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

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.”