Two candidates vie for Horry County school board, District 3, in Republican primary

vgrooms@thesunnews.comMay 31, 2014 

  • Horry County Board of Education, District 3

    Ray Winters

    Age | 43

    Address | 9067 Abingdon Drive, Myrtle Beach

    Occupation | real estate attorney

    Family | married to Tracy for 17 years; one daughter, Alyssa, 11

    Civic and political experience | first run for any public office; presently on the School Improvement Council for Ocean Bay Elementary School; Ground Zero Board of Directors; Classy Smiles Inc. Board of Directors; recently asked to serve as board member for the newly organizing Sweet Home Mentoring organization; former trustee, Franklin G. Burroughs-Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum; former chairman of deacons, Ocean View Baptist Church; involvement in other local groups and organizations, such as the Carolina Forest Performing Arts Academy and the Carolina Forest Civic Association

    Education | undergraduate, University of South Alabama, 1992; master’s degree, University of South Alabama, 1994; postgraduate, Loyola University School of Law, 1998

    Military experience | none

    Contact information | 450-4384 or,

    Question | Describe your experience with Horry County Schools and what drives you to run for the school board.

    Answer | I have had direct experience with Horry County Schools for approximately six years, as my child has been a student at Ocean Bay Elementary School (OBE) where she has experienced some top-quality education that exceeded my expectations. I had always wanted to be an involved parent, but the dynamics I saw at OBE made me want to take this involvement to the next level. I have been involved as the yearbook sponsor, in the PTO and School Improvement Council where I am proud of our school Palmetto Gold in both general performance and Bridging the Achievement Gap, as well as scoring Excellent in both absolute rating and growth rating on our state report card.

    Keith VanWinkle

    Age | 34

    Address | Myrtle Beach

    Occupation | small-business owner of a transportation company

    Family | son of Charles and Diane VanWinkle; brother of Stacy; uncle of two nephews, Brandon and Kyle

    Civic and political experience | member of Horry County Republican Party since 1996; founding treasurer, Grand Strand Young Republicans; founding chairman, Carolina Forest Republicans; member, Knights of Columbus; member, St. Andrew Catholic Church; chairman, CEO, Holy Angels Mission to the Poor; vice chairman, school board, Bridgewater Academy; youth pastor; missionary

    Education | Horry-Georgetown Technical College; Conway High School graduate, class of 1997

    Military experience | none

    Contact information | 957-7219 or

    Question | Describe your experience with Horry County Schools and what drives you to run for the school board.

    Answer | I had the privilege of attending Horry County Schools and am a former HCS substitute school teacher. I understand the challenges our teachers and students face each day. I also know that our children are the future, and we must provide a first-class education to them that prepares them for a global workforce. I want to make sure we keep our children in “local neighborhood” schools and that when we build new schools, we do not outgrow those schools before the schools are completed. When dealing with a $565 million budget each year, I want to assure the taxpayer that I will be a watchdog over their tax dollars and not spend it recklessly.

Ray Winters and Keith VanWinkle will square off in the June 10 Republican primary for the District 3 seat on the Horry County Board of Education.

District 3, which includes Carolina Forest and Myrtle Beach, is represented by Jimmy Washington, who has filed to run for the seat as a Democrat. Washington was chosen by the school board in February 2013 to fill the unexpired term of Joe DeFeo, who was elected countywide as board chairman.

Winters, a real estate attorney, is making his first run for political office but is involved in various organizations and serves on the School Improvement Council at Ocean Bay Elementary School. VanWinkle, a small-business owner and former substitute teacher, also has been active in the community, including 18 years with the Horry County Republican Party and serving on the board of Bridgewater Academy, a charter school in Myrtle Beach.

The school board has spent three years on a building plan intended to accommodate growth and alleviate overcrowding. VanWinkle said the building plan would be his top priority, as students need a safe environment in which to learn. Winters said the building plan is absolutely necessary, but it is unfortunate the process has taken so long.

“With the construction of the additional elementary schools in the not-so-distant past, it should have only been logical to expect that there would be a need for additional middle school facilities in the future,” said Winters, who said new construction and re-sales indicate the Carolina Forest, Socastee/St. James and Loris/Longs areas will continue to grow.

Winters said he would work for a plan based on realistic growth patterns with an easily expandable environment that could accommodate future growth without constructing a new school.

On the issue of the Common Core State Standards, both candidates cited legislation that may scrap them altogether, but Winters noted that the standards are to be fully implemented in 2014-15.

Winters said there is something to be said for wanting students to be at a certain level by a certain grade, but “I am a strong supporter of proficiency-based measurement of student progress rather than standards that are measured and dictated how to be taught.”

Winters also is in favor of having local input in selecting the curriculum that best fits students’ needs. He said he has faith in the curriculum coaches in the district and that they will choose a superior curriculum with or without Common Core.

VanWinkle said various paths must be provided in the district to ensure student success.

“I would simply say that when it comes to our public education system, one size does not fit all,” VanWinkle said. “We must evaluate every child in our school system and put them on a path to success.”

Contact VICKI GROOMS at 443-2401 or on Twitter @TSN_VGrooms.

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