Horry County School Board – Staff Disconnect

By Paul Gable

An ongoing renovation at North Myrtle Beach High School demonstrates an apparent disconnect between responsibilities of Horry County School Board members and the staff employed to carry out board decisions.

This is not a new problem. It dates back approximately 15 years to the time that former Superintendent Gerrita Postlewait effectively neutered the board with a policy governance system that allowed the board to be little more than a rubber stamp for staff decisions.

Many of the board members at that time deserve their own share of the blame for voting to adopt the “policy governance” system.

The school board is elected by the voters to set school district policies. It is the job of the staff to carry out these policies.

Last year, some senior staff members did all they could, including a public disinformation campaign, to keep First Floor Energy Positive from receiving contracts to build five new schools in the district.

Ultimately, the board voted to award the contracts to First Floor over considerable opposition from staff.

This year, the North Myrtle Beach High School renovations demonstrate the disconnect remains.

In 2015, the Horry County School Board approved a specific list of renovations to the school with an overall budget of $21,086,340.

According to District 1 school board member Holly Heniford, that list of renovations has apparently been reduced in some areas and increased in others without board approval.

Additionally, a line item for “Fire protection installation” appears in one area of the budget while a line item for “Fire alarm replacement” appears in another area of the budget with the cost for each line item, $1,055,130, identical. Is this not a duplication of the same work?

Another line item lists a “lighting upgrade” costing $363,499 even though, according to Heniford, the school received new lighting throughout just last year.

The extra costs of these duplications are more than enough to cover the items deleted.

Why did staff not catch the apparent duplications while agreeing to a reduction of some of the work?

It is the board’s job to set policy. It is the staff’s job to carry that policy out. We must get back to that form of governance within the Horry County School District.

 

 

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