Education

Face-off over fairness between high school programs reaches Horry school board

Horry County Schools Superintendent Rick Maxey (center) and school board Chairman Joe DeFeo (left) look over items on the agenda during a recent meeting.
Horry County Schools Superintendent Rick Maxey (center) and school board Chairman Joe DeFeo (left) look over items on the agenda during a recent meeting. The Sun News

Horry County school board members have no plans to loosen the tie that binds its "base" high schools and programs offered to students in grades 9-12.

During last week's school board meeting, several students from programs such as Scholars Academy, Academy for Arts, Science and Technology, and Academy for Technology and Academics addressed the group regarding a petition by Socastee freshman Merritt Welch, asking the group to revisit talks to separate them from their "base" campuses.

Ten campuses are designated as "base" high schools in Horry County, serving the large share of area students. Others earn acceptance into programs such as the Scholars Academy, Academy for Arts, Science and Technology, and Academy for Technology and Academics, where they specialize in one of many course offerings.

According to Welch's petition, students involved in county programs "are ranked with students who attend their base school," and "are taking higher level classes all four years of high school, making their grade-point average weighted more than students at their base school."

In response, program students launched a petition of their own before bringing the matter before the Horry County School Board.

"A student's base school is the school they receive scholarships, sports, and other awards," according to Academy of Arts, Science and Technology student Nathan Lowe. "By removing them, they have no chance of receiving important scholarships for their choice of college. In addition, the students will not be able to receive the title of junior marshal, valedictorian, salutatorian, or other high ranking titles.

"The other petition's claim is that students from the AAST and Scholars are offered more opportunities to elevate their GPA and class rank. As a student that has attended Loris High School and is currently attending the AAST, the amount of opportunities are parallel on every account."

Scholars Academy junior Alexandra Simons added: "There are a lot of misconceptions out there … that we inflate our GPA or we have advantages compared to those at base schools. That is simply not true."

Prior to public comment, DeFeo said no action would be taken on the matter during last week's meeting. However, he did not close the door on the topic being brought up at a later date.

“I’ve seen the young lady who started the petition and started it at Socastee High School. She makes a very intelligent and persuasive argument,” he said. “Parts of the argument I agree with, but there are other unintended things that can happen if you make these academies into their own school.

“It is not something I would bring before the board, although I stated if another member brought it before the board, I’d put it on the agenda. As of now, I have not heard of any school board members who want to place it on the agenda.”

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