Private security guards, not police officers, could be protecting your kids when school starts back.
Horry County School’s contract with U.S. Security Associates — the firm that supplies unarmed security outside the schools — allows the district to ask for additional armed guards as part of the existing contract.
Horry County Schools spokeswoman Teal Britton said the district has reached out to U.S. Security Associates to discuss armed guards and will give the school board an update on the cost during the school board meeting Monday.
I would have no problem with us hiring armed security for our schools.
Joe DeFeo, Horry County school board chairman
The district has 15 schools that were patrolled by Horry County police officers, and the district’s three new schools opening next year also will need security.
Britton confirmed that the district is looking for 18 guards for the upcoming school year.
The district’s contract with the security firm mandates that all security officers have a South Carolina Security Officer Registration card, have at least six months of law enforcement of security officer experience, and undergo South Carolina Law Enforcement Division background checks.
According to the contract, security guards must be qualified to perform CPR, first aid and self-defense.
“I would have no problem with us hiring armed security for our schools,” said school board Chairman Joe DeFeo. “In fact I can see an advantage to it where we can demand they are there at all times and they would be providing security of a full-time basis rather than law enforcement.”
The district began looking at private security options after Horry County Council abandoned a long-standing agreement with Horry County Schools to split the cost of school resource officers’ salaries.
In March, Horry County offered a plan to have the district pay 90 percent of the cost of the officers. It would have cost the district $1.77 million, including costs such as vehicles and training — costs the district had never paid before.
The county’s most recent offer was for the district to pay more than $1.6 million, including vehicle costs.
On June 5, the school board voted to look into private security.
And on June 6, county council backed up their stance by refusing to fund 50 percent of the officers’ salaries.
The school district approved $801,000 in the 2017-18 budget for all SROs, including those provided by Horry County, Myrtle Beach, Loris, Conway and Aynor during the June 5 meeting.
Board members did not approve additional money for Horry County SROs because an agreement was not reached and budgeted only $592,000 for those officers — an amount budgeted for the officers under the parameters of the old agreement with Horry County.
This story has been updated to correct the name of U.S. Security Associates in the third paragraph.