Loris.

For instance, Ocean Bay Middle School is overcrowded by hundreds of students but nearby Black Water Middle is not. Burch, who is Coordinator of Planning for the school district, said there's a similar situation at Conway Middle School. It's right at the point of being overcrowded, but Whittemore Park Middle is not.

"We see capacity issues in the future. We might be able to help some of those with attendance lines realignments, and the committee felt we should examine that before we went any further with other options for those schools," Burch explained.

The plan is still in the very early stages, and the school board did not make any decisions. Nothing is set in stone, and Burch said options "just need to be explored."

As the process moves forward, input from parents is going to be crucial.

"To any successful realignment you have to have community support. You have to have the stakeholders involved. They have to be there from the ground up, and that's what the committees are intended to do, is to bring that local feeling to the group," added Burch.

The examination process will likely take several months.

Another issue addressed at the meeting was school safety. Darryl Brown, Executive Director of Student Affairs and Behavior, updated the board on safety measures the district follows. Each school has a unique crisis management plan, from how to deal with bomb threats to an intruder.

Since mid-December, the schools all follow standardized morning arrival procedures. The Student Affairs office met with local law enforcement as well as Highway Patrol to "strengthen interagency cooperative efforts as it relates to crisis response plans," Brown explained.

In the next few weeks, all schools will use a buzzer system for visitors. For the schools that already have them, their systems will be upgraded.