A swift uptick in population has many Horry County schools bursting at the seams.
While there isn’t much school board members can do in regard to the rate new students are pouring into the district, they are looking at ways to restrict movement within it.
For the second straight meeting, Horry County school board members worked to revise the district’s transfer policy.
No action was taken during Monday’s meeting. However, Horry County Schools spokeswoman Lisa Bourcier said board members want to be “proactive rather than reactive.”
“Transfer requests previously have not been as strict in terms of policy,” she said. “The thing is, we want to be more proactive on the needs of our local schools, and this is one step in the process.”
Currently, decisions on student transfer requests are based largely upon a limited set of criteria. Schools with a projected enrollment above 100 percent of the building’s capacity threshold are defined as Category 1 facilities, while those below are placed in Category 2.
These numbers are based on 45-day enrollment data supplied to Horry County Schools. As of the 2017-18 school term, eight area schools are at ‘100 percent capacity or above.’
At the moment, the only loophole allowing students to transfer to Category 1 schools is if a parent serves as an employee at that certain school. For transfer into Category 2 schools, any of four hardship rules may apply.
▪ Lack of an academic course or program within the normal school day in the school to which a student has been assigned;
▪ After school childcare due to a parent’s work schedule and/or work location, or lack of afternoon childcare at sending school or in its area;
▪ Health of a child or parent;
▪ Purchase of a lot and planning to build or building a house intended as a parent’s primary residence.
According to the revised student transfer policy, Category 1 would be defined as ‘95 percent of designed capacity’ with Category 2 schools falling below that number.
“In many ways, doing this allows us to best allocate our resources in terms of facilities and maintenance,” Bourcier said. “We’re doing our best to not wait until the last minute to address needs.”
Newly constructed schools will be considered Category 1, and not allow transfer requests for a full calendar year after their opening, the revised policy states.
Another change concerns when transfer requests must be submitted. Currently, requests can be submitted at any time during the school term.
According to Horry County School’s staff attorney Kenneth Generette, the revised policy would have a deadline of May 1 for transfer requests.
“Some districts look at the first of March, some mid-March, April and some in May,” he said.”There are some transfer policies that happen on a certain date and that’s it. We have allowed flexibility in the past as (the transfer window) has been year-round. I think the goal is to set a reasonable date that works for everyone.”
An email was sent by Generette to the principals of county schools, many of whom he will meet over the course of the next week. From there, work will begin to finalize the transfer policy for presentation before the school board.
Horry County Schools’ executive director of student affairs will confirm or deny transfer requests based upon information associated with the request and policy on assignment to schools, the policy states.
Students whose transfer requests are approved are responsible for their own transportation to and from school. Transfer requests will not be granted based on a student’s desire to participate in extra-curricular programs offered at certain schools.