GEORGETOWN COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD) – Addressing the loss of learning during the coronavirus pandemic, and providing support for social-emotional health, and safety are among some of the top concerns for the Georgetown County School District.

Superintendent Keith Price will begin his third year as the district’s leader when he and more than 8,000 students head back to class on Monday. The leader of a district that remains at the forefront when it comes to safety and security.

“A first for Georgetown County School District, beginning this year, thanks to an opportunity that was provided by the Department of Public Safety, we applied for extra SRO positions. Every school in Georgetown County will have a full-time SRO in it this year, thanks to our partnership with Georgetown County Sheriff’s Office and the City of Georgetown Police,” explained Price.

Price said SROs were already in all of the district’s high and middle schools, but elementary schools shared its officers. The district also has metal detectors in all high schools which are used in the middle schools at times.

Another priority for the district: addressing social-emotional wellness. “We’re actually adding some mental health specialists from what we had last year because of the need,” said Price.

The Georgetown County School District has nineteen schools and one charter school – 1,300 employees are on staff, and all will see a salary increase across the board.

“Everybody, all classifications of employees, got an increase,” said Price. “That was our board’s priority with this budget cycle, and we were able to accomplish that. Everyone is getting their step plus a raise. With teachers, after the last amendment was approved, we were able to give a $4,000 raise to teachers.  We were able to raise our minimum salary for entry-level custodians and cafeteria workers to $13 an hour.  Over the past two years, that’s an increase of 15 percent from what their pay was three years ago to what it will be at the start of this year.”

Around 8,300 students are expected this year. Numbers are down a bit, due to the pandemic, but they are seeing a gradual increase in enrollment numbers.

No new schools will open in the district this year, but construction and renovations happened across the district, including roof work, new HVAC systems, IT infrastructure, and athletic fields.

“One of the things our referendum paid for and our board approved is new artificial turf fields at our four high schools,” he said. “This summer, construction began at Waccamaw High and Georgetown High, and we’ll have new field surfaces for those schools to kick off this year, and as soon as football season is over, construction will begin at Andrews High and Carvers Bay High to install their fields so they will have it for the spring.”

The district will also launch a new program that’s trending across the country.

“We are branching off into the E-Sports realm. This year, we will kick off our very first district-wide E-Sports team.  It will be made up of students from our four high schools, and they will try out for the team, and they will compete in a gaming-type atmosphere with other E-Sports teams around the country.”

This year marks Superintendent Price’s 27th year in education. He began his career in education as a teacher and said the new school year brings an opportunity for everyone to set new goals.

“Every school year is a new beginning to reinvest in your goals and expectations in yourself, to make the new year the best it could possibly be, and for our teachers, our administrators, and our staff members to come back with renewed investment to make every day the best possible.”

The first day of school in Georgetown County is Monday, August 15th.

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