Around 2 p.m. on Friday, District 1 school board member Holly Heniford was mentioned in a Facebook post about work on a North Myrtle Beach Middle School athletic field coming to a halt. Other posts followed, urging her constituents to email her about the issue.
During Monday night’s Horry County school board meeting, the work sparked a larger discussion among representatives about whom they work for.
“I know you diligently work, and we all have concerns and constituents that we have to hear from too,” said District 11 representative Shanda Allen. “We have to look as a whole at what’s good as a whole, but it’s not a whole that elects us, to say it nicely.”
Improvements were already being made to the middle school field when Heniford championed a plan in April to turn it into a South Carolina High School League-approved soccer facility. The board voted to use $630,000 in unused contingency funds from other projects to pay for that conversion on top of $207,000 already budgeted for improvements.
“It made sense to piggyback on the funds that we had,” Heniford said Monday night. “Why not take those funds that were available and apply it to make it a real field?”
Because the work stopped due to a $330,000 budget shortfall, the board will have to allocate even more money for the project.
But North Myrtle Beach isn’t the only area that needs work.
“I want the full board to realize that in other communities, we have the same needs as you have,” said District 6 representative Pam Timms. “We have a tennis court that is very low-lying, we have one set of bleachers when there are matches. We have a softball field that needs work. It’s deplorable in my opinion.”
The district is currently working on a five-year facilities plan that includes a ranking of the condition of high school athletic facilities, but doesn’t address middle school facilities.
“It’s not only in your district, it’s in my district as well, and then there are others around this table that have the same needs,” said Timms. “We as a board, we’re here to serve the entire district. So I think we all need to look at what our needs are and not our wants.”
Heniford, who said she’s brought $36 million in work to her district since she was elected, hoped that athletic facilities in other districts could get repairs and said she expects the board to vote on the remaining middle school funds at the next meeting.
“They’re totally right, I just happen to be on the stage at this time,” said Heniford. “I don’t disagree with them but we had shovels in the ground. I think that all the fields need to be looked at, but when we have an opportunity to save money on creating those fields, we need to take advantage of it.”
Weather-permitting, the field should be ready for use by spring, she said.