Officials reflect on a year of security changes for Horry County schools

School security changes for Horry County (Madeline Montgomery/WPDE)

School security is on everyone's mind following the school shooting in Florida. Horry County Schools is constantly changing and updating their security.

Visibility is a priority for them.

“I just feel like, just his presence is paramount to our students feeling safe and our faculty and our parents feeling safe as well,” said Barbara McGinnis, the principal of Ocean Bay Middle School.

Soon, all of Horry County Schools will have a visible security guard due to a vote by the school board last month.

Schools have already phased in seven new guards this semester and seven more will start soon.

“I think that is an excellent idea, that makes me feel a little bit safer,” said Debbie Vause, the grandparent of an HCS student.

Not only has this school year seen a change in the number of security guards, itis also seen a change in who guards the school.

This is the first year Horry County is using guards from a security company instead of using police officers.

“We’re six, seven months into this school security officer program and things have gone extraordinarily well. It’s been well received by the students, staff and our stakeholders,” said David Beaty, Horry County Schools' head of school safety.

Guards have to have a military or law enforcement background.

“I feel okay about it, as long as they’re still armed. That’s basically about the same thing as a police officer armed as well, so that’s fine with me,” said Vause.

“It makes me feel very safe. It makes me feel safe for all of the children in school, the teachers," said Patti Daniels, grandmother to an HCS student.

McGinnis says she and her staff feel safe too.

"It's a trust relationship. The kids love him and feel comfortable with him, and so do the teachers," said McGinnis.

The school district will hire the rest of the security guards this summer.

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